Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day
Shemita Shemita - Chapter 12, Shemita Shemita - Chapter 13, Beis Habechirah Beis Habechirah - Chapter 1
Shemita - Chapter 12
A person who sells a house in a city surrounded by a wall may redeem it throughout a twelve month period from the day he sold it whenever he desires, even on the day he sold it. When he redeems it, he returns all the money he received and does not deduct anything from the purchaser.
Relatives may not redeem it, only the seller himself if he obtains the means. He may sell his property and redeem it, but he may not borrow to redeem it, nor may he redeem it partially.
If the purchaser dies, [the original owner] may redeem it from his son. Similarly, if the seller dies, his son may redeem it for the duration of the twelve months.
If [the seller] sold it to one person and he sold it to another, the reckoning is made from [the date of] the first [sale]. When the first year is concluded, the house is established as the property of the [second] purchaser. For the [second] seller sold to the second [purchaser] all the rights that will accrue to him [with regard to this property]. If twelve months pass and it is not redeemed, it is established as the property of the [second] purchaser.
Similarly, if [a person] gave a house as a present and did not redeem it within these twelve months, it is established as the property of the recipient of the present.
During a leap year, the permanent disposition of the property is not brought about until the end of the year, as [Leviticus 25:30] states: "Until a complete year is completed for it." [This wording indicates that] the extra month [of the leap year] is included.
[The following rules apply when a person] sold two houses, one in the middle of Adar 1 and the other on Rosh Chodesh Adar II. When the month of Adar arrives in the following year, the year for the house sold on Rosh Chodesh II is completed. The year for the house sold in the middle of Adar I is not completed until the middle of Adar in the following year, for the purchaser took possession in the middle of the extra month [of the leap year].
If the final day of the twelfth month arrives and [the seller] cannot find the purchaser to redeem his field from him, he may deposit his money in the court, break down the door, and enter his home. Whenever the purchaser comes, he may take his money.
When a person consecrates a house in a walled city and another person redeems it from the Temple treasury, when a year passes from the time that it was redeemed from the Temple treasury without it being redeemed by its [original] owner, it becomes established as the property of the one who redeemed it [from the Temple treasury]. For the Temple treasury does not become the permanent owner, the purchaser does, as [implied by Leviticus 25:30]: "the one who purchases it for his generations."
When a person sells a house in a walled city and the Jubilee arrives within the first year after the sale, the house does not revert to its owner in the Jubilee. Instead, it remains in the possession of the purchaser until the seller decides to redeem it throughout the year after its sale or it becomes established as the property [of the purchaser] after that year is completed.
When a person sells a home in a settlement or in a city that is not surrounded by a wall in the appropriate manner, he may redeem it according to the advantages that apply with regard to both the redemption of an [ancestral] field and the redemption of a home in a walled city.
What is implied? If he desires to redeem [the home] immediately, he may, as is the law with regard to a home [in a walled city]. If the twelve months pass and he does not redeem it, he may redeem it until the Jubilee, as is the law regarding a field. When he redeems it, he makes a reckoning with the purchaser and subtracts the value of the benefit he received. If the Jubilee arrives without having redeemed it, the house returns [to the owner] without payment, as is the law with regard to fields.
Any [residential property] within a city's wall, e.g., gardens, bathhouses, and dovecotes, is considered as a house, for [ibid.] states: "that are in the city." Fields that are located in the city may be redeemed according to the rules applying to fields outside the city, as [implied the phrase (ibid.)]: "And the house that will be within the city will be established." [This includes] houses and anything resembling houses, not fields.
When a house is not four cubits by four cubits, it does not become the permanent property of the purchaser like the houses in a walled city. A house does not become the permanent property of a purchaser in Jerusalem. A house that is built in the wall is not considered as a home in a walled city.
When the roofs of a city serve as its walls or the sea serves as it wall,it is not considered as a city surrounded by a wall.
A city is not referred to as a walled city unless it has three or more courtyards and in each of the courtyards, it has two or more houses. [Moreover,] it must have been surrounded by a wall first and then the courtyards were built in its midst. If, however, a place was settled and afterwards, surrounded [by a wall] or it did not have [at least] three courtyards with [at least] two houses [each], it is not considered as a walled city. Instead, its houses are like the houses of a settlement.
We rely only on a wall that surrounded [a city] at the time of the conquest of the land.
What is implied? When a city was not surrounded by a wall at the time when Joshua conquered the land even though it is surrounded now, [the houses in it] are considered as the houses of a settlement. [Conversely,] if a city was surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua, even though it is not surrounded at present, it is considered as walled.
When the Jews were exiled after the first destruction [of the Temple], the sanctity of the walled cities from Joshua's time were nullified. When Ezra ascended at the time of the second entry into the land, all of the walled cities of that time became consecrated. For the entry [into the land] at the time of Ezra, i.e., the second entry, was comparable to the entry at the time of Joshua. Just as [after] their entry at the time of Joshua, they counted Sabbatical years and Jubilees, sanctified the homes in walled cities and were obligated in the tithes, so too, [after] their entry in the time of Ezra, they counted Sabbatical years and Jubilees, sanctified the homes in walled cities and were obligated in the tithes.
Similarly, in the Ultimate Future, upon the third entry to the land, we will begin to count the Sabbatical and Jubilee years and sanctify the homes in walled cities, and every place that will be conquered will be obligated in [the separation of] tithes, as [Deuteronomy 30:5]: "And God your Lord will bring you to the land that your ancestors possessed as a heritage and you shall possess." [The verse] equates [the Jews' ultimate] possession with that of their ancestors. Just as when your ancestors took possession of the land as a heritage, they practiced the renewal of all these observances, when you take possession of the land, you should practice the renewal of all these observances.
Shemita - Chapter 13
Although the tribe of Levi does not have an ancestral portion within Eretz [Yisrael], the Jewish people were commanded to give them cities to dwell in and [additional] residential property. The cities include the six cities of refuge and 42 additional cities. When cities of refuge will be added in the era of Mashiach, all will be given to the Levites.
[The obligation to give] the non-developed land around the cities is explicitly mentioned in the Torah as being [a radius of] three thousand cubits in every direction from the wall of the city outward, for [Numbers 35:4-5] states: "From the wall of the city onward, 1000 cubits on all sides" and continues: "You shall measure from the outside of the city 2000 cubits on the eastern side." The first thousand are left as [additional] residential property and the 2000 that are measured outside this residential property are for fields and vineyards.
Every city is given a cemetery outside these boundaries, for they do not bury their dead within their cities, as [implied by ibid.:3]: "The residential area will be for their animals, their property, and all their vital needs." [This land] was given "for their vital needs" and not for burial.
In the cities of the Levites, the city itself should not be transformed into an outlying residential area and the outlying residential area should not made part of the city. This outlying residential area should not be converted to fields, nor should the fields be converted into such a residential area, as [Leviticus 25:34] states: "The fields of the residential area of their cities should not be sold."
According to the Oral Tradition, it was taught that the phrase "should not be sold" should be interpreted as "should not be changed." Instead, all of the three, field, a residential area, and a city should remain in its original circumstances forever.
Similarly, in the other cities of [Eretz] Yisrael, the outlying residential area should not be converted to fields, nor should the fields be converted into such a residential area. The city itself should not be transformed into an outlying residential area and the outlying residential area should not be made part of the city.
A person should not destroy his home to make it into a garden, nor should he plant a garden in his ruin, lest one destroy Eretz Yisrael.
The priests and the Levites who sold fields from the fields of their cities or homes from the homes in their walled cities do not redeem their property according to the procedures [explained above]. Instead, they may sell their fields even directly before the Jubilee and redeem them immediately. If they consecrated a field, they may redeem it from the possession of the Temple treasury after the Jubilee. They may redeem houses in a walled city whenever they desire, even after several years, as [Leviticus 25:32] states: "The Levites will have eternal rights of redemption."
When an Israelite inherits property from his maternal grandfather who was a Levi, although he is not a Levite, he may redeem [the property] as if he was a Levite. Since these cities or fields belong to the Levities, they may be redeemed forever. For this law is dependent on [the characteristics of] these places, not of the owners.
When a Levite inherits the property of his maternal grandfather who is an Israelite, he does not have the redemption rights of a Levite, only those of an Israelite, for the verse "The Levites will have eternal rights of redemption" applies only in the cities of the Levites.
The entire tribe of Levi are commanded against receiving an inheritance in the land of Canaan, and they were commanded against receiving a share in the spoil when the cities are conquered, as [Deuteronomy 10:9] states: "The priest and the Levites - the entire tribe of Levi - should not have a portion and an inheritance among Israel." "A portion" [refers to a portion] of the spoil; "an inheritance" refers to [a portion of] the land. And [Numbers 18:20]: "You shall not receive a heritage in their land, nor will you have a portion among them," i.e., in the spoil. If a Levite or a priest takes a portion of the spoil, he is punished by lashes. If he takes an inheritance in Eretz [Yisrael], it should be taken from his possession.
It appears to me that the above applies only with regard to the land for which a covenant was established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their descendants inherited it and it was divided among them. If, however, other lands will be conquered by a king of Israel, the priests and the Levites have the same rights as the entire Jewish people.
Why did the Levites not receive a portion in the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael and in the spoils of war like their brethren? Because they were set aside to serve God and minister unto Him and to instruct people at large in His just paths and righteous judgments, as [Deuteronomy 33:10] states: "They will teach Your judgments to Jacob and Your Torah to Israel." Therefore they were set apart from the ways of the world. They do not wage war like the remainder of the Jewish people, nor do they receive an inheritance, nor do they acquire for themselves through their physical power. Instead, they are God's legion, as [ibid.:11]: states: "God has blessed His legion" and He provides for them, as [Numbers 18:20] states: "I am your portion and your inheritance."
Not only the tribe of Levi, but any one of the inhabitants of the worldwhose spirit generously motivates him and he understands with his wisdom to set himself aside and stand before God to serve Him and minister to Him and to know God, proceeding justly as God made him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek, he is sanctified as holy of holies. God will be His portion and heritage forever and will provide what is sufficient for him in this world like He provides for the priests and the Levites. And thus David declared [Psalms 16:5]: "God is the lot of my portion; You are my cup, You support my lot."
Blessed be the Merciful One who provides assistance.
Beis Habechirah - Chapter 1
It is a positive commandment to construct a House for God, prepared for sacrifices to be offered within. We [must] celebrate there three times a year, as [Exodus 25:8] states: "And you shall make Me a sanctuary."
The sanctuary constructed by Moses is already described in the Torah. It was only temporary, as [Deuteronomy 12:9] states: "For at present, you have not come unto [the resting place and the inheritance]."
After [the Jews] entered The Land [of Israel], they erected the Sanctuary in Gilgal during the fourteen years in which they conquered and divided [the land].From there, they came to Shiloh, built a house of stone, and spread the curtains of the Sanctuary over it. It did not have a roof. The sanctuary of Shiloh stood for 369 years. When Eli died, it was destroyed.
[Afterwards,] they came to Nov and built a sanctuary. When Samuel died, it was destroyed. And they came to Givon and built a sanctuary. From Givon, they came to the eternal structure [in Jerusalem]. The days [the sanctuary stood] in Nov and Givon were 57 years.
Once the Temple was built in Jerusalem, it became forbidden to build a sanctuary for God or to offer sacrifices in any other place.
There is no Sanctuary for all generations except in Jerusalem and [specifically,] on Mt. Moriah, as [I Chronicles 22:1] states: "And David declared: 'This is the House of the Lord, God, and this is the altar for the burnt offerings of Israel.' and [Psalms 132:14] states: "This is My resting place forever."
The [design of the] structure built by [King] Solomon is described explicitly in [the Book of] Kings. [In contrast, the design of] the Messianic Temple, though mentioned in [the Book of] Ezekiel, is not explicit or explained. Thus, the people [in the time] of Ezra built the Second Temple according to the structure of Solomon, [including] certain aspects which are explicitly stated in Ezekiel.
The followings elements are essential when constructing this House:
a) the Sanctuary,
b) the Holy of Holies,
c) preceding the Sanctuary, there should be a place called the Entrance Hall.
The three [together] are called the Temple.
[In addition,] we must make another partition around the Temple, set off from it [slightly], resembling the curtains surrounding the courtyard of the [sanctuary in the] desert. Everything encompassed by this partition is similar to the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting and is called the Courtyard.
The entire area is referred to as the Mikdash.
The following utensils are required for the Sanctuary:
a) an altar for the burnt offering and other sacrifices;
b) a ramp to ascend to the altar. It was positioned before the Entrance Hall to the south.
c) a wash basin with a pedestal where the priests would sanctify their hands and feet for the (Temple) service. It was positioned between the Entrance Hall and the altar, to the left when entering the Sanctuary.
d) the altar for the incense offering,
e) the Menorah, and
f) the table [for the showbread].
The [latter] three were placed within the Sanctuary, before the Holy of Holies.
The Menorah was in the south, to the left as one entered. The Table was to the right. The Showbread was placed upon it. Both of them were close to the Holy of Holies on the outside. The incense altar was positioned between these two, towards the outside.
Divisions are to be made within the Temple Courtyard to [indicate] the point to which the Israelites may proceed; the point to which the priests, [who were not able to participate in the Temple service,] may proceed.
[Also,] within it, we must build structures for the various necessities of the Sanctuary. These structures were called chambers.
When we build the Temple and the courtyard, we must use large stones. If stones cannot be found, we may build with bricks.
We may not split the stones used for the building on the Temple Mount. Rather, we must split and chisel them outside, and [afterwards,] bring them in, as it is said (I Kings 5:31): "And they brought great stones, costly stones, to lay the foundation of the House with hewn stone." Furthermore, it is said (ibid. 6:7): "Neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron was heard in the House while it was being built."
We must not build with any wood protruding at all, only stone, bricks, or cement.
[Similarly,] we must not make wooden chambers in the courtyard. Rather, [they were made] of stone or of brick.
Costly stones were laid on the floor of the entire courtyard.
Stones which were uprooted [from their fixture] are invalidated, even though they remained in place, since they were impaired. [Thus,] a priest is forbidden to stand upon them during the [Temple] service until they become fixed in the ground [again.]
The most preferable way to fulfill the mitzvah is by strengthening the building and raising it [to the utmost degree] within the potential of the community, as [implied by Ezra 9:9]: "to exalt the House of our Lord."
They must make it beautiful and attractive according to their potential. If possible, it is a mitzvah to plate it with gold and to magnify all of its aspects.
We must not build the Temple at night, as [Numbers 9:15] states: "on the day in which the Sanctuary was raised up." [Our Sages interpret this phrase as implying:] We may raise it up by day and not by night.
We must be involved with its building from sunrise until the appearance of the stars.
Everyone is obligated to build and to assist both personally and financially;[both] men and women, as in the [construction of the] Sanctuary in the desert. [Nevertheless,] children are not to be interrupted from their [Torah] studies.
The construction of the Temple does not supersede the [observance of the] festivals.
The Altar should only be made as a structure of stone. Though the Torah states, [Exodus 20:24]: "You shall make Me an altar of earth," [that verse is interpreted to mean that] the altar must be in contact with the earth and not built on an arch or on a cave.
Though [ibid.:22] states: "If you shall make an Altar of stone...," the Oral Tradition explains that the matter is not left to [our] decision, but is an obligation [incumbent upon us].
Any stone which is damaged to the extent that a nail will become caught in it [when passing over it], as is the case regarding a slaughtering knife,is disqualified for [use in the] Altar or the ramp, as [Deuteronomy 27:6] states: "You shall build the Altar of the Lord with whole stones."
From where would they bring the stones of the Altar? From virgin earth. They would dig until they reach a point which was obviously never used for tilling or for building, and they would take the stones from there. Alternatively, [they would take them] from the Mediterranean Sea and build with them.
Similarly, the stones the Temple and the Courtyard were whole.
Damaged or split stones from the Temple and the Courtyard are invalid. They can not be redeemed [and used for mundane purposes].Rather, they must be entombed.
Every stone which was touched by iron, even though it was not damaged, is disqualified [for use] in building the Altar or the ramp, as it is said (Exodus 20:25): "By lifting your sword against it, you will have profaned it."
Anyone who builds the altar or the ramp with a stone that has been touched by iron [violates a negative command and] is [given] lashes, as it is said (ibid.): "Do not build them with hewn stone."
One who builds with a damaged stone violates a positive command.
[If] a stone was damaged or touched by iron once it had been built into the Altar or the ramp, that stone [alone] is invalidated, but the others are still fit for use.
They coated the altar [with cement] twice a year, [before] Pesach and [before] Sukkot. When they coated it, they used a cloth, rather than an iron lathe, lest it touch a stone and invalidate [it.]
We must not make steps for the Altar, as [Exodus 22:26] states: "Do not ascend on My Altar with steps." Rather, we must build an incline on the southern side of the Altar, diminishing [in height] as it declines from the top of the Altar until the earth. It was called the ramp.
Anyone who ascends the Altar with steps [violates a negative command and] is [given] lashes.
Similarly, anyone who demolishes a single stone from the Altar, any part of the Temple building, or [the floor of the Temple Courtyard] between the Entrance Hall and the Altar with a destructive intent is worthy of lashes, as [Deuteronomy 12:3-4] states: "And you shall destroy their altars.... Do not do so to God, your Lord."
The Menorah and its utensils, the Table and its utensils, the Incense Altar, and all the sacred utensils may be made only from metal. If they are made from wood, bone, stone, or glass, they are unacceptable.
If the nation is poor, it is permissible to make them of tin. If they [later] become wealthy, they should be made of gold.
If the nation possesses the means, they should even make the basins, the spits, and the rakes of the altar of the burnt offering and, [similarly,] the [Temple's] measuring vessels, out of gold. They should even coat the gates of the Courtyard with gold, if it is within their potential.
All the [Temple's] utensils must initially be made for sacred purposes.If they were initially made for mundane uses, they may not be used for [the Temple's] sake.
A vessel [intended to be used for the Temple], but which was never used for [the Temple] may be used for mundane purposes. Once it has been used for [the Temple], it may not be used for mundane purposes.
Stones or boards which were originally hewn for use in a synagogue should not be used in the Temple Mount construction.
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A chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a stick. He knows that the flame is not his. And he goes from lamp to lamp to set them alight.
–Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch