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Steinsaltz

and they may also redeem lands that they sold at any time, i.e., even right after selling the field, and are not bound by the halakhot of the Jubilee Year, one might say that they should also not be obligated to fulfill the mitzva of blowing the shofar on Rosh HaShana. Therefore, the baraita teaches us that this is not the case. This is due to the fact that although priests are not included in the release of land, in any event they are included in the release of money and in the release of slaves in the Jubilee Year. Therefore, the priests are obligated in the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShana.

§ The Gemara cites another similar baraita: Everyone is obligated in the reading of the Megilla including priests, Levites, and Israelites. The Gemara asks as before: Isn’t that obvious? The Gemara answers: No, it is necessary to teach that they cancel their service in the Temple and come to hear the reading of the Megilla, and this is in accordance with that which Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says. As Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: The priests at their Temple service, and the Levites on their platform in the Temple where they sang the daily psalm, and the Israelites at their non-priestly watches for the offerings of the community, all cancel their service and come to hear the reading of the Megilla.

The Gemara cites yet another similar baraita: Everyone is obligated to form a zimmun and recite Grace after Meals, including priests, Levites, and Israelites. The Gemara asks: Isn’t that obvious? The Gemara answers: No, it is necessary to teach this halakha in a case where the priests partake of sacrificial meat. It might enter your mind to say that since the Merciful One states in the Torah: “And they shall eat those things with which atonement was made” (Exodus 29:33), indicating that the owners of those offerings thereby achieve atonement, and therefore this consumption is an obligatory ritual act to bring about atonement, consequently, it is not considered a social meal requiring one to form a zimmun.

Therefore, the baraita teaches us that since the Merciful One states in the Torah: “And you shall eat, and be satisfied, and bless the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:10), the obligation to recite Grace after Meals is contingent upon eating and being satisfied. Since there is eating and satisfaction in the case of priests partaking of the sacrificial meat, they are obligated to form a zimmun, despite the fact that the purpose of the meal is to bring about atonement.

The Gemara cites another baraita: Everyone joins a zimmun: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. The Gemara asks again: Isn’t that obvious? The Gemara answers: No, it is necessary to teach this halakha in a case where the priests are partaking of teruma, the portion of produce designated for priests, or sacrificial meat, and a non-priest is eating non-sacred food.

In such a case, it might enter your mind to say that since if the non-priest wants to eat together with the priest he cannot eat with him from the teruma, as it is forbidden to him, one could say that he cannot join with the priests for a zimmun. Therefore, the baraita teaches us that he can join them, as although a non-priest cannot eat together with a priest from his teruma, nevertheless, a priest can eat together with a non-priest from his food. Consequently, they can join together to form a zimmun.

§ The Gemara applies the same line of questioning to the mishna here: Everyone takes vows of valuation…priests, Levites, and Israelites. Isn’t that obvious? Rava said: This halakha is necessary only according to the opinion of ben Bukhri, who holds that priests are not obligated to contribute a yearly half-shekel to purchase the communal supplies. Therefore, one might have thought that they are not subject to the halakha of valuations, as the Gemara will explain. As we learned in a mishna (Shekalim 1:4) that Rabbi Yehuda said that ben Bukhri testified before the Sages in Yavne: Any priest who contributes the half-shekel for communal offerings is not considered a sinner, despite the fact that he is not obligated to contribute.

Rabbi Yehuda added that Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to ben Bukhri: That is not the case; rather, any priest who does not contribute his half-shekel is considered a sinner, as they are obligated in this mitzva like all other Jews. But with regard to the priests who do not contribute the half-shekel, in order to excuse themselves from the mitzva they interpret this verse to their own advantage: “And every meal offering of the priest shall be wholly made to smoke; it shall not be eaten” (Leviticus 6:16).

Those priests claim as follows: Since the omer offering, the measure of barley brought as a communal offering on the sixteenth of Nisan, and the two loaves, i.e., the public offering of two loaves from the new wheat, brought on the festival of Shavuot, and the shewbread placed on the Table in the Sanctuary each Shabbat, which are all meal offerings, are ours, i.e., if we would contribute half-shekels we would have partial ownership of these communal offerings, as they are purchased with the half-shekels, how then can they be eaten? They would be regarded as priests’ meal offerings, which must be wholly burnt, in accordance with the aforementioned verse.

The Gemara clarifies: But according to the opinion of ben Bukhri, as well, why is a priest who contributes a half-shekel not considered a sinner? Since he is not obligated to bring the half-shekel ab initio, when he brings the half-shekel he is also a sinner, since he is causing the bringing of a non-sacred item into the Temple courtyard. The Gemara answers that the priest brings and transfers the half-shekel as a consecrated gift to the community, so it is considered part of the communal funds.

