Perspective-kiddushin daf 23

Kiddushin daf 23, has a bizarre discussion. The daf deals with methods of freeing a slave. The earlier Mishna discussed freeing a slave through document (star), money (kesef)etc. The mishna had said “money from others” can free the slave, but not his own (Rabbi Meir). Rabbi Meir had previously said, “we can benefit other without their knowledge and consent, however we cannot disadvantage them without their knowledge and consent. ”

The question is where is the disadvantage in paying to free a slave. Ostensibly this is the greatest act of human kindness. You are doing him the greatest favor. Not according to Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Meir states that a slave believes that he is disadvantaged by being freed from his master. How strange to our modern ear and sensibility. The modern man puts his freedom and autonomy above all else. How can R. Meir say this?

The question begs a philosophical answer. Don’t presume you know what is good others. Listen to them. If one reads the Talmud carefully (according to holy art scroll), R. Meir is saying that the slave himself perceives that he is better off being a slave. While this defied our modern sensitivity, the perspective of the individual prevails and it is not our place to judge.

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1 Response to Perspective-kiddushin daf 23

  1. Jonathan D. Field, MD says:

    Agreed. We say this all the time “don’t assume you have a better life than the ditch digger.” He might be happier than you. As it says in Pirkei Avos “who is rich? – he that is content with his lot”

    Sent from my iPhone


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