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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Shemita - Chapter 11

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Shemita - Chapter 11

1

[The portions of] Eretz Yisrael that were divided among the tribes1 can never be sold permanently, as [Leviticus 25:23] states: "The land will not be sold in perpetuity." If one sells the land in perpetuity, both [the buyer and the seller] violate a negative commandment.2 Their deeds are of no consequence,3 and the land reverts to its [original] owner in the Jubilee year.

א

אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמִּתְחַלֶּקֶת לִשְׁבָטִים אֵינָהּ נמְכֶּרֶת לִצְמִיתוּת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כג) "וְהָאָרֶץ לֹא תִמָּכֵר לִצְמִתֻת". וְאִם מָכַר לִצְמִיתוּת שְׁנֵיהֶם עוֹבְרִין בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה. וְאֵין מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן מוֹעִילִין אֶלָּא תַּחֲזֹר הַשָּׂדֶה לִבְעָלֶיהָ בַּיּוֹבֵל:

2

When a person sells his field for 60 years, it is not returned in the Jubilee.4 For [the only property] that returns in the Jubilee year is property that is sold without qualification or property that is sold in perpetuity.

ב

וְהַמּוֹכֵר שָׂדֵהוּ לְשִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה אֵינָהּ יוֹצְאָה בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁאֵין חוֹזֵר בַּיּוֹבֵל אֶלָּא דָּבָר הַנִמְכָּר סְתָם אוֹ הַנִמְכָּר לִצְמִיתוּת:

3

A person should not sell his home or his ancestral field even though it returns to him eventually, unless he becomes impoverished, as [Leviticus 25:25] states: "If your brother becomes indigent and sells his ancestral heritage." One is not permitted to sell [such property] and hold the money in his pocket, engage in commerce with them, or purchase utensils, servants, or livestock. [He is only allowed to] sell to provide himself with sustenance. [Nevertheless,] if one transgressed and sold [such property], the sale is valid.

ג

לֹא יִמְכֹּר אָדָם בֵּיתוֹ אוֹ שְׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵם חוֹזְרִין אַחַר זְמַן אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הֶעֱנִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כה) "וְכִי יָמוּךְ אָחִיךָ וּמָכַר מֵאֲחֻזָּתוֹ". אֲבָל לִמְכֹּר וּלְהַנִּיחַ הַדָּמִים בְּכִיסוֹ אוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת בָּהֶן סְחוֹרָה אוֹ לִקַּח בָּהֶן כֵּלִים אוֹ עֲבָדִים וּבְהֵמָה אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי אֶלָּא לִמְזוֹנוֹת בִּלְבַד. וְאִם עָבַר וּמָכַר מִכָּל מָקוֹם הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מְכוּרִין:

4

Judgments are made with regard to a home in accordance with the laws of a walled city,5 and with regard to a field in accordance with the laws of a field that is an ancestral heritage.6 The laws of a person who sells a field that is an ancestral heritage [require] the calculation of the years remaining until the Jubilee. Whenever [the original owner] desires to redeem the field he should make a reckoning with the purchaser with regard to the years from which he benefited from the field and reduce that from the purchase price and return the remainder.7

ד

וְדָנִין בְּבַיִת דִּין בָּתֵּי עָרֵי חוֹמָה וּבְשָׂדֶה דִּין שְׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּה. דִּין מוֹכֵר שְׂדֶה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ לְחַשֵּׁב אֶת הַדָּמִים לְפִי הַשָּׁנִים הַנִּשְׁאָרוֹת לַיּוֹבֵל. וּבְכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצֶה לִפְדּוֹת מְחַשֵּׁב עִם הַלּוֹקֵחַ עַל הַשָּׁנִים שֶׁאָכַל. וְגוֹרֵעַ מִדְּמֵי הַמּוֹכֵר וּמַחֲזִיר לוֹ הַשְּׁאָר:

5

What is implied? There remained ten years until the Jubilee and a field was sold for 100 dinar.8 The purchaser benefited from the field for three years and then the seller desired to redeem his field. He should give him 70 dinar and then [the seller] should return the field. Similarly, if he benefited from the field for six years, he should give him 40 dinar and then [the seller] should return the field. If he did not redeem it, but instead left it in the purchaser's possession until the Jubilee, and then it should return to the owner without money, as [indicated by Leviticus 25:15]: "According to the number of years of [its] crops, he will sell it to you."

