Sunday, November 04, 2007

Legal "Dvar Torah"

A piece of Torah given over by one of my Mishpat Ivri professors:

There seems to be a question in parshat Chaya Sara. Avraham says clearly that he intends to purchase only the cave of Machpela itself, but when the property is transferred, the pasuk clearly states that he received the cave, and the surrounding field, and everything on the property. Why is this? So Nechama Leibowitz says how can we explain the change?
(insert thumb scooping ai-ai-ai-aiaiaiai here) If you look at the archaeological records of Hittite law texts that have been found, we see that the law ordered that when a piece of land was only partially transferred into new ownership, with the original owner maintaining some of the rights to the property, the original owner was liable in the full burden of royal taxes on the land and was absolved of such only when the land was entirely sold. So Ephron, once he realized that he was selling the most valuable part of the property, realized it made more sense to give Avraham the whole thing and make him worry about taxes.

Making this parsha, perhaps, the earliest written record of what lawyers like to call "tax planning" and cynics like to call "tax evasion".

Oh, and what I like best about this 'vort' is imagining the dozens of inspirational/brilliant chap (the talmud kind, not the British kind) explanations that have been given on the same pasuk.


Note: Ignore the craziness that the computer is doing with sizes. We just can't seem to agree these days.

1 comment:

david h said...

Very clever Tobie