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Sunday, 18 Tishrei 5778 / October 8, 2017

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Talmud Torah - Chapter Five, Talmud Torah - Chapter Six, Talmud Torah - Chapter Seven

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Talmud Torah - Chapter Five

1

Just as a person is commanded to honor his father and hold him in awe, so, too, is he obligated to honor his teacher and hold him in awe.

[Indeed, the measure of honor and awe] due one's teacher exceeds that due one's father. His father brings him into the life of this world, while his teacher, who teaches him wisdom, brings him into the life of the world to come.

[Accordingly,] if he saw a lost object belonging to his father and one belonging to his teacher, the lost object belonging to his teacher takes precedence. If his father and his teacher are both carrying loads, he should relieve his teacher's load, and then his father's. If his father and his teacher are held as captives, he should redeem his teacher, and afterwards, redeem his father. However, if his father is [also] a Torah sage, he should redeem his father first.

[Similarly,] if his father is a Torah sage - even if he is not equivalent to his teacher - he should return his lost article, and then that belonging to his teacher.

There is no greater honor than that due a teacher, and no greater awe than that due a teacher. Our Sages declared: "Your fear of your teacher should be equivalent to your fear of Heaven."

Therefore, they said: Whoever disputes the authority of his teacher is considered as if he revolts against the Divine Presence, as implied [by Numbers 26:9]: "...who led a revolt against God."

Whoever engages in controversy with his teacher is considered as if he engaged in controversy with the Divine Presence, as implied [by Numbers 20:13]: "...where the Jews contested with God and where He was sanctified."

Whoever complains against his teacher is considered as if he complains against the Divine Presence, as implied [by Exodus 16:8]: "Your complaints are not against us, but against God."

Whoever thinks disparagingly of his teacher is considered as if he thought disparagingly of the Divine Presence, as implied [by Numbers 21:5]: "And the people spoke out against God and Moses."

א

כשם שאדם מצווה בכבוד אביו ויראתו כך הוא חייב בכבוד רבו ויראתו יתר מאביו שאביו מביאו לחיי העולם הזה ורבו שלמדו חכמה מביאו לחיי העולם הבא ראה אבידת אביו ואבידת רבו של רבו קודמת לשל אביו אביו ורבו נושאים במשא מניח את של רבו ואחר כך של אביו אביו ורבו שבויים בשביה פודה את רבו ואח"כ פודה את אביו ואם היה אביו תלמיד חכם פודה את אביו תחלה וכן אם היה אביו תלמיד חכם אף על פי שאינו שקול כנגד רבו משיב אבידתו ואחר כך משיב אבידת רבו ואין לך כבוד גדול מכבוד הרב ולא מורא ממורא הרב אמרו חכמים מורא רבך כמורא שמים לפיכך אמרו כל החולק על רבו כחולק על השכינה שנאמר בהצותם על ה' וכל העושה מריבה עם רבו כעושה מריבה עם השכינה שנאמר אשר רבו בני ישראל את ה' ויקדש בם וכל המתרעם על רבו כמתרעם על ה' שנאמר לא עלינו תלונותיכם כי על ה' וכל המהרהר אחר רבו כאילו מהרהר אחר שכינה שנאמר וידבר העם באלהים ובמשה:


Just as a person is commanded to honor his father and hold him in awe - Exodus 20:12 commands: "Honor your father and mother." Leviticus 19:3 commands: "A man shall fear his mother and father." (See Hilchot Mamrim, Chapter 6, for a discussion of these mitzvot.)

so, too, is he obligated to honor his teacher and hold him in awe. - All the particulars of this halachah apply only regarding rabo hamuzhak, a teacher from whom one has learned the majority of one's wisdom (Bava Metzia 33a.) (See also the commentary on the next halachah.) However, every teacher under whom one has studied Torah deserves a certain measure of respect (Halachah 9).

[Indeed, the measure of honor and awe] due one's teacher exceeds that due one's father. His father brings him into the life of this world - i.e., he sired him and provided him with his fundamental necessities

while his teacher, who teaches him wisdom, brings him into the life of the world to come. - A person's Torah study and the mitzvot it motivates are the means through which he will attain a portion of the world to come.

The reason given by the Rambam has its source in Bava Metzia, ibid. Keritot 28a states a different reason: "He and his father are both obligated to honor his teacher." The Rambam quotes this in Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Mitzvah 209).

[Accordingly,] if he saw a lost object belonging to his father and one belonging to his teacher, the lost object belonging to his teacher takes precedence. - Therefore, he should tend to his teacher's article first. Only after returning it should he tend to his father's.

If his father and his teacher are both carrying loads, he should relieve his teacher's load, and then his father's. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Keritot 6:9, the Rambam equates removing a load with returning a lost article and redeeming a person from captivity in all respects. Accordingly, as explained below, if one's father is also a Torah sage, he should be given priority. However, the Kessef Mishneh explains that where there is no danger to life or property, and only honor is involved, priority should be given to one's teacher, even if one's father is a Torah sage of equivalent stature.

If his father and his teacher are held as captives, he should redeem his teacher, and afterwards, redeem his father. - Note Hilchot Matnot Ani'im, 8:10-18, for a discussion of this important mitzvah.

However, if his father is also a Torah sage - even if he is not equivalent to his teacher (Kessef Mishneh)

he should redeem his father first. - This decision is disputed with regard to the return of a lost object, as explained below. Nevertheless, with regard to the redemption of captives, all agree that because of the life-and-death nature of the question, one's father is given priority if he has achieved some level of scholarship.

[Similarly,] if his father is a Torah sage - even if he is not equivalent to his teacher - he should return his lost article, and then that belonging to his teacher. - The commentaries have noted the apparent contradiction between this statement and Hilchot Aveidah 12:2, which states:

[The following rule applies when] one sees a lost object belonging to his teacher and a lost object belonging to his father: If his father was equal in stature to his teacher, his father's [lost article] is given precedence. If not, his teacher's is given precedence.
This applies only to a person's primary teacher, from whom he learned the majority of his wisdom.

The text of Bava Metzia (ibid.), the source for this decision, is closer to the text in Hilchot Aveidah. Indeed, on that basis, the Hagahot Maimoniot and others maintain that our text contains a printing error. However, that conclusion is difficult to accept, since in his Commentary on the Mishnah, Keritot ibid., the Rambam gives a father who is a Torah sage priority over a person's teacher, without requiring that the father be of greater stature.

The Lechem Mishneh explains that our text refers to a situation when it is possible to retrieve both lost objects, and the only question is whose is given priority. In contrast, Hilchot Aveidah refers to a situation where it is possible to return only one of the lost objects.

Alternatively, the Tashbaytz (Responsa, Vol. III, 275) and the Radbaz (Responsa, Vol. V, 1493) explain that here we are referring to a father who has also instructed his son (albeit, not to the same degree as his teacher). In contrast, Hilchot Aveidah refers to a father who has not instructed his son at all.

There is no greater honor than that due a teacher, and no greater awe than that due a teacher. Our Sages declared - Avot 4:15

"Your fear of your teacher should be equivalent to your fear of Heaven." - In his commentary on that Mishnah, Rashi notes that Pesachim 22b equates the deference due a Torah sage to that due God. Surely, that applies to a sage under whom one has studied.

Therefore, they said - Sanhedrin 110a. The Rambam quotes the entire passage that follows below in Sefer HaMitzvot, Positive Mitzvah 209, in his description of the commandment to honor a Torah sage.

Whoever disputes the authority of his teacher - i.e., "comes out against his decisions...teaching and granting decisions, without his permission" (Sefer HaMitzvot, ibid.). (See the following halachot.)

is considered as if he revolts against the Divine Presence, as implied [by Numbers 26:9]: "...who led a revolt against God." - This verse describes Korach's revolt. Though ostensibly, the revolt was directed against Moses, the Torah considers it as directed against God, Himself.

Whoever engages in controversy with his teacher is considered as if he engaged in controversy with the Divine Presence, as implied [by Numbers 20:13]: "...where the Jews contested with God and where He was sanctified." - Numbers 20:1-3 describes how, because of a lack of water, the Jews began quarreling with Moses. As above, God interpreted their controversy as being directed against God Himself.

Whoever complains against his teacher is considered as if he complains against the Divine Presence, as implied [by Exodus 16:8]: "Your complaints are not against us, but against God." - When the Jews complained against him and Aaron because of a lack of food, Moses gave them this reply. On this verse, the Mechiltah comments: "Whoever speaks against the shepherds of the Jewish people is considered as if he spoke against God."

Whoever criticizes his teacher - explaining his statements and actions in an unfavorable light (Sefer HaMitzvot, ibid.)

is considered as if he criticized the Divine Presence, as implied [by Numbers 21:5]: "And the people spoke out against God and Moses." - In this case as well, the people directed their criticism over a lack of food and water to Moses; however, the Torah considers it as being directed against God.

2

What is meant by disputing the authority of one's teacher? A person who establishes a house of study [where] he sits, explains, and teaches without his teacher's permission in his teacher's lifetime. [This applies] even when one's teacher is in another country.

It is forbidden to ever render a halachic judgment in one's teacher's presence. Whoever renders a halachic judgment in his teacher's presence is worthy of death.

ב

איזהו חולק על רבו זה שקובע לו מדרש ויושב ודורש ומלמד שלא ברשות רבו ורבו קיים ואע"פ שרבו במדינה אחרת ואסור לאדם להורות בפני רבו לעולם וכל המורה הלכה בפני רבו חייב מיתה:

What is meant by disputing the authority of one's teacher? - As mentioned in the commentary on the previous halachah, Halachah 9 states:

When does the above apply? To one's outstanding teacher (rabo hamuzhak ), from whom one has gained the majority of one's wisdom. However, a person who has not gained the majority of his wisdom under a teacher's instruction is considered to be both a student and colleague. He is not obligated to honor him in all the above matters.

A person who - studied under a teacher and then

establishes a house of study [where] he sits, explains, and teaches - and renders halachic decisions. The Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 242:7 (see also Kessef Mishneh) explains that the prohibition applies only to rendering halachic decisions on matters directly related to practice. There is no difficulty involved in teaching on a merely theoretical level. However, it is not clear whether the Rambam would accept this view.

The Rishon Letzion explains that this prohibition applies even to establishing a house of study under one's own direction, even though one does not render any halachic decisions.

without his teacher's permission - A person granted permission by his teacher is allowed to render halachic decisions outside his teacher's presence. The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 242:14) equates a teacher's granting permission to a student to render halachic decisions to the concept of semichah within its present context (in contrast to its definition in Talmudic times).

in his teacher's lifetime. - It is a mark of disrespect to one's teacher to set oneself up to be an equivalent authority.

Eruvin 62b relates that as long as Rav Huna was alive, Rav Chisda, his disciple, would not render any decisions, even those concerning as obvious a matter as dipping "an egg in a mixture of sour milk and bread."

After the teacher's death, there is no restriction, provided one is fit to render Torah judgments. (See Halachot 3 and 4.)

[This applies] even when one's teacher is in another country. - This can be derived from Eruvin 63a, which states that Rav Hamnuna would not render judgments in Rav Huna's lifetime, even though they lived in different cities.

Even though a person has been granted permission by his teacher to render halachic judgments...

It is forbidden to ever render a halachic judgment - except in the instances mentioned in the following halachah. The Vilna Gaon explains that this includes even teaching a halachic concept incidentally, outside the context of a house of study.

in one's teacher's presence. - The Rambam defines this term in the next halachah.

Ketubot 60b relates that, without considering the question of respect due one's teacher, there is an additional problem. Spiritual influences will cause a student who renders a halachic judgment in his teacher's presence to err.

The Maharik (Responsum 169) states that if a student has reached a stature approximate to that of his teacher, he is permitted to render halachic judgments even in his teacher's presence. He points to many Talmudic passages which record halachic decisions given by Resh Lakish in the presence of Rabbi Yochanan (his teacher).

Siftei Cohen (Yoreh De'ah 242:12) explains that it is possible to say that the Rambam would accept this decision. However, there is no intimation of such a concept in the Rambam's words.

Whoever renders a halachic judgment in his teacher's presence is worthy of death. - Eruvin 63a explains that Nadav and Avihu, Aharon's sons, died (Leviticus, Chapter 10) because of this sin. (See also Berachot 31b.)

Rendering a judgment outside one's teacher's presence without his permission and rendering a judgment in his presence with his permission, although forbidden, are not deserving of such a punishment.

It must be emphasized that today, when most of our Torah knowledge is gained from the study of texts and not from personal instruction, many authorities maintain that this entire concept does not apply. (See Hagahot Maimoniot, Lechem Mishneh, Halachah 5.) However, this opinion is not accepted by all authorities. (See Maharik, Responsum 169.)

3

If a person asked [a student] regarding a halachic question and there were twelve mil between him and his teacher, he is permitted to answer. [Furthermore,] to prevent a transgression, it is permitted to give a halachic judgment even in the presence of one's teacher.

What does the above imply? For example, one saw a person perform a forbidden act because he was unaware of the prohibition or because of his perversity, he should [try to] prevent him [by] telling him: "This is forbidden." [This] applies even in his teacher's presence and even though one's teacher had not given him permission. Wherever the desecration of God's name is involved, no deference is paid to a teacher's honor.

When does the above apply? With regard to a matter that came up incidentally. However, establishing oneself as a halachic authority to sit and reply to all who ask concerning halachic matters is forbidden, even if [the student] is at one end of the world and the teacher at the other, until either:
a) the teacher dies; or
b) the student receives permission from his teacher.

Not everyone whose teacher dies is permitted to sit and render judgment concerning Torah law; only one who is a student worthy of rendering judgment.

ג

היה בינו ובין רבו י"ב מיל ושאל לו אדם דבר הלכה מותר להשיב ולהפריש מן האיסור אפילו בפני רבו מותר להורות כיצד כגון שראה אדם עושה דבר האסור מפני שלא ידע באיסורו או מפני רשעו יש לו להפרישו ולומר לו דבר זה אסור ואפילו בפני רבו ואף על פי שלא נתן לו רבו רשות שכל מקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב בד"א בדבר שנקרה מקרה אבל לקבוע עצמו להוראה ולישב ולהורות לכל שואל אפילו הוא בסוף העולם ורבו בסוף העולם אסור לו להורות עד שימות רבו אא"כ נטל רשות מרבו ולא כל מי שמת רבו מותר לו לישב ולהורות בתורה אלא אם כן היה תלמיד שהגיע להוראה:

If a person asked [a student] regarding a halachic question and there were twelve mil - A mil is 2000 cubits, approximately a kilometer in modern measure.

This distance was derived from the measurement of the camp of Israel as they journeyed through the desert. There, all halachic questions were posed to Moses, as alluded to by Exodus 33:7: "All those who sought God would go the Tent of Meeting" (Rashi, Sanhedrin 5b). (See also Hilchot Sanhedrin 20:9.)

[Exodus, Chapter 18, relates how Moses appointed judges to render halachic judgments concerning cases that did not require Moses' knowledge. Nevertheless, since these judges were appointed by Moses by Divine decree, the judgments they rendered were permitted.]

between him and his teacher, he is permitted to answer - even though he was not granted permission by his teacher, as explained below.

[Furthermore,] to prevent a transgression, it is permitted to give a halachic judgment even in the presence of one's teacher. - This applies both in his actual physical presence and within a radius of twelve mil.

What does the above imply? For example, one saw a person perform a forbidden act because he was unaware of the prohibition or because of his perversity, he should [try to] prevent him [by] telling him: "This is forbidden." - Eruvin 63a relates that while Ravina was in the presence of Rav Ashi, his teacher, he saw a man tie a donkey to a date palm on the Sabbath. At first, he shouted at him [so that he would know it is forbidden]. When he did not respond, he placed him under a ban of ostracism.

When Rav Ashi saw this, he questioned Ravina, because the latter's actions appeared to be disrespectful. Ravina explained that since a transgression was involved (making use of a tree on the Sabbath), he was obligated to take these steps.

[This] applies even in his teacher's presence and even though one's teacher had not given him permission. Wherever the desecration of God's name is involved, no deference is paid to a teacher's honor. - Eruvin, ibid., derives this from Proverbs 21:30: "There is no wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel against God."

The teacher's honor stems from the honor of the Torah and the honor of God. Hence, in all cases, priority is given to the Torah.

When does the above apply? - This refers to the first clause, which mentions the license to respond to a question outside one's teacher's presence.

With regard to a matter that came up incidentally. - Since this is a casual occurrence and his teacher is not present, the student's response is not considered to be disrespectful.

However, establishing oneself as a halachic authority to sit and reply to all who ask concerning halachic matters is forbidden - for this clearly applies that the student considers his authority as equivalent (or at least, similar) to that of his teacher. Doing so without permission is considered to be an affront to his teacher's honor.

even if [the student] is at one end of the world and the teacher at the other - i.e., geographic distance is not a factor.

until either: a) the teacher dies - at which point the honor due him takes on a different dimension.

or b) the student receives permission from his teacher. - Since the teacher has given permission for the student to answer questions, doing so is not considered to be an affront to the teacher's honor.

Though a student who was not granted permission by his teacher to render halachic decisions during the latter's lifetime, he may do so after his death. Nevertheless,...

Not everyone whose teacher dies is permitted to sit and render judgment concerning Torah law; only one who is a student worthy of rendering judgment. - Avodah Zarah 19b requires a student to be forty years of age before he is considered to be worthy of rendering halachic judgments. In summation of that entire passage, Rabbenu Nissim writes that a Torah sage is not entitled to render a halachic judgment until he reaches 40, unless there is no sage of equivalent status in his city. He questions why the Rambam makes no mention of this requirement.

Among the resolutions offered for the Rambam's decision are:
a) The Rambam interprets the passage from Avodah Zarah to mean that only until he is forty years old can a worthy student hold himself back from rendering judgment because of his humility. He does not mention this law here, since the unworthy students have become so numerous, and at present, no worthy student should hesitate from rendering judgment at all (Kessef Mishneh).
b) The Talmud's decision refers only to a student who received his instruction from an individual teacher. At present, since students gain their knowledge from texts which are always available, there is no such restriction (Lechem Mishneh).
c) The Rambam places the entire emphasis on a student's capability and does not pay attention to the age factor (Merchevat Hamishneh).

Though the latter paragraph is included in this halachah in the published texts of the Mishneh Torah, many manuscripts include it in the following halachah.

4

Any student who is not worthy of rendering halachic judgments and does so is foolish, wicked, and arrogant. [Proverbs 7:26:] "She has cast down many corpses" applies to him.

[Conversely,] a sage who is worthy of rendering halachic judgments and refrains from doing so holds back [the spread of] Torah and places stumbling blocks before the blind. "How prodigious are those she slew" [ibid.] applies to him.

These underdeveloped students who have not gathered much Torah knowledge, seek to gain prestige in the eyes of the common people and the inhabitants of their city [by] jumping to sit at the head of all questions of law and halachic judgments in Israel. They spread division, destroy the world, extinguish the light of Torah, and wreak havoc in the vineyard of the God of Hosts. In his wisdom, Solomon alluded to them [as follows, (Song of Songs 2:15)]: "Take for us foxes, little foxes that spoil the vineyards, [our vineyards are blooming.]"

ד

וכל תלמיד שלא הגיע להוראה ומורה הרי זה רשע שוטה וגס הרוח ועליו נאמר כי רבים חללים הפילה וגו' וכן חכם שהגיע להוראה ואינו מורה הרי זה מונע תורה ונותן מכשולות לפני העורים ועליו נאמר ועצומים כל הרוגיה אלו התלמידים הקטנים שלא הרבו תורה כראוי והם מבקשים להתגדל בפני עמי הארץ ובין אנשי עירם וקופצין ויושבין בראש לדין ולהורות בישראל הם המרבים המחלוקת והם המחריבים את העולם והמכבין נרה של תורה והמחבלים כרם ה' צבאות עליהם אמר שלמה בחכמתו אחזו לנו שועלים שועלים קטנים מחבלים כרמים:

Any student who is not worthy of rendering halachic judgments and does so is foolish, wicked, and arrogant. - The Rambam's statements are based on Avot 4:9, which uses these adjectives to describe a person who "renders halachic judgments casually." In his commentary on that Mishnah, the Rambam states that this applies to one who "does not worry about rendering a judgment and proceeds to do so without fear or proper consideration."

[Proverbs 7:26:] "She has cast down many corpses" applies to him. - This concept can be derived because the word hipilah (cast down) is related to neifal, a stillborn baby (Kessef Mishneh).

[Conversely,] a sage who is worthy of rendering halachic judgments - Almost parenthetically, in the midst of his critique of the underdeveloped who render halachic judgments too casually, the Rambam explains that, nevertheless, a person who is qualified should not hesitate from rendering halachic judgments. On the contrary, if he does hesitate, he is also guilty of improper conduct.

[A teacher once told a student to serve as the Rabbi of a particular community. The student protested, claiming that he was afraid of the responsibility of rendering halachic judgments for such a large community.

The teacher responded: "Whom should I send? Someone who is not afraid?"]

and refrains from doing so holds back [the spread] of Torah - In Hilchot Sanhedrin 20:8, the Rambam makes similar statements, except that there he qualifies his condemnation of "a sage who is worthy of rendering halachic judgments and refrains from doing so" as applying only when "the generation needs him." In contrast, if [the sage] refrains because he knows that there is another individual fit to render halachic judgments, "he is praiseworthy." Similarly, in Hilchot Sanhedrin 3:10, the Rambam praises sages who flee from seeking appointment as judges.

and places stumbling blocks before the blind. - Of course, the Rambam is not referring to those who are physically blind, but rather those who are intellectually unaware or spiritually handicapped, as explained in the interpretation of Leviticus 19:14: "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind."

"How prodigious are those she slew" [ibid.] applies to him. - The word atzumim (prodigious) is related to the word atzum, meaning to close one's eyes (Kessef Mishneh).

These underdeveloped students who have not gathered much Torah knowledge, seek to gain prestige in the eyes of the common people and the inhabitants of their city [by] jumping to sit at the head of all questions of law and halachic judgments in Israel. They spread division, destroy the world, extinguish the light of Torah, and wreak havoc - The Kessef Mishneh notes that although the Mishneh Torah was composed as a timeless book of halachah, the Rambam's harsh criticism here may have resulted from the prevalence of unqualified students who sought rabbinical positions in his time.

in the vineyard of the God of Hosts. - i.e., the people of Israel. (See Isaiah 5:7.)

In his wisdom, Solomon alluded to them [as follows (Song of Songs 2:15)]: "Take for us foxes, little foxes that spoil the vineyards, our vineyards are blooming."

5

It is forbidden for a student to refer to his teacher by name, even outside his presence. He should not mention his name in his presence, even when referring to others with the same name as his teacher - as he does with the name of his father. Rather, he should refer to them with different names, even after their death.

The above applies when the name is unusual, and all will thus know to whom it refers.

[A student] should not greet his teacher or respond to the latter's greeting, as is customary when two friends exchange greetings. Rather, he should bow before him and say with awe and reverence: "Peace be upon you, my master." If his teacher greeted him, he should respond: "Peace be upon you, my teacher and master."

ה

ואסור לו לתלמיד לקרות לרבו בשמו ואפילו שלא בפניו והוא שיהיה השם פלאי שכל השומע ידע שהוא פלוני ולא יזכיר שמו בפניו ואפילו לקרות לאחרים ששמם כשם רבו כדרך שעושה בשם אביו אלא ישנה את שמם אפילו לאחר מותם ולא יתן שלום לרבו או יחזיר לו שלום כדרך שנותנים לריעים ומחזירים זה לזה אלא שוחה לפניו ואומר לו ביראה וכבוד שלום עליך רבי ואם נתן לו רבו שלום יחזיר לו שלום עליך רבי ומורי:

It is forbidden for a student to refer to his teacher by name - Sanhedrin 100a describes such a person as an epicurus (nonbeliever). Rashi states that he should state a descriptive phrase before mentioning his teacher's name, following the example of Joshua (Numbers 11:28), who said: "Moses, my master, imprison them."
Compare to Hilchot Mamrim 6:3, which describes the reverence due to a father:

He should not call him by name either in his lifetime or after his death. Rather, he should say, "My father, my teacher."

even outside his presence. - even if he is in a different country entirely.

[The version of the text which follows is based on the Oxford manuscript of the Mishneh Torah. The commonly printed text appears to contradict the passage from Hilchot Mamrim. See also Kessef Mishneh and Taz, Yoreh De'ah 242:4, who have noted difficulties with the printed text.]

He should not mention his name - i.e., his teacher's name

in his presence, even when referring to others with the same name as his teacher - as he does with the name of his father. Rather, he should refer to them - the other people

with different names, even after their death. - as Hilchot Mamrim (ibid.) states: "If his father's or teacher's name resembles the name of others, he should change their name."

We find an example of this in the Talmud. Abbaye's name was actually Nachmani. However, since his teacher, Rabbah, had a father with that name, he coined a new name for his disciple (Ha'Aruch).

The above applies when the name is unusual and all will thus know to whom it refers. - Hilchot Mamrim (ibid.) continues:

It appears to me that one must take care in this regard only when the name is unique....However, if the name is one which many people are called by - e.g., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Moses - ...one may call others by this name outside his presence.

Thus, if the teacher's name is common, it is permitted to refer by name to another person with the same name. Nevertheless, the Rambam's words raise questions concerning the commonly followed practice of naming a child after one's parent or teacher, even when that name is unique.

[A student] should not greet his teacher or respond to the latter's greeting, as is customary when two friends exchange greetings. - Berachot 27b states: "A person who greets his teacher causes the Divine Presence to depart from Israel." Rashi explains that this refers to greeting him casually without a show of reverence.

Rather, he should bow before him - Note Soferim 18:5, which mentions such a practice.

and say with awe and reverence: "Peace be upon you, my master." - Bava Kama 73b states that it is improper for a student to greet a teacher at all, as implied by Job 29:8: "The lads saw me and hid."

If his teacher greeted him, he should respond: "Peace be upon you, my teacher and master." - Note the interchange between Rabbi Yosse and Elijah, the prophet, quoted in Berachot 3a.

It must be noted that the phrase shalom elecha rebbe has been given halachic significance in totally different contexts. For example, a person who takes an oath is allowed to retract his statements if he changes his mind toch k’dei dibbur (in the midst of speaking). What is considered "in the midst of speaking"? The time it takes to say shalom elecha rebbe (Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:17). Similar laws apply with regard to witnesses who want to retract testimony made in court.

6

Similarly, he should not remove his tefillin in the presence of his teacher, nor should he recline in his presence. Rather, he should sit before him as one sits before a king.

A person should not pray either in front of his teacher, behind his teacher, or at his teacher's side. Needless to say, one should not walk by his side. Rather, he should distance himself behind his teacher without standing directly behind him and then pray.

One should not enter a bathhouse together with his teacher or sit in his teacher's place. One should not side against his teacher's opinion in his presence or contradict his statements.

One should not sit in his presence until he tells him to sit. One should not stand before him until he tells him to stand or until he receives permission to stand.

When one departs from his teacher, one should not turn his back to him. Rather, one should walk backwards while facing him.

ו

וכן לא יחלוץ תפיליו לפני רבו ולא יסב אלא יושב כיושב לפני המלך ולא יתפלל לא לפני רבו ולא לאחר רבו ולא בצד רבו ואין צריך לומר שאסור לו להלך בצידו אלא יתרחק לאחר רבו ולא יהא מכוון כנגד אחריו ואחר כך יתפלל ולא יכנס עם רבו במרחץ ולא ישב במקום רבו ולא יכריע דבריו בפניו ולא יסתור את דבריו ולא ישב לפניו עד שיאמר לו שב ולא יעמוד מלפניו עד שיאמר לו עמוד או עד שיטול רשות לעמוד וכשיפטר מרבו לא יחזור לו לאחריו אלא נרתע לאחוריו ופניו כנגד פניו:

Similarly, he should not remove his tefillin in the presence of his teacher - Rav David Arameah notes that this law is found in the Shimusha Rabbah. His version of that text leads him to the interpretation "before," rather than "in the presence of" - i.e., first, the teacher should remove his tefillin, and then the student. However, the Shibbolei HaLeket and others render the Shimusha Rabbah as translated here.

The Kessef Mishneh cites Sanhedrin 101b, which forbids removing one's tefillin in the presence of a king. Since Horayot 13a relates that a Torah sage is more deserving of a honor than a king, there are those who quote this as a source for our halachah.

nor should he recline in his presence. - Note Hilchot Chametz U'Matzah 7:8, which mentions this prohibition even on the Seder night, when it is a mitzvah to recline.

Rather, he should sit before him as one sits before a king. - because, as mentioned in Horayot, ibid., a Torah sage deserves greater honor.

A person should not pray either in front of his teacher - Standing with one's back to one's teacher is a mark of great disrespect. Hence, it is forbidden as long as one can be seen by one's teacher (Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 90, Shulchan Aruch 90:24).

behind his teacher, or at his teacher's side. - Rashi, Berachot 27a, explains that doing so would be an expression of pride, implying a degree of equivalence to his teacher.

The Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 242:16, states that there is no prohibition if one stands more than four cubits away from his teacher. The Beit Yosef (ibid.) also states that these restrictions apply only when praying as individuals and not when participating in communal prayer.

Needless to say, he should not walk by his side. - Yoma 37a states: "A person who walks at his teacher's right is a boor." Compare with Chapter 6, Halachah 5.

Rather - when praying or walking (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah ibid.)

he should distance himself behind his teacher without standing directly behind him and then pray. - i.e., standing slightly to his side and slightly behind him.

One should not enter a bathhouse together with his teacher - for it is not respectful to be together with him while naked. However, if the teacher needs his assistance it is permitted, as the Rambam states in Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:16.

or sit in his teacher's place. - This and the following points are taken from the statements in Kiddushin 31b regarding the respect due a father. Similar statements are found in Hilchot Mamrim 6:3.

One should not side against his teacher's opinion - This translation is based on the Rambam's definition of the latter expression in one of his responsa. Others define it as "favor his teacher's opinion," explaining that doing so is a mark of disrespect, because it implies that the teacher needs the student's support.

in his presence - However, if one is in a different place or after the teacher's death, one is allowed to voice a different opinion. Note Hilchot Shechitah 11:10, where the Rambam states that his father held a more stringent view, while he, himself, followed a more lenient perspective. (See also Eruvin 32a.)

or contradict his statements.

One should not sit in his presence until he tells him to sit. - The Midrash Rabbah, Ruth 4:2, makes similar statements, based on Boaz's instructions to the elders of Bethlehem.

One should not stand before him until he tells him to stand or until he receives permission to stand. - Derech Eretz Rabbah, Chapter 5, states: "A person should not depart from a teacher or a colleague unless he takes leave of him or receives permission from him."

When one departs from one's teacher, one should not turn his back to him - for turning one's back to one's teacher is not a sign of respect.

Rather, one should walk backwards while facing him. - Yoma 53a relates that the priests and Levites would follow this procedure when departing from the Temple service. It continues to recommend that the same procedure be adopted by students when departing from their teachers.

7

A person is obligated to stand before his teacher from the time he sees him - as far away as he can see - until [he passes beyond his field of vision] and is hidden: his figure no longer visible. Then, [the student] may sit.

A person is obligated to visit his teacher during the festivals.

ז

וחייב לעמוד מפני רבו מישראנו מרחוק מלא עיניו עד שיתכסה ממנו ולא יראה קומתו ואח"כ ישב וחייב אדם להקביל פני רבו ברגל:

A person is obligated to stand before his teacher from the time he sees him - as far away as he can see - Contrast to Chapter 6, Halachah 5, which states that a person is not obligated to stand before a sage who is not his teacher until the latter comes within four cubits of him.

until [he passes beyond his field of vision] and is hidden: his figure no longer visible. Then, [the student] may sit. - The above halachah states that as soon as the sage passes him, the person may sit. The requirement to show an extra degree of respect to one's own teacher can be derived from the example of Rabbi Eliezer, who showed such deference to his teacher, Rabbi Yochanan (Yoma 53a).

A person is obligated to visit his teacher during the festivals. - Sukkah 27b relates:

An incident occurred concerning Rabbi Ellai, who journeyed to visit his teacher, Rabbi Eliezer, in Lod during a festival.
He told him: "Ellai, you are not one of those who rests on the festivals,". Rabbi Eliezer would say: "I praise the lazy ones who do not leave their homes during the festivals, because it is written: 'And you shall rejoice on your festivals.’“
That is unacceptable, because Rabbi Yitzchak taught: What is the source for the obligation that a person has to visit his teacher on the festival, it is written: "Why are you going to him today? It is not a day of rest or a new moon." From this we can infer that on a day of rest and on the new moon, a person is obligated to visit his teacher.
There is no difficulty: the [latter reference] applies when he can go back and forth in one day.

The Rambam interprets Rabbi Yitzchak's statement simply, because, in a number of other instances (Sukkah 10b, 26a), the Talmud relates how students would visit their teachers on festivals.

The Nodah Biyhudah, Orach Chayim, Vol. II, Responsum 94, notes that this law is not quoted by the Tur or the Shulchan Aruch. Therefore, he explains that it applies only in the time of the Temple. In contrast, at present, since the Temple is destroyed and the festival pilgrimages are no longer made, it is improper to make a special visit to one's teacher. Doing so would imply that one is showing him greater deference than is shown the Divine Presence.

This view is not accepted by many commentators. Indeed, the Talmudic references to visiting one's teacher during the festival cited above took place in the period after the destruction of the Temple. Based on the statement quoted in Halachah 1, "Your fear for your teacher should be equivalent to your fear of Heaven," Kinat Eliyahu explains that there is a parallel between a visit to one's teacher and a pilgrimage to the Temple.

8

Deference should not be shown to a student while in the presence of his teacher, unless it is customary for his teacher also to show him deference.

All the services which a servant performs for his master should be performed by a student for his teacher. [However,] if [the student] was in a place where he was not recognized and was not wearing tefillin - should he suspect that people will say he is a servant - he need not put on [his teacher's] shoe or remove it.

Whoever prevents his student from serving him withholds kindness from him and takes away his fear of heaven. Any student who deals lightly with a matter related to the honor of his teacher causes the Divine Presence to depart from Israel.

ח

אין חולקין כבוד לתלמיד בפני רבו אא"כ דרך רבו לחלוק לו כבוד וכל המלאכות שהעבד עושה לרבו תלמיד עושה לרבו ואם היה במקום שאין מכירין אותו ולא היו לו תפילין וחש שמא יאמרו עבד הוא אינו נועל לו מנעלו ואינו חולצו וכל המונע תלמידו מלשמשו מונע ממנו חסד ופורק ממנו יראת שמים וכל תלמיד שמזלזל דבר מכל כבוד רבו גורם לשכינה שתסתלק מישראל:

Deference should not be shown to a student while in the presence of his teacher - Honoring a student in the presence of his teacher may be interpreted to be an affront to the latter's position.

unless it is customary for his teacher also to show him deference. - Since the teacher himself shows the student deference, he will not be upset by others doing so (Rashi, Bava Batra 119b).

All the services which a servant performs for his master should be performed by a student for his teacher. - as an expression of the deference and respect he has for him.

[However,] - In one situation, an exception is made to the above principle...

if [the student] was in a place where he was not recognized and was not wearing tefillin - At that time, it was customary to wear tefillin the entire day. Nevertheless, if for some reason, this student was not wearing tefillin

should he - the student

suspect that people - observing his behavior

will say he is a servant - i.e., a "Canaanite servant," who is not considered to be a full-fledged Jew. [His failure to wear tefillin might create such an impression, since tefillin are a time-oriented mitzvah and "Canaanite slaves" are free from its observance.]

he need not put on [his teacher's] shoe or remove it. - i.e., he is freed from the performance of any menial tasks which might create this impression.

Whoever prevents his student from serving him withholds kindness from him and takes away his fear of heaven. - In Hilchot De'ot 5:1, the Rambam writes that a wise man is distinguished, not only by his intellectual achievements, but by the manner in which his understanding is reflected in his everyday behavior. When a student has the opportunity to appreciate not only the intellectual gifts of his teacher, but the totality of his behavior, he becomes aware of how a Torah lifestyle is an all-encompassing commitment, affecting every aspect of his daily activity. This leads to complete fear of heaven.

Any student who deals lightly with a matter related to the honor of his teacher causes the Divine Presence to depart from Israel. - Berachot 27b makes this statement regarding one who prays behind his teacher or who greets his teacher in a casual manner. (See Halachot 5 and 6.) The Rambam extrapolates that the concept also applies regarding other acts of disrespect to one's teacher.

9

[A student who] saw his teacher transgress the words of the Torah should tell him: you have taught us such and such.

Whenever he mentions a teaching in his presence, he should tell him: "You have taught us the following, master." He should not mention a concept which he did not hear from his teacher unless he mentions the name of the person who authored it.

When his teacher dies, he should rend all his garments until he reveals his heart. He should never mend them.

When does the above apply? To one's outstanding teacher from whom one has gained the majority of his wisdom.

However, a person who has not gained the majority of his wisdom under a teacher's instruction is considered to be both a student and colleague. He is not obligated to honor him in all the above matters. Nevertheless, he should stand before him, rend his garments at his [death], as he does for all the deceased for whom he is obligated to mourn. Even if he learned only one thing from him, whether it be a small or great matter, he should stand before him and rend his garments at his [death].

ט

ראה רבו עובר על דברי תורה אומר לו לימדתנו רבינו כך וכך וכל זמן שמזכיר שמועה בפניו אומר לו כך לימדתנו רבינו ואל יאמר דבר שלא שמע מרבו עד שיזכיר שם אומרו וכשימות רבו קורע כל בגדיו עד שהוא מגלה את לבו ואינו מאחה לעולם במה דברים אמורים ברבו מובהק שלמד ממנו רוב חכמתו אבל אם לא למד ממנו רוב חכמתו הרי זה תלמיד חבר ואינו חייב בכבודו בכל אלו הדברים אבל עומד מלפניו וקורע עליו כשם שהוא קורע על כל המתים שהוא מתאבל עליהם אפילו לא למד ממנו אלא דבר אחד בין קטן בין גדול עומד מלפניו וקורע עליו:

[A student who] saw his teacher transgress the words of the Torah should - not rebuke him directly. Rather, he should....

tell him: "Master, you have taught us such and such..." - Kiddushin 32a makes similar statements regarding a situation when one saw one's father transgress Torah law. The Rambam inferred that a similar concept applies regarding one's teacher (Kessef Mishneh).

Others point to Berachot 16a-b, which quotes Rabban Gamliel's students as reproaching him in such a manner after carrying out a number of deeds which appeared to contradict his teachings.

Whenever he - a student

mentions a teaching in his - teacher's

presence, he should tell him: "You have taught us the following, master." - Sanhedrin 99b, 101a states:

Who is an epicurus (nonbeliever)?
A person who relates a concept from another source that occurred to him while he was sitting before his teacher, and states: "This is what is said there," rather than "This is what you taught us, master."

Similarly, Mo'ed Katan 7b relates that once Rabbi Chiyya mentioned a teaching before his teacher, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, and prefaced his statements with the expression: "You have taught us the following, master."

[From that passage, it appears that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi had not actually made that statement, and Rabbi Chiyya's remarks were merely a polite token of respect.]

Even when a student is not in his teacher's presence...

He should not mention a concept which he did not hear from his teacher unless he mentions the name of the person who authored it. - In general, there is an obligation to mention a concept in the name of its author (Megillah 15a). However, in this instance, there is a particular obligation to do so, lest it be assumed that this teaching was authored by one's teacher.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 2:1) mentions the following incident: Rabbi Yochanan was walking, supported by Rabbi Ya'akov bar Iddi. Rabbi Yochanan complained to him that his student, Rabbi Eliezer, never made statements in his name.

Rabbi Ya'akov told him that there was a precedent to such behavior. Rabbi Meir would quote teachings in the name of Rabbi Yishmael, but would not quote teachings in the name of Rabbi Akiva, his teacher.
Rabbi Yochanan answered that there was nothing wrong with that, because everyone knew that Rabbi Meir was Rabbi Akiva's disciple, and most of his teachings came from him.

Rabbi Ya'akov explained that the same concept applied at present: "Everyone knows that Rabbi Eliezer is your disciple, and that most of his teachings are yours."

Thus, were a student to mention a concept without mentioning its source, it is likely for the listeners to assume that it was authored by his teacher. If, in fact, it was authored by someone other than his teacher, and his teacher would not have approved of it, creating such an impression would not be respectful to his teacher.

When his teacher dies, he should rend all his garments until he reveals his heart. - With regard to the rending of one's garments until one's heart is revealed, see Hilchot Eivel 8:3, 9:2 and Mo'ed Katan 22a.

He should never mend them. - Mo'ed Katan 26a equates garments torn over a teacher's passing with those torn over a father's passing, with regard to the latter law. On this basis, the Rambam concludes that the same principle applies regarding the extent one rends his garments.

The Rambam draws this comparison from Elisha's behavior at the death of Elijah, his teacher. II Kings 2:12 relates: "He cried out, 'Father, Father, Chariot of Israel,'....He took hold of his clothes and rent them into two...." (Hilchot Eivel 9:5).

[At present, it is very uncommon to see a student rend his garments at his teacher's passing. Among the rationalizations for the present custom is the opinion of the Hagahot Maimoniot and the Lechem Mishneh mentioned above, that at present we derive most of our knowledge from books. Accordingly, the concept of a rav hamuzhak does not apply.]

When does the above apply? - As mentioned above, the commentaries interpret this to be a reference to all the tokens of reverence and respect mentioned in the previous halachot.

To one's outstanding teacher from whom one has gained the majority of his wisdom.

However, a person who has not gained the majority of his wisdom under a teacher's instruction is considered to be both a student and colleague - of the latter.

Rashi, Eruvin 63a, defines the term talmid chavair (a student and a colleague), as a sage of equivalent stature who has learned some concepts from the "teacher."

He - the student

is not obligated to honor him in all the above matters. Nevertheless - he should show some signs of respect. Therefore...

he should stand before him - when he comes within four cubits of him (Kessef Mishneh)

rend his garments at his [death] - Bava Metzia 33a praises the students of Babylon for showing these tokens of respect to each other.

as he does for all the deceased for whom he is obligated to mourn. - i.e., one's brother, sister, spouse, son, daughter, and parents.

Many commentaries note the apparent contradiction between this halachah, which implies that it is sufficient to rend one's garments a handbreadth, and Hilchot Eivel 9:11, which states that one is obligated to rend one's garments over the passing of a sage (even if he is not one's outstanding teacher) until one reveals his heart.

The Kessef Mishneh writes that the law in Hilchot Eivel applies only to a sage accepted as a city's halachic authority, while the present halachah refers even to a personage of lesser stature. The Lechem Mishneh writes that the law in Hilchot Eivel is incumbent on the common people, while a person who is himself a Torah sage is not obligated to make such a large gesture of mourning.

Even if he learned only one thing from him, whether it be a small or great matter - Pirkei Avot 6:3 states:

A person who learns from a colleague a single chapter, a single law, a single verse...or a single letter must show him honor.
So we find concerning David, King of Israel: He learned from Achitofel only two things, yet he called him his teacher, his guide, and his mentor.

he should stand before him and rend his garments at his [death]. - Bava Metzia 33a relates that Shmuel rent his garments at the passing of a student from whom he learned only one concept.

10

Every student with a proper character will not speak in front of anyone who is wiser than he is, even though he has not learned anything from him.

י

וכל תלמיד חכם שדעותיו מכוונות אינו מדבר בפני מי שהוא גדול ממנו בחכמה אע"פ שלא למד ממנו כלום:

Every student with a proper character - whose intellect and emotions are well trained (Rambam, Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 5:6)

will not speak in front of anyone who is wiser than he is - Avot (ibid.) states:

There are seven traits that characterize an underdeveloped person and seven [that characterize] a wise man. A wise man does not speak in the presence of anyone who is wiser than he.

even though he has not learned anything from him. - This is the Rambam's own addition.

11

An outstanding teacher may, if he desires, forgo his honor with regard to any or all of the above matters to any or all his students.

Even though he forgoes [these honors], the student is obligated to respect him at the time he forgoes [respect].

יא

הרב המובהק שרצה למחול על כבודו בכל הדברים האלו או באחד מהן לכל תלמידיו או לאחד מהן הרשות בידו ואף על פי שמחל חייב התלמיד להדרו ואפילו בשעה שמחל:


An outstanding teacher may, if he desires, forgo his honor - Kiddushin 32a relates a difference of opinion between the Sages concerning this matter. Rav Chisda maintains that a teacher is not entitled to forgo his honor, because the honor is not due him personally, but to the Torah. Rav Yosef maintains that once he has mastered the subject matter he studies, it is considered as his own. Hence, he is entitled to forgo the honor due him because of it.

with regard to any or all of the above matters - Kiddushin 32b relates that Ravva and Rav Pappa relaxed certain formalities and served their students at weddings.

to any or all his students. - i.e., he may restrict these leniencies to only a small number of students or extend them to all, as he desires.

Note Chapter 7, Halachah 13, which does not allow a sage to forgo his honor after a public display of disrespect towards him.

Even though he forgoes [these honors], the student is obligated to respect him - i.e., he must stand in front of him, refrain from sitting in his place, and the like. The student's failure to do so would be considered an act of disrespect for the Torah.

at the time he forgoes [respect]. - Our translation is based on Avodat HaMelech. That text notes the apparent redundancy in the Rambam's statements and explains that even if the teacher is willing to forgo these minimal tokens of respect, the student is obligated to grant them to him, because it is improper that such respect not be shown to the Torah.

12

Just as students are obligated to honor their teacher, a teacher is obligated to honor his students and encourage them. Our Sages declared: "The honor of your students should be as dear to you as your own."

A teacher should take care of his students and love them, because they are like sons who bring him pleasure in this world and in the world to come.

יב

כשם שהתלמידים חייבין בכבוד הרב כך הרב צריך לכבד את תלמידיו ולקרבן כך אמרו חכמים יהי כבוד תלמידך חביב עליך כשלך וצריך אדם להזהר בתלמידיו ולאוהבם שהם הבנים המהנים לעולם הזה ולעולם הבא:

Just as students are obligated to honor their teacher, a teacher is obligated to honor his students and encourage them. - Though we should treat all men with respect and affection, a teacher should make a special effort to display these qualities to his students.

Our Sages - Avot 4:15

declared: "The honor of your students should be as dear to you as your own." - Avot D'Rabbi Natan, Chapter 27, quotes as an example of this behavior Moses' instructions to Joshua (Exodus 17:9): "Choose men for us," where Moses equated Joshua with himself.

A teacher should take care of his students and love them, because they are like sons - See Chapter 1, Halachah 2.

who bring him pleasure in this world - first, as described in the next halachah, students deepen a teacher's comprehension of the subject matter. Also, their success and progress generate great feelings of satisfaction.

and in the world to come - for a student's actions and study increase the merit of his teacher, who led him to these righteous paths.

13

Students increase their teacher's wisdom and broaden his horizons. Our Sages declared: "I learned much wisdom from my teachers and even more from my colleagues. However, from my students [I learned] most of all."

Just as a small branch is used to light a large bough, so a small student sharpens his teacher's [thinking processes], until, through his questions, he brings forth brilliant wisdom.

יג

התלמידים מוסיפין חכמת הרב ומרחיבין לבו אמרו חכמים הרבה חכמה למדתי מרבותי ויותר מחבירי ומתלמידי יותר מכולם וכשם שעץ קטן מדליק את הגדול כך תלמיד קטן מחדד הרב עד שיוציא ממנו בשאלותיו חכמה מפוארה:

Students increase their teacher's wisdom and broaden his horizons. Our Sages declared: - Ta'anit 7a and Makkot 10a quote two different sages who made the following statement.

"I learned much wisdom from my teachers and even more from my colleagues. However, from my students - and their questions, as explained below

[I learned] most of all."

Just as a small branch is used to light a large bough - Ta'anit, ibid., makes these statements within the context of the explanation of Deuteronomy 20:19: "Is man a tree of the fields?"

so a small student sharpens his teacher's [thinking processes], until, through his questions, he brings forth brilliant wisdom. - In order to answer a student's questions, a teacher must probe to the essence of the subject. For himself, he might have been willing to be content with a more superficial understanding. However, when a student questions him, he must penetrate to a deeper comprehension of the matter.

Talmud Torah - Chapter Six

1

It is a mitzvah to respect every Torah sage, even if he is not one's teacher, as [Leviticus 19:32] states: "Stand up before a white-haired [man] and respect an elder." [The word] zakein, [translated as "elder," alludes to the Hebrew words meaning] "one who has acquired wisdom."

When is one obligated to stand before him? When he approaches within four cubits of him until he passes him.

א

כל תלמיד חכם מצוה להדרו ואע"פ שאינו רבו שנאמר מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן זקן זה שקנה חכמה ומאימתי חייבין לעמוד מפניו משיקרב ממנו בארבע אמות עד שיעבור מכנגד פניו:

It is a mitzvah to respect - and stand up in deference to him as implied by the verse quoted

every Torah sage - In Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 209), the Rambam counts this as one of the Torah's 613 mitzvot. (See also Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 257.)

In the Guide to the Perplexed (Vol. III, Chapter 36), the Rambam explains the motivating principle for this mitzvah: If respect is not shown to the Sages, their teachings will not be upheld and Torah study will be neglected.

even if he is not one's teacher - in which case more severe measures of honor are necessary, as mentioned in the previous chapter.

The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 244:1) states that this obligation applies only to another sage who surpasses oneself in knowledge.

as [Leviticus 19:32] states: "Stand up before a white-haired [man] and respect an elder." [The word] zakein, [translated as "elder," alludes to the Hebrew words - zeh shekanah chochmah,

meaning] "one who has acquired wisdom" - even if he is young.

The definition of a Torah sage is a matter of question. Kiddushin 49b states:

"On the condition that I am a student" - we do not say that he must be comparable to Shimon ben Azzai or Shimon ben Zoma. Rather, anyone who can be asked about any matter in the area where he is studying and can reply...
"On the condition that I am a wise man" - we do not say that he has to be like the Sages of Yavneh....Rather, anyone who can be asked about any Torah subject and can reply...

The Rambam quotes this statement in Hilchot Ishut. Nevertheless, since he does not specify such a definition here, in Hilchot Talmud Torah, one may therefore assume that in this context, he does not limit himself to that definition. The Siftei Cohen (Yoreh De'ah 244:2) addresses himself to this issue and explains that here we are referring to a Torah sage who possesses a prodigious amount of knowledge and is considered unique within his community.

When is one obligated to stand before him? When he approaches within four cubits of him - Kiddushin 33a states that once the sage comes this close, standing before him can easily be appreciated as a sign of respect. Note the contrast between this halachah and the measure of respect due one's own teacher, as mentioned in Chapter 5, Halachah 7.

until he passes him. - However, once he passes, one may sit, in contrast to the requirement regarding one's teacher mentioned in the previous halachah.

2

One should not stand before [a sage] in a bathhouse or toilet, for it is stated [ibid.]: "Stand up...and respect...," [implying] standing up that conveys respect.

Craftsmen are not obligated to stand before the Torah sages while they are involved in their work, for it is stated: "Stand up...and respect...." [It can be inferred that] just as showing respect does not involve a financial loss, standing need not involve a financial loss.

What is the source [which teaches that] a person should not divert his eyes from the sage so that he will not see him, lest he be required to stand before him? It is written [ibid.], "and you shall fear your God." With regard to all matters dependent on one's conscience, the Torah states: "and you shall fear your God."

ב

אין עומדין מפניו לא בבית המרחץ ולא בבית הכסא שנאמר תקום והדרת קימה שיש בה הידור ואין בעלי אומניות חייבין לעמוד מפני תלמידי חכמים בשעה שעוסקין במלאכתן שנאמר תקום והדרת מה הידור שאין בה חסרון כיס אף קימה שאין בה חסרון כיס ומנין שלא יעצים עיניו מן החכם כדי שלא יראהו עד שלא יעמוד מפניו שנאמר ויראת מאלהיך הא כל דבר שהוא מסור ללב נאמר בו ויראת מאלהיך:

One should not stand before [a sage] in a bathhouse - i.e., in the inner rooms where people stand undressed. The general principle followed is: in the places where it is permitted to recite words of Torah, one must honor a sage; where one may not recite words of Torah, one should not honor a sage (Kessef Mishneh).

or toilet, for it is stated [ibid.]: "Stand up...and respect..." [implying] standing up that conveys respect. - This law is not mentioned with regard to one's own teacher, since, as stated in Chapter 5, Halachah 6, one may not enter a bathhouse together with one's teacher (Rav Kapach).

Craftsmen are not obligated to stand before the Torah Sages while they are involved in their work - The commentaries disagree whether a craftsman may interrupt his work to show a sage this token of respect or not. The Kessef Mishneh states that a craftsman is permitted to do so, and rules accordingly in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 244:5). In contrast, Rabbenu Nissim (Chulin 54b) maintains that a craftsman is not permitted to stand, because the general impression that will be created - i.e., some craftsmen standing in honor of the sage and some not - will not be favorable.

This difference of opinion exists only with regard to craftsmen working independently. All authorities agree that a craftsman hired by others may not stand. His time is not his own, and by standing, he steals time from his employer.

for it is stated: "Stand up...and respect...." [It can be inferred that] just as showing respect does not involve a financial loss, standing need not involve a financial loss. - The Lechem Mishneh objects to these statements, noting that the Rambam's phraseology is not an exact quote from Kiddushin 33a, which is his source. Nevertheless, it can be explained that the Rambam is not quoting that Talmudic passage, but rather explaining a concept that can be inferred from it.

What is the source [which teaches that] a person should not divert his eyes from the sage so that he will not see him, lest he be required to stand before him? - Kiddushin (ibid.) states that we would not suspect that a person would fail to honor a sage when the latter is actually in proximity to him. Rather, this implies that it is forbidden for one to turn away when he sees the sage approaching from afar, so that when the latter approaches, he will not be obligated to stand.

It is written [ibid.], "and you shall fear your God." With regard to all matters dependent on one's conscience, the Torah states: "and you shall fear your God" - who probes man's heart and understands his inner feelings.

3

It is not proper for a sage to trouble the people and position himself before them so that they will have to stand for him. Rather, he should take shortcuts and have the intent that they should not see him, so that he will not trouble them to stand. The Sages would take circular routes through the outskirts [of their cities], where people who recognize them would not be found, in order not to trouble them.

ג

אין ראוי לחכם שיטריח את העם ויכוין עצמו להן כדי שיעמדו מפניו אלא ילך בדרך קצרה ומתכוין שלא יראו אותו כדי שלא יטריחן לעמוד והחכמים היו מקיפין והולכין בדרך החיצונה שאין מכיריהן מצויין שם כדי שלא יטריחום:

It is not proper for a sage to trouble the people and position himself before them so that they will have to stand for him. - Kiddushin 33b derives this concept through the exegesis of the verse from Leviticus quoted above.

Rather, he should take shortcuts and have the intent that they should not see him, so that he will not trouble them to stand. - Kiddushin 33a promises a sage long life for following this practice.

The Sages would take circular routes through the outskirts [of their cities], where people who recognize them would not be found, in order not to trouble them. - Kiddushin (ibid.) mentions that Abbaye and Rabbi Zeira would follow this practice.

The Bnei Binyamin notes an apparent contradiction between the Rambam's statements and BaMidbar Rabbah 15:17. There, the Midrash relates that Rav Abba Cohen would always avoid crowds, lest he trouble them by causing them to rise. When he mentioned this to Rabbi Yosse, the son of Rabbi Zevida, the latter reprimanded him, explaining that he would be doing them a great favor by having them stand before him, because this would lead to the fear of God, as implied by Leviticus (ibid.): "Stand up before a white-haired [man]...and you shall fear your God."

The Bnei Binyamin explains that everything depends on the sage's intention. A righteous man who is not at all motivated by self-interest may appear before crowds. However, a person who is concerned with his own pride should avoid them.

4

Riding is considered to be walking. Just as one stands before [a sage who is] walking, so one should stand before one who is riding.

ד

רוכב הרי הוא כמהלך וכשם שעומדים מפני המהלך כך עומדין מפני הרוכב:

In this context...