ה

כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי הַנִּשְׁאָר לַיּוֹבֵל עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וּמָכַר לוֹ שָׂדֶה בְּמֵאָה דִּינָר. אֲכָלָהּ הַלּוֹקֵחַ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְרָצָה הַמּוֹכֵר לִגְאל נוֹתֵן לוֹ שִׁבְעִים דִּינָר וּמַחֲזִיר שָׂדֵהוּ. וְכֵן אִם אֲכָלָהּ שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים נוֹתֵן לוֹ אַרְבָּעִים דִּינָר וּמַחֲזִיר לוֹ שָׂדֵהוּ. לֹא גְאָלָהּ אֶלָּא הִנִּיחָהּ בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ עַד שְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל תַּחֲזֹר לַבְּעָלִים בְּלֹא דָּמִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה טו) "בְּמִסְפַּר שְׁנֵי תְבוּאֹת יִמְכָּר לָךְ":

6

If he sold it to him when it was filled with produce and then he redeemed it after two years, he cannot tell him: "Return it to me filled with produce as it was when I sold it to you." Therefore if he sold it to him filled with produce before Rosh HaShanah and redeemed it after two years, the purchaser will have benefited from three harvests in those two years. Nevertheless, [the reduction of the price] is calculated only according to two years, as [implied by ibid. 27:18:9 "the priest shall calculate the money...] according to the remaining years," [i.e., the calculation is made according to years,] and not according to crops.10

ו

מְכָרָהּ לוֹ וְהִיא מְלֵאָה פֵּרוֹת וּלְאַחַר שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים גְאָלָהּ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לוֹמַר לוֹ הַחֲזִירֶנָּה לִי מְלֵאָה פֵּרוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁמָּכַרְתִּי לְךָ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם מְכָרָהּ לוֹ מְלֵאָה פֵּרוֹת לִפְנֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וּגְאָלָהּ אַחַר שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים הֲרֵי זֶה אוֹכֵל שָׁלֹשׁ תְּבוּאוֹת בִּשְׁתֵּי הַשָּׁנִים וְאֵינוֹ מְחַשֵּׁב עִמּוֹ אֶלָּא לְפִי שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים בִּלְבַד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כז יח) "עַל פִּי הַשָּׁנִים" לֹא עַל פִּי הַתְּבוּאוֹת:

7

The shoots, the twigs, and the fruits from the wild fig trees contained within it belong to the purchaser like its other produce.11 If, however, [the branches of a tree] are cut down12 or it dries,13 they are both forbidden to benefit from it.14 What should be done? It should be sold and land purchased with the proceeds. The purchaser is entitled to benefit from that land until the [original] field is redeemed from him.

ז

הַקָּנִים וְהַזְּמוֹרוֹת וּפֵרוֹת שִׁקְמָה שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁל לוֹקֵחַ כִּשְׁאָר הַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁלָּהּ. אֲבָל אִילָן שֶׁנִּכְסַח אוֹ שֶׁיָּבַשׁ שְׁנֵיהֶן אֲסוּרִין בּוֹ. כֵּיצַד יַעֲשֶׂה. יִמָּכֵר וְיִלָּקַח בְּדָמָיו קַרְקַע וְהַלּוֹקֵחַ אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ עַד שֶׁתִּגָּאֵל הַשָּׂדֶה מִיָּדוֹ:

8

If a person purchases a field that is an ancestral heritage and plants trees15which increase the value [of the field], when it returns [to its original owner] in the Jubilee, we should evaluate the increase in value brought about by the trees in it and the owner of the field must pay this sum to the purchaser. [This is derived from ibid. 25:33]: "A home that was sold shall go out... [in the Jubilee]." [Implied is that the home] is returned, but not the increase in its value.

ח

הַלּוֹקֵחַ שְׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּה וּנְטָעָהּ אִילָנוֹת וְהִשְׁבִּיחָה כְּשֶׁהִיא חוֹזֶרֶת בַּיּוֹבֵל שָׁמִין שֶׁבַח הָאִילָנוֹת שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ. וְנוֹתֵן בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה דְּמֵי הַשֶּׁבַח לַלּוֹקֵחַ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לג) "וְיָצָא מִמְכַּר בַּיִת" מִמְכָּר חוֹזֵר וְלֹא הַשֶּׁבַח:

9

When a person sells his field in the era when the Jubilee year is observed as we explained, he is not permitted to redeem it in less than two years, as [ibid.:15] states: "According to the number of years16 of [its] crops, he will sell it to you." Even if the purchaser was willing [to return it earlier], it is forbidden, as [the same verse] states: "According to the number of years17 after the Jubilee shall you purchase it from your colleague." [The purchaser must maintain possession for] at least two years from the date of the sale.18

ט

הַמּוֹכֵר אֶת שָׂדֵהוּ בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַיּוֹבֵל נוֹהֵג כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ אֵינוֹ מֻתָּר לִגְאל לְפָחוֹת מִשְּׁתֵּי שָׁנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה טו) "בְּמִסְפַּר שְׁנֵי תְבוּאֹת יִמְכָּר לָךְ". וַאֲפִלּוּ רָצָה הַלּוֹקֵחַ אָסוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה טו) "בְּמִסְפַּר שָׁנִים אַחַר הַיּוֹבֵל תִּקְנֶה מֵאֵת עֲמִיתֶךָ". אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁתֵּי שָׁנִים מֵעֵת לְעֵת מִיּוֹם הַמְּכִירָה:

10

The purchaser must benefit from two crops in these two years and then [the seller] may redeem it, for it is written "years of its crops." Therefore if one of the two years were the Sabbatical year19 or a year of windblast or blight,20 they are not included in the reckoning.

י

וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאכַל הַלּוֹקֵחַ שְׁתֵּי תְּבוּאוֹת בִּשְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִגְאַל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה טו) "שְׁנֵי תְּבוּאוֹת". לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיְתָה אַחַת מִשְּׁתֵּי הַשָּׁנִים שְׁבִיעִית אוֹ שְׁנַת שִׁדָּפוֹן אוֹ יֵרָקוֹן אֵינָהּ עוֹלָה מִן הַמִּנְיָן:

11

If, however, the purchaser left it fallow one year and then benefited from it in the second year or benefited from it one year and then lightly plowed it, but did not sow it in the following year, [these years] are included in the reckoning.21 If he sold it in the Jubilee itself, the sale is not binding and the money should be returned to the seller.22

יא

הִנִּיחָהּ הַלּוֹקֵחַ בּוּרָה שָׁנָה וַאֲכָלָהּ שָׁנָה. אוֹ אֲכָלָהּ שָׁנָה וְנָרָהּ שָׁנָה וְלֹא זְרָעָהּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ עוֹלִין לַמִּנְיָן. מְכָרָהּ בִּשְׁנַת יוֹבֵל עַצְמָהּ אֵינָהּ נִמְכֶּרֶת וְהַדָּמִים חוֹזְרִין לַבְּעָלִים:

12

If he sold it one year before the Jubilee, the purchaser benefits from it for a second year after the Jubilee,23 as [implied by the phrase]: "years of its crops."

יב

מְכָרָהּ שָׁנָה אַחַת לִפְנֵי הַיּוֹבֵל הֲרֵי הַלּוֹקֵחַ אוֹכֵל אוֹתָהּ שָׁנָה שְׁנִיָּה אַחַר הַיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה טו) "שְׁנֵי תְבוּאֹת":

13

If he sold clefts that were filled with water or rocky [land] that was not fit to sow upon, he may redeem them in less than two years, as [implied by the phrase]: "years of its crops." One might infer that it is only a field that is fit to grow crops that is not redeemed in less than two years. [Nevertheless,] if the original owner did not redeem [this land], it returns to him in the Jubilee even though it is not fit to be sown.24

יג

מָכַר נְקָעִים מְלֵאִים מַיִם אוֹ סְלָעִים שֶׁאֵינָם רְאוּיִין לִזְרִיעָה הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹדֶה בְּפָחוֹת מִשְּׁתֵּי שָׁנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה טו) "בְּמִסְפַּר שְׁנֵי תְבוּאֹת". שָׂדֶה הָרָאוּי לַתְּבוּאָה הִיא שֶׁאֵינָהּ נִגְאֶלֶת אֶלָּא אַחַר שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים. וְאִם לֹא גְּאָלָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ רְאוּיָה לִזְרִיעָה חוֹזֶרֶת לַבְּעָלִים בַּיּוֹבֵל:

14

If he sold [fruit-]trees,25 they may not be redeemed in less than two years, for they are fit to produce crops. If he did not redeem them, they are not returned to the owner in the Jubilee, as [implied by ibid.:27]: "he shall return to his ancestral heritage." [This excludes] trees.26

יד

מָכַר אִילָנוֹת אֵין נִגְאָלִין לְפָחוֹת מִשְּׁתֵּי שָׁנִים שֶׁהֲרֵי רְאוּיִים לִתְבוּאוֹת. וְאִם לֹא גְּאָלָן אֵינָן חוֹזְרִין לַבְּעָלִים בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כז כח) "וְשָׁב לַאֲחֻזָּתוֹ" וְלֹא לָאִילָנוֹת:

15

If a person sold his field to one person, that person sold it to a second, the second to a third - even if there were 100 consecutive sales - in the Jubilee, it returns to its original owner, as [implied by Leviticus 27:24]: "In the Jubilee year, the field will return to the one from whom he purchased it, whose ancestral heritage it was."27

טו

מָכַר שָׂדֵהוּ לְרִאשׁוֹן וְרִאשׁוֹן מָכַר לְשֵׁנִי וְשֵׁנִי לִשְׁלִישִׁי אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה זֶה אַחַר זֶה בִּשְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל תַּחֲזֹר לָאָדוֹן הָרִאשׁוֹן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כז כד) "בִּשְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל יָשׁוּב הַשָּׂדֶה לַאֲשֶׁר קָנָהוּ מֵאִתּוֹ לַאֲשֶׁר לוֹ אֲחֻזַּת הָאָרֶץ":

16

If [the owner] sold it to the first purchaser for 100 dinarim and [the latter] sold it to the second for 200, should the original owner desire to redeem it, he makes a reckoning only with the first purchaser, as [ibid. 25:27] states: "[And return the remainder] to the man to whom he sold it."28 If [the owner] sold it to a person for 200 and [the latter] sold it for 100, [the owner] makes a reckoning with the final [purchaser].29

Similarly, if he sold the field for 100 and it increased in value30 in the possession of the purchaser until it was appropriate to be sold for 200, the reckoning should be made according to the purchase price. If he sold it for 200 and its value diminished31 and it is now fit to be sold for 100, the reckoning should be made according to its present value. [The general principle is:] We always augment the legal power of the seller of an ancestral heritage and weaken the legal power of the purchaser.

טז

מְכָרָהּ לְרִאשׁוֹן בְּמֵאָה דִּינָר וְרִאשׁוֹן לְשֵׁנִי בְּמָאתַיִם וְרָצָה הָאָדוֹן לִגְאל אֵינוֹ מְחַשֵּׁב אֶלָּא עִם הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כז) "לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר מָכַר לוֹ". מְכָרָהּ לְרִאשׁוֹן בְּמָאתַיִם וְרִאשׁוֹן לְשֵׁנִי בְּמֵאָה הֲרֵי זֶה מְחַשֵּׁב עִם הָאַחֲרוֹן. וְכֵן אִם מָכַר בְּמֵאָה וְהִשְׁבִּיחָה בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ וַהֲרֵי הִיא רְאוּיָה לְהִמָּכֵר בְּמָאתַיִם מְחַשֵּׁב לְפִי מַה שֶּׁמָּכַר. וְאִם מְכָרָהּ בְּמָאתַיִם וְהִכְסִיפָה וַהֲרֵי הִיא רְאוּיָה לְהִמָּכֵר בְּמֵאָה מְחַשֵּׁב לְפִי מַה שֶּׁהִיא. וּלְעוֹלָם מְיַפִּים כֹּחַ מוֹכֵר שְׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּה וּמְרֵעִין כֹּחַ הַלּוֹקֵחַ:

17

When a person sells a field that is an ancestral heritage, but he also possesses other fields and sells some of those other fields to redeem [his ancestral heritage] that he sold, his [request to redeem the field] is not heeded, for [ibid.:26] states: "And he attained enough to redeem it." [We can infer that] he must attain something that was not accessible to him at the time he sold it. Similarly, if he borrowed [money] to redeem [the field], his [request] is not heeded, for that verse states: "And he acquired." [Implied is that he must obtain the means on his own], not through a loan.

יז

הַמּוֹכֵר שְׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּתוֹ וְהָיוּ לוֹ שָׂדוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת וּמָכַר מֵאוֹתָם הַשָּׂדוֹת כְּדֵי לִגְאל שָׂדֶה שֶׁמָּכַר אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כו) "וּמָצָא כְּדֵי גְאֻלָּתוֹ" עַד שֶׁיִּמְצָא דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מָצוּי לוֹ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמָּכַר. וְכֵן אִם לָוָה לִגְאל אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כו) "וְהִשִּׂיגָה יָדוֹ" לֹא שֶׁיִּלְוֶה:

18

If he attained a small amount [of resources] and desired to redeem half the field he sold, his [request] is not heeded, for that verse states: "enough to redeem it." Either he redeems the entire [field] or he does not redeem at all.

If a relative desired to redeem it, he may, as [ibid.:25] states: "And his redeemer who is related to him shall come...."32

יח

מָצָא מְעַט וְרָצָה לִגְאל חֲצִי הַשָּׂדֶה שֶׁמָּכַר אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כו) "כְּדֵי גְאֻלָּתוֹ". אוֹ גּוֹאֵל אֶת כֻּלָּהּ אוֹ אֵינוֹ גּוֹאֵל. וְאִם רָצוּ קְרוֹבָיו לִגְאל גּוֹאֲלִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה כה) "וּבָא גֹאֲלוֹ הַקָּרֹב אֵלָיו":

19

When a person gives his field away as a present, it returns to him in the Jubilee, as [ibid.:13] states: "Each man shall return to his ancestral heritage." This includes one who gave [it away as] a present.33

יט

הַנּוֹתֵן שָׂדֵהוּ מַתָּנָה הֲרֵי זוֹ חוֹזֶרֶת לוֹ בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה יג) "תָּשֻׁבוּ אִישׁ אֶל אֲחֻזָּתוֹ" לְרַבּוֹת אֶת הַמַּתָּנָה:

20

Brothers who divide [an inheritance] are considered as purchasers34 and each one should return his portion to the other in the Jubilee, but their division is not nullified.35 Similarly, a firstborn36 and one who performs yibbum with his brother's wife,37 return the portion that they received in the Jubilee and take another portion instead of it.

כ

הָאַחִין שֶׁחָלְקוּ כְּלָקוֹחוֹת הֵן וּמַחְזִירִין זֶה לָזֶה חֶלְקוֹ בַּיּוֹבֵל. לֹא תִּבָּטֵל חֲלוּקָתָן מִכְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיְתָה. וְכֵן הַבְּכוֹר וְהַמְיַבֵּם אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו מַחֲזִיר בַּיּוֹבֵל חֵלֶק שֶׁנָּטַל וְנוֹטֵל הַחֵלֶק שֶׁכְּנֶגְדּוֹ:

21

[Different rules apply with regard to a husband] who inherits his wife's [property]. Although a husband's inheritance of this property is a Rabbinic ordinance,38our Sages reinforced their decree as if it were of Scriptural origin and he is not required to return it [to the women's family] in the Jubilee year.39 If he inherited a [family] cemetery from her, he should return it to her family members lest this blemish [the reputation of] the family.40 They should pay him its worth after deducting the value of his wife's grave, for he is obligated to bury her.41

כא

אֲבָל הַיּוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיְּרֻשַּׁת הַבַּעַל מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם עָשׂוּ חִזּוּק לְדִבְרֵיהֶם כְּשֶׁל תּוֹרָה וְאֵינוֹ מַחֲזִיר בַּיּוֹבֵל. וְאִם יָרַשׁ מִמֶּנָּה בֵּית הַקְּבָרוֹת יַחֲזִיר לִבְנֵי מִשְׁפָּחָה מִשּׁוּם פְּגַם מִשְׁפָּחָה וְיִתְּנוּ לוֹ דָּמֶיהָ וּמְנַכִּין לוֹ דְּמֵי קֶבֶר אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי חַיָּב בִּקְבוּרָתָהּ:

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

For the entire passage speaks about an "ancestral heritage," i.e., land given to a person's ancestors when the land was originally divided among the tribes (Radbaz). This excludes Jerusalem which was never divided among the tribes (Rambam LeAm).

2.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 227) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 339) include the commandment for the land not to be sold in perpetuity among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

3.

For whenever a person acts in violation of Torah Law, his deeds are of no avail (Temurah 4b). Since their deeds are of no consequence, they are not punished by lashes (Mishneh LiMelech).

4.

Even though a Jubilee year will definitely fall within the span of the sale.

5.

As explained in the following chapter. Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 139 and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 3410) include the commandment to carry out the laws pertaining to a walled city among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

6.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 138) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 340) include the command to enable a field to be redeemed or for it to be returned to its owner in the Jubilee year among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

7.

As the Rambam explains in the following halachah, the sale of such a field is considered as a rental agreement until the Jubilee year, with the purchase price being divided equally among the years remaining until the Jubilee. Thus each year has a set value. If the seller wants to redeem his field, he must pay back the money for the remaining years.

8.

Thus the right to use the field was sold for 10 dinar a year.

9.

Although this verse is speaking about the consecration of a field and its redemption from the Temple treasury, Arichin 29b-30a explains that the same principles should be applied to a sale to a private person.

10.

As one might conclude from Leviticus 25:15 as cited in the previous halachah.

11.

For these are considered as temporary benefits which the field regularly produces.

12.

Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Kilayim 2:5). See also the Kessef Mishneh to Chapter 1, Halachah 15.

13.

And thus it has value only to be cut down as firewood.

14.

The purchaser is forbidden to benefit from it alone, because the tree is considered as part of the permanent features of the field and thus was not included in the original sale. On the other hand, the owner cannot take the entire benefit for himself, for the purchaser is entitled to benefit from it for the duration of his ownership of the property.

15.

If, however, the body of the land itself increases in value, that increase is not granted to the purchaser. See Halachah 16.

16.

The use of the plural form implies that the sale must be for at least two years.

17.

If, however, the body of the land itself increases in value, that increase is not granted to the purchaser. See Halachah 16.

18.

I.e., he cannot redeem it until the same date two years later. We do not count the years as beginning from Rosh HaShanah, but from the date of the sale.

19.

When it is forbidden to sow a field.

20.

Which prevented crops from growing in the entire land (Bava Metzia 106a).

21.

Since crops could have grown during those years, and he chose not to sow the land on his own, they are considered "years of its crops." The Kessef Mishneh states that this law also applies if the purchaser leaves it fallow for two years. The Radbaz, however, does not accept this conclusion.

22.

Arachin 29b explains that this is a logical conclusion. If the advent of the Jubilee causes a field that was sold to be returned to its original owners, it will certainly prevent the sale of one that was not sold as of yet from taking effect.

23.

As implied by the phrase "years of its crops," a sale must take effect for at least two years. Hence, the Jubilee does not nullify this sale and the land remains his for one year after the sale. Kin'at Eliyahu notes that since a Jubilee is always preceded by a Sabbatical year (when the purchaser cannot benefit from it), the land must have been sold two years before the Jubilee.

24.

For such land is still called "his ancestral heritage" (Arachin 14b).

25.

The bracketed addition is based on the gloss of the Radbaz who explains that this law would not apply to non-fruit trees. They could be redeemed within the two years. He also explains that the seller must have specifically stated that the sale does not include the land. Otherwise, a certain amount of land is automatically included as stated in Hilchot Mechirah 24:1-2. See also the notes to Hilchot Arichin 4:25.

26.

For the term "ancestral heritage" implies land.

27.

Although the verse is speaking about the return of a purchased field that was consecrated, similar principles apply even if the field was not consecrated.

28.

That purchaser must reimburse the person to whom he sold the field. Although the profit of the purchaser/seller is minimized according to the number of years remaining to the Jubilee, he still retains the profit for the years the sale was viable.

29.

I.e., the owner need not compensate the purchaser/seller for his loss.

30.

This is referring to an increase that comes about because of market fluctuations and not as a result of improvements made by the purchaser as indicated by Halachah 8 (Radbaz).

31.

Here also, the Rambam is speaking about a decrease as a result of market fluctuations. Needless to say, the same law would apply if the value of the land was reduced because of the purchaser's actions.

32.

The classic example of this is the redemption of the field sold by Elimelech by his relative, Boaz, as described at the conclusion of the book of Ruth.

33.

As the Radbaz mentions, in several sources (e.g., Chapter 12, Halachah 4), we find the principle that a present is considered as a sale. [Kin'at Eliyahu asks: If so, why is the prooftext necessary?]

34.

I.e., we consider it as if they sold the share the other received in return for the share that they received. We do not apply the principle of bereirah, i.e., consider the portion received as the portion destined for them at the outset (Bechorot 52b).

35.

I.e., there is no need to nullify the entire division and recalculate. Instead, it is sufficient to merely exchange portions (Kessef Mishneh).

36.

Who receives a double share of the inheritance. From the wording of Deuteronomy 21:17, our Sages conclude that this double portion is given to the firstborn as a present. Hence, since a present is considered as a sale, the share is returned and the inheritance redivided [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Bechorot 9:11)].

37.

And is therefore given his brother's share of the inheritance (Hilchot Nachalot 3:7). He is also called a "firstborn" (Deuteronomy 25:6) and thus the concepts mentioned in the previous note apply to him.

38.

See Hilchot Ishut 12:3; Hilchot Nachalot 1:8, 6:8.

39.

I.e., he is considered as a single heir and not as a purchaser.

40.

As the Maggid Mishneh states in his gloss to Hilchot Mechirah 24:17, it is an embarrassment for the members of a family that their relatives will not be buried in the family plot.

41.

See Hilchot Ishut 12:2,4.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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