The Gemara explains the relevance of ben Bukhri’s opinion to the question of the priests’ status with respect to valuations. According to ben Bukhri, who exempts the priests from contributing the half-shekel, it might enter your mind to say that since it is written: “And all your valuations shall be according to the shekel of the Sanctuary” (Leviticus 27:25), perhaps this juxtaposition teaches that anyone who is included in the obligation to contribute half-shekels is included in the halakha of valuations. But with regard to these priests, since they are not included in the obligation to contribute half-shekels, they are also not included in the halakha of valuations. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that even according to the opinion of ben Bukhri, priests are included in the halakha of valuations.

Abaye said to Rava: One could not have thought that this phrase: “And all your valuations shall be according to the shekel of the Sanctuary” (Leviticus 27:25), might be coming to exempt the priests, as it comes to teach something else, namely that all valuations that you assess should not be less than the value of a sela coin. In other words, a poor person, who gives according to his means rather than the amount prescribed in the Torah, does not fulfill his obligation unless he gives at least a shekel, which is a sela coin.

Rather, Abaye said: It was necessary for the mishna to teach that priests are included in the halakha of valuation, as it might enter your mind to say: Since it is written with regard to a firstborn: “And their redemption money, from a month old you shall redeem them, shall be, according to your valuation, five shekels of silver” (Numbers 18:16), one might have said that anyone included in the mitzva of redemption of the firstborn son is included in the halakha of valuations; but with regard to these priests, since they are not included in the mitzva of redemption of the firstborn son, they are also not included in the halakha of valuations. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that priests are also included in the halakha of valuations.

Rava said to Abaye: If that is so, that one can expound the term “according to your valuation” in this manner, one could expound similarly with regard to the ram of the guilt offering brought by one who robs and then takes a false oath. As it is written with regard to that offering: “And he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, according to your valuation” (Leviticus 5:25). One can argue that so too, anyone who is included in the halakha of valuations is included in the ram of the guilt offering. Therefore, a tumtum or a hermaphrodite, who are not included in the halakha of valuations, as stated in the mishna, should also not be included in the ram of the guilt offering. But that is not so, as there is no opinion that exempts them from this offering.

Rather, Rava said, and some say it was Rav Ashi: It was necessary to teach that priests are included in the halakha of valuation because it might enter your mind to say: Since it is written concerning valuations: “But if he is too poor for your valuation, then he shall be set before the priest” (Leviticus 27:8), this indicates that a poor man is placed before the priest for valuation, but a priest is not placed before another priest for valuation. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that priests are also included in the halakha of valuations.

§ The Gemara stated (2a) that the mishna’s statement: And everyone is valuated, serves to add that a repulsive man and one afflicted with boils are valuated in accordance with the Torah’s categories of age and sex despite their lack of market value. The Gemara asks: From where is this matter derived?

The Gemara answers that it is as the Sages taught in a baraita: The verse states: “When a man shall clearly utter a vow of persons to the Lord, according to your valuation” (Leviticus 27:2). The term serves to include an unspecified valuation, as explained below. Alternatively, the verse teaches that one gives the valuation of his entire self and not the valuation of his limbs. If someone vows that he will give the valuation of a limb, he is not obligated to give anything.

The baraita continues: One might have thought that I should exclude even the valuation of an item upon which the soul is dependent, without which one would die, e.g., the liver. Therefore, the verse states: “Persons [nefashot],” which teaches that if one valuated a limb upon which the soul [nefesh] is dependent, he is obligated to give the valuation of his entire self. The Gemara further derives from the term “persons” that one is obligated to pay the valuation only of a live person, and not the valuation of the dead. If one valuates a deceased person, his statement is of no effect.

Furthermore, one might have thought that I should exclude only the dead from valuation, but I should not exclude a moribund person, who is about to die but is still alive, and who is therefore included in the category of “persons.” Therefore, the verse states: “Then he shall be set before the priest, and the priest shall value him” (Leviticus 27:8). This teaches that anyone who is included in the category of setting, i.e., he can stand, is included in the halakha of valuation. And anyone not included in the category of setting, who cannot stand, e.g., one who is on his deathbed, is not included in the halakha of valuation. Therefore, one who valuates a moribund individual is not obligated to pay anything.

Alternatively, since the verse states: “Persons,” in the plural, it is expounded as follows: Were the verse to have written: A person, I would have derived only that this applies to one person who valuated one person. From where is it derived that even if one person valuated a hundred people, it is also an effective evaluation? The verse states: “Persons,” in the plural. This teaches that in such a case he must pay the valuation of each and every one of the hundred. Alternatively, one interprets the plural form of “persons” as follows: Were the verse to have written only: A person, one might have said that

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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