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Tuesday, 25 Nissan 5776 / May 3, 2016

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Pesulei Hamukdashim - Chapter 3

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Pesulei Hamukdashim - Chapter 3

Halacha 1

When sacrifices of the most sacred order were slaughtered on the top of the altar, it is as if they were slaughtered in the northern [portion of the Temple Courtyard],1 as [Exodus 20:21] states: "You shall slaughter upon it2 your burnt-offerings and your peace-offerings." This teaches that the entire altar is an appropriate place for the slaughter of burnt-offerings3 and peace-offerings.4

Halacha 2

When a burnt-offering was slaughtered on the top of the altar or it was slaughtered below [on the ground of the Temple Courtyard] and then brought up to the top of the altar, it should be skinned and cut into portions in that place. The inner organs should be taken down and washed below5 and then brought back [to the top of the altar]. The skin should be taken down and given to the priests.6

Halacha 3

Similarly, when [other] sacrifices that had been slaughtered were brought up to the altar, they should be skinned and cut into portions in that place. The inner organs should be taken down and washed below and then brought back [to the top of the altar]. The skin and the meat should be taken down and given to the owners. The remainder [of the sacrifice] should be offered on the altar's pyre.

Why shouldn't he bring down the entire [carcass] instead of skinning it and cutting it up on the top of the altar? Because anything that is fit to be offered on the pyre7 if it was brought up to the top of the altar should not be taken down,8 as [indicated by ibid. 29:36]: "Everything that touches the altar shall be sanctified."

Does [the above principle apply] even when [the entity brought to the top of the altar] is not fit [to be offered on the altar's pyre]? It is taught [Leviticus 6:2] "It is the burnt-offering on the pyre." Just as the burnt-offering is fit to be consumed by the altar's pyre should not be taken down once it was taken up [to the altar], so too, any entity that is fit for the altar's pyre9 if it is brought up, it should not be brought down.

Halacha 4

When [an animal to be sacrificed as] a burnt-offering is brought up to the top of the altar while alive, it should be brought down, because it is not yet fit [to be consumed by the altar's pyre].

Halacha 5

Similarly, a handful of meal from a meal-offering that was not consecrated in a sacred vessel10 and all entities that are forbidden to be offered on the altar11should be taken down from the altar even if they were brought up, because from the outset, they were not fit [to be offered on the pyre].12

Halacha 6

Similarly, when a consecrated animal was slaughtered at night, its blood was spilled, or its [blood]13 was taken out of the Temple Courtyard, if it was taken up [to the altar's top], it should be taken down.14

Halacha 7

[Different rules apply] if, by contrast, sacrificial animals were left over night - whether their blood, their meat, or their fats and organs were left over night;15

a sacrificial animal was taken out of the Temple Courtyard;

it became impure or disqualified because of a disqualifying thought concerning the time [it was to be eaten] or the place [it was to be eaten];

it was sacrificed for the sake of a different offering;16

impure [priests] received its blood and cast it on the altar; [this is significant] since they are fit to perform Temple service when a sacrifice is brought in a state of impurity;17

when the blood was presented in an improper place;18

or sacrifices of the most sacred order were slaughtered in the southern portion of the Temple Courtyard or their blood was received there.19

Although in all of these situations, [the sacrifices] are disqualified, if [the meat, fats, and/or organs] were brought to the top of the altar, they should not be taken down.

Halacha 8

[This is the general principle:] Whenever an entity is disqualified in the Temple Courtyard,20 the holiness [of the altar] accepts it.21 Just as when these entities were brought up, they should not be taken down, so too, if they were taken down, they should not be brought up a second time. For they have been disqualified.

Halacha 9

If the [altar's] fire took hold of them22 [before they were brought down from the altar], they should be brought up again [so that] they will be consumed by its fire.

Halacha 10

When the handful of meal [from the meal-offering] becomes disqualified as piggul,23 and a portion of it is on the ground and a portion took fire, the entire [handful] should be brought up [to the altar to be consumed].24

Halacha 11

When limbs, fats, and handfuls of meal were left overnight on the top of the altar, it is as if they were left overnight in the Temple Courtyard.25 If they were brought down from the altar, they should not be brought up again. If, however, they were not brought down, they should be offered on the altar's pyre in all situations.

Halacha 12

The open space above the altar is considered as the altar.26 When one brought the fats and the organs of sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity27 up [to the altar] before their blood was poured on the altar,28 they should not be taken down, because they have become "the food of the altar."

Halacha 13

[The following law applies when a person] sets aside two [animals for] a guilt-offering,29 one intended to serve as surety for the other.30 If he slaughtered both of them and brought the fats and organs of one up [to the altar] before [the blood] was cast [upon it], they should be brought down.31

Halacha 14

When an unacceptable sacrifice and unacceptable wine libations32 were brought up to the altar, the sacrifice should not be taken down as we explained. The wine libations, [by contrast,] should be taken down.33 Similarly, when wine libations are brought independently and they were disqualified and brought to the top of the altar, they should be taken down.

Halacha 15

When melikah was performed on a fowl by a non-priest and then it was brought to the top of the altar, it should not be taken down.34 If, [by contrast,] a handful of meal was taken by a non-priest and brought to the top of the altar, it should be brought down. Even though both of these acts disqualify [the offerings], [the handful from the meal-offering] is considered as if it was never consecrated at all.35 [These laws apply to] a non-priest as well as to anyone else who is disqualified [from performing sacrificial service].36

Halacha 16

The following, however, should be taken down [even though] they were brought up to the top of the altar, anything that is not fit37 for the altar's pyre. [This includes:] the meat of sacrifices of the most sacred order, the meat of sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity,38 the remainder of the omer, the remainder of the meal-offerings,39 the two breads [offered on Shavuot], the showbread,40the incense offering,41 the wool that is on the heads of sheep, the hair on the beards of goats, the bones, the sinews, the horns, and the hoofs if they are not attached to [the animal's body].42 [In all these instances,] if [these entities] were brought to the top [of the altar], they should be brought down.

Halacha 17

If some of the oil from the handful of meal was squeezed out on a bone43[that had been laying on the altar] and then the bone was taken down, it should be returned [to the altar]. [The rationale is that] there is an unresolved doubt whether entities attached to entities that should be brought up [to the altar]44 are considered as if they should be brought up as well.

Halacha 18

The inner altar sanctifies unacceptable entities whether they are fit for it or not fit for it,45 but the outer altar only sanctifies unacceptable entities that are fit for it, as we explained.46

What is implied? When sacrifices that were disqualified are brought up to the outer altar, they should not be brought down. If an unfitting incense offering47 was offered upon it, it should be brought down, because an incense offering is not fit for the outer altar. If, by contrast, a handful of meal from the meal-offering was placed on the inner altar, it should not be taken off, whether it was fit or not fit. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Just as the altar sanctifies any entity that is fit for it, so too, the ramp, and other sacred utensils, sanctify what is fit for them. For with regard to the sacred utensils, [Exodus 30:29] states: "Any entity that touches them will be sanctified." Thus when an entity that is fit for it reaches the ramp, it should not be brought down even though it is disqualified.48 Similarly, if any entity that is fit for a sacred vessel reaches a sacred vessel, it should never be redeemed even though it was disqualified, as stated in Hilchot Issurei HaMizbeiach.49

Halacha 19

Vessels made for liquids do not consecrate solids and vessels made for solids do not consecrate liquids.

To what does the above apply? To the liquid and dry measures that existed in the Temple which we mentioned in Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash.50 Receptacles,51 by contrast, consecrate both liquids and solids.52 Sacred utensils sanctify blood that was disqualified and cause it to be offered [on the altar].

Halacha 20

Sacred vessels only consecrate [entities] in the Temple.53 Also, they only consecrate [entities placed in them] willfully,54 from their insides,55 and when intact. [The following rules apply if] a hole was made within them. If they could still be used to perform the original task for which they were used when intact, they consecrate what is placed within. If not,56 they do not consecrate [their contents].

They consecrate [their contents] only when they are full. The measures do not consecrate their contents when they are lacking unless one intends to fill them. If one does not intend to fill them, they consecrate their contents only in that [the contents] could [later] be disqualified,57but not to have them offered.58

Halacha 21

[When an entity is placed] in a sacred vessel at an inappropriate time, it is consecrated only to the extent that is disqualified, not that it should be offered.

What is implied? When an entity whose mitzvah is performed during the day is placed into a sacred vessel at night, it is disqualified.59 It should be burnt,60 but not sacrificed. For example, if a handful is taken from a meal-offering at night and that handful is placed in a sacred vessel, it should be burnt.

Halacha 22

When an altar became damaged,61 all of the sacrificial animals that were in the Temple and had been slaughtered, but whose blood had not been cast on the altar, are disqualified.62 For there is no altar on which to cast the blood and [Exodus 20:21] states: "And you shall slaughter upon it your burnt-offerings and your peace-offerings." Implied is that when you slaughter [your offerings,] it shall be intact and not blemished.

Halacha 23

Sacrificial animals that were alive and located in the Temple Courtyard at the time [the altar] became damaged are not disqualified. Instead, when the altar is repaired, they should be sacrificed. [The rationale is that] living animals are not deemed unacceptable forever.63

Halacha 24

If animals were consecrated before the altar was built, they should be sacrificed after the altar was built, for the fact that they could not [be sacrificed] originally is not a disqualifying factor.

Halacha 25

Similarly, sacrificial meat should not be eaten while the altar is damaged, as [Leviticus 10:12] states: "You shall eat it64 as unleavened bread near the altar."65 This also applies to sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity; they should not be eaten in Jerusalem while the altar is damaged until it is repaired.

Footnotes
1.

As stated in Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 5:2, sacrifices of the most sacred order must be sacrificed in the northern portion of the Temple Courtyard. Now, the altar is located in the southern portion. Nevertheless, based on the prooftext the Rambam cites, Zevachim 85a derives that it is acceptable to slaughter these sacrificial animals on the top of the altar.

2.

The altar.

3.

Since it is acceptable for burnt-offerings, our Sages assumed that it was also acceptable for other sacrifices of the most-sacred order.

4.

Peace-offerings are sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity which may be sacrificed anywhere in the Temple Courtyard (Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 5:4). Nevertheless, it is necessary to state that they may be sacrificed on the top of the altar, because one might think that since there is ample space to sacrifice them, they would have to be sacrificed on the ground (Zevachim, loc. cit.; Gittin 67a).

5.

For it is not respectful to clean out the wastes on the top of the altar.

6.

See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 5:19.

7.

This refers to an entity like the carcass of a sacrifice which in its present state is not fit to be offered on the altar, but is not lacking any great tasks like slaughter.

8.

This general principle (stated in Zevachim 9:1) is the subject of discussion in the following halachot.

9.

But only an article that is fit to be consumed by the fires.

10.

Unless a meal offering is consecrated in a sacred vessel, it is unacceptable.

11.

Animals forbidden to be sacrificed, e.g., one that was worshipped, one that is treifah, or one which killed a person or the like. See Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach 3:11.

The commentaries question why the Rambam does not mention animals with disqualifying physical blemishes. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Zevachim 9:3) he rules that even if they were brought to the top of the altar, they should be brought down. And if the Rambam changed his mind, it would have been appropriate to say so explicitly. Nevertheless, it is possible to explain that such animals are also included in the general category of "entities forbidden to be offered on the altar," as stated in Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach, loc. cit..

12.

The leniency that every entity brought up to the altar should be offered upon it applies only to entities that were disqualified after having been fit to be offered upon it. As our Sages taught (Zevachim 84a; see Halachah 8) whenever an entity was disqualified in the Temple, if it was brought to the top of the altar, it should be offered. In this instance, these substances were never fit to be offered on the altar's pyre.

13.

This addition is obvious from a comparison to the following halachah.

14.

Even though it was disqualified in the Temple, nevertheless, it was disqualified before the time its meat and/or fats and organs were to be offered on the altar's pyre (see Zevachim 84a,b).

15.

