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There are two different types of vows, nedarim, mentioned in the Torah. The first, which is the subject of Tractate Nedarim, is the prohibitive vow, nidrei issur, pursuant to which a person utters a vow not to do an action, which but for the vow would have been permitted. The second, which is the subject of Tractate Arachin, is known as a nedrei hekdesh, that is a vow to dedicate something of value for the upkeep of the Temple.
While the first type of neder is applicable today the second is not because we no longer have a Temple to maintain.
Nevertheless, the Rambam includes studying the laws of nidrei hekdesh in his list of mitzvot.
The laws of nidrei nekdesh permit one to vow to pay a certain amount of money for the upkeep of the Temple. The amount to be paid depends upon the payment index the person has chosen when making his or her vow. The Torah permits one to choose between four different indices. One can make a personal vow, by pledging the worth of a person, either of oneself or another person, one can pledge the worth of an animal or one can pledge the worth of a parcel of land.
For the purpose of determining how much the Temple treasurer will collect from a person who vowed that he or she will pay his own, or her own, or somebody else’s worth to the Temple, the Torah ascribes the following fixed amounts: (i) 5 Shekalim for a male between the ages of 1 month and one day and 5 years, and 3 Shekalim for a female in this category; (ii) 20 Shekalim for a male between the ages of 5 years and one day and 20 years and 10 Shekalim for a female in this category; (iii) 50 Shekalim for a male between the ages of 20 years and one day and 60 years, and 30 Shekalim for a female in this category; and (iv) 15 Shekalim for a male over 60 and 10 Shekalim for a female in this category.
It should be noted that in fixing a person with an “erech,” loosely translated “worth” or “value,” the Torah is not discussing the worth of a person for any purpose other than determining how much such a vow obliges a person to pay to the Temple and how much money the Temple’s collection agency may collect.
Although the Torah has a fixed scale for the payment of vows, arachin, it takes into account the financial circumstances of a person who may have vowed to the Temple his or her own erech or the erech of somebody else.
A person who cannot afford to pay according the fixed scale he or she has chosen may fulfill his or her vow by paying not less than 1 Sela (a silver coin having the weight of 384 barleycorns), the exact amount being determined in accordance with his or her means as assessed by the kohen. The Sela is the minimum payment with which a person can discharge his or her erech vow. If the person is too poor, in the kohen’s assessment, to pay 1 Selah, the whole payment is deferred until he or she can afford to pay the full amount in accordance with the fixed scale.
Once an erech vow is made, the maturity date by which the vow must be paid is the date which is the first Yom Tov on which the person would be oleh regel – would visit Jerusalem as a pilgrim. If the vow is not fully paid up by then, the person is considered in default and violates the positive law, the mitzvat aseh, of paying one’s vows in Jerusalem.
If a full annual cycle of three festivals has come and gone and the vow has still not been paid, the person is considered in violation of the negative law, mitzvat lo ta’aseh, of bal te’acher, delaying payment.
After the passage of three Festivals, the Temple treasurer has the power to enter the homes of those whose erech payments remain outstanding and seize personal property and foreclose on real estate to cover the amount of the outstanding payment. The treasurer must, however, set aside minimum subsistence requirements for a poor debtor, including food for thirty days, clothing for one year, basic furniture and bedding, tallit and tefillin and basic tools of trade. The rest of the debtor’s assets are put up for sale to pay the vow.
As we have seen, “erech” means the value of a person attributed by the Torah as opposed to the value of a person attributed by society. In valuing a person, society takes many factors into account including physical, intellectual, social and financial. The way society tends to see it, one is worth as much as one makes. The way the Torah views it, social distinctions are artificial and ephemeral and the only immutable differences are age and sex.
Raphael Grunfeld’s book “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Judaica bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.
Comments to the writer are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.
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Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea
Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.
Before performing the 10th plague God makes a fundamental argument about the ultimate nature of justice.
How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?
Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.
“It means that the disqualification of relatives as witnesses is a procedural issue, not a question of honesty,” explained Rabbi Dayan.
Property ownership is an extremely important and fundamental right and principle according to the Torah.
The tenderest description of the husband/wife relationship is “re’im v’ahuvim/loving, kind friends”
And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).
Suddenly, she turns to me and says, “B’emet, I need to thank you, you made me excited to come back to Israel.”
Pesach is called “zikaron,” a Biblical term used describing an object eliciting a certain memory
Recouping $ and assets from Germans and Swiss for their Holocaust actions is rooted in the Exodus
Pharaoh perverted symbols of life (the Nile and midwives) into agents of death.
A more difficult situation arises when there is no evidence placing the missing husband at the site of the death.
When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.
The child of a Jewish mother from a union with a non-Jewish father is not a mamzer.
Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.
If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.
What if, at the moment of the late brother’s death, the surviving brother cannot effect yibum because the widow is a niddah?
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/you-arent-what-you-make-arachin-23b/2012/01/26/
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