SIYUM OF ERCHIN (17 Tamuz) - Dedicated in honor of the birthday of Mairav Linzer.
1) TEARING DOWN THE WALLS
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that if the Leviyim received walled cities through the lottery conducted in the time of Yehoshua when the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, then they were required to demolish the walls of those cities. Those cities, therefore, are not considered walled cities with regard to the laws of Batei Arei Chomah.
However, the Gemara earlier (32a) quotes Rebbi Elazar bar Yosi who derives from the verse (Vayikra 25:30) that as long as a city originally had walls at the time of Yehoshua, it is considered a walled city with regard to the laws of Batei Arei Chomah, even if the walls are no longer standing. Accordingly, demolishing the walls of a city of Leviyim should not help to remove its status of a walled city. (TOSFOS DH Hen)
(a) In his first answer, TOSFOS suggests that the Gemara here follows the view of Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi (32b) who maintains that once the wall is taken down, the city is no longer considered a walled city.
(b) In his second answer, Tosfos suggests that since these cities are not supposed to have walls (since they now belong to the Leviyim), the Kedushas Chomah (the sanctity of being a walled city from the time of Yehoshua) does not continue once the walls are taken down.
2) A HOUSE OF "BATEI AREI CHOMAH" THAT BURNED DOWN WITHIN A YEAR AFTER THE SALE
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that if the Leviyim received walled cities through the lottery conducted in the time of Yehoshua when the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, then they were required to demolish the walls of those cities. Those cities, therefore, are not considered walled cities with regard to the laws of Batei Arei Chomah (see previous Insight). However, the Gemara adds that if a Levi sold a house in one of those cities before the wall was demolished, then the laws of Batei Arei Chomah apply to it, even though the wall around the city was about to be demolished.
Why should the laws of Batei Arei Chomah apply to the house? If the Levi comes to redeem his house after one year has passed from the time of the sale, he should be able to redeem it, because the city is no longer a walled city!
(a) The YAD BINYAMIN points out that this Gemara is proof that the status of a city as a walled city (and, consequently, the status of its houses as Batei Arei Chomah) is determined based on the moment at which the sale occurs, and not at the time that the original owner comes to redeem his house.
However, the verse says, "And if it is not redeemed by the end of the full year, then the house that is in the city that has a wall will belong to the buyer permanently" (Vayikra 25:30). The wording of the verse implies that the house becomes the permanent possession of the buyer, and leaves the possession of the original owner forever, if the city is [still] a walled city at the end of one year!
It must be that the intention of the verse is that "the house that was sold while it was in the city that had a wall" will belong to the buyer permanently. That is, the status of the house is determined based on whether the city was walled at the time of the sale.
This answers a question of the MINCHAS CHINUCH (#340). The Torah teaches that Batei Arei Chomah cannot be redeemed by the owner after one year has passed from the time of the sale. What is the Halachah if the house burns down in the middle of the year after the sale, leaving an empty plot of land? Does the field no longer constitute Batei Arei Chomah, and thus it may be redeemed after one year, or does the field retain the status of Batei Arei Chomah and it may be redeemed only within a year from the sale?
This question depends on whether the status of the field is determined at the time of the original sale or whether it is determined at the time that the original owner wants to redeem it. Since the buyer's permanent acquisition occurs only at the end of one year, perhaps the house also must be extant at that time. The Minchas Chinuch discusses this question at length, and he concludes that it needs further investigation.
The Yad Binyamin points out that according to the Gemara here, just as a city does not need a wall at the time of the redemption of the house in order for the house to have the laws of Batei Arei Chomah, the house itself does not need to exist at the time of the redemption in order for the original owner to lose the ability to redeem the house (now just a plot of land) at the end of year one. (Y. MONTROSE)
3) A KOHEN WHO WANTS TO KEEP A FIELD THAT HE CONSECRATED
OPINIONS: The Beraisa quotes the verse, "And when the field goes out in the Yovel year it will be holy to Hash-m, like a consecrated field (Sedeh ha'Cherem); for the Kohen, it will be his property" (Vayikra 27:21). The Beraisa derives from this verse that when a Kohen is Makdish a field that he received as a Sedeh ha'Cherem (which goes to the Kohanim at the arrival of the Yovel year), he is not entitled to reclaim the field at the next Yovel year. The Kohen might reason that if he is entitled to acquire, at Yovel, the consecrated Sedeh Achuzah of other people, then he certainly should be entitled to reclaim his own field. The Beraisa explains that the words "Sedeh ha'Cherem" which the verse uses when it discusses the laws of Sedeh Achuzah teach that we are to compare the two types of fields. Just as a Sedeh Achuzah leaves the possession of Hekdesh at Yovel and is divided among the Kohanim, a Sedeh ha'Cherem which a Kohen was Makdish leaves Hekdesh at Yovel and is divided among the Kohanim; it does not go directly back to the original Kohen owner.
