Kiddushin, Chapter One, Mishnah Six



The first half of the mishnah discusses acquiring things through barter.  The second half of the mishnah delves into the difference between the laws of acquisition for the Temple and those for an ordinary person.


Mishnah Six

1)      Whatever can be used as payment for another object, as soon as this one takes possession [of the object], the other one assumes liability for what is given in exchange.   

a)      How so? If one exchanges an ox for a cow, or a donkey for an ox, as soon as this one takes possession, the other one assumes liability for what is given in exchange. 

2)      The sanctuary’s title to property [is acquired] by money; the title of an ordinary person to property by hazakah.  

3)      Dedication to the sanctuary is equal to delivery to an ordinary person.



Section one:   The general rule of acquiring things through exchange is illustrated simply in the example of the cow and ox.  If Reuven and Shimon exchange an ox for a cow, when Reuven takes physical possession of Shimon’s cow, Shimon becomes owner of the ox, even if Shimon doesn’t take physical possession.  The implication would be that if the ox dies or is stolen, Shimon is out of luck for it is his ox that died or was stolen.  Alternatively, if the oxen market rises dramatically Shimon wins out.  For better or for worse, in an exchange once one party takes possession of one of the objects being exchanged, the other party automatically owns the other object.

Section two:  Ordinary people cannot acquire movable property by using money (see mishnah five), but the Temple can use money to acquire movable property.  So if the Temple’s treasurer wants to buy a cow, once he gives the cow’s owner money the cow is sanctified and belongs to the Temple.

Section three:  A verbal declaration is not sufficient to transfer ownership.  In other words, if I just pick up an object and say “This belongs to Reuven”, the object does not yet belong to Reuven.  However, when it comes to dedicating something to the Temple, a verbal declaration is sufficient.  If I state, “This cow belongs to the Temple,” the cow belongs to the Temple and is considered sacred.  We can see through both of these sections that the Temple more easily acquires property than does an ordinary human being.