Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rav Kahana Ha'Kohen

Rav Yosef states (Daf Yomi: Kiddushin 8a): How do I know this (that an equivalent of money used for kiddushin must have a defined monetary value)? The braisa states: If someone says, “This calf or garment is for the redemption of my firstborn son,” he has not said (or done) anything (even if he gives it to the Kohen). If he says, “This calf or garment that is worth five sela’im is to the Kohen for the redemption of my firstborn son,” it is valid. What is the case? If they are not actually worth five sela’im, why should we think it is valid? It must be the first case is where it really is worth five sela’im, but was not appraised.

The Gemora answers: The (second) case is where it was not appraised, but the Kohen accepted it as if it was worth five sela’im. Rav Kahana indeed used to accept a (special male) head covering for the redemption, and he would say, “For me this is worth five sela’im.”

Rav Ashi says: This only applies to Rav Kahana, who was a great man and required a head covering. This would not apply to everyone. This is similar to the incident where Mar bar Rav Ashi bought a head covering from the mother of Rabbah in Kubi, and paid thirteen although it was worth ten. [One explanation is that important people pay more for things that they need than regular people (others give a different explanation, see Chidushei Ha’Rashba).]

Tosfos deduces from our Gemora that Rav Kahana was a Kohen.

However, he asks that it is evident from a Gemora in Pesachim (49a) that he was not a Kohen (rather, his wife was a Kohenes)!?

Tosfos answers that the Rav Kahana mentioned in our Gemora was evidently not the same one mentioned in the Gemora Pesachim. Alternatively, Rav Kahana took the redemption money for the firstborn on behalf of his wife.

Reb Akiva Eiger notes that the father has discharged his obligation by giving the money to Rav Kahana, for his wife is certainly pleased that he accepted the money for her.

It is noteworthy that other Rishonim disagree with Tosfos and maintain that the redemption money for a firstborn must be given only to a male Kohen, and not to a Kohenes!

The Mishneh La’Melech writes that it would seem from Tosfos that he is uncertain regarding this matter, and that is why he offers two answers.

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