Subscribe to a Weekly Series

Posted on August 21, 2017 By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

33. Valuations and Consecrations – Arachim ve-Charamim

If one vows to give money or property to the Temple it is used for repairs.a One can vow to give the value of a person to the Temple. If he specifies the “valuation” (erech) and can afford it he gives the amount specified by the Torah, which depends only on age and sex, as it says [“If a man makes a vow to Ha-Shem about the valuation of persons…] but if he is too poor… the priest shall value him according to the means of the vower”.1 Otherwise he gives what the particular person is actually worth.b

If one vows to give inherited land to the Temple he can redeem it by paying the amount specified by the Torah, which depends on the amount of barley that could be planted on the land and on the number of years remaining until the Jubilee year [as it says “And if a man consecrates a field of his possession to Ha-Shem…”]2; or another person can redeem it by paying 4/5 as much. If it is not suitable for planting barley it can be redeemed for its value. If it has not been redeemed by the Jubilee year it belongs to the priests who are on duty at the Temple at the time, but they must redeem it for its value. If it has been redeemed by someone other than the owner it belongs to these priests automatically when the Jubilee year arrives. If the owner is himself a priest or Levite he can redeem it even after the Jubilee year, as it says “The Levites shall have perpetual redemption [rights]”.3 If one vows land that he did not inherit to the Temple, he or anyone else can redeem it for its value in proportion to the time remaining until the Jubilee year; when the Jubilee year arrives it reverts to the original owner whether or not it has been redeemed [as it says “And if he consecrates a field that he has bought…”].4,c

If one vows to give other real or movable property to the Temple it can be redeemed at any time for its value (or 5/4 of its value, if redeemed by the owner). If it is a house and is redeemed by someone else it returns to the owner at the Jubilee year, except that if it is in a walled city it remains with the person who redeemed it unless the owner buys it back from him within a year.5 If it is an animal fit to sacrifice on the altar it must be redeemed and then sacrificed, as it says “And if it is an animal that can be sacrificed to Ha-Shem, whatever he gives of it to Ha-Shem shall be holy”6; one should not donate such things to the Temple but should rather bring them as sacrifices.d

One can also vow to give money or property to the priests; in particular if he calls it “devoted” (cherem) without further qualification it belongs to the priests who are then on duty, as it says “Any cherem in Israel shall be yours”,7 and it cannot be redeemed [as it says “But any cherem that a man gives to Ha-Shem of anything that is his of man or beast or field… it shall not be sold or redeemed”].8,e

The courts concern themselves with the redemption of consecrated things on the 15th of Adar each year. One should not consecrate anything at a time when the Temple does not exist; if he does it must be destroyed (or redeemed, and the thing for which he redeemed it destroyed; in such cases he need not redeem it for its value). It is proper for a man to consecrate things to G-d, as the prophets commanded “Honor Ha-Shem from your wealth”9; but there is no sin in refraining from doing so, as it says “And if you cease from vowing there shall be no sin in you”.10 In any event, no one should consecrate more than a fifth of his possessions, as it says “Each man according to his generosity, according to the blessing that Ha-Shem your G-d has given you”.11,f


1. Lev. 27:2-8 a. 1:10; 2:11
2. Lev. 27:16-21 b. 1:2-3,8-9; 3:2,9
3. Lev. 25:32 c. 4:1-5,16,19-21,24,26
4. Lev. 27:22-24 d. 5:3,4,5-7
5. Lev. 25:29-31; 27:11-15 e. 6:1,4,5
6. Lev. 27:9 f. 8:1,9-10,12-13
7. Num. 18:14
8. Lev. 27:28
9. Proverbs 3:9
10. Deut. 23:23
11. Deut. 16:17