Now this was [done] in former times in Israel concerning redemption and
concerning exchange, to confirm every matter: a man drew off his shoe and gave
it to his neighbor. This was the attestation in Israel.
describing the ceremony of removing the shoe (chalitzah, vmhkj)
that now took place, the scripture explains that it was an early custom in Israel which attained the force of Torah law, in
accordance with the principle that a custom of Israel is Torah (Talmud).
custom under discussion is the practice that in the sale (redemption) or
barter (exchange) of an item, the seller removed his shoe and gave it to the
buyer to symbolize the transfer of goods. Or, according to a different
interpretation, the buyer gave the seller his shoe to symbolize his willingness
to pay, even if it meant taking the very shirt off his back (or shoe off his
its symbolism, the act had legal force: with it the transaction took effect.
Hence this was the attestation in Israelthis was the act that
witnesses observed and to which they testified in order to confirm the
after the ceremony Boaz said to those present: Witnesses are you this day
that I have purchased all that is Elimelechs (v.9).
different interpretation is that formerly in Israel the practice was rcs kf
ohhek to confirm every utterance; a verbal agreement sufficed to
confirm any transaction. Later it became customary to hand over the shoe as an
act of acquisition, but it was done privately. This was the attestation in Israel;
witnesses were not needed.
Plony Almony, being ignorant of Torah law, told Boaz before the elders
to buy it for yourself (v. 8), that is, make an acquisition before
witnesses. And Boaz acquiesced.
interpretation is that at first it was customary to remove the shoe for
purchase (redemption); for barter (exchange), a more rare transaction, the
practice was added later. Eventually it was used to confirm every matter.
exception was in acquiring a wife, because the shoe obviously had to be
returned to the owner so he would not be left barefoot. If however the bride
returned the shoe [it might appear as if she had rejected the act of
betrothal], and hence it would seem that they lived together thereafter without
benefit of proper wedlock. Thus it is an explicit halacha that a woman may not
be wedded with a conditional gift, that is, one meant to be returned.
the marriage of Ruth and Boaz is described separately (v. 10); the shoe removal
ceremony was only for acquiring the field.
another interpretation is that handing over a shoe was done to redeem the
wife of the deceased, and to exchange one redeemer for another if the latter,
like Plony Almony, refused to redeem.
use of a shoe is found in the Torah law of chalitzah, marking the refusal to
perform yibum. We find also that when Joab took Abner aside to speak to him privately
(2 Samuel 3:27), he was as if offering him entry into a covenant with the
removal of a shoe (as in lkgb, Remove your shoe [Joshua 5:15]).
the Targum translates kgb as glove rather than shoe. Nowadays, in the
similar custom, commonly called kinyan challipin or simply challipin, the shoe
is replaced by a handkerchief; and the transaction is known as a kinyan sudar
ihbe, acquisition by kerchief).
Zohar says that here handing over a shoe is specified; it was a forgotten
custom which Boaz now reinstituted. The scripture attests to its authenticity
by recording that This was the attestation in Israel.
through challipin was one of two halachot that Boaz reinstituted that day, the
other being that a Moabitess convert may enter the congregation of God.
if a Torah scholar expounds a hitherto unknown halacha before the facti.e.,
before the situation to which his ruling applies has risenhe is believed;
after the fact, he is not. But if he expounds two such halachot, it is a sign
that they were based on a reliable tradition, and he is believed concerning
both. Now that Ruth was about to marry a Jew (or: had already earlier married
Machlon), the halacha of a Moabite, not a Moabitess was considered as coming
after the fact. However, since Boaz simultaneously renewed the law of
challipin, which was done in former times in Israel, he was believed as well
about a Moabite, not a Moabitess.
The redeemer said to Boaz, Buy it for yourself, and he drew off his shoe.
the manner of acquisition by challipin. Boaz removed his shoe and gave it to
the redeemer in exchange for the right of redemption. This entitled Boaz to buy
the field from Naomi and then acquire Ruth in a separate transaction.
to a different interpretation, the redeemer passed his shoe to Boaz, as if to
say, Just as I have given you my shoe, so have I given you the right of
redemption. Thus the following verse begins with Boaz said, suggesting that
he drew off his shoe is not speaking of Boaz.
Abraham Ibn Ezra
7. And this [procedure] was the
time-honored practice among Israel.
The Midrash Ruth Rabbah
comments that in previous generations the use of a shoe or sandal was the
standard means of executing a purchase for it says, one man would remove his
shoe. Subsequently the standard was changed to ketzatzah (vmme,
shattering). What is the rule of ketzatzah?
