Friday, August 22, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 7 and 27

Your assignment was to Leviticus 7:16-18 and 27:1-28 for more talk about vows
If his qorban was a vow or a freewill sacrifice on the day he brings his sacrifice he shall eat it and the next day he may eat the rest of it.
The rest of the meat of the sacrifice shall be burned in fire on the third day.
If he definitely eats some of the meat of the sacrifice of his peace offering on the third day, it shall nullify the acceptability for the one who offered it, it shall not be accounted to him, it shall be pigul and whoever eats of it shall bear his sin.
And the second part starts:
The Lord spoke to Moshe saying
Speak to the Israelites and say to them any man who takes on himself a vow against your evaluation of souls for the Lord,
Your value for a male of 20 to 60 years old shall be 50 sheqels of silver according to the sheqel of the sanctuary.
This is where I explain that “pay” thing.  Free speech in Judaism included vowing to give things to Gd.  The “vow” in the first part was a nedavah or a neder.  The person making the vow could eat some of the freewill sacrifice. 
As a sacrifice, the freewill became holy and it had to be treated as such.  There are other verses covering how fast a peace offering or a festival offering had to be eaten.  A person who didn’t obey these laws was subject to kares, dying after seeing all his descendants die first, unless there were witnesses (yadda yadda) and then he was subject to flogging.  Since the sacrifice is nullified retroactively, does the person who made the vow have to bring a new payment?  In the case of kares, I would say not.  There were no witnesses to fulfill the burden of proof.  In the case of witnesses, I suspect that they only acted on behalf of the flogging for pigul.  I believe it would take a different set of witnesses to make him replace the freewill offering, before a court of 3, because that’s a property issue – but I don’t have any support for that.
The second part is about something called arachin.  Any Jew could vow money to the temple.  When he vowed the value of a person, including himself, the amount was fixed by Torah.
I want you to notice that the values for females were less than the values for males.  At first glance, to us, this seems to be a devaluation of females.  But remember previous discussions about the naarah and her vows.  Who pays the arachin that she vows, if they are not annulled?  Her husband, or her father.  The lower values on females assumes that the money comes out of the pockets of some man in her life.  The exception is if she is a widow or divorcee with her ketubbah paid out.  That money can only stand up to so much in the way of paying arachin and setting a lower value on her means she won’t impoverish herself unless she’s a total idiot.
I need to stress that arachin is money, not services to some value.  You cannot get services from somebody who is one month to five years old inclusive, not even to a value of 3 to 5 sheqels. 
What’s more, arachin is not property.  People can vow moveable goods to the temple; this is called heqdesh.  They can also make their houses or their fields heqdesh.  But in these two cases, the priests auction off the house or field, and hopefully the owner will make high bid.  Then the owner (but no other winning bidder) also gives “the added fifth” so that the temple actually gets 125% of the value.
For next week, read Numbers 6:1-9.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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