The Gemara in Shekalim 3a seeks to prove the concept of Hefker Beith Din Hefker. To that end, it cites the incident in which Ezra decreed that anyone who refused to gather in Jerusalem would forfeit his assets. But this seems to me to just show that he employed a coercive tactic, not that he was right to do so, nor that this tactic was appropriate or legitimate. How does Ezra's decree prove Hefker Beith Din Hefker?

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    It seems that we learn from actions recorded in Torah, even if the person doing so isn't a good guy (like not marrying an older sister before a younger is derived from Lavan). Kal VaChomer here. Oct 25, 2013 at 21:06
  • @Shmuel That's certainly true, and I realized that when I learned this. Still, when it asked the question, I was ready for some heavy-hitting analysis, and I was left wondering, "is that really it?" I mean, it's a pretty powerful concept, and if it's just because 'Ezra did it, I'm surprised. I mean, under what authority was he acting? How did he know he wasn't just stealing? On the flip side, was it even enforced, or was it just a threat? Can we learn from threats?
    – Seth J
    Oct 25, 2013 at 21:44
  • You might want to add in the last two sentences of your comment (or their content, rephrased) into your question.
    – msh210
    Oct 27, 2013 at 1:37
  • @msh210, I think the penultimate sentience might be a separate question, although an answer to it would be useful background information for an answer to this question..
    – Seth J
    Oct 27, 2013 at 2:11
  • Plus, we'd expect the Torah (or at least the Oral Torah) to criticize him for illegally taking away people's things. Oct 27, 2013 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


Ezra was comparable to Moshe, and would have given the Torah had Moshe not preceded him, so it is not unreasonable to say that his actions were legitimate.

Anyway, it is also seen from a posuk in Yehoshua, in Yevomos 89b.

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