Contact Us
Monday, 10 Cheshvan 5778 / October 30, 2017

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Berachot - Chapter Ten, Berachot - Chapter Eleven, Milah - Chapter One

 Email
Video & Audio Classes
Show content in:

Berachot - Chapter Ten

1

The Sages instituted other blessings and many other statements that lack a p'tichah and a chatimah, as an expression of praise and acknowledgement of the Holy One, blessed be He - for example, the blessings of prayer that we have already mentioned. Among these [blessings are the following]:

A person who builds a new house or buys new articles should recite the blessing: "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion." [This blessing is recited] regardless of whether he possesses similar articles or not.

א

ברכות אחרות ודברים אחרים הרבה שאין בהן פתיחה ולא חתימה תיקנו חכמים דרך שבח והודיה להקב"ה כמו ברכות התפלה שכבר כתבנום ואלו הן הבונה בית חדש והקונה כלים חדשים בין יש לו כיוצא בהן בין אין לו מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה:

The Sages - In Chapter 1, Halachah 5, the Rambam attributed the composition of the text of all the blessings to Ezra and his court, the Anshei K'nesset Hagedolah.

instituted other blessings - The previous chapters described the birkat hanehenim, the blessings recited in acknowledgement of the benefit received from food or fragrance, based on the principle, "it is forbidden to receive benefit from this world without a blessing." In this chapter, the Rambam mentions other blessings that are recited in connection with events, sights, or news that are out of the ordinary. By reciting a blessing over these occurrences, we focus our awareness on the Divine origin of everything that occurs in this world.

and many other statements - See Halachot 19-25.

that lack a p'tichah - The words, "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the World," which are used to begin blessings. (See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:7 and commentary.)

and a chatimah - The words, "Blessed are You, God," which are used to conclude blessings. (See Hilchot Kri'at Shema, ibid.)

as an expression of praise and acknowledgement of the Holy One, blessed be He - See Chapter 1, Halachah 4, which states that these blessings were instituted "to remember the Creator at all times and to fear Him."

for example, the blessings of prayer that we have already mentioned. - See Hilchot Tefillah, Chapter 7, which mentions the morning blessings.

Among these [blessings are the following]: A person who builds a new house - Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi (Piskei Siddur 12:2) also mentions purchasing a new house.

or buys - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 223:4) states that the blessing should be recited when the article is purchased, and not when it is first used. One feels greater satisfaction when purchasing the article than when using it.

new - This also refers to articles that are new for the purchaser (e.g., a used car). The world "new" is intended to exclude articles that were sold and repurchased (Shulchan Aruch, ibid.:3).

articles - i.e., garments or household goods (Mishnah Berurah 223:13). This blessing should be recited only on the acquisition of important articles, whose purchase brings one considerable satisfaction. See Shulchan Aruch (ibid.:6) and Mishnah Berurah (ibid.).

should recite the blessing: "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.'' - As mentioned in Halachah 7, this blessing is associated with "all benefits that a person appreciates alone." Similarly, it is recited in praise of God for allowing us to fulfill certain mitzvot.

[This blessing is recited] regardless of whether one possesses - According to the Rambam, this refers to articles acquired through inheritance. If one has already purchased such an article, he should not recite a blessing. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.:3, based on the decisions of Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi and Rabbenu Asher), however, states that the blessing should be recited even when he had purchased such articles before.

similar articles or not. - This decision is based on the Rambam's analysis of Berachot 59b-60a.

2

Similarly, a person who sees a friend after [not seeing him for] thirty days [or more] should recite the blessing shehecheyanu . If he sees him after a hiatus of twelve months [or more], he should recite the blessing "Blessed are You, God... who resurrects the dead."

A person who sees a fruit that grows only in a specific season each year should recite the blessing shehecheyanu when he sees it for the first time.

ב

וכן הרואה את חבירו לאחר שלשים יום מברך שהחיינו ואם ראהו לאחר שנים עשר חדש מברך ברוך אתה יי' מחיה המתים הרואה פרי המתחדש משנה לשנה בתחלת ראייתו מברך שהחיינו:

Similarly, a person who sees a friend - Tosafot, Berachot 58b, states that this refers to a friend who is dear and whose sight brings one satisfaction.

after [not seeing him - The Mishnah Berurah 225:2 mentions opinions that maintain that if one has heard news of one's friend's well-being or received a letter from him during this period, the blessing should not be recited. Note, however, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi's Piskei Siddur 12:11, in which he negates these opinions, stating that a person feels genuine satisfaction only when he sees a friend face to face.

for] thirty days [or more] - Thirty days is considered a significant period regarding various matters of Scriptural Law.

should recite the blessing shehecheyanu - mentioned in the previous halachah.

If he sees him after a hiatus of twelve months [or more], he should recite the blessing "Blessed are You, God... - Although the Panim Me'irot states that the words "our Lord, King of the universe" need not be mentioned, the consensus of halachic opinion (see Mishnah Berurah 225:3) is that they should be recited.

who resurrects the dead." - Berachot 58b states that just as a dead person is forgotten after a year's time, so, too, a friend whom one has not seen for such a period is as if he has ceased to exist.

A person who sees - Although from Bereishit Rabbah 29:2, it is clear that the blessing should be recited whether he eats the fruit or not, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 225:3) states that it is customary to recite the blessing before partaking of the fruit.

a fruit - whether of trees or of the earth. For example, Eruvin 40b states the blessing should be recited over squash.

that grows only in a specific season each year - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 225:6) states that the blessing should be recited even if the fruit has two seasons a year in which it grows. The intent is to exclude fruits and vegetables that grow throughout the year.

should - Eruvin, ibid., emphasizes that we are not obligated to recite this blessing (Mishnah Berurah 225:9).

recite the blessing shehecheyanu when he sees it for the first time. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 225:3) writes that a person who did not recite the blessing the first time he saw the fruit may recite the blessing when he sees it a second time. The Mishnah Berurah 225:13 supports this opinion, noting that, at present, it is customary not to recite the blessing until one partakes of the fruit. Nevertheless, should he taste the fruit without reciting the blessing, it should not be recited at a later time.

3

When a person hears favorable tidings, he should recite the blessing: "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who is good and does good." If he hears bad tidings, he should recite the blessing: "Blessed [are You...] the true Judge."

A person is obligated to recite a blessing over undesirable occurrences with a positive spirit, in the same manner as he joyfully recites a blessing over desirable occurrences. [This is implied by Deuteronomy 6:5]: "And you shall love God, your Lord... with all your might." Included in this extra dimension of love that we were commanded [to express] is to acknowledge and praise [God] with happiness even at one's time of difficulty.

ג

שמע שמועה טובה מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם הטוב והמטיב שמע שמועה רעה מברך ברוך דיין האמת וחייב אדם לברך על הרעה בטוב נפש כדרך שמברך על הטובה בשמחה שנאמר ואהבת את יי' אלהיך וגו' ובכל מאדך ובכלל אהבה היתירה שנצטוינו בה שאפילו בעת שייצר לו יודה וישבח בשמחה:

When a person hears favorable tidings - This halachah is complemented by Halachah 7, which explains that the blessing hatov v’hameitiv is recited when the positive nature of the tidings effect others as well as oneself. If the favorable tidings are individual in nature, the blessing shehecheyanu should be recited. The Rambam mentions hatov v’hameitiv in this halachah, because he is referring to - although not quoting exactly - the text of the Mishnah, Berachot 9:2.

he should recite the blessing: "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who is good and does good.'' - As mentioned in Chapter 4, Halachah 9, this same blessing is also recited when different wine is served during a meal.

If he hears bad tidings, he should recite the blessing: "Blessed [are You...] the true Judge.'' - This blessing has the implication that, although one personally feels upset over the event, he realizes that since everything is controlled by God and He is "the true Judge":

a) the occurrence, however tragic, was just,
b) ultimately, it is intended for the good. God, who is truly good, cannot be the source of evil.

A person is obligated to recite a blessing - Dayan ha'emet

over undesirable occurrences with a positive spirit in the same manner as he joyfully recites a blessing - shehecheyanu or hatov v’hameitiv.

over desirable occurrences. [This is implied by Deuteronomy 6:5]: "And you shall love God, your Lord... with all your might." Included in this extra dimension of love - The Hebrew word translated as "your might," מאודך, is related to the word, מאוד, meaning "very." This implies that this is a dimension of love above the ordinary.

that we were commanded [to express] - Loving God is one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. (See Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 2:1-2.) The verse cited above is the proof-text for that commandment. Thus, the mitzvah to love God includes this "extra dimension of love."

is to acknowledge and praise [God] with happiness even at one's time of difficulty. - This halachah is based onBerachot 9:5. Because of the deep message communicated by that Mishnah, it is worthy to quote it and the Rambam's commentary upon it:

We are obligated to bless [God] for undesirable occurrences in the same manner as we bless [Him] for desirable occurrences. [This is implied by Deuteronomy 6:5]: "And you shall love God, your Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might."
"With all your heart": with both your inclinations; the good inclination and the evil inclination;
"With all your soul": even if it takes your soul;
"With all your might": with all your money. Alternatively, the expression בכל מאדך [can be associated with the words בכל מדה and interpreted to mean] for every measure that He deals you be very, very thankful to Him.

On this Mishnah, the Rambam comments:

[The Mishnah] states: In the same manner as one blesses Him for good... [i.e.,] he should accept them with happiness, overcome his feelings, and compose his mind when reciting the blessing Dayan ha'emet to the extent that he should appear in the same state as when reciting the blessing hatov v’hameitiv.
Our Sages declared... "Everything Heaven does is for good."... Although many matters may originally look unfavorable, ultimately they will bring great good. Conversely, there are many things which, at the outset, appear good, and ultimately are very bad. Therefore, an understanding person should not become aggrieved when beset with difficulties... because he does not know the ultimate outcome.
A person should concentrate his thoughts [on the following objective] and ask God [for it to be realized]: That everything that happens to him in this world, both positive and unfavorable occurrences, should be with the intent of bringing him the ultimate happiness, [a portion in the world to come].

1. In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Berachot 9:3, based on Berachot 60a), the Rambam gives an example of such a situation: A person who found a lost object in Eretz Yisrael in Talmudic times. The Romans would punish anyone who did not deliver a lost object he discovered to the government authorities. Thus, one could ultimately be reported for having found a lost object and be forced to pay an exorbitant fine for it. Nevertheless, at the time the object is found, it is an obvious good.
2. The Rambam (ibid.) exemplifies this situation as follows: A person's fields were flooded, damaging his crops. Although the fact that his fields were watered will ultimately prove advantageous, he should recite Dayan ha'emet, since, immediately, he suffered a loss.
3. The Rishon LeTzion relates that the Rambam's choice of phraseology implies that even when one is certain that the opposite quality will ultimately become manifest, he should recite the blessing appropriate for the situation at present.

4. Rabbenu Asher maintains that even if one owns a field individually, if there are other Jews in the area who will benefit from the rain, he should recite hatov v’hameitiv.
5. Significantly, this blessing does not begin: "Blessed are You, God...."
6. One continues, reciting the text of the Nishmat prayer recited on Sabbath mornings.
7. The Bayit Chadash and the Ramah (Orach Chayim 221:1) state that it is not customary to recite this blessing in European countries. Since rain is plentiful there, people do not appreciate it as much. Nevertheless, should there be a drought in these countries, this blessing should be recited (Mishnah Berurah 221:2).

8. Ta'anit 6b, the source for this halachah, describes this situation metaphorically, "when the groom goes out to greet the bride." (See also Berachot 59b.)

9. The same holds true for other circumstances that are, simultaneously, of both a positive and undesirable nature. For example, Ramah (Orach Chayim 223:1) mentions the recitation of the two blessings (shehecheyanu and Dayan ha'emet) when a man's wife dies after giving birth to a son.

4

When a desirable event occurred to a person or he heard favorable tidings, although it appears that this good will ultimately cause one difficulty, he should recite the blessing hatov v’hameitiv. Conversely, if a person suffered a difficulty or heard unfavorable tidings, although it appears that this difficulty will ultimately bring him good, he should recite the blessing Dayan ha'emet. Blessings are not recited in consideration of future possibilities, but rather on what happens at present.

ד

הגיעה אליו טובה או ששמע שמועה טובה אף על פי שהדברים מראין שטובה זו תגרום לו רעה מברך הטוב והמטיב וכן אם נגעה אליו רעה או שמע שמועה רעה אע"פ שהדברים מראים שרעה זו גורמת לו טובה מברך דיין האמת שאין מברכין על העתיד להיות אלא על מה שאירע עתה:

5

[The following rules govern the recitation of blessings for] abundant rainfall: If one owns a field [individually], he should recite the blessing shehecheyanu. If one owns it in partnership with others, he should recite the blessing hatov v’hameitiv. If one does not own a field, he should recite the following blessing:

We thankfully acknowledge You, God, our Lord, for each and every drop that you have caused to descend for us. If our mouths were filled.... They shall all give thanks, praise, and bless Your name, our King. Blessed are You, God, the Almighty, who is worthy of manifold thanksgiving and praise.

ה

ירדו גשמים רבים אם יש לו שדה מברך שהחיינו ואם היתה שלו ושל אחרים מברך הטוב והמטיב ואם אין לו שדה מברך מודים אנחנו לך יי' אלהינו על כל טפה וטפה שהורדת לנו ואילו פינו מלא כו' עד הן הם יודו וישבחו ויברכו את שמך מלכנו ברוך אתה יי' אל רוב ההודאות והתשבחות:

5

When should the blessing be recited? When much water collects on the face of the earth, the raindrops cause bubbles to form in the rain that has already collected, and the bubbles begin to flow one into another.

ו

מאימתי מברכין על הגשמים משירבה המים על הארץ ויעלו אבעבועות מן המטר על פני המים וילכו האבעבועות זה לקראת זה:

7

[The following blessings should be recited] when a person was told that his father died and that he is his heir: If he has brothers [who will share the inheritance] with him, he should first recite, Dayan ha'emet, and afterwards, hatov v’hameitiv. If he has no brothers [who will share] with him, he should recite the blessing shehecheyanu.

To summarize the matter: Whenever a circumstance is of benefit to one together with others, he should recite the blessing hatov v’hameitiv. Should it be of benefit to him alone, he should recite the blessing shehecheyanu.

ז

אמרו לו מת אביו וירשהו אם יש עמו אחין מברך בתחלה דיין האמת ואח"כ הטוב והמטיב ואם אין עמו אחים מברך שהחיינו קצרו של דבר כל דבר טובה שהיא לו ולאחרים מברך הטוב והמטיב וטובה שהיא לו לבדו מברך שהחיינו:

8

Four individuals are required to render thanks: a person who had been sick and recuperated, a person who had been imprisoned and was released, people who alight [at their destination] after a journey at sea, and travelers who reach a settlement.

These thanks must be rendered in the presence of ten people, of whom two are sages, as [implied by Psalms 107:32]: "They will exalt Him in the congregation of the people and they will praise Him in the seat of the elders."

How does one give thanks and what blessing should he recite? He should stand in the midst of the [abovementioned] company and say:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who bestows benefits upon the culpable, who has bestowed all goodness upon me.

Those who hear should respond: May He who granted you beneficence continue to bestow good upon you forever.

ח

ארבעה צריכין להודות חולה שנתרפא וחבוש שיצא מבית האסורים ויורדי הים כשעלו והולכי דרכים כשיגיעו לישוב וצריכין להודות בפני עשרה ושנים מהם חכמים שנאמר וירוממוהו בקהל עם ובמושב זקנים יהללוהו וכיצד מודה וכיצד מברך עומד ביניהן ומברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם הגומל לחייבים טובות שגמלני כל טוב וכל השומעין אומרים שגמלך טוב הוא יגמלך סלה:

9

A person who sees a place where miracles were wrought for the Jewish people - for example, the Red Sea or the crossings of the Jordan - should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our ancestors in this place.

This blessing is recited wherever miracles were performed for many people. In contrast, in a place where a miracle was performed for an individual, that individual, his son, and his grandson should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who wrought a miracle for me in this place.
or "...who wrought a miracle for my ancestors in this place."

A person who sees the den of lions [into which Daniel was thrown] or the fiery furnace into which Chananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were thrown should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for the righteous in this place.

A person who sees a place in which false gods are worshiped should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who grants patience to those who transgress His will.

[When a person sees] a place from which the worship of false gods has been uprooted in Eretz Yisrael, he should recite the blessing:

[Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe,] who uproots foreign worship from our land.

In the Diaspora, he should recite the blessing:

...who uproots foreign worship from this place.

In both instances, he should say:

As You have uprooted [foreign worship] from this place, so may it be uprooted from all places. And may You turn the hearts of its worshipers to serve You.

ט

הרואה מקום שנעשו נסים לישראל כגון ים סוף ומעברות הירדן אומר ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שעשה נסים לאבותינו במקום הזה וכן כל מקום שנעשו בו נסים לרבים אבל מקום שנעשה בו נס ליחיד אותו היחיד ובנו ובן בנו מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שעשה לי נס במקום הזה או שעשה נס לאבותי במקום הזה הרואה גוב אריות וכבשן האש שהושלך בו חנניה מישאל ועזריה מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שעשה נס לצדיקים במקום הזה הרואה מקום שעובדין בו עכו"ם מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שנתן ארך אפים לעוברי רצונו מקום שנעקרה ממנו עכו"ם אם בארץ ישראל הוא מברך שעקר עכו"ם מארצנו ואם בחוץ לארץ הוא מברך שעקר עכו"ם ממקום הזה ואומר בשתיהן כשם שעקרת ממקום זה כך תעקר מכל מקומות ותשיב לב עובדיהם לעבדך:

10

A person who sees a settlement of Jewish homes should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who establishes the border of the widow.

[One who sees Jewish homes that are] destroyed should recite the blessing, "the true Judge." A person who sees Jewish graves should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who created you with justice, judged you with justice, sustained you with justice, took your lives with justice, and ultimately, will lift you up with justice to the life of the world to come. Blessed are You, God, who resurrects the dead.

י

הרואה בתי ישראל ביישובן מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם מציב גבול אלמנה בחרבנן אומר ברוך דיין האמת הרואה קברי ישראל מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם אשר יצר אתכם בדין ודן אתכם בדין וכלכל אתכם בדין והמית אתכם בדין והוא עתיד להקים אתכם בדין לחיי העולם הבא ברוך אתה יי' מחיה המתים:

11

The following should be recited when one sees 600,000 people at one time. If they are gentiles, he should recite the verse (Jeremiah 50:12): "Your mother shall be greatly ashamed; she that bore you will be disgraced. Behold, the ultimate fate of the gentiles will be an arid wilderness and a desolate land."

If they are Jews and in Eretz Yisrael, he should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, the Wise [who knows] secrets.

One who sees a gentile wise man should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has given from His wisdom to flesh and blood.

[When one sees] Jewish wise men, he should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has given from His wisdom to those who fear Him.

[When one sees] a Jewish king, he should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has given from His glory and might to those who fear Him.

[When one sees] a gentile king, he should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has given from His glory to flesh and blood.

יא

הרואה ת"ר אלף אדם כאחד אם עכו"ם הם אומר בושה אמכם מאד חפרה יולדתכם הנה אחרית גוים מדבר ציה וערבה ואם ישראל הם ובארץ ישראל אומר ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם חכם הרזים הרואה מחכמי אומות העולם אומר ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שנתן מחכמתו לבשר ודם חכמי ישראל מברך שנתן מחכמתו ליראיו מלכי ישראל אומר שנתן מכבודו ומגבורתו ליראיו מלכי אומות העולם מברך שנתן מכבודו לבשר ודם:

12

A person who sees a Kushit or a person who has a strange-looking face or an abnormal limb should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has altered His creations.

When one sees a blind man, a one-legged person, a person with skin boils or white blotches, or the like, he should recite the blessing "the true Judge." If they were born with these afflictions, he should recite the blessing "who has altered His creations."

When one sees an elephant, monkey, or owl, he should recite the blessing: "Blessed... who has altered His creations."

יב

הרואה את הכושי ואת המשונין בצורת פניהן או באיבריהם מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם משנה את הבריות הרואה סומא או קיטע ומוכה שחין ובוהקנין וכיוצא בהן מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם דיין האמת ואם נולדו כן ממעי אמן מברך משנה את הבריות הרואה את הפיל ואת הקוף ואת הקיפוף אומר ברוך משנה את הבריות:

13

A person who sees beautiful and well-formed creations or pleasant-looking trees should recite the blessing:

[Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe,] whose world is like this.

A person who goes out to the fields or gardens in the month of Nisan and sees flowering trees sprouting branches should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who did not leave anything lacking in His world and created within it fine creations and beautiful and fine trees so that they would give pleasure to men.

יג

הרואה בריות נאות ומתוקנות ביותר ואילנות טובות מברך שככה לו בעולמו היוצא לשדות או לגנות ביומי ניסן וראה אילנות פורחות וניצנים עולים מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שלא חיסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובות ונאות כדי ליהנות בהן בני אדם:

14

[When one perceives] any of the following: winds that blow extremely powerfully, lightning, thunder, loud rumblings that sound like large mills when they are heard on the earth, shooting stars, or comets, he should recite the blessing:

[Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe,] whose power and might fill up the world.

If one desires, he may recite the blessing:

[Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe,] who performs the work of creation.

יד

על הרוחות שנשבו בזעף ועל הברקים ועל הרעמים ועל קול ההברה שתשמע בארץ כמו ריחיים גדולים ועל האור שבאויר שיראו כאלו הם כוכבים נופלים ורצים ממקום למקום או כמו כוכבים שיש להם זנב על כל אחד מאלו מברך ברוך שכחו וגבורתו מלא עולם ואם רצה מברך עושה בראשית:

15

Whenever one sees mountains, hills, seas, deserts, or rivers after a thirty day interval, he should recite the blessing "who performs the work of creation."

A person who sees the ocean after an interval of thirty days or more should recite the blessing:

[Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe,] who created the ocean.

טו

על ההרים ועל הגבעות על הימים ועל המדברות ועל הנהרות אם ראה אחת מהן משלשים יום לשלשים יום מברך עושה בראשית הרואה את הים הגדול משלשים יום לשלשים יום או יותר מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם שעשה את הים הגדול:

16

A person who sees a rainbow should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who remembers the covenant, is faithful to His covenant, and maintains His word.

When a person sees the moon after it is renewed, he should recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who created the heavens with His word and all their hosts with the breath of His mouth. He granted them a fixed law and schedule so that they should not alter their tasks. They rejoice and are glad to carry out the will of their Creator. They are faithful servants whose work is righteous. And He instructed the moon to renew itself as a crown of glory to those who are borne [by Him] from the womb, who are destined to be similarly renewed and to glorify their Creator for the name of the glory of His kingdom and for all He has created. Blessed are You, God, who renews the months.

טז

הרואה קשת בענן מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם זוכר הברית ונאמן בבריתו וקיים במאמרו הרואה לבנה בחדושה מברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם אשר במאמרו ברא שחקים וברוח פיו כל צבאם חק וזמן נתן להם שלא ישנו את תפקידם ששים ושמחים לעשות רצון קוניהם פועלי אמת ופעולתם צדק וללבנה אמר שתתחדש עטרה תפארת לעמוסי בטן שהם עתידין להתחדש כמותה ולפאר ליוצאם על כבוד מלכותו ועל כל מה שברא ברוך אתה יי' מחדש החדשים:

17

This blessing should be recited while standing, for whoever recites the blessing on the new moon at its appropriate time is considered as if he greeted the Divine Presence.

If a person did not recite the blessing on the first night, he may recite the blessing until the sixteenth of the month, until the moon becomes full.

יז

וצריך לברך ברכה זו מעומד שכל המברך על החדש בזמנו כאילו הקביל פני השכינה אם לא בירך עליה בליל הראשון מברך עליה עד ששה עשר יום בחדש עד שתמלא פגימתה:

18

A person who sees the sun on the day of the spring equinox at the beginning of the twenty-eight year cycle that begins on Wednesday night [must recite a blessing]. When he sees the sun on Wednesday morning, he should recite the blessing "who performs the work of creation."

Similarly, the blessing "who performs the work of creation" should be recited when the moon reaches the beginning of the zodiac constellation taleh at the beginning of the month when it is not pointing to the north or the south, when any of the other five stars [that revolve in separate spheres] arrive at the beginning of the constellation taleh and do not point to the north or the south, and when one sees the constellation taleh ascend to the eastern corner [of the sky].

יז

הרואה את החמה ביום תקופת ניסן של תחלת המחזור של שמונה ועשרים שנה שהתקופה בתחלת ליל רביעי כשרואה אותה ביום רביעי בבקר מברך ברוך עושה בראשית וכן כשתחזור הלבנה לתחלת מזל טלה בתחלת החדש ולא תהיה נוטה לא לצפון ולא לדרום וכן כשיחזור כל כוכב וכוכב מחמשת הכוכבים הנשארים לתחלת מזל טלה ולא יהיה נוטה לא לצפון ולא לדרום וכן בכל עת שיראה מזל טלה עולה מקצה המזרח על כל אחד מאלו מברך עושה בראשית:

19

When a person sees a settlement of gentile homes, he should recite the verse (Proverbs 15:25): "God will pluck up the house of the proud." Should he see a desolate settlement of gentile homes, he should recite the verse (Psalms 94:1): "The Lord is a God of retribution. O God of retribution, reveal Yourself." When one sees gentile graves, he should recite the verse (Jeremiah 50:12): "Your mother shall be greatly ashamed...."

יט

הרואה בתי עכו"ם בישובן אומר בית גאים יסח יי' בחורבנן אומר אל נקמות יי' אל נקמות הופיע ראה קברי עכו"ם אומר בושה אמכם מאד וגו':

20

A person who enters a bathhouse should say "May it be Your will, God, our Lord, to allow me to enter in peace and leave in peace, and may You save me from this and the like in the future."

When one leaves the bath, he should say, "I give thanks to You, God, our Lord, for saving me from fire."

כ

הנכנס למרחץ אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שתכניסני לשלום ותוציאני לשלום ותצילני מזה ומכיוצא בזה לעתיד לבא וכשיצא מן המרחץ אומר מודה אני לפניך יי' אלהי שהצלתני מן האור וכו':

21

A person who goes to let blood should say, "May it be Your will, God, our Lord, that this activity bring me a recovery, for You are a generous healer." Afterward, he should recite the blessing, "Blessed are You, God... Healer of the sick."

כא

הנכנס להקיז דם אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שיהא עסק זה לי לרפואה כי רופא חנם אתה וכשיצא אומר ברוך אתה יי' רופא חולים:

22

A person who goes to measure his silo should say, "May it be Your will, God, our Lord, that You send blessing to the work of my hands." When he begins to measure, he should say, "Blessed be He who sends blessings to this heap of grain."

If he asks for mercy after measuring [his grain], his prayer is considered to be in vain. [Similarly,] whoever calls out [to God] over events that have already happened is considered to have uttered a prayer in vain.

כב

ההולך למוד גורנו אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שתשלח ברכה במעשה ידי התחיל למוד אומר ברוך השולח ברכה בכרי זה מדד ואחר כך ביקש רחמים הרי זו תפלת שוא וכל הצועק לשעבר הרי זו תפלת שוא:

23

When a person enters a house of study, he should say:

May it be Your will, God, our Lord, that I not stumble regarding a point of law, that I not call something that is pure impure, nor something that is impure pure, nor call something that is permitted forbidden, nor something that is forbidden permitted, and that I not err regarding a point of Scriptural Law and cause my colleagues to laugh at me, nor my colleagues err and I laugh at them.

כג

הנכנס לבית המדרש אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שלא אכשל בדבר הלכה שלא אומר על טהור טמא ועל טמא טהור ולא על מותר אסור ולא על אסור מותר ולא אכשל בדבר הלכה וישמחו בי חבירי ואל יכשלו חבירי ואשמח בהם:

24

When one leaves the house of study, he should say:

I thank You, God, our Lord, that You have granted me a portion among those who sit in the House of Study and have not granted me a portion among those who sit on the street-corners.
I rise early and they rise early: I rise early to the words of Torah, and they rise early to fruitless matters. I labor and they labor: I labor for the words of Torah and receive a reward; they labor and do not receive a reward. I run and they run: I run to the life of the world to come, and they run to the pit of destruction.

