web analytics
July 2, 2015 / 15 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

How Did Eisav Sell The Bechorah?


Parsha-Perspectives-logo

Note to readers: This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

We learn in this week’s parshah of Eisav’s sale of his birthright to Yaakov Avinu. There are several questions surrounding the legitimacy of this sale. The Rivash (Teshuvos 328) questions why the sale was valid, since Eisav sold something that did not exist at that time. The halacha is that one may not sell anything that is not in the world at the time of the sale. Since the bechor did not yet exist or take effect at that time, how could the sale have been valid?

The Rivash says that he heard that the Rosh and his son, the Tur, answered that although one may not sell an item that does not yet exist at that time, he may sell an item to someone in this circumstance if he swears that he will sell it. Since the pasuk says that Yaakov made Eisav swear that he would keep his word, the sale was valid. The Rivash argues vehemently with this answer, and concludes that neither the Rush nor the Tur could have said this answer. He says that the reason one cannot acquire or sell an item that does not exist is due to a problem with the actual acquisition of the item – and that swearing cannot overcome that issue.

The Rivash answers that prior to mattan Torah one could sell items that did not yet exist. Therefore the sale of the bechorah was valid.

Some Acharonim explain the opinion of the Rosh, namely that swearing helps one to sell an item that does not exist by properly defining the reason one cannot sell an item that does not exist in the world. They explain that the underlying factor that is lacking is that one needs a certain amount of intent (da’as kinyan) in order to make a sale. When the item does not exist, one cannot reach the level of intent that is required to make the sale. However, a sworn declaration to keep his word adds to his level of intent – and the sale is valid.

On the explanation of the opinion that holds that the reason why one cannot sell an item that does not exist is because one cannot reach the required level of intention, the Ohr HaChaim points out that it only says that the purchaser cannot reach that level of intent to acquire. However, the seller can reach the required level to sell. Therefore, he asks, how can the seller’s sworn declaration help? It should only help the seller’s intent and should not aid the buyer’s intent. Thus, in the sale between Yaakov and Eisav the oath that Eisav, the seller, took should not have facilitated a sale on something that did not exist.

While this may indeed be the opinion of several Rishonim, the Shita Mekubetzes (Bava Metzia 66b) quotes from Rabbeinu Tam and the Tosafos HaRosh that explicitly say that the problem with selling an item that does not exist rests on the level of intent that the seller can reach. According to those Rishonim, swearing should aid in selling an item that does not exist since the oath will add to the seller’s level of intent.

I do not understand the Ohr HaChaim’s question. I believe that when the seller swears that he will sell the item it should increase the level of intent – even the buyer’s intent. Thus, even if the problem with the sale of an item that does not exist is with the level of intent that the buyer can reach, an oath should resolve that issue.

Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, zt”l, suggests an alternate explanation of the Rosh and the Tur’s opinion. He says that we must first understand how a regular acquisition works. In every sale the buyer and the seller reach an agreement, with the buyer then required to perform a ma’aseh kinyan (action of acquisition) on the item. For example, if one is buying a small movable item he will perform hagbah (lifting it up). However, the ma’aseh kinyan is not what actually transfers ownership of the item to the buyer; rather it is the agreement that actually transfers the item to the buyer. A ma’aseh kinyan solidifies one’s words into a binding agreement, and that binding agreement is what actually transfers property ownership. That is the reason why whenever the Gemara is discussing whether a kinyan has occurred, the Gemara uses the words “eino yachol lachzor” (he cannot retract). Why? Because his kinyan produces an agreement from which he may not retract. And that is what transfers ownership.

When one sells an item that does not exist, the problem is not that he cannot make the kinyan; rather, the problem is that the agreement is not binding – permitting him to retract. Therefore the Rosh and the Tur say that if he will swear that he will keep his word (since he may no longer retract due to his oath) the agreement is binding and ownership can be transferred.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “How Did Eisav Sell The Bechorah?”

  1. Sheila A Lewis says:

    OFTEN WANDERED ABOUT THAT MYSELF.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
investing-in-gold_4548807_lrg
What Sanctions? Iran Receives 13 Tons of Gold From S. Africa
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

800px-Gustav_Jaeger_Bileam_Engel

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

Staum-062615

Amalek, our ultimate foe, understood that when unified, we are invincible and indestructible.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Perhaps on a deeper level, the mitzvah of parah adumah at this junction was not just to purify the body, but the spirit as well.

Halacha isn’t random; it’s a mechanism guiding individuals and society to a higher ethical plateau.

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Less clear, however, is whether the concept applies to the area of civil law such as the law of transfer of property.

The greatest of men, Moshe, had to wait for Hashem to sprinkle purifying waters on Bnei Yisrael to mark the conclusion of the period of death.

My Plate, My Food
‘My Loaf Is Forbidden To You’
(Nedarim 34b)

Of Chukkim “Satan and the nations of the world made fun.” They may appear irrational & superstitious

I realized from this story that I was sent as a messenger from above. Hashem has many helpers in this world to help do his work.

Tosafos answers that nevertheless the sprinkling is a part of his taharah process.

“What difference does that make?” replied Shraga. “What counts is the agreement that we made. I said two hundred fifty and you accepted.”

Zaidie’s legacy of smiles and loving words was all but buried with him, now the family fights over $

Israel’s complaining frustrated Moshe, making it increasingly hard for him to lead effectively

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Tosafos answers that nevertheless the sprinkling is a part of his taharah process.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Performing ketores outside the Beis Hamikdash, and at the wrong time is an aveirah.

Ten of the twelve spies returned with a negative report, stating that this would be impossible.

The flavor of the mon was not artificial; the mon would now consist of the actual flavors from the desired food.

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

The mitzvah that parents must give their son a bris milah is a mitzvah that they must perform for someone else – namely their son.

The Bach writes that he mentioned his insights to many of the leading gedolim and no one disproved him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/how-did-eisav-sell-the-bechorah/2012/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: