Parshat במדבר Numbers18-15 – A simple emendation

Parsahat קרח- Numbers 18:15 A simple change

Numbers 18:15 “Every thing that openeth the womb, of all flesh which they offer unto the LORD, both of man and beast, shall be thine; howbeit the first-born of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem”

Kiddushin 29: “A woman is not commanded to redeem her [first born] son as the verse says ‘you shall redeem’ You shall redeem: any one commanded to redeem oneself (if not already redeemed) is commanded to redeem others.  One who is no not commanded to redeem oneself is not commanded to redeem others.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #51:

A woman is not obligated to redeem herself as will be explained in the next note. The commentators have worked hard to explain the double language in the Talmud: תפדה תפדה (you shall surely redeem)  Rashi on the Talmud explains vocalize you shall redeem (tifdeh) in the passive (tipadeh) – shall be redeemed.  There is no explanation for this.  See Maharsha and Mahashal who state that, aside from Rashi’s explanation being unclear, why not learn this ruling from the superfluous language in the verse “תפדה פדה – you shall surely redeem as in the way of Chazal to explain superfluous language such as this?  Another question is that the Rif brings the explanation cited by Rashi regarding a different matter — that a first born must redeem himself if his father did not redeem him as noted in the previous exegesis.

It appears to me that everything can be clarified with a simple change to Rashi’s explanation.  His comment ” vocalize you shall redeem (tifdeh) in the passive (tipadeh) – shall be redeemed” does not apply to this ruling regarding a woman redeeming her son.  Rather, it applies to the previous ruling that a first born, who was not redeemed, must redeem himself.  Instead of attributing his commentary to the statement in the Talmud תפדה תפדה, apply it to the statement תפדה פדה, which applies to the previous ruling that a first born who was not redeemed must redeem himself.  Thus everything makes sense and Rashi and the Rif agree.  [To recap]: One learns from vocalizing you shall redeem (tifdeh) in the passive (tipadeh) that a first born, who was not redeemed, must redeem himself.  From the superfluous language in the verse “תפדה פדה, one learns that a woman is not obligated to redeem her son.  Another way to explain this is that the Talmud associates תפדה תפדה with תפדהפדהmeaning: one should compare the different rulings of redemption because of the repeating language in the verse.  All is clear if you investigate this.

Editor’s note: This note shows the Torah Temimah’s vast knowledge of Talmud and the commentaries.  It is another example of his resolving conflicting sources as  he does many times with seemingly conflicting midrashim.  The Talmud derives three laws from this verse, each due to how these uses the verb redeem.

1) The previous exegesis: a first born who was not redeemed must redeem himself.  The Talmud learns this  from the word תפדה (shall redeem) vocalized as tipadeh (shall be redeemed)

2) This exegesis: a woman is not commanded to redeem her son  The Talmud learns this from the repetition of the verb תפדהפדה (you shall surely redeem – both in the masculine conjugation)

3) The next exegesis: A woman is not obligated to redeem herself because the verse says תפדה(you shall redeem- in the masculine conjugation).  The Torah Temimah explains in the next exegesis that a woman is not obligated to redeem herself because no one is commanded to redeem her as derived from the verse Exodus 34:20 “And the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break its neck. All the first-born of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty.”

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