Ruth 4:7-8




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:k2t7r`}ah0c v„7sg}8v ,t`‚zu v2g2r0k i*,bu

:k4g•b ;„}Aœ•u L7k‘v™b0e z*g`„c0k kˆ2t`8v r#nt`‡œ•u   j









and this




in earlier times




in Israel








the redemption




and with




the transfer




to finalize












he took off








his sandal




and he gave




to other of him




and this




the legalizing method




in Israel




and he said




the redeemer




to Boaz








for you




and he removed




his sandal





4:7 Now this was the custom in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and the exchanging of rights to redeem which confirmed transactions: a man pulled off his shoe and gave it to another; and this was the testimonial ceremony in Israel.


4:8 Therefore the near kinsman said to Boaz, Buy it for yourself. And he took off his shoe.


Stones Translation


4:7 Formerly this was done in Israel in cases of redemption and exchange transactions to validate any matter: One would draw off his shoe, and give it to transaction the other. This was the process of ratification in Israel.


4:8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, Buy it for yourself, he drew off his shoe.




4:7 Now this [was the manner] in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave [it] to his neighbour: and this [was] a testimony in Israel.


4:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy [it] for thee. So he drew off his shoe.



Ruth 4:7 kai; tou'to to; dikaivwma e[mprosqen ejn tw'/ Israhl ejpi; th;n ajgcisteivan kai; ejpi; to; ajntavllagma tou'

sth'sai pa'n lovgon kai; uJpeluveto oJ ajnh;r to; uJpovdhma aujtou' kai; ejdivdou tw'/ plhsivon aujtou' tw'/

ajgcisteuvonti th;n ajgcisteivan aujtou' kai; tou'to h\n martuvrion ejn Israhl

Ruth 4:8 kai; ei\pen oJ ajgcisteu;" tw'/ Boo" kth'sai seautw'/ th;n ajgcisteivan mou kai; uJpeluvsato to; uJpovdhma

aujtou' kai; e[dwken aujtw'/


Ruth 4:7-8 And this was of old the ordinance in Israel for the privilege of a kinsman, and for exchanging, to establish every word: a man untied his sandal and gave it to his neighbor to take his privilege of a kinsman, and this was a testimony in Israel. 8 And the kinsman said to Boz, Acquire for yourself the privilege of a kinsman; and he untied his sandal and gave it to him.



Peshat Level:



7- Now the following custom was practiced in Israel in ancient times: When they would carry on business transactions, redeem, and exchange with one another, one would take off his right glove and give it to the other, thereby handing over the right of possession. In this manner the House of Israel was accustomed to make transactions with one another binding, in the presence of witnesses.

8- When the redeemer said to Boaz, "Put forth your hand for the act of acquisition, and buy it yourself," Boaz took off his glove and made the purchase.




4:7 Concerning redemption This is a sale.


Exchange This is an exchange.


A man drew off his shoe This is (a method of) acquisition, just as we acquire title with a scarf in lieu of a shoe. And our Rabbis of blessed memory were divided in this matter (as to) who gave to whom (Baba Metzia 47a). Some say (that) one acquires title with the utensil of the acquirer, and Boaz gave (his shoe) to the redeemer, and some say (that) one acquires title with the utensil of the seller, and the redeemer gave (his shoe) to Boaz.


And this was the attestation in Israel (vsug,v means) the law of testimony (from the word sg, witness).



Gemarah Level:


Talmud Babli


Baba Metzia 47a Now this was the manner in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, For to confirm all things; a man drew off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor; redeeming means selling, and thus it is written, It shall not be redeemed; changing refers to barter, and thus it is written, He shall not alter it, nor change it; for to confirm all things; a man drew off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor. Who gave whom? Boaz gave to the kinsman. R. Judah said: The kinsman gave to Boaz.


It has been taught: Acquisition may be made by means of a utensil, even if it is worth less than a perutah. Said R. Nahman: This applies only to a utensil, but not to produce. R. Shesheth said: [It may be done] even with produce. What is R. Nahman's reason? Scripture saith, his shoe: implying, only his shoe [i.e., a utensil], but nothing else. What is R. Shesheth's reason? Scripture saith, for to confirm all things. But according to R. Nahman too, is it not written, to confirm all things?-That means, to confirm all things the title to which is to be effected by means of a shoe. And R. Shesheth too: is it not written, his shoe?- R. Shesheth can answer you: [That is to teach,] just as his shoe is a clearly defined object, so must everything [used in this connection] be a clearly defined object, thus invalidating half a pomegranate or half a nut, which may not be [employed].


Baba Metzia 47a It has been taught: Acquisition may be made by means of a utensil, even if it is worth less than a perutah.



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth VII:11 NOW THIS WAS THE CUSTOM IN FORMER TIME IN ISRAEL CONCERNING REDEEMING AND CONCERNING EXCHANGING, TO CONFIRM ALL THINGS (ib. 7). R. Hanina applied this verse to Israel. Just as at first Israel uttered praise for their redemption, as it is said, This is my God, and I will glorify Him (Exodus XV, 2), so [did they later praise] for the exchange, as it is said, Thus they exchanged their glory for the likeness of an ox that eateth grass (Psalm CVI, 20). There is nothing more repulsive and abominable and uncouth than an ox when it is munching grass. Formerly they used to acquire the title to a purchase by means of a shoe or sandal, as it is said, A MAN DREW OFF HIS SHOE

Ruth VII:12 SO THE NEAR KINSMAN SAID UNTO BOAZ: BUY IT FOR THYSELF; AND HE DREW OFF HIS SHOE (IV, 8). Whose shoe? Rab and Levi disagreed. One said the shoe of Boaz, while the other said the shoe of the kinsman. It is more probable that he who says the shoe of Boaz is correct, for it is usual for the purchaser to give the pledge.



Zohar Level:



Other Commentaries:


Meam Loez


4:7 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.


Before 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).


The 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 foot).


Beyond 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 transaction.


Accordingly, after the ceremony Boaz said to those present: Witnesses are you this day that I have purchased all that is Elimelechs (v.9).


A 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.

However, 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.


Another 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.


The 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.


Accordingly, the marriage of Ruth and Boaz is described separately (v. 10); the shoe removal ceremony was only for acquiring the field.


Yet 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.


Similar 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 (hkac) (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]).


However, 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 (rsux ihbe, acquisition by kerchief).


The 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.


Acquisition 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.


Ordinarily, 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.


4:8 The redeemer said to Boaz, Buy it for yourself, and he drew off his shoe.


In 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.


According 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


(7:11) 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?


Rav 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.


In 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.[1] 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.


Consequently, 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 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,[2] 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.






[1] Since the Jewish people had never performed the commandments of the Jubilee year, there existed a degree of uncertainty as to whether the owners who sold their property would actuaUy have it returned. This level of uncertainty was sufficient enough according to Rav Chisda that the purchaser would be allowed to recite the special prayer of the first fruits (bikurim) in which it says, of the ground (of the Land of Israel) that You have given me. Only someone who owned or purchased property could make this statement.

[2] Rabbenu Shlomo ben Aderes, a great Spanish medieval commentator on the Talmud.