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Substitution


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The idea that one thing can be substituted for another is found especially in connection with objects dedicated to the Temple. The rules of substitution or pidyon (‘redemption’) are in brief as follows. If, for example, a man dedicates his house to the Temple, it becomes sacred from that moment and no profane use may be made of it. But since the Temple has no need for the house but does need money for the repairs and general upkeep of the sacred building, the Temple treasurer can sell the house and its sanctity is then transferred to the money for which it is purchased. The man who dedicated the house can redeem it himself but when he does he is obliged to add a fifth to the value of the house, the whole becoming sacred (Leviticus 27: 14–15). Maimonides explains the addition of a fifth of the value where the redemption is done by the man himself on the grounds that he may undervalue the house, so the additional fifth makes up for any undervaluation. An animal dedicated as an offering to the Temple can only be redeemed if the animal develops a blemish that disqualifies it as an offering. If a man, having dedicated an animal as an offering, seeks to exchange it for another animal, declaring that this animal is the substitute (temurah) of the animal that has been dedicated, the rule is that both animals become sacred. ‘One may not exchange or substitute another for it, either good for bad or bad for good; if one does substitute one animal for another, the thing vowed and its substitute shall both be holy’ (Leviticus 27: 10). Tractate Temurah in the Mishnah is devoted largely to the details of this law.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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