The Value of a Soul

Parshat Bechukotai 5772
This week’s parsha starts with the tochachah / admonition of the Jewish people.

Then the Torah discusses various vows and contributions that a person can make.

Both of these topics are difficult and sensitive.

I’ve decided to look into the subject of vows based on a person’s value.

How to Value a Person

Here are the verses from this week’s parsha that I want to explore (Judaica Press translation):

Leviticus Chapter 27

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
2 Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When a man expresses a vow, [pledging the] value of lives to the Lord,
3 the [fixed] value of a male shall be as follows: From twenty years old until sixty years old, the value is fifty silver shekels, according to the holy shekel;
4 And if she is a female, the value is thirty shekels;
5 And if [the person is] from five years old until twenty years old, the value of a male shall be twenty shekels, while that of a female shall be ten shekels;
6 And if [the person is] from one month old until five years old, the value of a male shall be five silver shekels, while the value of a female shall be three silver shekels;
7 And if [the person is] sixty years old or over, if it is a male, the value shall be fifteen shekels, while for a female, it shall be ten shekels.

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My Questions

Leviticus 27:2

What is the basis of the valuation that these verses discuss?

The English word “lives” is the translation of “nefashot.” How should this be understood?

Leviticus 27:2-7

Here is a chart of the valuations:


Why does the valuation depend upon only two factors: age and gender?

Why are all other factors such as health, strength, and intelligence not considered?

And of course, the bombshell question, why is the male always at a higher value than the female?

Your Turn

Please share your questions and suggested answers in the comments.

Take a minute and share this post with your friends on Facebook. I would really appreciate it.

Picture Credit: from Flickr.

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
Click here to grab your copy of my free ebook How to Learn Chumash with Rashi.

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