The Value of a Soul

Parashat Bechukotai 5772

This week’s parasha 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.

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

Vayikra 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.

My Questions

Vayikra 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?

Vayikra 27:2-7

Here is a chart of the valuations:

Valuation

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 Flickr.

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