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Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar| 5770

Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi: Kidnapping (86)

Rav Ofer Livnat

Iyar 25- Sivan 2, Sanhedrin 86-92


This week in the Daf Hayomi, the Gemara (86) continues to deal with the issue of kidnapping. We too will continue to discuss the question we dealt with last week. The Torah defines kidnapping as gneiva. In Halacha, there is a distinction between gneiva and gzeila. Gzeila is defined as the use of force to overpower the owner and take his property. Gneiva is defined as taking from the owner without him seeing. According to this, gzeila would seem to be the more appropriate term for kidnapping, since for kidnapping, there is a direct confrontation with the owner, who is the person being kidnapped.

We saw two answers given to this question. The first is that, in actuality, the person being kidnapped is considered to belong to his family, and if the kidnapping is done without the presence of the family members, it is defined as gneiva. The second answer is that, since the most common situation of kidnapping is of small children, for whom there is no real confrontation with the kidnapper, the Torah preferred to use the term gneiva.

Perhaps a third explanation may be suggested. Both of these answers continue with the assumption that there is a form of ownership over a person, and they debate who the owner is. However, it may be that, in truth, a free person has no owner. The nature of the kidnapping for which the Torah decreed a death penalty, is when one takes a free person and forcefully turns him into a slave.

This can be understood from two additional conditions that the Gemara states the kidnapper must fulfill following the kidnapping, in order for the death penalty to be incurred. The kidnapper must use the kidnapped person and also sell him as a slave. These two actions are the ultimate reflection of the transformation of a free person into a slave and a object. According to this, we can understand why the Torah does not use the term gzeila, since at the time of the act of kidnapping, there is no owner, so the act can not be categorized as gzeila. However, for gneiva, the emphasis is on the illegitimate acquirement of property, which occurs when the kidnapper turns the kidnapped person into his slave and later on sells him.  


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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
David Zvi Tarshansky z"l


R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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