Riding is considered to be walking. - i.e., we do not say that since the sage is seated on his beast, it is not considered as if he is walking. However, in other contexts - see Hilchot Kri'at Shema 2:2-3 - the Rambam considers riding as comparable to sitting.

Just as one stands before [a sage who is] walking, so one should stand before one who is riding. - Kiddushin 33a relates that Abbaye would stand as soon as he saw the donkey of Rav Yosef, his teacher, approach.

5

When three people are journeying [together], the master should walk in the center, the [student of] greater [stature] on his right, and the one of lesser [stature] on his left.

ה

שלשה שהיו הולכין בדרך הרב באמצע גדול מימינו וקטן משמאלו:

When three people are journeying [together] - This addition was made on the basis of the Hagahot Maimoniot, who maintains that this law does not apply when each individual is journeying separately, involved in his own affairs.

the master should walk in the center, the [student of] greater [stature] - should follow slightly behind him...

on his right - However, one who walks alongside his teacher is considered a boor (Yoma 37a; see Kessef Mishneh and also Chapter 5, Halachah 6 above).

and the one of lesser [stature] - should follow the sage...

on his left. - Yoma (ibid.) derives this formation from the pattern in which the angels who visited Abraham (Genesis, Chapter 18) walked. This formation was also employed by the High Priest and his subordinates when he would serve in the Temple.

The Pri Chadash and other commentaries question the Kessef Mishneh's interpretation. One point of difficulty with the halachah in general is that it appears to refer to one's personal teacher, and thus it would more appropriately have been mentioned in the previous chapter.

6

One who sees a sage need not stand in deference to him until he reaches within four cubits of him; once he has passed, he may sit.

Should one see the av beit din, one should stand in deference to him from the time he sees him - as far away as he can see. He may not sit until he has passed four cubits beyond him.

Should one see the nasi, one should stand in deference to him from the time he sees him - as far away as he can see. He may not sit until he has reached his place or passed [beyond his field of vision] and is hidden.

Should a nasi [desire to] waive the honor due him, he may forgo it.

When the nasi enters, all the people should stand. They may not sit until he tells them to. When the av beit din enters, two rows are opened for him, and the people stand on either side until he enters and sits in his place. The other people remain seated in their places.

ו

הרואה חכם אינו עומד מפניו עד שיגיע לו לארבע אמות וכיון שעבר יושב ראה אב בית דין עומד מלפניו משיראנו מרחוק מלא עיניו ואינו יושב עד שיעבור מאחריו ארבע אמות ראה את הנשיא עומד מלפניו מלא עיניו ואינו יושב עד שישב במקומו או עד שיתכסה מעיניו והנשיא שמחל על כבודו כבודו מחול כשהנשיא נכנס כל העם עומדים ואינן יושבין עד שיאמר להם שבו כשאב בית דין נכנס עושין לו שתי שורות ועומדין מכאן ומכאן עד שנכנס ויושב במקומו ושאר העם יושבין במקומן:

One who sees a sage need not stand in deference to him until he reaches within four cubits of him; once he has passed, he may sit. - This halachah in its entirety is quoted from the Midrash Hagadol, Shemot 33:8. (With slight textual differences, it also appears in Kiddushin 33b.) Nevertheless, the question arises: Why does the Rambam mention this particular clause? It appears redundant in light of Halachah 1. Perhaps his intent was to emphasize the contrast between an ordinary Sage and others of greater stature.

Should one see the av beit din - The sage second in stature to the nasi, and who acts as the latter's assistant (Hilchot Sanhedrin 1:3).

The laws regarding a nasi and an av beit din are also quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 244:13-15), which, in contrast to the Mishneh Torah, mentions only those halachot that are applicable in the present age. The Siftei Cohen (244:11) questions that inclusion, noting that today's rashei yeshivot and avot batei hadin are not paid the same tokens of respect as the nasi and av beit din mentioned here.

one should stand in deference to him from the time he sees him - the av beit din

as far away as he can see. - i.e., as soon as the av beit din appears on the horizon

He may not sit until he has passed four cubits beyond him. - at which point, he may sit.

Should one see the nasi - In Hilchot Sanhedrin (ibid.), the Rambam describes this position as follows:

The wisest sage among them is appointed to be the head. He is the Rosh Yeshivah. He is the person whom the Sages referred to as nasi in all the sources, taking the place of Moses, our teacher.

one should stand in deference to him from the time he sees him - as far away as he can see. - as explained with regard to the av beit din.

He may not sit until he has reached his place or passed [beyond his field of vision] and is hidden. - Kiddushin (ibid.) derives this from Exodus 33:8, which relates that:

Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise. Each person would stand near his tent, gazing at Moses until he came to the tent.

Should a nasi [desire to] waive the honor due him, he may forgo it. - i.e., although people are obligated to honor the nasi, should he desire to forgo those honors, there is no objection. In contrast, a king may never forgo his honor and must constantly be treated with reverence. (See Hilchot Melachim 2:3.)

Kiddushin 32b relates the following discussion of this law:

An incident occurred when Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, and Rabbi Tzadok were participating in the wedding feast of Rabban Gamliel's son, and Rabban Gamliel poured drinks for them. He offered a cup to Rabbi Eliezer, and he refused to accept it. He offered a cup to Rabbi Yehoshua and he accepted it.
Rabbi Eliezer told him: "Yehoshua, what is this? We are sitting and Rabban Gamliel is pouring drinks for us!"
He replied to him: "We find [a precedent when] a person of greater stature served others. Abraham surpassed all others in his generation, yet [Genesis 18:8] relates that 'he stood over them [to serve them']. Do not think that he thought they were angels; he thought they were Arabs. If so, why shouldn't we let Rabban Gamliel serve us?"

The above laws refer to instances when a sage is sighted in the public thoroughfare. The following laws apply when he enters the house of study (Hagahot Maimoniot). (See Horayot 13b.)

When the nasi enters - the house of study

all the people should stand. - as a sign of respect to him.

They may not sit until he tells them to. - for he is the spiritual leader of the entire nation and deserves such honor.

When the av beit din enters - the house of study

two rows are opened for him - At present, when we are used to auditoriums with fixed seats, the setting for this law is difficult to picture. However, in Talmudic times, the people would sit on the floor. When the av beit din arrived, the people sitting between the entrance and his place would stand and create a path for him two rows wide.

and the people stand on either side until he enters and sits in his place. The other people - in the house of study are not obligated to rise as a sign of respect and may...

remain seated in their places. - On the surface, it is difficult to understand why the av beit din is given lesser honor in the house of study than in the marketplace. Perhaps the reason is to minimize the neglect of Torah study.

Horayot 13b relates that, originally, the people would show the same token of respect to the av beit din and other sages as to the nasi. In order to preserve the authority of his office, Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, the nasi, ordained that a lesser degree of respect be shown to all other sages.

7

When a sage enters - when he approaches within four cubits of anyone - the latter should stand for him. Thus, one stands and one sits until he enters and sits in his place.

The sons and the students of the sages may jump over the heads of the people to reach their place when their presence is required by the people at large.

It is not praiseworthy for a sage to enter [the house of study] last. If one leaves to tend to his needs, he may return to his place.

The children of the sages who have enough knowledge to listen turn their faces toward their father. If they lack the knowledge to listen, they turn their faces to the people.

ז

חכם שנכנס כל שיגיע לו בארבע אמות עומד מלפניו אחד עומד ואחד יושב עד שנכנס ויושב במקומו בני חכמים ותלמידי חכמים בזמן שהרבים צריכין להם מקפצין על ראשי העם ונכנסים למקומם ואין שבח לתלמידי חכמים שיכנסו לאחרונה יצא לצורך חוזר למקומו בני חכמים בזמן שיש בהן דעת לשמוע הופכין פניהן כלפי אביהן אין בהן דעת לשמוע הופכין פניהן כלפי העם:

When a sage - of lesser stature than those mentioned in the previous halachah...

enters - the house of study, a path is not made for him. Rather, he should proceed toward his place...

when he approaches within four cubits - Avodat HaMelech notes that this figure is not found in Horayot 13b, the source for this law. Rather, it was added by the Rambam, based on the logic that no less respect should be paid to a sage when he enters the house of study than is paid to him in the marketplace.

of anyone - sitting in the house of study,...

the latter should stand for him - and allow him to pass.

Thus, one - person sitting in the house of study

stands - to allow the sage to pass

and one sits - after he has passed

until he - the Sage

enters and sits in his place.

The sons and the students of the sages may jump over the heads of the people to reach their place when their presence is required by the people at large. - i.e., there are many students whose presence is an invaluable asset to their teacher, for through their questions they enable their teacher to penetrate to the core of the subject matter. Therefore, they are allowed to proceed to their places at the front of the house of study, even if doing so is somewhat discourteous to the people who have already taken places.

In this vein, Yevamot 105b states: Those who are required by the holy nation may step over the heads of the holy nation. However, how dare one who is not required by the holy nation step over the heads of the holy nation!

It is not praiseworthy for a sage - Indeed, Berachot 43b lists this as one of six undesirable tendencies that a sage should guard himself against acquiring.

to enter [the house of study] last. - doing so is considered an act of laziness, which causes unnecessary difficulty to the people sitting there.

If one leaves to tend to his needs - i.e., to use the toilet (Horayot ibid.). Alternatively, the term litzorech can be translated as "for a necessary purpose" - i.e., for a purpose that benefits the people at large (Tosafot, Yevamot 105b).

he may return to his place. - Forcing the people to stand for him a second time, or the sage's stepping over them is not considered to be discourteous, since he was compelled to leave by forces beyond his control. However, if he leaves for other reasons, he should try not to return to his original place.

The children of the sages who - are not mature enough to merit a distinguished position in the house of study in their own right are allowed to sit before their parents as a gesture of respect to the high communal position the latter have attained (Rashi, Horayot 13b). If they...

have enough knowledge to listen turn their faces toward their father. If they lack the knowledge to listen, they turn their faces to the people. - Horayot (ibid.) states that the children are allowed this privilege only during their father's lifetime, but not afterwards.

8

A student who is constantly sitting before his teacher is permitted to rise in his honor only [twice daily,] in the morning and in the evening, so that the honor paid to him does not exceed the honor paid to God.

ח

תלמיד שהוא יושב לפני רבו תמיד אינו רשאי לעמוד מפניו אלא שחרית וערבית בלבד שלא יהא כבודו מרובה מכבוד שמים:

A student who is constantly - Avodat HaMelech notes that the latter word is the Rambam's addition to this teaching quoted from Kiddushin 33b. The addition implies that this restriction applies only to those students who are constantly in attendance at the house of study. In contrast, those who come from time to time must stand as often as necessary. (See also Tosafot, Kiddushin, ibid.)

sitting before his teacher - in the house of study. In contrast, if a student sees his teacher in the marketplace, he is obligated to show him respect at every opportunity, lest others consider him to be disrespectful to his teacher (Kessef Mishneh).

is permitted - Tosafot (ibid.) notes that the expression eino rashei can be rendered "is not obligated," and suggests that meaning in this context. However, since rising more frequently can be construed to be an affront to God, it is questionable whether that interpretation can be accepted.

to rise in his honor only [twice daily,] in the morning and in the evening, so that the honor paid to him - the teacher

does not exceed the honor paid to God. - i.e., twice daily we accept the yoke of God's service by reciting the Shema (Kessef Mishneh).

9

We should stand before an old man of exceedingly advanced age, even if he is not a sage. Even a sage who is young is obligated to stand before an old man of exceedingly advanced age. Nevertheless, he need not rise to his full height, and need only show some token of respect.

Even an old gentile should be addressed with words of respect, and a hand should be extended to support him, as [Leviticus 19:32] states: "Stand up before a white-haired [man]." Every white-haired man is included therein.

ט

מי שהוא זקן מופלג בזקנה אף על פי שאינו חכם עומדין לפניו ואפילו החכם שהוא ילד עומד בפני הזקן המופלג בזקנה ואינו חייב לעמוד מלא קומתו אלא כדי להדרו ואפילו זקן כותי מהדרין אותו בדברים ונותנין לו יד לסומכו שנאמר מפני שיבה תקום כל שיבה במשמע:

We should stand before an old man of exceedingly advanced age - The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 244:1) explains this as referring to a man of seventy. Others, emphasizing that the Rambam uses the term "exceedingly advanced age," see that as a reference to Gittin 28a, which describes a person ninety years old with such terminology.

even if he is not a sage. - The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 244:1) emphasizes that there is no obligation to stand before a wicked man.

The commentaries have raised questions concerning this law, noting that it reflects a difference of opinion between two Talmudic sages, and yet the Rambam's statements do not conform exactly to either position.

Kiddushin 32b states:

"Stand up before a white-haired [man]." Does this apply even with regard to a common person of advanced age? The Torah continues [mentioning] "an elder." [The term] "elder" refers only to a wise man, as implied by [Numbers 11:16]: "Assemble seventy of Israel's elders."
Rabbi Yosse Hag'lili states: [The word] "elder" means "one who has acquired wisdom..."
Issi ben Yehudah states: "Stand up before a white-haired [man]" - Every white-haired man is included therein.

The Talmud explains that although the first opinion is similar to that of Rabbi Yosse Hag'lili, there are minor differences between them.

From the Rambam's statements in Halachah 1, it would appear that he follows Rabbi Yosse Hag'lili's position. However, this halachah appears to echo Issi ben Yehudah's view.

Even a sage who is young is obligated to stand before an old man of exceedingly advanced age. Nevertheless, he - i.e., the sage of youthful age

need not rise to his full height, and need only show some token of respect. - However, anyone other than a sage is obligated to rise to his full height (Tur, Yoreh De'ah, 244).

Even an old gentile - Kiddushin 33a relates that Rabbi Yochanan would stand in deference to an aged gentile, explaining: "How many experiences has he gone through!"

should be addressed with words of respect - Kiddushin (ibid.) notes that Rabbah would follow this practice.

and a hand should be extended to support him - Kiddushin (ibid.) notes that Abbaye would follow this practice.

as [Leviticus 19:32] states: "Stand up before a white-haired [man]." Every white-haired man is included therein. - The commentaries question: If, in fact, the verse refers even to gentiles, and Rabbi Yochanan would follow such a practice, why doesn't the Rambam obligate standing in the presence of an aged gentile?

10

Torah sages should not personally take part in any communal work projects - e.g., building, digging, or the like - [to improve] the city, lest they become disgraced in the eyes of the common people.

Money should not be collected from them to pay for building the [city] wall, fixing its gates, its watchmen's wages, and the like. [The same applies regarding] a present to be offered to the king.

Similarly, they are not obligated to pay taxes - neither [their share in] a tax levied on the city as a whole nor a head tax levied on each individual - as [Hoshea 8:10] states: "Although they will give among the nations, now I will gather them; in a little while, they will be released from the burden of the king and his officers."

Similarly, if a Torah sage has merchandise to sell, he is allowed to sell it first, and no other person at the marketplace is allowed to sell until he does. Similarly, if he has a legal matter and stands among many other litigants, he is given priority. [Also,] he is allowed to sit.

י

תלמידי חכמים אינם יוצאין בעצמן לעשות עם כל הקהל בבנין וחפירה של מדינה וכיוצא בהן כדי שלא יתבזו בפני עמי הארץ ואין גובין מהן לבנין החומה ותיקון השערים ושכר השומרים וכיוצא בהן ולא לתשורת המלך ואין מחייבים אותן ליתן המס בין מס שהוא קצוב על בני העיר בין מס שהוא קצוב על כל איש ואיש שנאמר גם כי יתנו בגוים עתה אקבצם ויחלו מעט ממשא מלך ושרים וכן אם היתה סחורה לתלמיד חכם מניחים אותו למכור תחלה ואין מניחים אחד מבני השוק למכור עד שימכור הוא וכן אם היה לו דין והיה עומד בכלל בעלי דינים הרבה מקדימין אותו ומושיבין אותו:

Torah sages should not personally take part - However, the sages must bear their share of the cost of such projects (Hilchot Sh'chenim 6:6). The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 243:1-2) adds that they are obligated to pay only the cost of the raw materials. They need not hire workers to take their place. This applies only when the work is performed by the members of the community. However, if workers are hired by the community to complete the task, the sages must also pay their share.

in any communal work projects - e.g., building, digging, or the like - [to improve] the city - In Hilchot Sh'chenim (6:6-7), the Rambam gives some examples of such projects: fixing roads and thoroughfares and digging irrigation channels.

lest they become disgraced in the eyes of the common people. - Bava Batra 8a explains that if the common people see the sages performing menial tasks, they might cease to respect them.

Money should not be collected from them to pay for building the [city] wall, fixing its gates, its watchmen's wages, and the like. - In Hilchot Sh'chenim (ibid.), the Rambam explains the rationale for this law. Torah sages are freed from any obligation incurred to ensure the city's protection, because they are protected by the merit of their study.

[The same applies regarding] a present to be offered to the king. - The order in which this law is taught is somewhat questionable. Bava Batra 8a, the source for these laws, mentions a sage's lack of obligation to contribute to a present for the king as part of his absolution from taxes, and not as a leniency granted to him because "his Torah protects him."

Similarly, they are not obligated to pay taxes - neither [their share in] a tax levied on the city as a whole nor a head tax levied on each individual - Bava Batra (ibid.) also mentions that Artashta, the Persian king who sent Ezra to rebuild Jerusalem, freed all those involved in this holy work from all forms of taxes and tribute. (See Ezra 7:24.)

The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 243:2) states that even if the gentile government levies taxes on a Torah sage, the community is obligated to pay the tax on his behalf.

The commentaries question whether there are sages today who are worthy of these benefits. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 243:2) explains that these privileges should be extended only to those sages who devote the majority of their time to Torah study and limit their business involvement to the minimum necessary to earn a livelihood. Other authorities have voiced other opinions, some stricter and some more lenient. (See Siftei Cohen, Yoreh De'ah 243:7; Choshen Mishpat 163:14.)

as [Hoshea 8:10] states: "Although they will give among the nations - an allusion to the payment of taxes

now I will gather them; in a little while, they will be released - an allusion to the sages' exemption

from the burden of the king and his officers." - Rav Kapach notes that in the original, there is no vav before the word ????. However, the quotation of the verse in Bava Batra (ibid.) does include one.

Similarly, if a Torah sage has merchandise to sell, he is allowed to sell it first, and no other person at the marketplace is allowed to sell until he does. - Although the Rambam harshly forbade a Torah sage from taking money from charity because of his knowledge (see Chapter 1, Halachah 7 and Chapter 3, Halachah 10), he allows a sage these privileges in earning his livelihood.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 243:4) states that this law applies only when the market is controlled by Jews. However, if there are gentiles who will sell their goods regardless, the other Jewish merchants are not obligated to risk suffering a loss.

Similarly, if he has a legal matter - i.e., a case to be tried at court

and stands among many other litigants, he is given priority. - Sh'vuot 30a relates:

Rav Olah, the son of Rav Ellai, was involved in a judgment before Rav Nachman. Rav Yosef sent [Rav Nachman a message:] "Olah is our colleague in Torah and mitzvot."
Rav Nachman said: "Why did he send this [notice] to me? To curry favor before me." Afterwards, he said: "[His purpose was] so that I try his case first."

Tosafot questions this teaching, noting that there is a positive commandment to try every case in the order that it comes before the court. Two resolutions are offered:
a) If both cases come to the court at the same time, the court should try the case of the sage first;
b) The positive commandment to honor a sage overrides this positive commandment. Hence, the sage's case is tried first, even if it came before the court later.

The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 15:1) accept the latter position. (See also Hilchot Sanhedrin 21:6.)

[Also,] he is allowed to sit. - Sh'vuot (ibid.) states: 'And the two men shall stand' (Deuteronomy 19:17): it is a mitzvah for the litigants to stand." Nevertheless, as a token of respect for the sage, he is invited to sit.

The same privilege is also granted to the litigant opposing him, because otherwise, this gesture would be considered to be an unfair advantage granted to the sage. It is worthwhile to note that in Hilchot Sanhedrin 21:5, the Rambam writes that, at present, it is customary to seat all litigants, "for we do not have the potential to carry out the judgments of the Torah in the proper way." These laws are quoted in the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 17:2-3.

11

It is a great sin to disgrace Torah sages or to hate them. Jerusalem was not destroyed until [its inhabitants] disgraced its sages, as implied by [II Chronicles 36:16]: "And they would mock the messengers of God, despise His words, and scoff at His prophets" - i.e., they would scorn those who taught His words.

Similarly, the Torah's prophecy [Leviticus 26:16]: "If you despise My statutes" [should be interpreted]: "If you despise the teachers of My statutes." Whoever disgraces the sages has no portion in the world to come and is included in the category: "Those who scorn the word of God" [Numbers 15:31].

יא

עון גדול הוא לבזות את החכמים או לשנאותן לא חרבה ירושלים עד שבזו בה תלמידי חכמים שנאמר ויהיו מלעיבים במלאכי האלהים ובוזים דבריו ומתעתעים בנביאיו כלומר בוזים מלמדי דבריו וכן זה שאמרה תורה אם בחקותי תמאסו מלמדי חקותי תמאסו וכל המבזה את החכמים אין לו חלק לעולם הבא והרי הוא בכלל כי דבר ה' בזה:

It is a great sin to disgrace Torah sages or to hate them. - Sanhedrin 99b equates such sinners with epikorsim - total unbelievers.

Shabbat 119b relates:

Jerusalem was not destroyed - This refers to the destruction of the city by the Babylonians.

until [its inhabitants] disgraced its sages, as implied by [II Chronicles 36:16]: "And they would mock the messengers of God, despise His words, and scoff at His prophets" - i.e., they would scorn those who taught His words. - although the teaching is quoted from the Talmud, the Talmud does not itself define which of the verse's clauses refers to the disgrace heaped upon the sages. It is interesting to note that the Rambam's interpretation differs from that of Rashi - who equates the Sages with "His prophets" - and of the Maharsha, who interprets "the messengers of God" as the reference to the Sages. (See also Guide to the Perplexed, Vol. II, Chapter 42 and Lechem Mishneh.)

Similarly, the Torah's prophecy [Leviticus 26:16]: "If you despise My statutes" - which precedes the list of curses to befall the Jews

[should be interpreted]: "If you despise the teachers of My statutes." - See Sifra, Bechukotai.

Whoever disgraces the sages has no portion in the world to come and is included in the category: "Those who scorn the word of God" [Numbers 15:31]. - In Hilchot Teshuvah 3:14, the Rambam mentions the sin of disgracing the sages in a list of transgressions concerning which he writes: "a person who frequently commits these sins will not receive a portion in the world to come."

12

Even though a person who disgraces a Torah sage will not receive a portion in the world to come, if witnesses come [and testify that] he disgraced him, even if only verbally, he is obligated to be placed under a ban of ostracism. This ban is publicly announced by the court. Also, wherever he is located, he is fined a litra of gold, which is given to the sage.

Even one who disgraces a sage after his death is placed under a ban of ostracism by the court. They should release the ban when he repents. In contrast, if the sage is alive, they do not release the ban until he appeases the sage for whose [honor] he was ostracized.

[To protect] his honor, a sage may issue a ban of ostracism against a common person who acted outrageously against him. He does not need witnesses, nor must [the offender] have been warned. The ban is not lifted until he appeases the sage. If the sage dies, three people may come and lift [the ban]. If the sage desires to forgive him and not place him under ban, he is permitted to do so.

יב

אע"פ שהמבזה את החכמים אין לו חלק לעוה"ב אם באו עדים שבזהו אפילו בדברים חייב נידוי ומנדין אותו בית דין ברבים וקונסין אותו ליטרא זהב בכ"מ ונותנין אותה לחכם והמבזה את החכם בדברים אפילו לאחר מיתה מנדין אותו בית דין והם מתירים אותו כשיחזור בתשובה אבל אם היה החכם חי אין מתירין אותו עד שירצה זה שנדוהו בשבילו וכן החכם עצמו מנדה לכבודו לעם הארץ שהפקיר בו ואין צריך לא עדים ולא התראה ואין מתירין לו עד שירצה את החכם ואם מת החכם באין שלשה ומתירין לו ואם רצה החכם למחול לו ולא נדהו הרשות בידו:

Even though a person who disgraces a Torah sage will not receive a portion in the world to come - i.e., even though, as stated in the previous halachah, a person who disgraces a sage will receive the ultimate punishment after his death, he is also subject to punishment in this world.

if witnesses come [and testify - The Siftei Cohen, Yoreh De'ah 334:96, states that proper witnesses are not required, and even the testimony of women or slaves may be accepted.

that] he disgraced him, even if only verbally, he is placed under a ban of ostracism. - The details of this ban are discussed in the following chapter - in particular, in Halachah 4 there.

An example of a sage placing individuals under such a ban for embarrasing a sage can be found in Mo'ed Katan 16a.

This ban is publicly announced by the court. - The Beit Yosef, Yoreh De'ah 243, cites an example of the public announcement of such a ban from Kiddushin 70a. However, the section he quotes is not mentioned in our text of the Talmud.

Also, wherever he is located, he is fined a litra - a Talmudic measure equal to approximately 168 grams...

of gold which is given to the sage. - Hilchot Chovel UMazik 3:5-6 relates:

One who embarrasses a sage is obligated to pay him the full extent of the damages even though he embarrassed him only verbally.
The decision has already been rendered that whoever embarrasses a sage - even with words alone - is fined...eight and three quarter sela'im of gold.
It is an accepted tradition that this fine is collected everywhere, whether in Eretz Yisrael or in the Diaspora. Decisions of this nature were frequently rendered before us in Spain. Some sages would forgo payment, and that is commendable. Others would demand payment, but accept a compromise. However, the judges would tell the person who caused the embarrassment: "you are obligated to give him a litra of gold."

The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 243:7) states that, at present, there are no sages whose stature is that great that they are to be awarded "a litra of gold," if they are publicly shamed. However, a person who embarrasses a sage is obligated to pay damages.

This is the general opinion of most authorities at present. However, in the generations before the Ramah - and in certain communities, even after his decision - this fine was, in fact, imposed if someone publicly embarrassed a sage.

Even - The use of this term implies that this is a lesser transgression than embarrassing a sage in his lifetime (Rivash, Responsum 120).

one who disgraces a sage after his death is placed under a ban of ostracism by the court. - Eduyot 5:6 relates that the court imposed such a ban when someone made disparaging remarks about the sages Shemayah and Avtalion. (See also Berachot 19a.)

They should release the ban when he repents.

In contrast, if the sage is alive, they do not release the ban until he appeases the sage for whose [honor] he was ostracized. - The Kessef Mishneh notes that the Rambam's statements appears to imply that the ban is not lifted until the offender actually appeases the sage. He questions that decision, since it is possible that even though the offender genuinely asks for forgiveness, the sage will refuse to grant it.

Note Hilchot De'ot 6:6 and Hilchot Teshuvah 2:10, which advise a person who has been wronged to be generous and forgive the offender for his actions.

[To protect] his honor, a sage may - act on his own initiative, without bringing the matter to a court...

issue a ban of ostracism against a common person - The Kessef Mishneh states that this expression implies that although a sage can be placed under ban for embarrassing a sage of greater stature, that ban may not be issued by the sage alone, and can be put into effect only by a Rabbinic court. Nevertheless, he postulates that if the sage who was embarrassed is of far greater stature than the sage who made the insult, the former is allowed to issue the ban himself, without a court.

who acted outrageously - See Kiddushin 70a

against him. - The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 243:8) mentions a difference of opinion whether, at present, there are sages of the stature that allows them to issue a ban of ostracism without taking the matter to court. See also Pitchei Teshuvah 243:7.

He does not need witnesses, nor must [the offender] have been warned - i.e., the ban may be imposed without following the standard judicial process.

The ban is not lifted until he appeases the sage. - See note above.

If the sage dies, three people - even individuals who are not sages worthy of sitting on a Rabbinic court (Chapter 7, Halachah 7)

may come and lift [the ban]. - The Rambam does not require him to ask forgiveness from the sage (see Hilchot Teshuvah 2:11) or repent. Perhaps this leniency is granted because the ban was imposed by the sage himself and not by an objective court.

If the sage desires to forgive him - Note Chapter 7, Halachah 13, which explains that this is the general practice of Torah sages, who are willing to forgo insults to them. However, that halachah specifies that such leniency can be granted only when the insult was made in private. If the sage was publicly disgraced, disciplinary action must be taken, or else the honor of the Torah would suffer.

and not place him under ban, he is permitted to do so. - The Mishneh LaMelech notes that this leniency is granted only regarding matters between man and man. If a person is obligated to be placed under a ban of ostracism for matters between man and God - e.g., uttering God's name in vain - the ban must be put into effect even though the individual repents. (See also Tosafot, Yevamot 22b.)

13

If a teacher placed a person under a ban of ostracism because of his honor, all of his students are obligated to treat the person in the required fashion. However, if a student issued a ban of ostracism because of his honor, his teacher is not obligated to abide by the terms of the ban. Nevertheless, all other people are obligated to do so.

Similarly, when a person is placed under a ban of ostracism because of the nasi, all Jews are obligated to abide by the terms of the ban. However, if a person is placed under a ban of ostracism because of any Jew, the nasi is not obligated to abide by it.

When a person is placed under a ban of ostracism because of his city, other cities must also abide by this ban. However, if he is placed under ban by other cities, his own city need not abide by the ban.

יג

הרב שנידה לכבודו כל תלמידיו חייבין לנהוג נידוי במנודה אבל תלמיד שנדה לכבוד עצמו אין הרב חייב לנהוג בו נידוי אבל כל העם חייבין לנהוג בו נידוי וכן מנודה לנשיא מנודה לכל ישראל מנודה לכל ישראל אינו מנודה לנשיא מנודה לעירו מנודה לעיר אחרת מנורה לעיר אחרת אינו מנודה לעירו:

If a teacher placed a person under a ban of ostracism because of his honor - i.e., the case was not tried in court, but the teacher issued the ban of ostracism on his own initiative, as mentioned in the previous halachah.

all of his students - for they are obligated to protect his honor...

are obligated to treat the person in the required fashion - described in Chapter 7, Halachah 4. The Beit Yosef (Yoreh De'ah 334) maintains that one can infer from the Rambam's words that the ban need not be observed by the other sages, even those of lesser stature than the teacher, who are not his students.

However, if a student issued a ban of ostracism because of his honor, his teacher - is not obligated to honor his student to this extent. Hence, he...

is not obligated to abide by the terms of the ban. Nevertheless, all other people - of a lesser Torah stature (Beit Yosef, Yoreh De'ah 334)

are obligated to do so. - As mentioned in the following halachah, this applies only when the student imposed the ban to protect his honor. If he imposed the ban because the person violated a prohibition, his teacher would be obligated to observe it.

Similarly, when a person is placed under a ban of ostracism because of - an affront to the honor of...

the nasi - whom all Israel are obligated to honor. This law is also quoted by the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 334:21. Note the commentary on Halachah 6, which questions the applicability of the term nasi within the context of our present-day experience.

all Jews are obligated to abide by the terms of the ban - for all Israel are required to honor him.

However, if a person is placed under a ban of ostracism because of any Jew - this also refers to a ban imposed only because of an affront to the person's honor

the nasi is not obligated to abide by it - for he is not obligated to honor others to this degree. In this case as well, were the ban imposed for other reasons, the nasi would be bound by it.

When a person is placed under a ban of ostracism because of - an affront to the honor of...

his city, other cities must also abide by this ban. - The Beit Yosef and the Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 334:20) maintain that even a city whose Torah stature exceeds that of the city which issued the ban is obligated to abide by it.

However, if he is placed under ban by other cities - because he treated them disrespectfully

his own city need not abide by the ban - but other cities of lesser Torah stature are required to observe it (Ramah, ibid.).

14

When does the above apply? When the ban was imposed because he acted disrespectfully to a Torah sage. However, a person who was placed under a ban of ostracism for another reason for which such a ban may be declared - even if the ban was declared by a person of the lowest stature in Israel - the nasi and all Jews are obligated to abide by the terms of the ban until he repents for the matter for which the ban was imposed, and the ban is lifted.

A ban of ostracism is imposed upon a person - either man or woman - for [the following] 24 reasons:
a) a person who disgraces a sage, even after his passing;
b) a person who embarrasses a messenger of a court;
c) a person who calls a colleague a slave;
d) a person who was ordered [to appear before] a court at a specific time and did not come;
e) a person who treats even one point of Rabbinic law with disrespect; needless to say, this applies regarding [matters of] Torah law;
f) a person who refuses to comply with the decisions [rendered by a court] is placed under ban until he complies;
g) a person who possesses an entity that can cause damage - e.g., a dangerous dog or a faulty ladder - is placed under ban until he removes that entity;
h) a person who sells land to a gentile is placed under ban until he accepts responsibility for any damages which the gentile may cause his Jewish neighbor;
i) a person who testifies against a Jewish colleague in a secular court and causes money which Torah law would not [require him to pay] to be expropriated from him is placed under ban until he repays [that amount];
j) a butcher who is a priest and does not separate the priestly gifts and give them to another priest is placed under ban until he gives them;
k) a person who violates the sanctity of the second day of the festivals in the Diaspora, even though [their observance] is only a custom;
l) a person who performs work on Pesach eve after noon;
m) a person who takes God's name in vain or takes an oath casually;
n) a person who causes the many to desecrate God's name;
o) a person who causes the many to eat sacrificial food outside [its proper place];
p) a person who calculates the years [and declares a leap year] or fixes the day of the new month in the Diaspora;
q) a person who causes the blind [ - i.e., the morally unaware - ] to stumble;
r) a person who prevents the many from performing a mitzvah;
s) a butcher who sold non-kosher meat;
t) a butcher who does not inspect his knife in the presence of a sage;
u) a person who intentionally causes himself to have an erection;
v) a person who divorced his wife, and then entered into a partnership or business dealing with her which requires them to come into contact. When they come to court, they are placed under ban;
w) a sage whose reputation is unsavory;
x) a person who places a person under ban when the latter does not deserve [such punishment];

יד

בד"א במי שנדוהו על שבזה תלמידי חכמים אבל מי שנידוהו על שאר דברים שחייבים עליהם נידוי אפילו נידהו קטן שבישראל חייב הנשיא וכל ישראל לנהוג בו נידוי עד שיחזור בתשובה מדבר שנידוהו בשבילו ויתירו לו:

על עשרים וארבעה דברים מנדין את האדם בין איש בין אשה ואלו הן:

(א) המבזה את החכם ואפילו לאחר מותו:

(ב) המבזה שליח בית דין:

(ג) הקורא לחבירו עבד:

(ד) מי ששלחו לו בית דין וקבעו לו זמן ולא בא:

(ה) המזלזל בדבר אחד מדברי סופרים ואין צריך לומר בדברי תורה:

(ו) מי שלא קיבל עליו את הדין מנדין אותו עד שיתן:

(ז) מי שיש ברשותו דבר המזיק כגון כלב רע או סולם רעוע מנדין אותו עד שיסיר היזקו:

(ח) המוכר קרקע שלו לעובד כוכבים מנדין אותו עד שיקבל עליו כל אונס שיבא מן העובד כוכבים לישראל חבירו בעל המצר:

(ט) המעיד על ישראל בערכאות של עובדי כוכבים והוציא ממנו בעדותו ממון שלא כדין ישראל מנדין אותו עד שישלם:

(י) טבח כהן שאינו מפריש המתנות ונותנן לכהן אחר מנדין אותו עד שיתן:

(יא) המחלל יום טוב שני של גליות אף על פי שהוא מנהג:

(יב) העושה מלאכה בערב הפסח אחר חצות:

(יג) המזכיר שם שמים לבטלה או לשבועה בדברי הבאי:

(יד) המביא את הרבים לידי חלול השם:

(טו) המביא את הרבים לידי אכילת קדשים בחוץ:

(טז) המחשב שנים וקובע חדשים בחוצה לארץ:

(יז) המכשיל את העור:

(יח) המעכב הרבים מלעשות מצוה:

(יט) טבח שיצאה טרפה מתחת ידו:

(כ) טבח שלא בדק סכינו לפני חכם:

(כא) המקשה עצמו לדעת:

(כב) מי שגירש את אשתו ועשה בינו ובינה שותפות או משא ומתן המביאין להן להזקק זה לזה כשיבואו לבית דין מנדין אותם:

(כג) חכם ששמועתו רעה:

(כד) המנדה מי שאינו חייב נידוי:

When does the above - leniency that frees certain people from abiding by the requirements of the ban of ostracism

apply? When the ban was imposed because he acted disrespectfully - The Hagahot Maimoniot notes that a ban can be imposed only because of disrespectful behavior. However, this punishment may not be administered for failing to honor the sage.

to a Torah sage. - Many commentaries have noted the difficulty in the Rambam's words. This statement implies that there is a certain leniency with regard to a ban imposed because of the embarrassment of a Torah sage. However, the first of the 24 reasons the Rambam lists for imposing a ban of ostracism that must be observed by every Jew is disgracing a Torah sage. (See Avodat Hamelech.)

Among the resolutions of the difficulty offered is that there is a difference between a ban imposed by a court according to Torah law and a ban issued by a sage individually to protect his own honor.

However, a person who was placed under a ban of ostracism for another reason for which such a ban may be declared - as are enumerated below

even if the ban was declared by a person of the lowest stature in Israel - the nasi and all Jews are obligated to abide by the terms of the ban - Mo'ed Katan 17a relates that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi's maidservant declared a ban of ostracism on a person, and the entire Jewish people observed that ban for three years.

until he repents for the matter for which the ban was imposed and the ban is lifted. - See Chapter 7, Halachah 7.

A ban of ostracism is imposed upon a person - either man or woman - Most of the instances where the Talmud mentions a ban of ostracism concern men. However, a number of cases (see Rosh HaShanah 31b, Mo'ed Katan 16b, and Nedarim 7b and 50b) also involve women.

for [the following] 24 reasons: - Berachot 19a mentions that this is the number of reasons for which a person can be placed under ban, but explains only several of these twenty-four reasons. A significant number of reasons are also mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud (Mo'ed Katan 3:1); however, the majority of the reasons mentioned by the Rambam below were gathered by him from many different passages throughout the Talmud.

a) a person who disgraces a sage - as explained above

even after his passing - Berachot 19a relates that a ban was imposed on a person for disgracing the sages Shemayah and Avtalion, even after their passing.

b) a person who embarrasses a messenger of a court - Kiddushin 70b relates that Rav would impose a ban of ostracism for this reason.

c) a person who calls a colleague a slave - See Kiddushin 28a.

d) a person who was ordered [to appear before] a court at a specific time and did not come - See Bava Kama 112b and also Hilchot Sanhedrin 25:8.

e) a person who treats even one point of Rabbinic law with disrespect - Eduyot 5:6 relates that Eliezer ben Chanoch was placed under ban for raising difficulties regarding the practice of washing one's hands, a Rabbinic ordinance.

needless to say, this applies regarding [matters of] Torah law - The Kessef Mishneh notes that the Rambam uses the expression, "treats with disrespect." If a person transgresses a command, he is punished by other means. However, ostracism is imposed for causing others to view a Torah or Rabbinic law disparagingly.

f) a person who refuses to comply with the decisions [rendered by a court] is placed under ban until he complies - Bava Kama 113a serves as the source for this law. Note the slight difference between the Rambam's statements here and those in Hilchot Sanhedrin ibid.

g) a person who possesses an entity that can cause damage - e.g., a dangerous dog or a faulty ladder - is placed under ban until he removes that entity - This concept, with these two examples, is quoted from Bava Kama 15b.

h) a person who sells land to a gentile is placed under ban until he accepts responsibility for any damages which the gentile may cause his Jewish neighbor - Bava Kama 112a mentions this point.

Tosafot postulates that this restriction applies only when a Jewish colleague is prepared to pay the same amount as the gentile. However, if the gentile offers more than the Jew, the owner is not liable to sustain the loss. However, in Hilchot Sh'chenim 12:7, where the Rambam quotes this law, he does not make such a provision. Furthermore, in several of his responsa, he forbids selling property that borders on the property of a fellow Jew to a gentile, even when substantial losses are involved (Rav Kapach).

i) a person who testifies against a Jewish colleague in a secular court and causes money which Torah law would not [require him to pay] to be expropriated from him is placed under ban until he repays [that amount] - See Bava Kama 113b. In Hilchot Sanhedrin 26:7, the Rambam writes:

Whoever has his case judged by gentile judges and courts...is wicked and is considered as if he cursed...the Torah of Moses....
If gentiles rule his society and his fellow litigant is strong-willed, and it is thus impossible to collect [one's due] from him according to Jewish law, he should call him to a Jewish court first. If he refuses to come, he should receive the court's permission to preserve his property through secular law.

j) a butcher who is a priest - but not a priest who slaughters for his personal use (Hilchot Bikkurim 9:8)

and does not separate the priestly gifts - the foreleg, jaw, and the maw, which must be given to a priest from every animal slaughtered. (See Deuteronomy 18:3; Hilchot Bikkurim, Chapter 9.)

and give them to another priest is placed under ban until he gives them - Chulin 132b

k) a person who violates the sanctity of the second day of the festivals in the Diaspora - See Pesachim 52a.

even though [their observance] is only a custom - The Or Sameach explains that the Rambam added this clause because he had already stated that a person who disgraces a Rabbinic ordinance is liable to be banned. Hence, he clarifies that, at present, since we use a fixed calendar, the observance of the second day of the festivals is no longer considered to be a Rabbinic decree and is only a custom. (See Hilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 6:14.)

l) a person who performs work on Pesach eve after noon - Pesach eve is singled out because the Paschal sacrifice was offered at that time. (See Pesachim 50b; Hilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 8:17.)

m) a person who takes God's name in vain or takes an oath casually - See Nedarim 7b; Hilchot Sh'vuot 12:9.

n) a person who causes the many to desecrate God's name - This is derived from the Jerusalem Talmud (Mo'ed Katan 3:1), which quotes how, in a time of drought, Choni HaM'agel drew a circle on the ground and called out to God: "I will not move from here until You provide rain."

