Taking a Collateral for an Erech-Vow

Erchin (5:6) | Yisrael Bankier | 4 years ago

The Mishnah (5:6) teaches that if one made an erech vow and then refused to pay, a mashkon (collateral) can be forcible taken from him until he pays the obligated amount to hekdesh. The next perek teaches the limits on what can be seized. We shall probe the nature of this law.

The Griz (stensil Arachin 21a) explains that there are two possible understandings. The first is that taking the collateral is a means of compelling the individual to perform a mitzvah. This mitzvah would not be unique, as we find other instances where we compel another to perform certain mitzvot. The Mishnah continues that the same technique is used to compel one to offer a korban that they are obligated to bring.

Alternatively, one can understand that taking the mashkon is motivated by the financial obligation the individual has toward hekdesh as a result of the erech vow -- it is part of monetary laws. Considering however that our case is listed amongst coercing one to offer a korban, that does not bear a financial obligation, it would seem that taking the mashkon is to force this person to perform the mitzvah.

The Griz however notes that Rabbeinu Gershom understands that it is the gizbar (the Temple treasurer) that takes the collateral. This suggest that Rabbeinu Gershom understands that the collection is due to the financial obligation -- the second understanding. This is because if the motivation was compelling him to perform a mitzvah, then it would be the responsibility of Beit Din and not the gizbar.

The Griz however suggest that the Rambam holds the opposite position. He cites the Rambam's ruling (Arachin 3:14) who teaches that the mashkon is taken for the duration of both day a night. The Griz reasons that if the collection was motivated by the financial obligation, then the fact that the collateral is not returned (until the payment is made) is obvious. If however the collection was used as a means of coercion, then that we do need to know the boundaries of its implementation.

Indeed, the Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 6a) rules that it is the Beit Din that are responsible for seizing the mashkon and that seizing the mashkon is used as a means of coercion.

The Griz continues that the fact that seizing property is used as a technique for coercion should not be surprising. The Rambam (Matanot Aniyim 7:10) rules that this technique is used in the context of one refusing to contribute to tzedakah. Nevertheless, the Griz is unsure whether seizing property as a means of coercion is specific to these mitzvot (tzedakah or korbanot) or for mitzvot in general.


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