Sort of Like Paying Your TaxesBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
G-d gave Moshe the appropriate values to use when a person pledges to donate the financial value of a person to the Temple. Between 20 and 60 years of age: 50 shekels for man and 30 shekels for a woman. Age 5-20: 20 shekels for a male and 10 shekels for a female. Between one month and five years: 5 shekels for a boy and 3 shekels for a girl. Over 60: 15 shekels for a man and 10 shekels for a woman. If a person makes such a commitment and can’t afford to pay it, he can go to a kohein to calculate an individualized sum based on the person’s assets. (Think of it as itemizing expenses rather than taking the standard deduction.)
If a person pledges a particular animal that can be used as a sacrifice, that animal automatically becomes consecrated. Once committed, the owner can no longer exchange it for a different animal, not even a better one. If he attempts to do so, all he’ll accomplish is that BOTH animals are consecrated to the Temple!
If a person pledges an animal that cannot be used as a sacrifice (because of a blemish – see Talmud Temurah 32b), the kohein will calculate the value of the animal. The owner then has the option of redeeming it for that amount plus 20 percent. Similarly, if a person pledges his home to the Temple, the kohein will appraise its value and the owner can redeem it for that amount plus 20 percent.