If we were a Jewish State this deal wouldn't have gone through
“We do not redeem captives for more than their value”
Jewish communities throughout history would often spend large sums of money to perform the Mitzvah of Pidyon Shevuyim. This practice led to the concern that kidnappers would exploit this willingness to pay by demanding exorbitant amounts for the release of captives, such that the importance of this great Mitzvah would be diminished with the loss of other important values. Already in the SecondTempleperiod, therefore, the Rabbis made a seemingly cruel enactment that“We do not redeem captives for more than their value.” Their “value” is determined by the price that the captive would fetch in the marketplace if he were to be sold as a slave; or it would follow the standard ransom for non-Jewish captives. Kidnappers demanding significantly above the going rate should not find a partner with whom to do business in the Jewish quarter.
The reason for this restriction is a matter of dispute in the Talmud(Gittin 45a). Some say it is meant to avert the impoverishment of the Jewish community at the hands of greedy kidnappers(the economic consideration); others say that if exorbitant ransoms are paid, it will provide an incentive for more kidnapping(the security consideration). Rashi explains that the practical difference between these two reasons would be a case in which ample funds are available to meet the captors’ demands(e.g. the individual, his relative or a private benefactor can pay off the ransom): here the economic consideration would not be relevant (as the public purse would be unaffected); however, the security consideration, viz. the problem of generating incentive,would still remain.
The Rambam (ibid. 8:12)(and the Shulchan Aruchin his footsteps) rulesaccording to the second opinion: “Captives are not redeemed for greater than their value… so that the enemies should not pursue them to take them captive.” It therefore follows that the ability of the individual or of the community to payfor the ransoming of captivesis of no consequence
Notwithstanding the above, it has been accepted practice throughout the centuries to redeem Jewish captives at almost any cost. As we shall see in detail in our next column, Halachic authorities havefound various justifications for leniency. In the event that the prisoner's life is at risk, or is subject to physical abuse, or religious coercion to renounce their Jewish faith, the rule of “not more than their value” has often beenwaived. Having said that, it goes without saying that each situation is different and has to be considered on its own merits.
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