Is the Beraisa discussing a Kohen who made his field Hekdesh as Cherem to the Kohanim, or who made his field Hekdesh for the Beis ha'Mikdash?
(a) RASHI (29a, DH she'Hikdish) implies that the Kohen dedicated the field to the standard Hekdesh of the Beis ha'Mikdash. Since the field now belongs to Hekdesh, the Kohen assumes that the field is treated like any other consecrated Sedeh Achuzah which goes to the Kohanim during Yovel if it is in the possession of Hekdesh when Yovel arrives; the only difference is that he will repossess his former field himself, since he is a Kohen.
The CHIDUSHIM U'VI'URIM has difficulty with this explanation. The wording of the Beraisa is that the Kohen will say that "since the field leaves [Hekdesh] at Yovel and it is in my possession (lit. under my hand), it should be mine." According to Rashi, what does the Kohen mean when he says that it is "in my possession"? The field is not in the Kohen's possession, but rather it is in the possession of Hekdesh!
(b) When the RAMBAM (Hilchos Erchin 6:6) discusses this case, instead of using the Gemara's term that the Kohen was "Makdish" the field, he writes that the Kohen received a Sedeh ha'Cherem "v'Hichrimah" -- "and he made it Cherem." This implies that in the case of the Beraisa, the Kohen dedicated his field to be Cherem, which goes to the Kohanim. This explanation is consistent with the statement of the Kohen that "it is in my possession."
According to the Rambam, the Kohen assumes that immediately after he makes the field Cherem, it should revert back to his ownership, because a Sedeh ha'Cherem belongs to the Kohanim. The Kohen reasons that since he receives a share of the fields of Cherem that go to the Kohanim, he certainly should be able to repossess his own field, to which he still has some form of ownership (since he is a Kohen). The verse teaches that just as the sanctified Sedeh Achuzah of a Yisrael leaves Hekdesh and goes to the Kohanim at Yovel, when a Kohen is Machrim his Sedeh ha'Cherem the field leaves his possession and enters the collective ownership of the Kohanim.
While the words "and it is in my possession" are more consistent with the explanation of the Rambam, the wording that the Kohen was "Makdish" the field supports the explanation of Rashi (that the Kohen sanctified the field as normal Hekdesh for the Beis ha'Mikdash). The LECHEM MISHNEH comments that the word "Makdish" can be used in either context, and can refer to giving over one's field to the Kohanim or to Hekdesh.
The MUTZAL ME'ESH agrees with the Lechem Mishneh's understanding of the Rambam, and he contends that the EIN MISHPAT here made a mistake. The Ein Mishpat (#1) writes that the Halachah of the Beraisa is recorded in the Rambam in a different location (Hilchos Erchin 4:23; note that in some of the new printings of the Gemara, the text of the Ein Mishpat has been amended based on the words of the Mutzal me'Esh). The Rambam there discusses a case in which a Kohen redeems a Sedeh Achuzah of a Yisrael that the Yisrael had dedicated to Hekdesh. When Yovel arrives, the Kohen cannot claim the field for himself on the grounds that since a Sedeh Achuzah that was not redeemed by the owner before Yovel goes to the Kohanim, this field should go to him because he is a Kohen. Rather, it goes to all of the Kohanim.
Upon closer examination, it is evident that this case (in Hilchos Erchin 4:23) is not the case discussed by the Gemara here. The Gemara is discussing a case in which a Kohen received a field and was Makdish (or Machrim) it. The Rambam, however, is discussing a case in which Yovel arrives and the Kohen is in possession of a Sedeh Achuzah that he redeemed from Hekdesh. Indeed, the commentators on the Rambam (see RADVAZ) do not give this Gemara as the source for that ruling of the Rambam, but rather they explain that the Rambam's remark is based on the Mishnah earlier (25a). (Y. MONTROSE)