כד

וביציאתו מבית המדרש אומר מודה אני לפניך יי' אלהי ששמת חלקי מיושבי בית המדרש ולא שמת חלקי מיושבי קרנות שאני משכים והם משכימים אני משכים לדברי תורה והם משכימים לדברים בטלים אני עמל והם עמלין אני עמל לדברי תורה ומקבל שכר והם עמלין ואין מקבלין שכר אני רץ והם רצים אני רץ לחיי העולם הבא והם רצים לבאר שחת:

25

A person who enters a metropolis should say, "May it be Your will, God, my Lord, to allow me to enter this metropolis in peace." If one enters in peace, he should say, "I thank You, God, my Lord, for allowing me to enter in peace."

When one desires to leave, he should say, "May it be Your will, God, my Lord, to allow me to depart from this metropolis in peace." If one departs in peace, he should say:

I thank You, God, my Lord, for allowing me to depart in peace. As You have allowed me to depart in peace, lead me [on my way] in peace, direct my steps in peace, support me in peace, and save me from the hands of the enemies and lurking foes on the way.

כה

הנכנס לכרך אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שתכניסני לכרך זה לשלום ואם נכנס בשלום אומר מודה אני לפניך יי' אלהי שהכנסתני לשלום וכשיבקש לצאת אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שתוציאני מכרך זה לשלום ואם יצא בשלום אומר מודה אני לפניך יי' אלהי שהוצאתני מכרך זה לשלום וכשם שהוצאתני לשלום כך תוליכני לשלום ותצעידני לשלום ותסמכני לשלום ותצילני מכף אויב ואורב בדרך:

26

The general rule is: A person should always cry out [to God] over future possibilities, asking for mercy. He should thank [God] for what has transpired in the past, thanking Him and praising Him according to his capacity. Whoever praises and thanks God abundantly and continuously is worthy to be praised.

כו

כללו של דבר לעולם יצעק אדם על העתיד לבא ויבקש רחמים ויתן הודיה על מה שעבר ויודה וישבח כפי כחו וכל המרבה להודות את יי' ולשבחו תמיד הרי זה משובח:

Berachot - Chapter Eleven

1

All blessings begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]," with the exception of the blessing after the recitation of the Shema, blessings that come in succession to each other, the blessings over fruit and the like, the blessings over the fulfillment of the mitzvot, and the blessings that we have mentioned which are expressions of praise and thanks. The [latter blessings] include some that begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and others that conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" but do not begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]."

[There are certain exceptions to these rules,] for example, a small number of blessings over the mitzvot, such as the blessing recited [when reading from] a Torah scroll and [some of the blessings recited as an expression of praise and thanks;] for example, the blessing recited when one sees Jewish graves. The rest of the blessings over mitzvot begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude [with "Blessed are You, God...].

א

כל הברכות כולן פותח בהם בברוך וחותם בהם בברוך חוץ מברכה אחרונה של קריאת שמע וברכה הסמוכה לחבירתה וברכת הפירות והדומה לה וברכת עשיית המצות ומאלו הברכות שאמרנו שהן דרך שבח והודיה יש מהן פותח בברוך ואינו חותם בברוך ויש מהן שהוא חותם בברוך ואינו פתוח בברוך אלא מעט מברכת המצות כגון ברכת ספר תורה ורואה קברי ישראל מאלו שהן דרך שבח והודייה אבל שאר ברכות המצות כולן פותח בהן בברוך ואינו חותם:

All blessings begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" - "our Lord and King of the universe..."

and conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" with the exception of the blessing after the recitation of the Shema - Although the Shema interposes between this blessing and the blessings that precede it, they are still considered as blessings that come in succession to each other. This same rule applies to other blessings, e.g., the blessings Yishtabach and Baruch she'amar and the blessings before and after Hallel.

blessings that come in succession to each other - In this instance, the phrase "Blessed..." which begins the first blessing in the succession, applies to the blessings that follow as well.

the blessings over fruit - See Chapters 8 and 9.

and the like - See Hilchot Tefilah, Chapter 7. The blessings mentioned there are equivalent to the blessings recited over fruit.

the blessings over the fulfillment of the mitzvot - These blessings are discussed in this chapter.

and the blessings that we have mentioned which are expressions of praise and thanks. - The blessings mentioned in the previous chapter.

The [latter blessings] include some that begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" - Indeed, most of the blessings mentioned in the previous chapter are structured in this manner.

and others that conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" but do not begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]." - e.g., the blessing on rain mentioned in Halachah 5.

[There are certain exceptions - The bracketed additions are based on the commentary of the Kessef Mishneh.

to these rules,] - i.e., blessings from these categories that both begin and concluded with "Blessed are You...."

for example, a small number of blessings over the mitzvot, such as the blessing recited [when reading from] a Torah scroll - See Hilchot Tefillah 12:5. Other examples are the blessings over the haftarah and the blessing over consecrating a wife.

and [some of the blessings recited as an expression of praise and thanks;] for example, the blessing recited when one sees Jewish graves. - See Chapter 10, Halachah 10. Other examples are Kiddush, Havdalah, and the blessing sanctifying the new moon.

The rest of the blessings over mitzvot begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude [with "Blessed are You, God...]."
1. Tefillin represent a mitzvah that we are required to fulfill each day, while sukkah, lulav, and shofar are fulfilled only on the holidays with which they are associated. By mentioning both these types of obligations, the Rambam expresses his point more clearly. It is, nevertheless, worthy of question why the Rambam lists the mitzvot of sukkah, lulav, and shofar in this order. In Hilchot Shofar V'Sukkah V'Lulav, he discusses them in a different order.
2. See Hilchot mezuzah 6:1. The Rambam lists ten qualifications a house must have to require a mezuzah. A person may choose to live in a house that does not fulfill all these requirements.
3. The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 6:1) derives the obligation to recite a blessing before fulfilling mitzvot as follows: Exodus 24:12 establishes an equation between Torah study and the mitzvot. Therefore, since blessings are recited before Torah study (see Hilchot Tefillah 7:10), a blessing should also be recited before fulfilling a mitzvah. It must, however, be emphasized that this is an asmachtah and the obligation to recite these blessings originates in Rabbinic law and not in the Torah itself.
4. According to the Rambam, there is one exception to this principle: the ritual immersion of a convert, as explained in Halachah 7. Although other authorities maintain that the blessing before washing hands should be recited after washing and not beforehand, as mentioned in Chapter 6, Halachah 2, the Rambam does not agree, and requires that this blessing also be recited before fulfilling the mitzvah.
5. The Rambam's statements imply that a blessing should not be recited before fulfilling any of the mitzvot between man and man. The Rabbis have given several explanations why blessings are not recited before fulfilling such commandments:
a) A blessing is recited only when a person can fulfill a mitzvah on his own, without requiring the assistance of another person. Many of the mitzvot between man and man require a recipient - e.g., charity cannot be given without a poor man being willing to receive it, a lost object cannot be returned unless its owner accepts it (Rashba, Vol. I, Responsum 18).
b) Many of the mitzvot between man and man (e.g., visiting the sick, comforting mourners, giving charity) were instituted because of undesirable circumstances. Hence, it is not appropriate that a blessing be recited in connection with them (Rav David Avudraham).

[Although as stated in the previous chapter, a person is obligated to recite a blessing when undesirable events occur to him, it is not appropriate to do so when such events happen to a colleague. Should a person do so, he would appear to be rejoicing in his colleague's misfortune.]

c) The gentiles are also obligated to give charity and establish a stable society. Hence, they fulfill many of the positive commandments. Thus, the blessing recited before fulfilling a mitzvah, praising God for sanctifying - i.e., differentiating - "us with Your commandments" is inappropriate (Torah Temimah).
6. I.e., mitzvot that we are required to fulfill at a specific time.
7. I.e., mitzvot that have a voluntary dimension; thus, if one desires to carry within a carmelit on the Sabbath, one must establish an eruv; if one desires to eat bread, one must wash one's hands.
8. There are several types of eruvim, as the Rambam explains in Hilchot Eruvin. All are included in the same blessing.
9. There is a slight difficulty with the Rambam's statements. Although washing hands before eating has a voluntary aspect, as explained above, we are required to wash before prayer each morning. (See Chapter 6, Halachah 2.)
10. The Rambam's question is: Since these commandments were instituted by the Sages, how can we say that God commanded us to fulfill them?
11. The Rambam's statements are based on Shabbat 23a, except that he quotes a different portion of the proof-text mentioned by the Talmud in order to emphasize the positive nature of the Biblical commandment (Kessef Mishneh). Compare also to Chapter 6, Halachah 2, where he quotes another portion of the verse.

(Note the Ramban's objection to the Rambam's definition of Rabbinic commandments and the Kiryat Sefer's resolution of the difficulty in the fifth chapter of his introduction to the Mishneh Torah.)

12. See Chapter 6, Halachot 2-3, which explain that the obligation to wash after eating was instituted lest a person use Sodomite salt and, after eating, inadvertently pass his hands over his eyes and blind himself. Note also the objection of the Ra'avad to the Rambam's statements in Halachah 2 of that chapter.
13. There is a slight difficulty with the Rambam's statements. In Halachot 9 and 12, the Rambam states that a blessing is recited when one fulfills the mitzvah of constructing a guardrail. On the surface, the purpose of that mitzvah is to prevent danger. This question can, however, be resolved on the basis of Hilchot Tefillah 9:7, which states:

One who says... "May He who showed mercy on a bird's nest... show mercy on us"... should be silenced, because these mitzvot are God's decrees and are not [expressions of] mercy.

Although the obvious reason for the mitzvah of chasing away the mother bird is to show mercy (and the Rambam himself gives such an explanation in the Guide to the Perplexed, Vol. III, Chapter 38), that mitzvah - and every mitzvah - is ultimately a Divine decree that surpasses human intellect. Any rationale we provide is limited and cannot define the mitzvah in a complete manner.

The same applies in the present instance. Although the obvious reason for constructing a guardrail is to prevent a dangerous situation from arising, this nevertheless represents only man's conception of the mitzvah. God's purpose is beyond our comprehension. Therefore, a Rabbinic ordinance like washing after the meal can be considered as having been established because of danger, and, for that reason, a blessing is not recited in connection with its performance. In contrast, with regard to a commandment from the Torah itself, there is no way that we can define the ultimate purpose for its performance and consider it as having been granted us only to avoid danger (Kinat Eliyahu). [See also Likkutei Sichot, Vol. IX. Note also that although the Rambam and the She'iltot of Rav Achai Gaon mention reciting a blessing over the construction of a guardrail, the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 427) does not mention this blessing.]

14. To explain this concept, using one of the examples cited by the Rambam: When one puts on tefillin, one's fulfillment of the mitzvah continues throughout the entire time one is wearing them. Therefore, although one should recite the blessing before putting them on, if one did not, it is still proper to do so afterwards, because one is still fulfilling the mitzvah.
15. The Rambam gives examples of this concept in the following halachah.
16. Since the mitzvah is already completed, there is no further cause to recite the blessing. On the contrary, according to the Rambam, doing so would be a recitation of the blessing in vain. (See Hilchot Ishut 3:23.)
17. See note 17 in the commentary on the following halachah.
18. As he mentions in the previous halachah, the Rambam maintains that this exception applies only regarding the immersion of a convert. Other individuals - e.g., a woman immersing herself to emerge from the niddah state or, in the times of the Temple, a person immersing himself to emerge from other states of impurity - should recite a blessing before immersing. (As the Rambam states in Hilchot Tefillah 4:4, there is no difficulty in a person who is ritually impure reciting prayers.)

Tosafot, Berachot 51a, differ, maintaining that since an exception is made regarding the immersion of a convert, the Sages did not differentiate and required that the blessings for all immersions be recited afterwards. The Rambam's opinion is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 200:1), while the Ramah follows Tosafot's view. (See also the commentary on Chapter 6, Halachah 2, which discusses whether the blessing for washing hands should be recited before washing or afterwards.)

19. Therefore, in this instance, at the outset, the Sages instituted the obligation to recite a blessing after immersion.
20. The Rambam's phraseology is somewhat problematic, for it implies that there is a separate mitzvah in making a sukkah or a lulav. His intent, however, is clear. When a mitzvah has two phases - the preparations for performing it and its actual performance - the blessing is recited only before the latter.
21. The commentaries have questioned the Rambam's intention in using the phrase "making a lulav." What has to be made? According to the Rambam (Hilchot Lulav 7:6), we are not required to bind the three species of the lulav together. This question can be resolved, however, because according to Rabbinical decree, it is desirable that the species be bound together (Rav Kapach).
22. Note the Chatam Sofer (Orach Chayim, Responsum 52), who states that whenever the fulfillment of a mitzvah takes a long time, one should recite the blessing before one completes the last phase. Thus, with regard to the construction of a guardrail, one should recite the blessing before constructing the last portion of the divider. (See also Halachah 4, note 13.)
23. In one of his responsa, the Rambam explains that just as we recite the blessing shehecheyanu over the acquisition of new clothing (Chapter 10, Halachah 1), we recite this blessing over the acquisition of new mitzvot.
24. According to Ashkenazic custom, the blessing shehecheyanu is not recited over circumcision. See Hilchot Milah 3:3 and commentary.
25. The Rambam's phraseology appears to indicate that it is proper to recite the blessing shehecheyanu when making the sukkah. The common practice, however, in both the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities, is to recite the blessing when fulfilling the mitzvah. One should, however, also have in mind the construction of the sukkah.
26. For example, he affixes a mezuzah for a colleague.
27. One may, however, recite shehecheyanu for another individual with the intent that the other person answer Amen, and thus fulfill his requirement for reciting the blessing even when one has already recited the blessing oneself. (See Kessef Mishneh.)
28. See Sukkah 46a.
29. For example, mitzvot such as tefillin, shofar, or sukkah.
30. For example, mitzvot such as mezuzah or constructing a guardrail. The fulfillment of these mitzvot is not an absolute obligation, since, as the Rambam stated previously, one may dwell in a house that does not require a mezuzah or a guardrail. Nevertheless, once one builds such a house, there is an obligatory aspect to their performance. Hence, it is appropriate to say, "who has... commanded us to affix a mezuzah," and the like. Note the contrast to the "voluntary" mitzvot mentioned in Halachah 15.
31. Since the person is not performing the mitzvah on his own behalf, it is not appropriate that he praise God for commanding us to perform a specific activity. Therefore, he should use the form "... concerning the mitzvah of...."

The general principles stated by the Rambam in this halachah (and illustrated in the four succeeding halachot) are as a whole reflected in the text of the blessings we recite. Nevertheless, with regard to this last point, most other authorities prefer that there be a uniform text for all blessings, whether we perform them on our own behalf or on behalf of others.

Also, there are certain particular blessings that some commentaries have cited as exceptions to these rules. There are, however, other commentaries who have explained these. For example, before eating matzah (and similarly, with regard to other mitzvot that involve partaking of certain foods), we recite the blessing "... concerning the eating of matzah," and not "...to eat matzah." This is because the activity of eating itself is not what God has commanded - indeed, man performs this function on his own accord - what is holy is the object that the person eats. By placing the emphasis on "the eating of" a particular food, we focus our attention on the food and not its actual consumption (Or Sameach).

2

There are positive commandments that a person is obligated to make an effort to pursue [their fulfillment] until he performs them - for example, tefillin, sukkah, lulav, and shofar. These are referred to as obligations, since a person is obligated to fulfill them.

There are other mitzvot that are not obligations, but resemble voluntary activities - for example, [the mitzvot of] mezuzah and constructing a guardrail. A person is not obligated to dwell in a house that requires a mezuzah [just in order] to fulfill this mitzvah. Instead, if he desires, he can dwell in a tent or a ship for his entire life. Similarly, he does not have to build a house [just] in order to build a guardrail.

A blessing should be recited before fulfilling all positive commandments that are between man and God, whether they are mitzvot that are obligatory or are not obligatory.

ב

יש מצות עשה שאדם חייב להשתדל ולרדוף עד שיעשה אותה כגון תפילין וסוכה ולולב ושופר ואלו הן הנקראין חובה לפי שאדם חייב על כל פנים לעשות ויש מצוה שאינה חובה אלא דומין לרשות כגון מזוזה ומעקה שאין אדם חייב לשכון בבית החייב מזוזה כדי שיעשה מזוזה אלא אם רצה לשכון כל ימיו באהל או בספינה ישב וכן אינו חייב לבנות בית כדי לעשות מעקה וכל מצות עשה שבין אדם למקום בין מצוה שאינה חובה בין מצוה שהיא חובה מברך עליה קודם לעשייתה:

3

Similarly, with regard to all the Rabbinic mitzvot - both the mitzvot that the Rabbis established as obligations - e.g., reading the megillah, lighting Shabbat candles, and lighting Chanukah candles - and the mitzvot that are not obligations - e.g., an eruv or washing hands - one should recite a blessing before performing them, [praising God] "who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us….”

Where has He commanded us [to fulfill these commandments]? In the Torah, which states [Deuteronomy 17:11]: "Act [according to the judgment] they relate to you." [Based on this Biblical verse, the blessing recited before fulfilling a Rabbinical commandment] can be interpreted as follows: Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to listen to these [sages] who have commanded us to light Chanukah candles or read the megillah. The same applies regarding all Rabbinic commandments.

ג

וכן כל המצות שהן מדברי סופרים בין מצוה שהיא חובה מדבריהם כגון מקרא מגילה והדלקת נר בשבת והדלקת נר חנוכה בין מצות שאינן חובה כגון עירוב ונטילת ידים מברך על הכל קודם לעשייתן אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לעשות והיכן צונו בתורה שכתוב בה אשר יאמרו לך תעשה נמצא ענין הדברים והצען כך הוא אשר קדשנו במצותיו שציוה בהן לשמוע מאלו שצונו להדליק נר של חנוכה או לקרות את המגילה וכן שאר כל המצות שמדברי סופרים:

4

Why do we not recite a blessing before washing our hands after [eating]? Because the Sages obligated us [to do] this only because of danger. Blessings are not recited over an [obligation that was instituted] because of danger.

To what can this be compared? To someone who strains drinking water at night because of the danger of leeches. [Surely,] he does not recite a blessing, [praising God,] "who commanded us to strain water." The same applies in all similar situations.

ד

ולמה אין מברכין על נטילת ידים באחרונה מפני שלא חייבו בדבר זה אלא מפני הסכנה ודברים שהם משום סכנה אין מברכין עליהם הא למה זה דומה למי שסינן את המים ואח"כ שתה בלילה מפני סכנת עלוקה שאינו מברך וצונו לסנן את המים וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

5

[The following rules apply when] a person performs a mitzvah, but does not recite a blessing: If the fulfillment of the mitzvah still continues, he may recite the blessing even though he already performed it. If the mitzvah is a deed that is completed, he should not recite a blessing.

What is implied? When a person wrapped himself in tzitzit, donned tefillin, or sat in a sukkah without reciting a blessing at the outset, after wrapping himself [in tzitzit] he should recite the blessing "... who commanded us to wrap ourselves in tzitzit"; after donning [tefillin], he should recite the blessing "... who commanded us to put on tefillin"; after sitting [in the sukkah], he should recite the blessing "... who commanded us to sit in the sukkah." The same applies in all similar situations.

ה

העושה מצוה ולא בירך אם מצוה שעדיין עשייתה קיימת מברך אחר עשייה ואם דבר שעבר הוא אינו מברך כיצד הרי שנתעטף בציצית או שלבש תפילין או שישב בסוכה ולא בירך תחלה חוזר ומברך אחר שנתעטף אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להתעטף בציצית וכן מברך אחר שלבש להניח תפילין ואחר שישב לישב בסוכה וכן כל כיוצא באלו:

6

In contrast, if a person slaughtered [an animal] without reciting a blessing, he should not recite the blessing "... who sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us concerning slaughter," after the slaughter [is completed]. Similarly, if he covered [a fowl's] blood, separated terumah or the tithes, or immersed himself without reciting a blessing beforehand, he should not recite a blessing afterwards. The same applies in all similar situations.

ו

אבל אם שחט בלא ברכה אינו חוזר אחר שחיטה ומברך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על השחיטה וכן אם כסה הדם בלא ברכה או הפריש תרומה ומעשרות או שטבל ולא בירך אינו חוזר ומברך אחר עשייה וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

7

There is no mitzvah for which the blessing should be recited after its fulfillment, with the exception of the immersion of a convert. [In this instance, the exception was made] because he could not say, "who sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us." Until [the convert] immersed himself, he was neither sanctified nor commanded. Therefore, he recites the blessing over the immersion [only] after immersing himself. [This is allowed] since at the outset, he was unfit and unable to recite the blessing.

ז

אין לך מצוה שמברכין אחר עשייתה אלא טבילת הגר בלבד שאינו יכול לומר אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו שעדיין לא נתקדש ולא נצטוה עד שיטבול לפיכך אחר שיטבול מברך על הטבילה מפני שהיה דחוי מעיקרו ולא היה ראוי לברך:

8

Whenever the performance of a mitzvah constitutes the completion of one's obligation, he should recite the blessing before performing it. When, however, there is another commandment that follows the performance of a particular mitzvah, the blessing should not be recited until the other mitzvah is performed.

What is implied? When a person makes a sukkah, a lulav, a shofar, tzitzit, tefillin, or a mezuzah, he should not recite a blessing at the time he made [them]: [praising God for] "sanctifying us with Your commandments and commanding us to make a sukkah" or "a lulav," or "to write tefillin," because there is another commandment that follows this action.

When is the blessing recited? When one sits in the sukkah, shakes the lulav, hears the sounding of the shofar, wraps oneself in tzitzit, dons tefillin, or affixes the mezuzah. In contrast, when one constructs a guardrail, before constructing it one should recite the blessing "...who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to construct a guardrail." The same applies in all similar situations.

ח

כל מצוה שעשייתה היא גמר חיובה מברך בשעת עשייה וכל מצוה שיש אחר עשייתה צווי אחר אינו מברך אלא בשעה שעושה הצווי האחרון כיצד העושה סוכה או לולב או שופר או ציצית או תפילין או מזוזה אינו מברך בשעת עשייה אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לעשות סוכה או לולב או לכתוב תפילין מפני שיש אחר עשייתו צווי אחר ואימתי מברך בשעה שישב בסוכה או כשינענע הלולב או כשישמע קול השופר או כשיתעטף בציצית ובשעת לבישת תפילין ובשעת קביעת מזוזה אבל אם עשה מעקה מברך בשעת עשייה אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לעשות מעקה וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

9

The blessing shehecheyanu is recited:
[before] fulfilling every mitzvah that we are obligated to fulfill only at a specific time - e.g., shofar, sukkah, lulav, reading the Megillah, and [lighting] Chanukah candles,
[before fulfilling] every mitzvah that involves the acquisition of property - e.g., tzitzit, tefillin, and a guardrail - and
[before fulfilling] every mitzvah that we are obligated to fulfill infrequently - for this resembles a mitzvah we are obligated to fulfill only at a specific time - e.g., circumcising one's son and redeeming him.

If one did not recite the blessing shehecheyanu when making a sukkah or a lulav, one should recite this blessing when fulfilling the mitzvah. The same applies in other similar situations.

ט

כל מצוה שהיא מזמן לזמן כגון שופר וסוכה ולולב ומקרא מגילה ונר חנוכה וכן כל מצוה ומצוה שהיא קניין לו כגון ציצית ותפילין ומזוזה ומעקה וכן מצוה שאינה תדירה ואינה מצוייה בכל עת שהרי היא דומה למצוה שהיא מזמן לזמן כגון מילת בנו ופדיון הבן מברך עליה בשעת עשייתה שהחיינו ואם לא בירך על סוכה ולולב וכיוצא בהם שהחיינו בשעת עשייה מברך עליהן שהחיינו בשעה שיצא ידי חובתו בהן וכן כל כיוצא בהן:

10

Whether a person performs a mitzvah for himself or for a colleague, before performing the mitzvah, he should recite the blessing "... who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us...." He should, however, recite the blessingshehecheyanu only on mitzvot that he is performing for himself.

If a person is [intending to] fulfill several mitzvot, he should not recite the blessing "... who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to fulfill the mitzvot ---." Instead, he should recite a blessing over each mitzvah individually.

י

אחד העושה מצוה לעצמו ואחד העושה אותה לאחרים מברך קודם עשייתה אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לעשות אבל אינו מברך שהחיינו אלא על מצוה שעושה אותה לעצמו היו לפניו מצות הרבה אינו מברך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על המצות אלא מברך על כל אחת ואחת בפני עצמה:

11

Whoever performs a mitzvah for his own sake, whether it is an obligation incumbent upon him or not, should recite a blessing, [praising God "who sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us] to perform ----." In contrast, if he performs a mitzvah on behalf of another person, the form of the blessing is ["who sanctified us... and commanded us] concerning the performance of ----."

יא

כל העושה מצוה בין שהיתה חובה עליו בין שאינה חובה עליו אם עשה אותה לעצמו מברך לעשות עשה אותה לאחרים מברך על העשייה:

12

What is implied? Before donning tefillin, one recites the blessing "... to put on tefillin"; before wrapping oneself in tzitzit, one recites the blessing "... to wrap..."; before sitting in the sukkah, one recites the blessing "...to sit in the sukkah." Similarly, one recites the blessings "... to kindle the Sabbath light," and "... to complete the Hallel."

Similarly, if one affixes a mezuzah on one's own house, one should recite the blessing "... to affix a mezuzah"; if one erects a guardrail on one's roof, one should recite the blessing "... to erect a guardrail." Should one separate terumah for oneself, one should recite the blessing "... to separate [terumah]." Should one circumcise one's own son, one should recite the blessing "... to circumcise [one's] son." Should one slaughter one's Paschal sacrifice or festive sacrifice, one recites the blessing "... to slaughter...."

יב

כיצד לבש תפילין מברך להניח תפילין נתעטף בציצית מברך להתעטף ישב בסוכה מברך לישב בסוכה וכן הוא מברך להדליק נר של שבת ולגמור את הלל וכן אם קבע מזוזה לביתו מברך לקבוע מזוזה עשה מעקה לגגו מברך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לעשות מעקה הפריש תרומה לעצמו מברך להפריש מל את בנו מברך למול את הבן שחט פסחו וחגיגתו מברך לשחוט:



What is implied? Before donning tefillin - a mitzvah that we are obligated to fulfill each day

one recites the blessing "... to put on tefillin" - This is the blessing recited over the arm tefillin, and over both the arm and head tefillin when one does not speak between putting them on. Should one speak, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of tefillin" before putting the head tefillin on (Hilchot Tefillin 4:6).

The latter statement is problematic for the Rambam: Since the blessing is recited before putting on the head tefillin, it should use the form "... and commanded us to..." rather than "... and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of...."

before wrapping oneself in tzitzit - A mitzvah that, as mentioned in the previous halachah, has a non-obligatory nature. The Torah does not obligate us to wear tzitzit each day. (See Hilchot Tzitzit 3:11.) Nevertheless, a person who wears a garment requiring tzitzit is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah each day.

one recites the blessing "... to wrap..." - This blessing is recited before putting on the tallit gadol. As mentioned in the commentary on Hilchot Tzitzit, the Rambam does not mention the custom of wearing a tallit katan at all. It is our custom to recite the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of tzitzit" for such a garment. It is possible to explain that the form "... concerning..." is used because, generally, we have touched unclean portions of our body before putting on the tallit katan. Hence, the blessing cannot be recited before donning the garment. Accordingly, the form "...concerning the mitzvah..." is more appropriate, as stated in Halachah 15.

before sitting in the sukkah - a mitzvah that is obligatory in nature, but which can be performed only during a certain time of the year.

one recites the blessing "...to sit in the sukkah." - It is our custom to recite this blessing even if one began sitting in the sukkah without reciting the blessing, and recited the blessing afterwards. From Halachah 15, however, it does not appear that the Rambam would accept this practice.

Similarly, one recites the blessings - The Rambam mentions Shabbat candles and Hallel specifically because these are Rabbinic mitzvot.

"... to kindle the Sabbath light," and "... to complete the Hallel." - This is the Sephardic custom. Today, in Ashkenazic communities, the text of the blessing is "... to read the Hallel."

Similarly, if one affixes a mezuzah on one's own house - The Rambam mentions the mitzvot of mezuzah and a guardrail for two reasons: First, as explained in the commentary on the previous halachah, there is a non-obligatory aspect to these mitzvot. Second, as explained in the following halachah, there is a difference whether one performs these mitzvot by oneself or whether one performs them on behalf of another person.

one should recite the blessing "... to affix a mezuzah"; if one erects a guardrail on one's roof, one should recite the blessing "...to erect a guardrail." - See Halachah 4, Note 13.

Should one separate terumah for oneself, one should recite the blessing "... to separate [terumah]." - The Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah also mention the separation of tithes in this context.

Should one circumcise one's own son, one should recite the blessing "... to circumcise [one's] son." - Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 265:2) mentions the Rambam's opinion, the Ramah states that it is customary to recite the blessing "... concerning the circumcision," at all times.

Should one slaughter one's Paschal sacrifice or festive sacrifice, one recites the blessing "... to slaughter...." - The Rambam mentions these mitzvot to contrast them with the following halachah, which describes their performance on behalf of another person. It would appear that the Rambam is making the point that one should use the form "... to..." when performing the mitzvah oneself even when, in general, it is more likely that the mitzvah be performed by an agent (Kin’at Eliyahu).

32. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 289:1) and other authorities mention the recitation of only the blessing "to affix a mezuzah."
33. Even if he would perform such a mitzvah only on his own behalf, he would use this form, as explained in the following halachah.
34. See Halachah 3.
35. In this instance as well, were he to perform the mitzvah only for himself, he would use this form.
36. As mentioned in Halachot 5 and 6, once a mitzvah has been fulfilled, it is no longer proper to recite a blessing. The mitzvah of lulav, however, represents an exception to the rules stated there. Unlike tefillin or sukkah, the mitzvah of lulav does not continue for the entire time one holds it. Instead, as the Rambam states, as soon as one picks it up, one fulfills the obligation as required by the Scriptural Law (mid'oraita). Nevertheless, it is still permissible to recite a blessing, because the Sages ordained that the mitzvah be fulfilled by carrying out the nanu'im (shakings) of the lulav in the Hallel prayers.

Since this dimension of the mitzvah remains, one may still recite a blessing. Nevertheless, since mid'oraita one has fulfilled one's obligation, it is not proper to use the form "... to...," which implies an activity to be fulfilled in the future (Tosafot, Pesachim 7b).

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 651:5) relates that the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of lulav" should be recited even when one recites the blessing before picking up the lulav.
38. This refers to an instance when the fulfillment of a mitzvah continues beyond the first moment, and one did not recite the blessing at the outset, as explained in Halachah 4. According to the Rambam, one should change the form of the blessings in such an instance. The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's decision, explaining that we should not change the form of the blessings. It is the Ra'avad's view that is accepted in practice at present.
39. There is a distinction between these mitzvot and those mitzvot mentioned in Halachot 11 and 12 that were described as not being obligatory in nature. One is not obligated to live in a house that requires a mezuzah. Nevertheless, should one dwell in such a house, one is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah. In contrast, there is never any obligation to carry out the activities which require one to fulfill the mitzvot described in this halachah.
40. See also Halachah 3.
41. The Rambam states in Hilchot Chametz UMatzah 2:1-2:

It is a positive mitzvah from the Torah to destroy chametz.... What is the destruction to which the Torah refers? To nullify chametz within one's heart and to consider it as dust, and to resolve within one's heart that he possesses no chametz at all.

Nevertheless, since the Sages required one to search for chametz throughout one's house (see Hilchot Chametz UMatzah 2:3), the mitzvah is not completely fulfilled until the search is completed. Therefore, a blessing may be recited.
43. Hilchot Lulav 7:20-22 relates that while the Temple was standing, willow branches were placed near the altar on each of the seven days of the Sukkot festival, with the exception of the Sabbath. At present, to commemorate that practice, it is customary to take willow branches on the seventh day of the holiday and hit them five times against the ground.
44. In contrast to the recitation of Hallel on the festivals, which the Rambam (Hilchot Chanukah 3:6) considers a mitzvah instituted by the Sages, the recitation of Hallel on Rosh Chodesh was not uniformly accepted among the Jewish community in Talmudic times. Thus, Ta'anit 28b relates that the great Sage Rav was not accustomed to reciting Hallel on Rosh Chodesh. Rather, it is a custom that was practiced in Babylon for years, and ultimately became universally accepted. Therefore, certain portions are not recited and a blessing is not recited.

The Ra'avad and Tosafot, Ta'anit (ibid.) differ and maintain that, in contrast to taking the willow, which is not an involved practice, the recitation of Hallel is worthy of a blessing. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 422:2) quotes the Rambam's opinion and states that it is the accepted practice in Eretz Yisrael. In contrast, the Ramah follows the other view.

45. Since there was no special sacrifice ordained for each of the latter days of Pesach individually, but rather the same sacrifices were offered throughout the festival, the full Hallel is not recited. The same laws that govern the recitation of Hallel on Rosh Chodesh apply.
46. The Kessef Mishneh and other commentaries give several examples of such practices:
a) Separating tithes from produce that is classified as d'mai (produce sold by an unlearned person). The Sages required this separation as a safeguard, because they were unsure whether the unlearned person had separated the tithes or not. Although the tithes should be separated because of this doubt, since it is possible that they had been separated previously, a blessing should not be recited.
b) Covering the blood of a kvi. The Sages were unsure whether such an animal should be classified as a behemah, whose blood should not be covered, or as a chayah, whose blood must be covered. Because of the doubt, we cover the animal's blood. We do not, however, recite a blessing (see Hilchot Shechitah 14:4).
c) Dwelling in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeret. Although it is customary to dwell in the sukkah on this day in the diaspora, in deference to the possibility that Sukkot actually began on the second day, a blessing is not recited. (See Hilchot Sukkah 6:13.)
47. The blessing is not recited lest the deed one performs not be necessary, and thus the blessing one recites would be considered as taking God's name in vain.

Note the question of the Kessef Mishneh concerning the Rambam's decision (Hilchot Kri'at Shema13 2:13) that a person who is unsure whether he recited the Shema should recite its blessings as well.
48. Sukkah 46a quotes a similar verse and comments, "Each day, respond to Him in a manner that reflects His blessings."

The Rambam appears to be implying that a person should be continuously aware of the kindness God is granting him and respond by blessing Him.

13

If, however, one affixes a mezuzah for others, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the affixing of a mezuzah." Should one construct a guardrail for others, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the building of a guardrail." Should one separate terumah for others, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the separation of terumah. Should one circumcise a colleague's son, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the circumcision." The same applies in all similar situations.

יג

אבל אם קבע מזוזה לאחרים מברך על קביעת מזוזה עשה להם מעקה מברך על עשיית מעקה הפריש להם תרומה מברך על הפרשת תרומה מל את בן חבירו מברך על המילה וכן כל כיוצא באלו:

14

[The following rules apply] when a person performs a mitzvah on his own behalf and on behalf of others simultaneously. If the mitzvah is not obligatory in nature, he should use the form "... concerning..." for the blessing. Therefore, one recites the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of eruv."

If the mitzvah is obligatory and he had the intent of fulfilling his own obligation and that of the others, he should use the form "... to..." for the blessing. Therefore, one recites the blessing "... to hear the sound of the shofar."

יד

עשה המצוה לו ולאחרים כאחד אם היתה מצוה שאינה חובה מברך על העשייה לפיכך הוא מברך על מצות עירוב היתה חובה ונתכוון להוציא עצמו מידי חובה ולהוציא אחרים מברך לעשות לפיכך הוא מברך לשמוע קול שופר:

15

When one takes the lulav, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the taking of the lulav." [This form is used] because a person fulfills his obligation when he picks [the lulav] up. If one recites the blessing before taking the lulav, one should recite the blessing "... to take the lulav," as one recites the blessing "... to sit in the sukkah." From this, one derives the principle that a person who recites a blessing after performing [a mitzvah] blesses "... concerning..." [the mitzvah's] performance.

With regard to the washing of hands and ritual slaughter, since they are of a voluntary nature, even if a person slaughters on his own behalf, he should recite the blessings "... concerning slaughter," "... concerning the covering of the blood," and "... concerning the washing of hands."

Similarly, one recites the blessing "... concerning the destruction of chametz," whether one searches for leaven on one's own behalf or on behalf of others. [This form is used] because once a person resolves in his heart to nullify his ownership [over chametz], the mitzvah of destroying it is fulfilled even before one searches, as will be explained in its place.

טו

נטל את הלולב מברך על נטילת לולב שכיון שהגביהו יצא ידי חובתו אבל אם בירך קודם שיטול מברך ליטול לולב כמו לישב בסוכה מכאן אתה למד שהמברך אחר שעשה מברך על העשייה אבל נטילת ידים ושחיטה הואיל ובדברי הרשות הן אפילו שחט לעצמו מברך על השחיטה ועל כסוי הדם ועל נטילת ידים וכך הוא מברך על ביעור חמץ בין שבדק לעצמו בין שבדק לאחרים שמשעה שגמר בלבו לבטל נעשית מצות הביעור קודם שיבדוק כמו שיתבאר במקומו:

16

[A blessing is not recited over] all practices that are customs. [This applies] even to a custom established by the prophets - for example, taking the willow branches on the seventh day of Sukkot. Needless to say, a blessing is not recited over customs established by the Sages - e.g., reading Hallel on Rosh Chodesh and on the intermediate days of Pesach.

Similarly whenever there is a question whether a practice requires a blessing or not, it should be performed without reciting a blessing.

A person should always take care not to recite blessings that are not necessary, and should recite many blessings that are required. Thus, David declared [Psalms 145:2]: "I will bless you each day."

טז

כל דבר שהוא מנהג אע"פ שמנהג נביאים הוא כגון נטילת ערבה בשביעי של חג ואין צריך לומר מנהג חכמים כגון קריאת הלל בראשי חדשים ובחולו של מועד של פסח אין מברכין עליו וכן כל דבר שיסתפק לך אם טעון ברכה אם לאו עושין אותו בלא ברכה ולעולם יזהר אדם בברכה שאינה צריכה וירבה בברכות הצריכות וכן דוד אמר בכל יום אברכך:

Milah - Chapter One

Introduction to Hilchos Milah

It contains one positive mitzvah, to circumcise males on the eighth day.

This mitzvah is explained in the following chapters.

הלכות מילה - הקדמה

הלכות מילה מצות עשה אחת והיא למול הזכרים ביום שמיני: וביאור מצוה זו בפרקים אלו:

1

Circumcision is a positive mitzvah [whose lack of fulfillment] is punishable by karet, as [Genesis 17:14] states: "And an uncircumcised male who does not circumcise his foreskin - this soul will be cut off from his people."

A father is commanded to circumcise his son, and a master, his slaves. This applies both to those who are born in his home and to those purchased by him. If the father or the master transgressed and did not circumcise them, he negated the fulfillment of a positive commandment. He is not, however, punished by karet, for karet is incurred only by the uncircumcised person himself. The court is obligated to circumcise that son or slave at the proper time and should not leave an uncircumcised male among the Jewish people or their slaves.

א

מילה מצות עשה שחייבין עליה כרת שנאמר וערל זכר אשר לא ימול את בשר ערלתו ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה ומצוה על האב למול את בנו ועל הרב למול את עבדיו יליד בית ומקנת כסף עבר האב או האדון ולא מל אותן ביטל מצות עשה ואינו חייב כרת שאין הכרת תלוי אלא בערל עצמו ובית דין מצווים למול אותו הבן או העבד בזמנו ולא יניחו ערל בישראל ולא בעבדיהן:

Circumcision is a positive mitzvah - Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 215) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 2) consider this one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

[whose lack of fulfillment] is punished by - Circumcision and the Paschal sacrifices are the only positive commandments for which the Torah prescribes punishment if they are not fulfilled. In both instances, the punishment is the same (karet).

karet - Premature death at the hand of God (Mo'ed Katan 28a) and a severe spiritual punishment, the "soul's being cut off," and not being granted a share in the world to come (Hilchot Teshuvah 8:1,5).

as [Genesis 17:14] states: "And an uncircumcised male who does not circumcise his foreskin - this soul will be cut off from his people." - The citation of the verse from Genesis is significant. In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Chulin 7:6), the Rambam writes that our fulfillment of this mitzvah is not based on God's commandment to Abraham, but rather on the commandment issued to Moses (Leviticus 12:3), "On the eighth day, the child's foreskin will be circumcised." Nevertheless, the commandment to Abraham is still significant, and many particulars concerning circumcision are derived from it.

A father - and not a mother (Kiddushin 29a)

is commanded to circumcise his son - Although when the son reaches the age of bar mitzvah, he is obligated by the mitzvah. Until that time, the father is responsible for the fulfillment of the mitzvah.

The Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 2) questions the extent of the father's responsibility. If the father does not circumcise his son before the latter reaches majority, is the father still charged with the mitzvah (together with the son) or is the son solely responsible for the mitzvah?

Likkutei Sichot (Vol. 11) explains that the question is dependent on a difference of opinion between the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds. The Babylonian Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) derives the mitzvah from the verse (Genesis 21:4), "And Avraham circumcised his son, Isaac." This indicates that the mitzvah is primarily the father's (although after the son reaches adulthood, he also becomes responsible). In contrast, the Jerusalem Talmud (Kiddushin 1:7) quotes as a proof-text for the mitzvah (Leviticus 12:3), "On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised." The Korban Eidah explains that this implies the mitzvah is the son's. Since he is not able to perform it himself as a youth, however, his father is given the responsibility while the child is a minor.

Likkutei Sichot continues, explaining that the Rambam's position is obvious from his discussion of the blessings recited for the mitzvot in Hilchot Berachot, Chapter 11. In Halachah 11 of that chapter, the Rambam explains that if one performs a mitzvah on one's own behalf, one should use the form, "who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to...." In contrast, if one performs a mitzvah on behalf of another person, one uses the form, "... and commanded us concerning...."

Rav Yitzchak ben Sheshet (Responsum 131) notes that the Rambam (Hilchot Bikkurim 11:5) rules that one should recite the blessing "...concerning the redemption of a son," implying that the mitzvah is not the father's, but the son's (merely that as an infant, the son cannot fulfill it). In contrast, in Chapter 3, Halachah 1, the Rambam states that a father should recite the blessing "... to circumcise...," implying that the mitzvah is his.

and a master, his slaves. - Here, the responsibility for the mitzvah is surely the master's. This circumcision is one of the stages in the process by which the slave attains the status of eved C'na'ani, an intermediate rung between a gentile and a Jew. He is obligated to fulfill all the negative commandments and all those positive commandments that are not associated with a specific time. (See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 12:11.)

This applies both to those who are born in his home - i.e., a non-Jewish maidservant gave birth to a male child

and to those purchased by him. - See Genesis 17:27, which relates that Abraham circumcised both these categories of servants.

If the father or the master transgressed and did not circumcise them, he negated the fulfillment of a positive commandment. - Note the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Shabbat 19:6):

If a person transgressed and did not circumcise his son or his servants born in his home... on the eighth day, he transgresses a very great and severe mitzvah, to which there is no comparison among the other mitzvot. He can never compensate for [the lack of fulfillment of] this mitzvah.
His sin is much more severe than a person who did not build a sukkah on Sukkot, or one who did not eat matzah on Pesach.

He is not, however, punished by karet, for karet is incurred only by the uncircumcised person himself. - This is obvious from the proof-text quoted above.

The court is obligated to circumcise that son or slave at the proper time and should not leave an uncircumcised male among the Jewish people or their slaves. - Kiddushin, loc. cit., interprets Genesis 17:10, "You must circumcise every male," as a charge to the Jewish court, making them responsible for circumcising every member of the people.

2

We may not circumcise a person's son without his knowledge, unless he has transgressed and did not circumcise him. [In such an instance,] the court must circumcise [the child] against [the father's] will.

If the matter does not become known to the court and they do not circumcise him, when [the child] reaches bar mitzvah, he is obligated to circumcise himself. With each and every day that passes after he has reached bar mitzvah, he negates a positive commandment. He is not, however, liable for karet until he dies uncircumcised, having intentionally [failed to perform the mitzvah].

ב

אין מלין בנו של אדם שלא מדעתו אלא אם כן עבר ונמנע למולו שבית דין מלין אותו בעל כרחו נתעלם מבית דין ולא מלו אותו כשיגדל הוא חייב למול את עצמו וכל יום ויום שיעבור עליו משיגדל ולא ימול את עצמו הרי הוא מבטל מצות עשה אבל אינו חייב כרת עד שימות והוא ערל במזיד:

We may not circumcise a person's son without his knowledge - See Hilchot Chovel UMazik 7:13-14, where the Rambam describes the prohibition against "stealing" the performance of a mitzvah from a colleague, and the fine of ten gold pieces for doing so. The Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 382:1) explicitly associates this concept with circumcising a person's son without his knowledge.

unless he has transgressed and did not circumcise him. - The Rambam's phraseology has raised questions among the halachic authorities. Is his intent that once the father has allowed the eighth day to pass, the obligation falls on the court, or is his intent that only after the father makes it obvious that he does not want to circumcise his son that they become responsible? Similarly, the question has been raised what should be done if the father is unaware that a son has been born to him, or is prevented from carrying out the circumcision by factors beyond his control. Should the circumcision be carried out on the eighth day, or should the family wait until the father returns? See Avnei Nezer (Yoreh De'ah, Responsum 318) and Rav Kapach's commentary.

[In such an instance,] the court must circumcise - the obligation mentioned in the previous halachah falls upon them

[the child] against [the father's] will. - Even if he protests, the mitzvah should be performed.

If the matter does not become known to the court and they do not circumcise him, when [the child] reaches bar mitzvah he is obligated to circumcise himself. - Tzafenat Paneach explains that there are three aspects to the mitzvah of circumcision:

a) to remove the foreskin;
b) to be circumcised;
c) not to be uncircumcised. (See Chapter 2, Halachah 1.)< /p>

The first aspect involves a single deed. The second and third dimensions, however, are ongoing qualities that a person continues to possess even after the deed of circumcision is completed. Thus, the Or Zarua quotes Menachot 43b, which relates that when King David entered the bathhouse, he was upset for he was "naked," without mitzvot. When he remembered that he was circumcised, he relaxed, realizing that he was still involved with the performance of a mitzvah.

This indicates that, even years after his circumcision, he was considered to be fulfilling the mitzvah. In contrast, with regard to the mitzvot of tefillin and tzitzit, although he had just removed them, he was no longer considered to be involved in the performance of these mitzvot.

With each and every day that passes after he has reached bar mitzvah, he negates a positive commandment. - Some of the manuscript editions of the Mishneh Torah state, "It is as if he negates a commandment." The mitzvah of circumcision is not negated until the person dies without fulfilling it. Unlike tefillin or tzitzit, where each day a person performs a different mitzvah, there is only one mitzvah of circumcision (Rav Kapach).

He is not, however, liable for karet until he dies uncircumcised - As mentioned above, there are two dimensions to the punishment of karet: premature death and the cutting off of the soul. According to the Rambam, a person who does not circumcise himself is liable only for the second aspect of this punishment, since until he dies, it is not known whether he will perform the mitzvah or not (Kessef Mishneh).

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's statements, stating that each day he does not perform the mitzvah, he is liable for karet and is worthy of premature death. (Even according to the Ra'avad, were the person to circumcise himself, he would no longer be liable for karet).

having intentionally - but not if he was unaware of the mitzvah or was prevented from fulfilling it by forces beyond his control

[failed to perform the mitzvah]. - The Rambam's phraseology raises the question whether a person is liable forkaret if he initially failed to perform the mitzvah intentionally, and then was prevented from fulfilling it by forces beyond his control.

3

A master is obligated to circumcise both a slave who was born as the property of a Jewish owner and a slave purchased from the gentiles. [There is, however, a difference between the two.] A home-born slave should be circumcised on the eighth day [of his life]. In contrast, a slave who is purchased should be circumcised on the day he was purchased. If he was purchased on the day he was born, he should be circumcised on that day.

ג

אחד עבד שנולד ברשות ישראל ואחד עבד הנלקח מן הכותים חייב הרב למול אותן אלא שיליד בית נימול לשמנה ומקנת כסף נימול ביום שנלקח אפילו לקחו ביום שנולד נימול ביומו:

A master is obligated to circumcise both a slave who was born as the property of a Jewish owner - i.e., the "home-born slave" mentioned in Genesis 17:12

and a slave purchased from the gentiles. - Such servants are also mentioned in the above verse.

[There is, however, a difference between the two.] A home- born slave should be circumcised on the eighth day [of his life] - as is a Jewish child. The above verse states that "all those born in your house" - i.e., also slaves - should be circumcised on the eighth day (Rashi, Shabbat 135b).

In contrast, a slave who is purchased should be circumcised on the day he was purchased. - Since Genesis 17:13 repeats the commandment, "Circumcise all home-born [slaves] and those purchased with your money," we can assume that there are slaves who are to be circumcised immediately (Rashi, loc. cit.).

If he was purchased on the day he was born, he should be circumcised on that day - provided, of course, that the surgery will not affect the infant's health. (Note the Guide to the Perplexed, Vol. III, Chapter 49, which explains that both physically and spiritually, a child is not prepared for circumcision until the eighth day.)

4

There are, however, slaves that are purchased who should be circumcised on the eighth day [of their lives], and home-born slaves who should be circumcised on the day they are born.

What is implied? Should one purchase a maidservant and purchase [the rights to] her fetus [separately], when she gives birth, the baby should be circumcised on the eighth day. Although the fetus itself was purchased separately, since [the master] purchased his mother before the child was born, he should be circumcised on his eighth day.

ד

יש מקנת כסף שנימול לשמנה ויש יליד בית שנימול ביום שנולד כיצד לקח שפחה ולקח עוברה עמה וילדה הרי זה נימול לשמנה ואף על פי שלקח העובר בפני עצמו והרי העובר עצמו מקנת כסף הואיל וקנה אמו קודם שנולד נימול לשמנה:

There are, however - certain exceptions to the rules mentioned in the previous halachah that are also mentioned in Shabbat 135b. There are some

slaves that are purchased who should be circumcised on the eighth day [of their lives] - as explained in this halachah

and - some

home-born slaves who should be circumcised on the day they are born - as explained in the following halachah.

What is implied? Should one purchase a maidservant and purchase [the rights to] her fetus [separately] - This is possible when the maidservant herself belonged to one master and the fetus to another (Rambam in his responsa).

when she gives birth the baby should be circumcised on the eighth day. Although the fetus itself was purchased separately, since [the master] purchased his mother before the child was born - the child is considered "home-born" and

he should be circumcised on his eighth day. - The Kessef Mishneh relates that, according to the Rambam, even if the master at first purchased only the rights to the fetus, and then purchased the mother, since she gave birth while in his domain, the slave is considered "home-born," and is circumcised on the eighth day.

5

If a person purchased a maidservant for her offspring, or purchased a maidservant with the intent of not immersing her as a slave, even though her offspring is born in his domain, the child should be circumcised on the day he was born.

[This ruling was granted, because] this child is considered as if he alone has been purchased [by his master], and it is as if he purchased him this day. His mother is not included among the maidservants of the Jewish people, so that the child could be considered "home-born." If his mother immersed herself after she gave birth, the child should be circumcised on the eighth day.

ה

לקח שפחה לעובריה או שלקח שפחה על מנת שלא להטבילה לשם עבדות אע"פ שנולד ברשותו נימול ביום שנולד שהרי הנולד הזה כאילו הוא מקנת כסף לבדו וכאילו היום קנהו שאין אמו בכלל שפחות ישראל כדי שיהיה הבן יליד בית ואם טבלה אמו אחר שילדה הרי זה נימול לשמנה:

If a person purchased a maidservant for her offspring - In his responsum cited above, the Rambam compares this to a person who buys a tree for its fruit - i.e., he is not the actual owner of the tree, but is entitled to all the fruit it produces. Similarly, in this instance, the master is not the owner of the maidservant; what he has purchased is the right to her offspring. Therefore, none of the offspring are considered "home-born," and must be circumcised immediately.

or purchased a maidservant with the intent of not immersing her as a slave - Through immersion in a mikveh, a female maidservant becomes a shifchah C'na'anit and attains the intermediate status mentioned in the Commentary on Halachah 1.

As the Rambam mentions in the following halachah, it is possible to purchase a gentile slave and maintain possession of him or her without changing his or her status in the above manner.

even though her offspring is born in his domain, the child should be circumcised on the day he was born. - The first instance mentioned does not require explanation. With regard to the second category, the Rambam elaborates:

[This ruling was granted, because] this child is considered as if he alone has been purchased [by his master], and it is as if he purchased him this day. His mother is not included among the maidservants of the Jewish people, so that the child could be considered 47homeborn." - In the responsum cited above, the Rambam explains that the concept of a "home-born" slave is derived from God's commandment to Abraham. All the members of Abraham's household had accepted his beliefs and way of life. In contrast, a slave who is unwilling to accept the mitzvot cannot be considered part of a Jewish household, and her children are not "home-born."

If his mother immersed herself after she gave birth - This shows that the stipulation that she need not be immersed (see the following halachah) is nullified and considered of no consequence. Therefore, she is considered to be part of the household, and

the child should be circumcised on the eighth day. - The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's decision and maintains that unless the mother immerses herself before giving birth, the child should be circumcised immediately. Rabbenu Nissim, in his notes to Shabbat 135b, supports the Rambam's decision, explaining that the Sages did not reach a final ruling on the matter, and hence the more stringent approach should be taken.

6

When a person purchases a slave from the gentiles and the slave does not consent to be circumcised, we may be patient with him for twelve months. It is forbidden to maintain him for any longer period while he remains uncircumcised, and one must sell him to gentiles.

If, at the outset, while the slave was still in the possession of his gentile master, he made a stipulation that he would not be circumcised, it is permissible to maintain him although he is not circumcised, provided he accepts the seven universal laws commanded to the descendants of Noah and becomes a resident alien.

If he refuses to accept these seven laws, he should be killed immediately. A resident alien may be accepted only in the era when the laws of yovel are in effect.

ו

לקח עבד גדול מן העכו"ם ולא רצה העבד למול מגלגלין עמו כל שנים עשר חדש יתר על כן אסור לקיימו כשהוא ערל אלא חוזר ומוכרו לעכו"ם ואם התנה עליו מתחלה והוא אצל רבו העכו"ם שלא ימול אותו מותר לקיימו והוא ערל ובלבד שיקבל עליו שבע מצות שנצטוו בני נח ויהיה כגר תושב אבל אם לא קיבל עליו שבע מצות יהרג מיד ואין מקבלים גר תושב אלא בזמן שהיובל נוהג:

When a person purchases a slave from the gentiles and the slave does not consent - Note the difference of opinion in Yevamot 48b, whether this leniency is granted if the slave refuses outright to be circumcised.

to be circumcised, we may be patient with him for twelve months - lest he change his mind and accept his status within the Jewish people.

It is forbidden to maintain him for any longer period while he remains uncircumcised, and one must sell him to gentiles. - He must, however, agree to accept the seven universal laws mentioned below. Otherwise, he should be slain (Kessef Mishneh).

If, at the outset, while the slave was still in the possession of his gentile master, he made a stipulation that he would not be circumcised - Rav Kapach maintains that the stipulation was made by the slave's master. Since the slave is considered to be chattel, his own say is of no concern.

it is permissible to maintain him although he is not circumcised, provided he accepts the seven universal laws commanded to the descendants of Noah - The prohibitions against idol worship, cursing God, murder, theft, adultery, eating flesh taken from a living animal, and the obligation to establish a court system. (See Hilchot Melachim 9:1-2.)

and becomes a resident alien. - In Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 10:6, the Rambam writes that it is forbidden to allow gentiles who do not accept these seven laws to dwell in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, a gentile who does is called a resident alien - i.e., a non-Jew who may dwell among us.

