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Friday, 6 Tammuz 5773 / June 14, 2013

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Issurei Mizbeiach - Chapter 2

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Issurei Mizbeiach - Chapter 2

Halacha 1

There are a total of 50 blemishes that disqualify both a man1 and an animal.2 They have already been listed.3

Halacha 2

There are other blemishes that are unique to animals and are not appropriate to be found in humans at all.4 There are 23 of these; they are: a) the animal's eyeball's are round like humans; b) one eye is large like a calf's and the other is small like a duck's;5 if, however, one ear is large and one ear is small, even if it is small as a bean, it is acceptable; c) if there is an eruption in the white of the eye that has a hair growing from it;6 d) if the cartilage between its two nostrils was perforated in a place which can be seen;7 e) its mouth resembles that of a swine; i.e., its upper jaw overlapped its lower jaw, even though it is not pointed like a spit.

Halacha 3

f) If its outer tonsils8 were perforated; g) their substance was reduced, even though a portion of them remained; h) they shriveled; i) its inner tonsils were removed;9 [this is considered a blemish],10 because when it opens its mouths and shriek, it will be seen that they are missing.

Halacha 4

j) If its horns and their inner fibrous tissue was removed and nothing of it remained;11 a female animal that has horns is acceptable;12 k) if the substance of the skin which covers the male organ of an animal was blemished; l) if the substance of the female organ of an animal was blemished;13 m) if the substance of the tail is blemished from its bone; [if its substance is blemished] from its joint, it is not [a blemish];14 n) if the tip of the tail was split into two with two separate bones; o) if there was a finger's breadth of flesh between every joint on the tail; p) if the tail was [overly] short.

To what extent? For a kid, one vertebra is a blemish, but two are not. For a lamb, a length of two vertebrae is a blemish, but three is acceptable. q) if the tail of a kid was soft and hanging loosely like that of a pig; r) if one of the tail bones was broken.15 If, however, one of the ribs are broken, it is acceptable, because [the blemish] is not visible.

Halacha 5

s) A five-legged animal; t) a three-legged animal;16 u) the hooves of one of its hindlegs or forelegs was round like that of a donkey even if has split hooves; v) if the hooves of one of its hindlegs or forelegs was not split like that of a donkey. This is the meaning of the termkalut mentioned in the Torah;17 w) if its hoofs and the fibrous substance inside has shriveled, even though there remains some of that fibrous substance next to the flesh,

Halacha 6

All of the 73 blemishes18 listed disqualify an animal from being offered as a sacrifice. If an animal that is consecrated contracts one of these blemishes, it should be redeemed and it becomes like an ordinary animal with the exception of an animal that is old, sick, or foul-smelling.19 Although such animals are unfit for sacrifice, they may not be redeemed.20 Instead, they should be maintained until they contract another permanent blemish.21 Then it should be redeemed. Similarly, a consecrated animal that contracts a temporary blemish should neither be redeemed,22 nor sacrificed.23

Halacha 7

There are four temporary blemishes [that disqualify] both a man and an animal:24 a) a moist skin eruption;25 b) a boil that does not resemble those of Egypt;26 c) water that descends in the eyes that is not a permanent condition;27 d) a degeneration of nerves in the eye that is not permanent.28

Halacha 8

The are four other ailments that if found in an animal [prevent] it from being sacrificed. [The rationale is that such an animal] is not from the "choice," and Scripture [Deuteronomy 12:11] states [that sacrifices must come] "from the chosen of your vows."29

They are: a) an animal with an eruption in the white of its eye, but it does not have hair growing from it;30 b) the substance of the horns of an animal was reduced, but their inner fibrous tissue remained;31 c) the substance of its inner tonsils were reduced; or d) its inner tonsils shriveled.32

If a consecrated animal had one of these blemishes, it is neither sacrificed not redeemed.33 Instead, it should be allowed to pasture until it contracts a [disqualifying] blemish.34 If it was sacrificed, it appears to me that it is acceptable.35

Halacha 9

Similarly, when a transgression was performed with a consecrated animal36or it killed a person, but [was observed] only by one witness or by the owner,37it is neither sacrificed not redeemed until it contracts a permanent blemish.

Halacha 10

When an animal contracts one of the conditions that render it treifah38and cause it to be forbidden to be eaten, it is forbidden [to be sacrificed on] the altar.39 For behold it is written [Malachi 1:8]: "Present it please to your governor. Would he be pleased with you or show you favor?"40 Although it is not fit to be sacrificed, it is not redeemed.41 [The rationale is that] we do not redeem sacrificial animals to feed [their meat] to the dogs. Instead, it should pasture until it dies and then be buried.42

Halacha 11

If it was slaughtered and discovered to be tereifah, it should be taken out to the place of burning.43 [This law also applies] if it is discovered that one of its internal organs is lacking even if this does not cause it to be deemed a tereifah, for example, it has [only] one kidney or its spleen has been removed.44 Such [an animal] is forbidden [to be offered] on the altar and must be burnt. [The rationale is] not because it is blemished, because an internal flaw is not considered as a disqualifying blemish.45 Instead, the rationale is that an animal that is lacking [an organ] should never be offered [as a sacrifice], as [Numbers 28:31] states: "They shall be perfect for you." [An animal] with an extra [organ] is considered as if it was lacking one.46 Therefore if three kidneys or two spleens are found in [an animal], it is unacceptable.

Halacha 12

What is meant by a permanent degeneration of nerves in the eye?47 An animal which [was observed] for eighty days and it did not see. We inspect it three times: on the twenty-seventh day from the time when its difficulty was sensed, on the fifty-fourth day, and on the eightieth day. If its sight [returned and then was lost again],48we count from the time it stopped seeing.

Halacha 13

How is it known that the water [in its eyes] are permanent?49 When it ate fresh grass from Rosh Chodesh Adar until the first half of Nisan50 and then51 ate dried grass during Elul and the first half of Tishrei52 and was not healed.53 This indicates that the water is permanent.

Halacha 14

How much of the fresh grass must be eaten in the season for fresh grass and the dried grass in the season for dried grass? At least54 an amount the size of a fig before its first meal in these three months.55 They must be eaten each day after drinking and it must be free [to roam] in the field while eating. It should not be alone, but with another animal for company. If all of this was done for it and it still was not healed, the water is definitely permanent. If one of these factors was lacking, there is a doubt concerning the matter56 and [the animal] should be neither offered,57 nor redeemed.58

Halacha 15

What is implied? It ate fresh grass as prescribed throughout Adar and during the first half of Nisan. Then it ate dried grass as prescribed during the second half of Nisan and the month of Iyar thus it ate the grasses for three months in the proper order.59 Or it ate a fig-sized amount of grass after eating or before drinking, or it was tied, alone, or located in a garden near a city. If it was not healed after all these treatments, there is an unresolved doubt whether [the blemish is considered] as permanent or temporary. Hence, if one blemished it in another manner, he is not liable for lashes.60 If it partook [of the grasses] in the prescribed manner during the prescribed times for eating and it was not healed, it is considered as permanently blemished.

Halacha 16

There is an unresolved doubt whether it is considered as permanently blemished from the time it contracted the condition or from the time they despaired of its recovery. Therefore if someone redeems it before they despaired of its recovery and then derived benefit from the object used to redeem the animal61 after they despaired of its recovery,62 there is an unresolved doubt whether he derived unauthorized benefit from consecrated animals. Therefore63 he does not bring a sacrifice to atone for this transgression, as will be explained in the appropriate place.64


I.e., a priest from serving in the Temple.


From being offered as a sacrifice.


See Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash, ch. 7.


See the gloss of the Radbaz who explains that it appears that the Rambam's intent is not that if these conditions are found in men, they do not disqualify a priest. Instead, the intent is that it is extremely uncommon to find such a condition in a human. Hence they are "not appropriate." Nevertheless, if a priest does have such a condition, it is considered as a blemish and he is disqualified.


If, however, both are small or both are large, this is not considered a blemish. Note the contrast to the blemishes for humans mentioned in Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 8:6 (Kessef Mishneh).


If, however, it does not have a hair, it is not considered as a blemish (Bechorot 40b).


Compare to Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:6.


Our translation is taken from the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Bechorot 6:4). There he also suggests an alternate meaning, the animal's teeth.


If, however, their substance was merely reduced, this is not considered as a disqualifying blemish. See Halachah 8 and notes.


I.e., this explanation is necessary because usually, the inner tonsils are not seen.


Compare to Halachah 8.


Similarly, if a male was born without horns, their absence is not considered as a blemish (Ma'aseh Rokeach).


I.e., the portion of the female organ that projects outside the body [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Bechorot 6:5)].


Rashi (Bechorot 39b) explains that the tail of an animal is made up of several vertebrae. If it is severed in the midst of a vertebra, it is considered as a blemish. If, however, if is severed at the joint between one vertebra and another, it is not considered as a blemish.


The commentaries refer to Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:11 which states: "Whenever there is a groove made in any bone that is apparent, it is considered a blemish. It is included in the category charutz mentioned in the Torah." The tail is considered such a limb; the ribs are not.


See the parallel to Hilchot Shechitah 8:11.


The 23 mentioned here and the 50 mentioned in Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash, ch. 7.


These blemishes are mentioned in Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:12-13.


Rashi (Bechorot 41b) states: "Because these are not absolute blemishes."


