Assuming that there's no legal issues (like the slave doesn't mind, or doesn't know that he can run away), can one buy a slave nowadays in America to have the laws of an Eved Kenaani?

  • Why are they not included there?
    – Double AA
    Dec 18, 2014 at 19:37
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    @DoubleAA, this question asks for a specific variant that is not covered by that much more broad question. IOW, that question would not motivate an answer which answers this one, so I'm voting to reopen.
    – Yishai
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:57
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    Why are you restricting your question to America (where there are legal issues, as slavery isn't countenanced)?
    – msh210
    Dec 19, 2014 at 6:53
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    @ShmuelBrin I don't understand your question, then. The only difference between the antebellum and current States is the legal issues -- but you're explicitly ignoring them in your question.
    – msh210
    Dec 19, 2014 at 7:37
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    regarding, "doesn't know that he can run away", that isn't legally ok - it's still considered illegal under human trafficking laws. Jan 18, 2015 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


Let's tweak the question a bit. Suppose a non-Jewish woman wants to convert, and meanwhile there is a Jewish mamzer who would like to get married. Can she do a quasi-conversion such that theoretically her status would be "Canaanite maidservant", at which point she'd be allowed to marry the mamzer?

Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik insisted vociferously that the US prohibition on slavery would void any process, however theoretical, that would wind up with someone in a category called "slave." I believe that there are those who differed, but the practical conclusion is generally "no."

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    A convert is always allowed to marry a Mamzer. The point of the "Canaanite maidservant" thing is so that the children won't themselves end up mamzerim if she does.
    – Yishai
    Feb 17, 2015 at 14:28
  • Question doesn't need to be "tweaked". You don't need a specific reason to buy a slave. All OP is asking is if it possible to aquire a slave Feb 17, 2015 at 14:42

No. The sale needs to be valid according to American law as well as per the halacha of Dina Demalchusa Dina - Secular Law. And clearly the Thirteenth Amendment in the constitution forbids the institution of slavery.

This principle can be seen from the Chazon Ish (שביעית כד). The Chazon writes, among several objection to institution of Heter Mechira in Israel, that since the sale to the Gentile is not recorded in the land authority registry (Tabo) the title is not legally transferred and the sale is not legitimate. Since the sale is not legally binding according to the laws that govern such transactions.

His conclusion applies here equally as it is not an effective sale according to state law.

  • Worth noting that Israeli law no longer requires registration in the tabo for shmita related sales, so that complaint is obsolete.
    – Double AA
    Feb 17, 2015 at 16:13

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