The Mishnah in Gittin debates a situation of a slave (Eved Cna'ani) of two masters that one of the masters frees him, this turns him into a half freed man (and Jewish) and half slave (and not Jewish?!).
The solution of the Mishnah is to force the other master to free him.
Why is he not freed automatically like in the next Mishna (Mishna 6)? : "With regard to one who sells his slave to a non-Jew or to someone outside Eretz Yisrael, the slave automatically goes free"

Mishnah Gittin 4:5

One who is half slave and half free-man, serves his master one day and [works for] himself one day. These are the words of Beit Hillel. Beit Shammai said to them: "You have repaired [the situation] for his master, but for himself you have not repaired it. To marry a maidservant is impossible [i.e., forbidden], for he is half-free. [To marry] a free-woman is impossible, for he is half-slave. And was not the world created for the sake of reproduction, as it says (Isaiah 45:18) "Not for emptiness did He create it, but for settlement He formed it." Rather, due to Tikkun HaOlam, we force his master and he makes him a free-man, and [the slave] writes a document [of debt] for half his value. Beit Hillel retracted and ruled in accordance with the words of Beit Shammai.

1 Answer 1


In the first case, the 2nd master has done nothing wrong - he owns half a slave and continues to own him.

We force him to free the slave (against an IOU for half his value) so that the half-slave can lead a normal life.

In the second case, the master has transgressed by either selling his slave to a non-Jew (and now he cannot keep Mitzvot) or else by taking him out of Eretz Yisrael.

In this case, we punish the master, and the slave is freed against the master's will. As the Bartenura already says:

וּקְנַס חֲכָמִים הוּא, לְפִי שֶׁהִפְקִיעוֹ מִן הַמִּצְוֹת

  • thank you, so you are saying that the reason is the wrong doing of the owner. But there are times that with no wrong doings of an owner automatically there is a change of status like for example on Gezel that cannot be returned. the stolen object belongs to the Ganav
    – eliavs
    Jul 6, 2017 at 9:42
  • @eliavs You can't bring an example from a unique case; that particular example is only true because of a Gezeiras HaKasuv.
    – DonielF
    Jan 19, 2018 at 0:13

You must log in to answer this question.

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