Which would disqualify it in its own right.


Because as of yet, it is not permanently disqualified as a sacrifice.


Because in its present state, it is not fit for sacrifice.


In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Bechorot 2:2), the Rambam also mentions a dislocated or broken limb that can be healed.


See Chapter 1, Halachah 5, and Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 6:4.


Unlike the boils visited upon the Egyptians in the Ten Plagues (see Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:10), these boils are moist inside and can possibly heal.


And thus prevents the animal or the person from seeing. As the Rambam explains in his Commentary to the Mishnah (Bechorot 6:3), there are times when this blemish will heal and the water will cease descending. Then the sight of the person or animal will return. See Halachot 13-15 which describe the process through which it is determined whether the water in an animal's eyes is permanent or not.


See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.).


The commentaries note that the Hebrew wording is not quoted exactly. See also Chapter 7, Halachah 11.


If hair is growing from it, it is considered as a permanent blemish, as stated in Halachah 2.


Compare to Halachah 4.


Compare to Halachah 3. Since its inner tonsils are seen only when it shrieks, as long as something of their substance remains, it is not considered a disqualifying blemish. Nevertheless, the animal is not sacrificed.


For an animal is redeemed only when it has a disqualifying blemish.


At which point, it can be redeemed.


For its blemish did not disqualify it.


It was sodomized, used for relations with a woman, worshiped as a false deity, or consecrated for that purpose, as stated in Chapter 3, Halachah 6.


Were it to have been observed by two witnesses, Torah Law would require it to be executed. This punishment is not given when the murder was observed only by one witness or the owner. See Chapter 4, Halachah 2.


An animal that will die within twelve months and is hence, forbidden to be eaten.


See the Kessef Mishneh who debates whether the disqualification is Scriptural or Rabbinic in origin.


The passage in Malachi speaks of bringing blemished animals for sacrifice. The prophet asks whether a mortal governor would appreciate being given such offerings. Certainly, they are inappropriate to be offered to God.


For there would be no purpose in its redemption, since it is inappropriate to use it as food for animals as the Rambam continues to explain.


See Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashin 19:11.


I.e., the place where impure sacrifices are burnt not as offerings. See ibid.:1.

If the animal was known to be tereifah and slaughtered, it should be buried rather than burnt (Radbaz).


See Hilchot Shechitah 8:25; 6:20 which states that these conditions do not render an animal as tereifah.


See Halachah 4; Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:11.


And his hence disqualified as a sacrifice. This is a general principle in Torah Law. See Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:5; Hilchot Shechitah 8:4, 11, et al.


Which disqualifies an animal as a sacrifice, as stated in Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:5; see also Halachah 7 of this chapter.


In the midst of the above period.


Which disqualifies an animal as a sacrifice, as stated in Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 7:5; see also Halachah 7 of this chapter.


In Eretz Yisrael, these months are directly after the rainy season and the grasses are still fresh.


I.e., the grasses were eaten in this order.


In these months, rain has not descended for more than half a year and the grasses have dried.


Eating these grasses is a natural cure for this malady. See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Bechorot 6:3).


Needless to say, eating more increases the therapeutic value.


I.e., the two month and a half periods.


All of these aspects of the animal's treatment are discussed by our Sages (Bechorot 39a). If the treatment was not administered correctly, it is possible that the blemish is not permanent and could be healed through proper treatment.


For even if the blemish is merely temporary, it is, nevertheless, unfit to be sacrificed.


For until it is established that the blemish is permanent, the animal cannot be redeemed.


But not at the appropriate time of year.


It is forbidden to cause a consecrated animal to incur a disqualifying blemish. Nevertheless, if the animal is already blemished, one who causes such a blemish is not liable for lashes, as stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 8. Since we are unsure of this animal's status, we cannot hold the one who causes the blemish liable.


Thus if the redemption was valid, the article used to redeem the animal is consecrated and the person who benefited from it transgressed. If, however, the redemption was not valid, the article is not given that status and hence, there is no transgression involved.


I.e., even if the benefit was derived after they despaired of its recovery in which instance, it was definitely permanently blemished, since it was redeemed before that time, the situation is still questionable as explained.


I.e., because the matter is unresolved.


See Hilchot Me'ilah 1:5; Hilchot Shegagot 9:11. As will be explained in the notes to those halachot, it is not necessary to bring a sacrifice conditionally, stipulating: "If I transgressed, this will serve as atonement for my transgression, and if I did not transgress, it will be considered a free-will offering" (Radbaz).

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About the book
Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.
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About the book
Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.
About the Publisher
Moznaim is the publisher of the Nehardaa Shas, a new, state-of-the-art edition of the Talmud and all major commentaries in 20 volumes. Click here to purchase or email the publisher at