Shimon ben Shetach told Choni that his act warranted ostracism, because if God had not answered his prayers, many of the people would have lost faith. Nevertheless, Shimon ben Shetach did not enforce that punishment after he saw how God answered Choni's prayers.

o) a person who causes the many to eat sacrificial food outside [its proper place] - Berachot 19a relates how Todus of Rome instituted the custom of roasting lambs on Pesach eve in a manner similar to the Paschal sacrifice. The sages told him that, were it not for his other personal qualities, he would have been placed under ban, for it is possible that someone would actually consider his lamb as a Paschal sacrifice.

p) a person who calculates the years [and declares a leap year] or fixes the day of the new month in the Diaspora - Berachot 63a relates that Isaiah 2:3: "Out of Zion will come forth the Torah..." implies that the above decisions must be made in Eretz Yisrael, and prescribes this punishment for someone who makes them in the Diaspora.

q) a person who causes the blind [ - i.e., the morally unaware - ] - Note the commentaries to Leviticus 19:14 and also Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 232).

to stumble - Mo'ed Katan 17a relates that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi's maidservant issued a ban of ostracism on a father who physically beat his son after the latter had reached adulthood. By doing so, he was goading his son into rebelling against his father. This ban was respected by all the sages.

r) a person who prevents the many from performing a mitzvah - See the Jerusalem Talmud, Mo'ed Katan 3:1. See also Hilchot Teshuvah 4:1.

s) a butcher who sold non-kosher meat - The Kessef Mishneh quotes Sanhedrin 25a as teaching that Rav Nachman administered such a punishment. However, in our texts of the Talmud, that passage does not mention ostracism specifically.

t) a butcher who does not inspect his knife in the presence of a sage - See Chullin 18a. In Hilchot Shechitah 1:26, the Rambam states that this halachah applies even if later the knife was inspected and found to be kosher. The Kessef Mishneh notes that leniency is taken in this matter, because it has become customary for ritual slaughter to be performed only by experts. (See Tur, Yoreh De'ah 18.)

u) a person who intentionally causes himself to have an erection - Niddah 13b; for by doing so, he leads himself to immodest thoughts, at the very least. (See also Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:18.)

v) a person who divorced his wife, and then entered into a partnership or business dealing with her which requires them to come into contact. When they come to court, they are placed under ban - After divorce, a couple should have as little contact together as possible, lest the familiarity they previously enjoyed lead them to sexual behavior outside the bounds of marriage. (See also Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:27.)

w) a sage whose reputation is unsavory - Mo'ed Katan 17a relates how Rabbi Yehudah passed a ban of ostracism on a sage for this reason.

x) a person who places a person under ban when the latter does not deserve [such punishment] - Mo'ed Katan 17a relates the following episode: Resh Lakish was employed as a watchman and noticed a thief. Although he shouted at him, the thief did not stop. Therefore, Resh Lakish proclaimed: "You are under a ban of ostracism."

The thief replied: "Although I am obligated to repay him, I am not obligated to be ostracized. You should be ostracized."

When the matter was related in the House of Study, the sages stated that Resh Lakish's ban was not justified, but the thief's was.

The Ra'avad and other commentators mention other acts in which a ban of ostracism is in order. Indeed, in a number of cases (e.g., Hilchot Gerushin 13:20), the Rambam himself mentions this punishment. The commentaries explain that the Rambam limits himself to 24 instances, because that is the figure mentioned in the Talmud. However, these can be considered to be general categories including other instances as well.

Talmud Torah - Chapter Seven

1

Even though a sage who is distinguished for his wisdom, the nasi, or the av beit din acts shamefully, they should never be publically placed under a ban of ostracism unless their deeds resemble those of Jeroboam ben Nevat and his colleagues. However, if one [of these individuals] performs other sins, he should be lashed privately, as [implied by Hoshea 4:5]: “You shall stumble during the day and the prophet will stumble with you at night” - i.e., even though he stumbles, cover him like night. He is told: “Preserve your honor and stay at home.”

Similarly, whenever a Torah sage is obligated to be ostracized, it is forbidden for a court to act rashly and pronounce a ban hastily. Instead, they should shun the matter and try to avoid it. The pious among the Sages would be proud of the fact that they never participated in the ostracism of a Torah sage. Nevertheless, they would participate in sentencing him to be lashed. They would even participate in sentencing him to receive “stripes for rebellion.”

א

חכם זקן בחכמה וכן נשיא או אב בית דין שסרח אין מנדין אותו בפרהסיא לעולם אא"כ עשה כירבעם בן נבט וחביריו אבל כשחטא שאר חטאות מלקין אותו בצנעה שנאמר וכשלת היום וכשל גם נביא עמך לילה אע"פ שכשל כסהו כלילה ואומרים לו הכבד ושב בביתך וכן כל תלמיד חכם שנתחייב נידוי אסור לבית דין לקפוץ ולנדותו במהרה אלא בורחין מדבר זה ונשמטין ממנו וחסידי החכמים היו משתבחים שלא נמנו מעולם לנדות תלמיד חכם אף על פי שנמנין להלקותו אם נתחייב מלקות ואפילו מכת מרדות נמנין עליו להכותו:

2

How is the ban [issued]? The [court] pronounces: “So and so shall be ostracized. If the ban is issued in his presence, [the court] pronounces: “This [person], so and so, shall be ostracized.”

A ban of excommunication [is issued as follows]: They tell him: “So and so is excommunicated.”

The expression “He is cursed” implies a curse, an oath, and a ban of ostracism.

ב

וכיצד הוא הנידוי אומר פלוני יהא בשמתא ואם נידוהו בפניו אומר לו פלוני זה בשמתא והחרם אומר לו פלוני מוחרם וארור בו אלה בו שבועה בו נידוי:

3

How is a ban of ostracism or excommunication lifted? They tell him: “You are released. You are forgiven.” If the ban is lifted outside his presence, they say: “So and so is released. So and so is forgiven.”

ג

וכיצד מתירין הנידוי או החרם אומר לו שרוי לך ומחול לך ואם התירוהו שלא בפניו אומר לו פלוני שרוי לו ומחול לו:

4

What are the practices that must be observed by the person who is ostracized and those who come into contact with him?

a) he is forbidden to cut his hair or launder his clothes, like a mourner throughout his entire period of ostracism;

b) he is not included in a zimmun, nor in a quorum of ten with regard to any matter that requires ten;

c) no one should sit within four cubits of him.

He may, however, teach others and others may teach him. He may be hired and may hire others. If he dies while under ban, the court sends [an emissary who] places a stone on his coffin, as if to say that they are stoning him because he was separated from the community. Needless to say, eulogies are not recited for him, nor is his bier accompanied.

ד

מהו המנהג שינהוג המנודה בעצמו ושנוהגין עמו מנודה אסור לספר ולכבס כאבל כל ימי נידויו ואין מזמנין עליו ולא כוללין אותו בעשרה לכל דבר שצריך עשרה ולא יושבין עמו בארבע אמות אבל שונה הוא לאחרים ושונין לו ונשכר ושוכר ואם מת בנידוי בית דין שולחין ומניחין אבן אל ארונו כלומר שהן רוגמין אותו לפי שהוא מובדל מן הציבור ואין צריך לומר שאין מספידין אותו ואין מלוין את מטתו:

5

A person who is excommunicated has even more [severe restrictions]. He may not teach others and others may not teach him. Nevertheless, he may study himself, so that he does not forget what he has learned.

He may not be hired, nor is he allowed to hire others. We should not engage in trade with him. [Indeed,] we should not have any business dealings with him except the bare minimum necessary for his livelihood.

ה

יותר עליו המוחרם שאינו שונה לאחרים ואין שונין לו אבל שונה הוא לעצמו שלא ישכח תלמודו ואינו נשכר ואין נשכרין לו ואין נושאין ונותנין עמו ואין מתעסקין עמו אלא מעט עסק כדי פרנסתו:

6

When a person was ostracized for thirty days and did not seek to be released from the ban, he is placed under a second ban. If he was ostracized for a second thirty days without seeking release, he is excommunicated.

ו

מי שישב בנידוי שלשים יום ולא בקש להתירו מנדין אותו שניה ישב שלשים יום אחרים ולא בקש להתירו מחרימין אותו:

7

How many [people] are necessary to release [a person from a] ban of ostracism or excommunication? Three. They may even be commoners. A single judge with unique expertise may release [a person from a] ban of ostracism or excommunication alone. A student may release [a person from a] ban of ostracism or excommunication even in the place of his teacher.

ז

בכמה מתירין הנידוי או החרם בשלשה אפילו הדיוטות ויחיד מומחה מתיר הנידוי או החרם לבדו ויש לתלמיד להתיר הנידוי או החרם ואפילו במקום הרב:

Editor's Note: Our text follows the practice of most printed copies of the Mishneh Torah, which skip the number 8 entirely1, and proceed from Halachah 7 to Halachah 9.

9

When three individuals issue a ban of ostracism, and then depart, if the person who was ostracized improves his behavior with regard to the matter for which he was ostracized, three others may come and release him [from that ban].

ט

שלשה שנידו והלכו להן וחזר זה מדבר שנידהו בגללו באין שלשה אחרים ומתירין לו:

10

A person who does not know who placed him under a ban of ostracism should approach the nasi who may release him from that ban.

י

מי שלא ידע מי שנידהו ילך לו אצל הנשיא ויתיר לו נידויו:

11

If a ban was issued conditionally, even if one imposed that [conditional ban] on himself, it must be nullified [before ordinary interaction with the person is permitted]. If a Torah sage issued a ban of ostracism against himself, even if he made that ban conditional on the consent of another person and even if he issued it because of a matter which requires ostracism, he may nullify the ban himself.

יא

נידוי על תנאי אפילו על פי עצמו צריך הפרה תלמיד חכם שנידה עצמו ואפילו נידה עצמו על דעת פלוני ואפילו על דבר שחייב עליו נידוי הרי זה מיפר לעצמו:

12

Whenever a person dreams that he was placed under a ban of ostracism, even if he knows who issued that ban, ten people who are proficient in Torah Law are required to release him from that ban. If he cannot find such people [in his immediate surroundings], he must journey a parsah in search of them.

If he cannot find [these people within that distance], the ban can be released even by ten people who study Mishnah. If he cannot find [such people], the ban can be released even by ten people who know how to read the Torah. If he cannot find ten people in his place, the ban can be released by three ordinary people.

יב

מי שנידוהו בחלום אפילו ידע מי נידהו צריך עשרה בני אדם ששונין הלכות להתירו מנידויו ואם לא מצא טורח אחריהם עד פרסא לא מצא מתירים לו אפילו עשרה ששונים משנה לא מצא מתירין לו עשרה שיודעים לקרות בתורה לא מצא מתירין לו אפילו עשרה שאינן יודעין לקרות לא מצא במקומו עשרה מתירין לו אפילו שלשה:

13

Whenever a ban of ostracism is imposed in a person's presence, it should only be lifted in his presence. If it was issued outside his presence, it may be lifted in his presence or outside his presence. There is no [fixed amount of time] between the issuance of a ban and its release. Instead, one may issue a ban and lift it immediately if the person placed under ban improves his behavior.

However, [if the court sees fit for this individual to remain under ban for a number of years, they may extend [the ban] according to his wickedness. Similarly, if it sees fit, the court is entitled to excommunicate a person at the outset or to excommunicate anyone who eats, drinks, or stands within four cubits of a person who has been ostracized. [This power is granted] to cause [the banned person] hardship and [thus,] create a fence around the Torah, so that it will not be violated by the sinners. Even though a Torah sage may place a person under a ban of ostracism [to preserve] his honor, it is not praiseworthy for a sage to accustom himself to this practice Instead, he should turn his ears from the words of the common people and not pay attention to them, as Solomon said in his wisdom [Ecclesiastes 7:21]: “Also, do not pay heed to all the words that are spoken.”

This was the practice of the pious of the early generations. They would hear their shame and not answer. Furthermore, they would pardon and forgive the person who insulted them. The great sages would take pride in their pleasant deeds, relating that they never issued a ban of ostracism or excommunication [to protect] their honor. This is the path of the sages which is worthy of being followed.

When does the above apply? When [the person] spurned or embarrassed [the sage] in private. However, if one spurns or embarrasses a sage in public, it is forbidden for the sage to forgo his honor. Indeed, if he does so, he is punished, because the disrespect of the Torah is involved. Instead, he should seek vengeance and carry enmity over the matter like a snake until the offender requests to be pardoned. Then, he should forgive him.

יג

מי שנידוהו בפניו אין מתירין לו אלא בפניו נידוהו שלא בפניו מתירין לו בפניו ושלא בפניו ואין בין נידוי להפרה כלום אלא מנדין ומתירין ברגע אחד כשיחזור המנודה למוטב ואם ראו בית דין להניח זה בנידוי כמה שנים מניחין כפי רשעו וכן אם ראו בית דין להחרים לזה לכתחלה ולהחרים מי שיאכל עמו ושותה עמו או מי שיעמוד עמו בארבע אמות מחרימין כדי לייסרו וכדי לעשות סייג לתורה עד שלא יפרצו החוטאים אף על פי שיש רשות לחכם לנדות לכבודו אינו שבח לתלמיד חכם להנהיג עצמו בדבר זה אלא מעלים אזניו מדברי עם הארץ ולא ישית לבו להן כענין שאמר שלמה בחכמתו גם לכל הדברים אשר ידברו אל תתן לבך וכן היה דרך חסידים הראשונים שומעים חרפתם ואינן משיבין ולא עוד אלא שמוחלים למחרף וסולחים לו וחכמים גדולים היו משתבחים במעשיהם הנאים ואומרים שמעולם לא נידו אדם ולא החרימוהו לכבודן וזו היא דרכם של תלמידי חכמים שראוי לילך בה במה דברים אמורים כשבזהו או חרפהו בסתר אבל תלמיד חכם שבזהו או חרפו אדם בפרהסיא אסור לו למחול על כבודו ואם מחל נענש שזה בזיון תורה אלא נוקם ונוטר הדבר כנחש עד שיבקש ממנו מחילה ויסלח לו:

Footnotes
1.
The Rambam La'am suggests that perhaps this omission is made because the letter ח is the first letter of the word חרם, which means "excommunication." It is not proper that the chapter that deals with such a severe punishment should contain any allusion to it.
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