Meseches Arachin (33b):

ואימא בית וחצר אם כן ליכתוב רחמנא חצרים וכי תימא אי כתב רחמנא חצרים חצר בלא בית משמע ההוא קרפף איקרי:‏

The Gemara objects: But you can say that the phrase: Houses of the courtyards, means one house and one courtyard, i.e., one house in each courtyard. Consequently, if each courtyard contains two houses, the city should be considered like a walled city. The Gemara explains: If so, let the Merciful One write: “Courtyards,” without mentioning houses, as a courtyard must contain at least one house. And if you would say: If the Merciful One had written only: “Courtyards,” then one might mistakenly have concluded that the verse indicates a courtyard without a house and that if the courtyard contains a house then the city is considered walled, one could not have arrived at that conclusion, since such an area is called an enclosure [karpef ], not a courtyard.

As the Gemara (and the pesukim it is quoting) are dealing with houses, why would the Gemara even have the Hava Amina that the passuk could be understood to mean courtyards without houses? That contradicts the whole premise of the passuk.

To even further make the question illogical, how could a place with no houses be called a city?

And even if the Gemara does ask that question, why doesn’t it answer the obvious answer- that the passuk can’t be understood like that, because it is illogical and contradictory?


The Passuk does not explicitly refer to a city, and it is only because it says "houses" that we take it to mean a settlement. The Gemara is asking how we would interpret the Passuk if it omitted the word "houses". Without that word, there is nothing which forces us to read it as referring to a city, and maybe we would read the Passuk to refer to a house-less settlement, basically, a clearing prepared for human use.

The Gemara then says that such a clearing could not be called a חצר and the proper term would be קרפף. Therefore, if the word "house" had been left out the minimum would be a courtyard with one house.

  • The passuk right before is talking about a walled city, and then this passuk comes and says “and the unwalled...” it is only logical that it would stillbe talking about a city. – Lo ani Aug 5 '19 at 16:07
  • In fact, see the sefaria translation: But houses in villages that have no encircling walls shall be classed as open country: they may be redeemed, and they shall be released through the jubilee. – Lo ani Aug 5 '19 at 16:08
  • Is Karpef biblical Hebrew that we'd expect it to be used in a verse? – Double AA Aug 5 '19 at 16:27
  • @DoubleAA I was wondering about that also. I am not aware of anywhere it used in Tanach, and a quick search also did not turn up anything. My guess is that the Gemara's intent is that the Torah would have to use a different word other than "chatzer", whatever the Biblical equivalent of "karpef" would have been. – simyou Aug 6 '19 at 7:05
  • @Loani The passuk is talking about land sales, there is no reason to assume that since the previous passuk dealt with a city this one must also. Sefaria is translating "chatzeros" as villages, rather than courtyards, and that follows the Gemara you asked about. Without the Gemara, this would not be the best translation. – simyou Aug 6 '19 at 12:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .