We all know how benevolent our position to the Jewish slavery is (Rambam Avadim 1):

"כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אוֹ אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה חַיָּב הָאָדוֹן לְהַשְׁווֹתָן לוֹ בְּמַאֲכָל וּבְמַשְׁקֶה בִּכְסוּת וּבְמָדוֹר"

"The master must treat his Hebrew male and female slaves as his equals as to food, drink, clothing, and shelter, meaning that you should not eat white bread, and the slave black bread; you should not drink old wine, and the new wine; you should not sleep on a feather bed, and he on straw; you should not live in the city, and he in the village; or you in the village, and he in the city..."

This law is more severe than hiring a regular Jewish worker. The Jewish slave does not work on Shabbos also and if he has a family their provision falls on the master.

Who would ever want to buy a Hebrew slave on these conditions?

  • 4
    Maybe someone who wants to help a helpless Jew
    – Double AA
    Feb 3, 2019 at 4:20
  • When the Messiah comes, my plan is to live in absolute squalor for a few years and be a holding entity for slaves. For a fee, I will own all the slaves and the person for whom they will be working will only have to maintain them at my standard of living. Feb 1, 2022 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


The Toldos Yitzchak (amongst others) explains that because of the financial strains imposed by taking in an Eved Ivri (hosting & feeding wife and children) the Torah sanctions the master giving him a slave girl to birth children with her which will then belong to the master. So the incentive of multiple slave children was the compensation/payment given by Torah.

Toldos Yitzchak:

ואם בעל אשה הוא האדון חייב במזונותיה וגם במזונות בניו כמו שאמר ויצאה אשתו עמו וכי מי הכניסה שתצא אלא מגיד שהקונה עבד עברי חייב במזונות אשתו ובניו ואיש אשר כזה מי ירצה לקנותו ואם אין קונים במה יפרע הגניבה לכן הוכרח לתת רשות לרבו למסור לו שפחה כנענית להוליד ממנה עבדים ואם רבו יתן לו אשה ישראלית מה תועלת לאדון שהבנים שתלד אינם עבדים לו ויעשה הוצאה על הוצאה א"כ אין לו תקנה אלא שיתן לו שפחה כנענית להוליד ממנה עבדים לאדון

  • I never understood this. Is this person of such value that anyone would pay stud fees? Find a regular slave to father the children.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 1, 2022 at 3:38

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