If he refuses to accept these seven laws - The slave must formally accept the performance of these mitzvot in the presence of a Rabbinic court.

he should be killed immediately. - The Kessef Mishneh explains that the Rambam's decision depends on his statement (Hilchot Melachim 8:9) that we must do everything in our power to influence the gentiles to observe these seven laws.

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's statement, explaining that in the present era, we may not kill any gentiles for refusing to observe these seven laws. The commentaries differ whether the Rambam would accept the Ra'avad's decision (and his statement here is, like many of the other laws he states, reflective of the Messianic era), or whether permission is granted to kill a slave for refusing to follow these laws in the present age as well.

A resident alien may be accepted only in the era when the laws of yovel - The Jubilee year

are in effect. - The Jubilee must be observed only when the entire Jewish people are dwelling in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, when the tribes of Reuven and Gad and half the tribe of Menasheh were exiled by the kingdom of Assyria (see II Kings, Chapter 16), the observance of the Jubilee was nullified (Hilchot Shemitah V'Yovel 10:8).

7

When a convert enters the congregation of Israel, he is obligated to undergo circumcision first. If he had been circumcised while he was a gentile, it is necessary to extract the blood of the covenant on the day that he converts.

Similarly, a child who was born without a foreskin must have blood extracted for circumcision on the eighth day. An androgynous, a child with both male and female sexual organs, must be circumcised on the eighth day. Similarly, a child born by Caesarian section and a child who has two foreskins should both be circumcised on the eighth day.

ז

גר שנכנס לקהל ישראל חייב מילה תחלה ואם מל כשהיה עכו"ם צריך להטיף ממנו דם ברית ביום שנתגייר וכן קטן שנולד כשהוא מהול צריך להטיף ממנו דם ברית ביום השמיני אנדרוגינוס והוא הילוד שיש לו זכרות כזכר ונקבות כנקבה צריך למול אותו בשמיני וכן יוצא דופן ומי שיש לו שתי ערלות מלין את שתיהן בשמיני:

When a convert enters the congregation of Israel, he is obligated to undergo circumcision first. - Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 13:1-4 states:

With three acts, Israel entered into a covenant [with God]: circumcision, immersion [in the mikveh], and [the offering of] sacrifices.... Similarly, with regard to future generations, when a gentile wants to enter into the covenant, take refuge under the wings of the Divine Presence, and accept the yoke of the Torah, he must undergo circumcision, immersion, and the offering of a sacrifice.

The phrase "accept the yoke of the Torah" indicates that before performing these deeds, the prospective convert must resolve to fulfill the mitzvot.

If he had been circumcised while he was a gentile - and not by a Jew for the purpose of conversion. Note Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 13:7 which relates that even if a gentile circumcises himself for the purpose of conversion, it is insufficient.

it is necessary to extract the blood of the covenant - a superficial cut is made on the shaft of the penis, and a small amount of blood extracted.

The expression "blood of the covenant" is derived from the interpretation of Exodus 24:8, "This is the blood of the covenant which God established with you," in certain texts of Nedarim 31b and the Mechilta's interpretation of Zechariah 9:11, "Because of the blood of your covenant, I have sent forth your prisoners from the pit."

on the day that he converts. - The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:2) states that one should wait until the wound of the circumcision is completely healed before immersing in the mikveh and completing the process of conversion.

Similarly, a child who was born without a foreskin - Our Sages mention this as a sign of a high spiritual level, citing Moses and Shem (Noah's son) as examples of children born without a foreskin.

must have blood extracted for circumcision - Were we to be sure the child did not have a foreskin, there would be no need for the extraction of blood. The blood is extracted lest the child have a thin foreskin that is not readily noticeable (Shabbat 135a). Note the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 263:4), which requires the extraction of blood and states that we must inspect such a child carefully - but gently - to see whether he possesses a thin foreskin or not. (Perhaps the expression "thin foreskin" refers to the membrane removed by pri'ah.)

It must be noted that there are Rishonim (see Rashi,Shabbat 134a) who maintain that the extraction of the "blood of the covenant" is not a by-product of a search for a thin membrane, but rather serves an independent purpose: The Jews' covenant with God is established through their blood.

on the eighth day. - Note Chapter 3, Halachah 6, which states that a blessing is not recited for this activity.

The Ramah mentions several other instances when blood must be extracted: a child who was circumcised before the eighth day (Yoreh De'ah 262:1), circumcised at night ( loc. cit.), or circumcised by a gentile ( loc. cit., 264:1) should have blood extracted for the sake of fulfilling the mitzvah. (Note also the commentary on Chapter 2, Halachah 1.)

An androgynous, a child with both male and female sexual organs - Androgynous is a combination of the Greek words meaning "man" and "woman." (See Hilchot Ishut 2:24.) Note also Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 12:4, which states:

The status of a tumtum and an androgynous is doubtful. Therefore, the stringencies of both a man and a woman are applied to them, and they are obligated by all [the mitzvot]. If, however, they transgress, they are not [punished by] lashing.

Because of this unique status, an androgynous

must be circumcised on the eighth day - lest he be obligated to undergo circumcision.

See Tiferet Yisrael (Shabbat 19:3), who writes:

There are those who say there is no such thing as an androgynous. Their statements are false.... I beheld such a phenomenon with my own eyes. Twelve years ago, I myself circumcised a child with this condition.

Similarly, a child born by Caesarian section - Shabbat 135a explains as follows: The commandment for circumcision on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3) is stated directly after the verse that relates that a woman who gives birth becomes ritually impure. Since a woman does not contract ritual impurity when she gives birth by Caesarian section, one might think that the child need not be circumcised on the eighth day. Therefore, the Rambam clarified the matter. (See also Halachah 11.)

and a child who has two foreskins - This refers to a birth abnormality. Rashi (Shabbat 135b) mentions two interpretations: a person with a single penis that is covered by two foreskins; alternatively, a person with two penises.

should both be circumcised on the eighth day. - Nevertheless, as explained in Halachah 11, none of the individuals mentioned in this halachah are circumcised on the eighth day if it falls on the Sabbath.

8

Circumcision is performed only during the day, after the rising of the sun, as [Leviticus 12:3] states, "On the eighth day...," i.e., during the day, and not at night. [This applies to a circumcision performed] at the appropriate time, the eighth day [after birth], and [to a circumcision performed] after the appropriate time, from the ninth day and onward.

If one performed the circumcision after dawn, it is acceptable. It is acceptable [at any time] throughout the entire day. Nevertheless, it is a mitzvah to [perform the circumcision] early, in the beginning of the day, since "the eager perform mitzvot early."

ח

אין מלין לעולם אלא ביום אחר עלות השמש בין ביום השמיני שהוא זמנה בין שלא בזמנה שהוא מתשיעי והלאה שנאמר ביום השמיני ביום ולא בלילה מל משעלה עמוד השחר כשר וכל היום כשר למילה ואעפ"כ מצוה להקדים בתחלת היום שזריזין מקדימין למצות:

Circumcision is performed only during the day - This applies to all circumcisions - those of children, servants, and converts

after the rising of the sun - This refers to הנץ החמה, the rising of the sun on the horizon.

as [Leviticus 12:3] states, "On the eighth day...," i.e., during the day - only,

and not at night. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Megillah 2:4), the Rambam writes that the day extends from dawn to the appearance of the stars. It is preferable, however, to perform all acts that must be carried out during the day after the rising of the sun.

Although according to the Rambam, the day extends until the appearance of the stars, circumcision should be carried out before sunset (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 266:9).

The proof-text quoted mentions the eighth day. Nevertheless, Yevamot 72b uses the rules of Biblical exegesis to demonstrate that

[This applies to both a circumcision performed] at the appropriate time, the eighth day [after birth], and [to a circumcision performed] after the appropriate time, from the ninth day and onward.

If one performed the circumcision after dawn - alot hashachar, the appearance of the first rays of the sun, approximately an hour before the sun itself actually appears on the horizon.

it is acceptable. It is acceptable [at any time] throughout the entire day. Nevertheless, it is a mitzvah to [perform the circumcision] early, in the beginning of the day, since "the eager perform mitzvot early." - Pesachim 4a derives this concept from the description in Genesis 22:3 of Abraham's rising early in the morning to perform the akedah.

9

When a circumcision [is performed] at its appropriate time, [its performance] supersedes [the prohibition against labor] on the Sabbath. When it [is] not [performed] at its appropriate time, [its performance] does not supersede [the prohibition against labor] on the Sabbath or the festivals. Whether or not it is performed at its appropriate time, [its performance] supersedes [the prohibition against removing signs of] tzara'at.

What is implied? If there was a sign of tzara'at on the foreskin, it may be cut off with the foreskin. Although there is a prohibition against cutting off the signs of tzara'at, the performance of a positive commandment supersedes the observance of a negative commandment.

ט

מילה בזמנה דוחה את השבת ושלא בזמנה אינה דוחה לא את השבת ולא את יום טוב ובין בזמנה ובין שלא בזמנה דוחה את הצרעת כיצד שאם היתה בהרת בעור הערלה חותכה עם הערלה אף על פי שקציצת נגע הצרעת בלא תעשה יבא עשה וידחה את לא תעשה:

When a circumcision [is performed] at its appropriate time - on the eighth day.

[its performance] supersedes [the prohibition against labor] - Cutting off the foreskin is otherwise forbidden because it causes bleeding (Hilchot Shabbat 8:7-8).

on the Sabbath. - Shabbat 132a relates that the verse, "On the eighth day, the child's foreskin will be circumcised," is a Torah decree, requiring circumcision on the eighth day regardless of the day on which it falls.

When it [is] not [performed] at its appropriate time, [its performance] does not supersede [the prohibition against labor] on the Sabbath or the festivals. - The observance of the Sabbath and festivals involves both a positive and negative commandment. Therefore, circumcision, which is merely a positive commandment, does not supersede their observance.

Whether or not it is performed at its appropriate time - Note Rav Kapach, who asks how is it possible for a sign of tzara'at to be already definitely determined as such by the eighth day of a child's life.

[its performance] supersedes [the prohibition against removing signs of] tzara'at. - Tzara'at is a skin condition resembling leprosy. Deuteronomy 24:8 forbids removing such a mark, and Sefer HaMitzvot (Negative Commandment 308) considers this to be one of the 365 prohibitions of the Torah. (See also Hilchot Tum'at Tzara'at, Chapter 10.)

What is implied? If there was a sign of tzara'at on the foreskin, it may be cut off with the foreskin. Although there is a prohibition against cutting off the signs of tzara'at, the performance of a positive commandment supersedes the observance of a negative commandment. - In contrast to the permission granted to circumcise on the Sabbath, this is not an exception made with regard to circumcision, but rather a general rule that applies throughout Torah law (see Hilchot Tzitzit 3:6).

10

Just as the circumcision of sons supersedes [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath, so too, the circumcision of those slaves who are circumcised on the eighth day [of their lives] supersedes [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath when the eighth day [of their life] falls on the Sabbath. There is [one] exception - a slave whose mother did not immerse herself until after she gave birth. Although such a slave is circumcised on the eighth day, his circumcision does not supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath.

י

כשם שמילת הבנים דוחה את השבת כך מילת העבדים שהן נימולים לשמנה דוחה את השבת אם חל שמיני שלהן בשבת חוץ מיליד בית שלא טבלה אמו עד שילדה שאע"פ שנימול לשמנה אינו דוחה את השבת:

Just as the circumcision of sons supersedes [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath, so too, the circumcision of those slaves who are circumcised on the eighth day [of their lives] - The "home-born" slaves mentioned in Halachot 3-4. In contrast, slaves who were purchased, and therefore should be circumcised on the day they were purchased (or born), should not be circumcised on the Sabbath.

supersedes [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath when the eighth day [of their life] falls on the Sabbath. -Kiryat Melech cites Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, Chapter 29, which relates that Abraham circumcised all his servants on Yom Kippur.

Significantly, Rabbenu Yerucham differs, and writes that only the circumcisions of Jews, and not of their servants, supersedes the Sabbath prohibitions. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 267:2) quotes the Rambam's view.

There is [one] exception - a slave whose mother did not immerse herself until after she gave birth. - See Halachah 5 and commentary.

Although such a slave is circumcised on the eighth day, his circumcision does not supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath. - When the eighth day of such a person's life falls on the Sabbath, he is circumcised on Sunday, the ninth day of his life.

11

[The circumcision of the following individuals] does not supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath:
a child who was born without a foreskin;
a child who was born in the eighth month of pregnancy before his development was completed; he is considered to be a stillborn, for he will not live;
a child born by Caesarian section;
an androgynous; and
a person with two foreskins.

These individuals are circumcised on [the following] Sunday, the ninth day of their lives.

יא

קטן שנולד כשהוא מהול ומי שנולד בחדש השמיני לעבורו קודם שתגמר ברייתו שהוא כנפל מפני שאינו חי ויוצא דופן ואנדרוגינוס ומי שיש לו שתי ערלות אין דוחין את השבת אלא נימולין באחד בשבת שהוא יום תשיעי שלהן:

[The circumcision of the following individuals] does not supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath: a child who was born without a foreskin; - Since, as stated in Halachah 7, the blood is extracted from him only because of a suspicion that he has a hidden foreskin, this activity does not supersede the Sabbath prohibitions.

a child who was born in the eighth month of pregancy before his development was completed; he is considered to be a stillborn, for he will not live; - As explained in Halachah 13, the circumcision is not carried out on the eighth day because of the probability that the child will not live.

a child born by Caesarian section; - See Halachah 7.

an androgynous; and a person with two foreskins. - because we are unsure of the nature of the obligation of circumcision in these instances.

These individuals are circumcised on [the following] Sunday, the ninth day of their lives. - They should not be circumcised before the eighth day.

12

When a child is born beyn hash'mashot, which is a period when it is undetermined whether it is considered day or night, we count from the night, and he is circumcised on the ninth day [following the day he was born], which could be the eighth day.

When a child is born beyn hash'mashot on Friday, his circumcision does not supersede the Sabbath prohibitions, because the Sabbath prohibitions are never superseded because of a doubtful situation. Rather, he should be circumcised on [the following] Sunday.

יב

מי שנולד בין השמשות ספק ביום ספק בלילה מונין מן הלילה ונימול לתשיעי שהוא ספק שמיני ואם נולד ערב שבת בין השמשות אינו דוחה את השבת אלא נימול באחד בשבת שאין דוחין את השבת מספק:

When a child is born beyn hash'mashot - the period between sunset and the appearance of three stars. (See Hilchot Shabbat 5:4.)

which is a period of doubt whether it is considered day or night, we count from the night - Were we to count from the day, it is possible that the circumcision would be carried out before the proper time.

and he is circumcised on the ninth day [following the day he was born,] which could be the eighth day. - The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 262:7) states that night depends on the appearance of three stars, and not on when the evening service is recited.

When a child is born beyn hash'mashot on Friday - he should not be circumcised on the following Friday, as explained above. Nor should he be circumcised on the following Sabbath (although it is the ninth day of his life), since

his circumcision does not supersede the Sabbath prohibitions, because the Sabbath prohibitions are never superseded because of a doubtful situation. Rather, he should be circumcised on [the following] Sunday. - Thus, he is circumcised on the 10th day of his life. (See Shabbat 19:5.)

13

[The following principles apply when] a child is born in the eighth month [of pregnancy]:1 If the child's nails and hair are completely formed, we assume that this is a completely formed infant that should have been born in the seventh month, but whose birth was delayed. Hence, the baby may be carried on the Sabbath, is not considered to be a stone, and may be circumcised on the Sabbath.

If, however, when the baby was born, its hair and nails were incompletely formed, we can be certain that this child is in its eighth month of development and should not have been born until the ninth month, but was born prematurely. Therefore, he is considered as a stone and may not be moved on the Sabbath.

Nevertheless, if such an infant remains alive for thirty days, he is considered to be a child who will live and is governed by all the same rules as other infants.2
Whenever a human child lives longer than thirty days, it is no longer considered to be a stillborn.

יג

מי שנולד בחדש השמיני אם היה שלם בשערו ובצפרניו הרי זה ולד שלם ובן שבעה הוא אלא שנשתהה ומותר לטלטלו בשבת ואינו כאבן ומלין אותו בשבת אבל אם נולד ושערו לקוי ואין צפרניו שלימין כברייתן הרי זה בן שמנה ודאי שלא היה ראוי להולד אלא בתשעה ויצא קודם שיגמר ולפיכך הוא חשוב כאבן ואסור לטלטלו בשבת ואעפ"כ אם שהה שלשים יום הרי הוא ולד של קיימא והרי הוא כשאר הנולדין לכל דבר שכל ששהה שלשים יום באדם אינו נפל:

14

[The following rules apply when] a child is born in the seventh month of gestation: If a child is born with his limbs completely formed,3 we assume that he will live and he should be circumcised on the eighth day [even if it falls on the Sabbath].

If there is a question whether a child4 was born in the seventh month or in the eighth month, he can be circumcised on the Sabbath. The rationale is: If he was born in the seventh month and his limbs are completely formed, it is appropriate that [his circumcision] supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath. If he was born in the eighth month, circumcising him [does not constitute a violation of the Sabbath prohibitions].5
It is like cutting meat, because he is like a stillborn if he is, in fact, born in the eighth month.

יד

מי שנולד בחדש השביעי לעבורו אם נולד שלם הרי זה ולד של קיימא ומלין אותו בשבת ספק בן שבעה ספק בן שמנה מלין אותו בשבת על כל פנים אם בן שבעה הוא ושלם הוא בדין הוא שידחה שבת ואם בן שמנה הוא הרי זה שמל כמחתך בשר הוא לפי שזה נפל אם הוא בן שמנה:

15

When a child's head emerges from his mother's birth canal beyn hash'mashot on Friday, but his entire body does not emerge until after the Sabbath night [has commenced], the child should not be circumcised on the Sabbath.6

Whenever a child's circumcision does not supersede the Sabbath prohibitions, [such circumcision] also does not supersede the prohibitions of the first day of a festival.7 It does, however, supersede the prohibitions of the second day of a festival.8 On Rosh HaShanah, however, it does not supersede [the prohibitions] of either the first or the second day.9 Similarly, a circumcision that is not carried out at the appropriate time10 does not supersede [the prohibitions of either of] the two days of Rosh HaShanah.11

טו

הוציא העובר ראשו חוץ למעי אמו בין השמשות אף על פי שלא יצא כולו אלא בלילי שבת אין מלין אותו בשבת וכל מי שאינו דוחה את השבת אינו דוחה את יום טוב ראשון ודוחה את יום טוב שני ובשני ימים טובים של ראש השנה אינו דוחה לא את הראשון ולא את השני וכן מילה שלא בזמנה אינה דוחה את שני ימים טובים של ראש השנה:

16

A sick person should not be circumcised until he regains his health. Seven full days should be counted from the time he regains his health until he is circumcised.

When does the above apply? When he recovers from high fever or from a similar illness. If, however, a person's eyes hurt, as soon as his eyes heal he may be circumcised immediately. The same applies in all similar circumstances.

טז

חולה אין מלין אותו עד שיבריא ומונין לו מעת שיבריא מחוליו שבעה ימים מעת לעת ואח"כ מלין אותו במה דברים אמורים בשחלצתו חמה וכיוצא בחולי זה אבל אם כאבו לו עיניו בעת שיפתחו עיניו וירפאו מלין אותו מיד וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

A sick person - This applies not only to children who are circumcised on the eighth day of their lives, but also to those (e.g., converts or slaves) who are circumcised when they are older.

should not be circumcised until he regains his health. - lest the child's life be endangered. (See Halachah 18.)

Seven full days should be counted from the time he regains his health until he is circumcised. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Shabbat 19:5), the Rambam writes:

Until he fully recovers from his illness and the weakness from his sickness passes. He should wait seven days from the time the weakness passes.... Only afterwards, should he be circumcised.

Thus, we see that the Rambam intends that the person to be circumcised fully regain his health, and then wait an additional seven days.

When does the above apply? When he recovers from high fever - Our translation is based on the Kessef Mishneh.

or from a similar illness. - i.e., an illness that affects a person's entire body (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 262:2)

If, however, a person's eyes hurt, as soon as his eyes heal he may be circumcised immediately - i.e., on the same day of his recovery. Note the Turei Zahav 262:3, which explains that since the circumcision has been postponed, it may be further delayed and should not be carried out on Thursday or Friday, so that the child will not have pain on the Sabbath.

The same applies in all similar circumstances - i.e., sicknesses in which the person's entire body is not affected.

17

A child whose complexion is very yellowish12 on the eighth day of his life13 should not be circumcised until his blood recovers and his complexion returns to that of an ordinary healthy child.

Similarly, if his complexion is overly red,14 as if he had been painted, he should not be circumcised until his blood recovers and his complexion returns to that of an ordinary healthy child.15 This is an example of sickness, and great care must be taken regarding this matter.

יז

קטן שנמצא בשמיני שלו ירוק ביותר אין מלין אותו עד שיפול בו דם ויחזרו מראיו כמראה הקטנים הבריאים וכן אם היה אדום ביותר כמי שצבעו אותו אין מלין אותו עד שיבלע בו דמו ויחזרו מראיו כשאר הקטנים מפני שזה חולי הוא וצריך להזהר בדברים אלו הרבה:

18

When a woman circumcised her first son and he died because the circumcision sapped his strength, and similarly, circumcised her second son and he also died because of the circumcision, she should not circumcise her third son at the appropriate time. Rather, she should wait until he becomes older and his strength increases. [This applies regardless of whether] the first two children were sired by the same father or not.

We should not circumcise a child who is afflicted with any sickness at all, since the danger to life takes precedence over everything. Circumcision can be performed at a later date, while it is impossible to bring a single Jewish soul back to life.

יח

אשה שמלה בנה ראשון ומת מחמת מילה שהכשילה את כחו וכן מלה את השני ומת מחמת מילה בין מבעלה הראשון בין מבעלה השני הרי זה לא ימול את השלישי בזמנו אלא ממתינין לו עד שיגדיל ויתחזק כחו אין מלין אלא ולד שאין בו שום חולי שסכנת נפשות דוחה את הכל ואפשר למול לאחר זמן ואי אפשר להחזיר נפש אחת מישראל לעולם:

Footnotes
1.

The comprehension of this and the following halachah are dependent on the following two Talmudic passages:

[The prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath are superseded for [the circumcision of a child] born in the seventh month, but not for a child born in the eighth month (Shabbat 135a).
A child born in the eighth month is like a stone and may not be carried [on the Sabbath]. His mother may, however, lean over him and nurse him....
Rabbi states: [This is when] his physical features reflect his [lack of development]; i.e., when his hair and nails are not completely formed.
[Rabbi's statements imply that] if [his hair and nails] are completely formed, he is a baby that should have been born in the seventh month, but whose birth was delayed (Yevamot 80b).

From these passages, it appears that the Sages considered that there were two periods of gestation that could produce healthy babies, a seven-month period and a nine-month period. Therefore, a baby who was born in the seventh month was considered to be healthy, and circumcision could be performed on the Sabbath.

In contrast, a baby born in the eighth month was generally considered to be unhealthy. Not only was the baby not to be circumcised on the Sabbath, but moving it at all was forbidden. Since it was likely to die, it was considered to be muktzeh. If, however, a baby born in the eighth month looks healthy, we assume that it should have been born in the seventh month, but its birth was delayed. Therefore, it is considered a healthy baby and it may be circumcised on the Sabbath.

We have used the past tense in the above explanation, because these laws are no longer practiced, and all babies are allowed to be moved on the Sabbath. Tosafot, Shabbat, loc. cit., state that at present, it is no longer possible to determine exactly when a child was conceived, and we therefore do not know the month of pregnancy the mother was in. Furthermore, the advances in medical technology have enabled the lives of many premature babies to be saved despite the fact that, without these new developments, these babies would surely not have survived. At present, it is considered a mitzvah to try to save the lives of any premature babies, even if doing so involves carrying out forbidden labors on the Sabbath.

Also, it must be emphasized that, as stated in Halachot 16-18, a child is circumcised only when it is healthy and there is no danger involved. This is surely relevant with regard to premature infants. Rarely, if ever, would a doctor grant permission for such a baby to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life.

2.

Among the ramifications of this decision are that the child's mother is free of the obligations of yibbum and chalitzah. (See Hilchot Yibbum 1:5.)

3.

Our translation is based on the commentary of the Maggid Mishneh, Hilchot Yibbum 1:5. According to this interpretation, the child's hair and nails need not be completely formed. The Kessef Mishneh offers a different interpretation. Significantly, however, in his Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 266:11), Rav Yosef Karo accepts the Maggid Mishneh's interpretation.

4.

According to the Maggid Mishneh's interpretation mentioned above, this refers to an instance when the child's limbs are completely formed, but his hair and nails are not. The date of his birth, however, creates a problem, because he appears to have been born in the eighth month.

[With regard to this law, the Shulchan Aruch ( loc. cit.) does not accept the Maggid Mishneh's interpretation. It is, however, quoted by the Ramah.]

5.

This rationale is not used to allow the circumcision of a child who was definitely born in the eighth month, because the Rabbinic prohibition of muktzeh is in effect. Although the Sages did not enforce that prohibition in a case of doubt (the present halachah), they did apply it when no doubt about the period of gestation exists (the previous halachah).

6.

Niddah 42b relates that the time when a child's head emerges is considered the hour of birth.

7.

See Halachah 9, which equates circumcision on festivals to circumcision on the Sabbath. In this halachah, the Rambam is adding that the prohibition against circumcision on the eighth day when it falls on the Sabbath in the various instances mentioned in Halachot 11-13 also applies on festivals.

8.

Since the celebration of the second day of a festival is only Rabbinic in origin, the fulfillment of the mitzvah of circumcision takes priority.

This represents the Rambam's view. Rabbenu Asher differs and maintains that only a circumcision that would be performed on the eighth day, were it to fall on the Sabbath, should be performed on the second day of a festival. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 266:8) quotes Rabbenu Asher's view, while the Siftei Cohen 266:8 follows the Rambam's position. [Significantly, the Noda biYhudah (Orach Chayim, Responsum 30) and the Chatam Sofer (Yoreh De'ah, Responsum 250) interpret the difference of opinion between the Rambam and Rabbenu Asher as applying only when the circumcision is definitely not being performed on the eighth day. (See notes 10 and 11.) According to their view, even Rabbenu Asher agrees that when a child is born during beyn hash'mashot eight days before the second day of a festival, he may be circumcised on that second day of the festival.

9.

As explained in Hilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 1:21-24, the rules governing the celebration of the second day of Rosh HaShanah differ from those governing the celebration of the second days of other festivals. The two days of Rosh HaShanah share the same level of holiness, and all the prohibitions that apply on the first day apply on the second, with the exception of the laws of burial. (See also Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh 5:7-8.)Thus, if a child was born during beyn hash'mashot a week before Rosh HaShanah in a year when the two days of Rosh HaShanah are followed by the Sabbath, the child is not circumcised until the twelfth day of his life (Shabbat 19:5).

10.

This refers to instances when a child was sick and the circumcision was delayed, and the like.

11.

From the Rambam's phraseology, it appears that he allows such circumcisions to be carried out on the second day of other festivals. See note 8.

12.

The Rambam is referring to infantile jaundice, which is common in many newborns.

13.

The Bayit Chadash (Yoreh De'ah 263) and the Binyan Shlomo interpret the Rambam's phraseology as indicating that, in contrast to the sicknesses mentioned in the previous halachah, it is not necessary to wait seven days after the child's recovery in these instances. This is the common practice today.

14.

At present, if the child's skin color is not normal (regardless of the tinge), it is customary to delay the circumcision.

15.

Shabbat 134a relates that once, a woman approached Rabbi Natan HaBavli while he was visiting a distant community. She explained that her first two children had died after being circumcised, and was concerned whether she should circumcise her third son or not. Rabbi Natan inspected the baby and saw that he was extremely red. He advised that the circumcision be delayed until the child's complexion returned to the norm. His advice was followed and the child survived. In appreciation, the family named him Natan.

Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
 Email