Yosi bar Avin said: When a field was sold by a member of a family, his
relatives would bring a barrel full of roasted grain and nuts which they would
shatter in front of the small children. The children would collect the pieces
and say, "This person has been severed from his estate." So, too,
when someone would marry a woman who was inappropriate for him, his relatives
would bring a barrel full of roasted grain and nuts which they would shatter in
front of the small children. The children would collect the pieces and say,
"This person has been severed from his family." Then they reverted to
acquiring property with a shoe or sandal. One man would remove his shoe and give it to his fellowman. Later, they converted to transactions of
money, exchange of contract, and acts of possession.
According to this it can be explained that, And
this [procedure] was the time-honored practice among Israel, refers to a much
earlier historical period. In the time of Yehoshua they would purchase property
by means of exchange (ihphkj)
and only afterwards did they initiate the custom of ketzatzah. The
transition in the mode of transaction is indicated by use of the word ohbpk. There is a significant difference between lefanim
(ohbpk) and milfiznim
(ohbpkn). The word milfanim
indicates that a practice which is performed now originated in earlier
times. However, the word lefanim connotes a custom which was practiced
in earlier times but no longer exists, as in, The Emim dwelled there
previously (Devarim 2:10). Accordingly, it is understood that this
method of acquisition was later nullified. According to Tosafos' commentary
on Arachin 30a, anything which returns to the owner, such as a gift
which is given on condition that it be returned, borrowing or rental cannot be
acquired by chalifin (exchange). This seems to be contradicted by the
fact that the concept of the chalifin acquisition is derived from the
act of Boaz: One man would remove his shoe.
the present situation, Boaz was an inheritor and the property would be returned
in the Jubilee year to the family of Machlon. The opinion of R. Yochanan is
that brothers who shared an inheritance are considered like purchasers, and
must return the property to the estate in the Jubilee year and the Jubilee year
was observed at that time. The opinion of Rav Chisda in Gittin 48a
supports this: "There is a dispute in the second Jubilee, but relative to
the first Jubilee everyone agrees that one may bring [the first fruits) and
make the proper recitation because the owner is unsure as to whether his land
will be returned.
Therefore during the period prior to the first Jubilee, purchases of land were
made by exchange (kinyan suder, rsux ihbe) since
the nature of the transactions was more permanent. However, after the first
Jubilee they were no longer able to execute the sale of land by exchange
because they were certain that the land would be returned in the Jubilee year;
consequently they enacted the transaction of ketzatzah. However, Boaz's
acquisition could not be accomplished through ketzatzah since the first
redeemer did not want to redeem Ruth and said, so that I do not ruin
[the name on my descendants. He did not accept the interpretation of
"Ammonite and not an Ammonitess," etc.
if they would bring a barrel full of roasted grain and nuts which they would
shatter in front of the small children, people would say that it is not because
she had sold her inheritance but rather because he was marrying a woman who was
not appropriate for him that they performed ketzatzah. It is recorded in
the Midrash and the Tractate of Kesubos
28a, "What is the rule of ketzatzah? So, too, when someone
would marry a woman who was inappropriate for him, etc." Therefore he
reverted to the acquisition of chalifin (exchange) which was customary
in the time of the first Jubilee.
Even though it was now after the first
Jubilee, a field that was acquired through levirate marriage would not go back
to its former owner in the Jubilee year. This is evidenced in Bechoros 52b:
"And these are the properties that are not returned in the Jubilee
year...one who [acquired a field] through levirate marriage." This is the
meaning of And this [procedure] was the time-honored practice among Israel, etc. and This was the method of
testification [of a transaction] among Israel. The two phrases convey
that, since this form of acquisition was done earlier (at the time of the first
Jubilee) this process of ratification could be performed since ketzatzah was
not a proper means of purchase in this case.
8. The redeemer then said to Boaz. After
Boaz gave him permission to redeem, he chose to transfer the right by an
act of exchange (kinyan suder). The Rashba,
in his commentary on Kiddushin 21a, on the statement of Rav Nachman
bar Yitzchak, "[The right of redemption is granted] to the relatives
according to order of closeness," asks, "Is not the order of the relatives
already derived from the phrase, the one closest to him (Bamidbar 27:11)and
subsequently any additional verses would be unnecessary?" He answers that
the other Biblical verses regarding order of inheritance establish an absolute
hierarchy to the extent that even if the first cousin is wealthy and capable of
redeeming but the uncle is not affluent enough to redeem, the field or woman
may not be redeemed. This seems to contradict what happened here: the uncle did
not redeem, but Boaz, the nephew, did. One must say that this itself is the
reason why Boaz accepted an act of exchange (kinyan suder) by virtue of
which he took the place of the original redeemer and now was, as it were,
acting in his stead.