Once blood is left past sunset, it is disqualified (Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 4:1) and if the meat of a burnt-offering is left overnight, it is disqualified (ibid.:2). Nevertheless, since the meat of a peace-offering is acceptable if left overnight, this is not a serious enough disqualifying factor to prevent these entities from being offered on the altar's pyre (Kessef Mishneh).

16.

See Chapters 13-18 with regard to these factors.

17.

See Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 4:10-12.

18.

In which instance, after the fact, in many instances, the sacrifice is acceptable, as stated in Chapter 2.

19.

Rather than in the north as required (Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 5:2).

20.

Our translation is based on Rashi's commentary, Zevachim 84a.

21.

After the fact, as stated above.

22.

See Chapter 18, Halachah 21, where the Rambam speaks of the fire taking hold of the majority of the entity. Seemingly, that concept would apply here as well.

23.

See Chapter 13, Halachah 1, for a definition of this term.

24.

For the handful of meal is considered as an integral entity.

25.

I.e., they are disqualified. Nevertheless, they should be offered on the altar's pyre, because they are on the top of the altar.

26.

Thus even if the disqualified sacrificial entities were not placed down on the altar, but held by a person standing on the altar, the above concepts apply (see Zevachim 88a). Rav Yosef Corcus notes that the Talmud mentions also a situation where a person is standing in the Temple Courtyard and holds a disqualified sacrificial entity over the altar with a pole. The Kessef Mishneh explains that since the Talmud does not reach a final decision whether such an entity should be offered on the altar's pyre or not, because of the doubt, they should not be taken down from above the altar.

27.

Certainly, this applies to the fats and the organs of sacrifices of the most sacred order (Kessef Mishneh).

28.

Instead of afterwards, as required.

29.

Or two sin-offerings (Kessef Mishneh).

30.

I.e., if one was lost, the other would be sacrificed (Rashi, Meilah 7a).

31.

The blood of the second animal should be cast on the altar and then its fats and organs offered. Since two animals were slaughtered and one offering can be carried out in a perfectly desirable manner, that is preferable to performing the offering in a manner that is effective only after the fact. Since the second animal will be offered in an effective manner, the blood of the first should not be cast on the altar. And since its blood should not be cast on the altar, the fat and the organs should not be offered on the altar's pyre (ibid.).

32.

This clause is speaking about wine libations that were brought as accompanying offerings for a sacrifice.

33.

This follows the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua in Zevachim 9:1, who maintains that for a disqualified entity to be offered on the altar, it must be fit for the altar's pyre and wine libations are poured over the altar and not on its pyre.

34.

The rationale is that in the era when sacrifices could be brought on individual altars (see the notes to Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 1:1), it was possible for a non-priest to perform melikah on a fowl that was offered on a sacrifice. Hence, even after the Temple was built, when a non-priest performs melikah on a fowl, that act is significant enough to endow with holiness to the extent that if the fowl is brought to the top of the altar, it should be offered on the pyre (Zevachim 69a).

35.

One might ask: Why isn't the handful of meal acceptable? When offerings were brought on an individual altar, a handful of meal could also be separated by a non-priest. In resolution, however, it is explained that in the Temple, the handful of meal was afterwards placed in a sacred utensil (Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 13:12) and then offered on the altar and such service was not performed by a non-priest on an individual altar (Zevachim, loc. cit.).

36.

E.g., a priest with a disqualifying physical deformity; one who is intoxicated; one in the state of severe onein mourning (see Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah).

37.

I.e., halachically not fit to be offered, but either eaten, offered on the inner altar, or discarded.

38.

The meat of these sacrifices should not be offered on the altar, but rather eaten by the priests and, with regard to sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity, the owners.

39.

After a handful of meal is taken from the omer and the meal-offerings, the remainder should not be offered on the altar, but eaten by the priests.

40.

These breads are eaten by the priests.

41.

This is not fit to be offered on the pyre of the outer altar, but instead, on coals on the inner altar.

42.

Once these entities are separated from an animal's body, they should be discarded rather than offered on the altar's pyre. See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 6:2.

43.

The Rambam's ruling is derived from the version of Menachot 23a in his possession. Ra'avad, Rashi, as well as the standard published text of that passage follow a different version which reads eitzim, wood, rather than etzem,, bone.

44.

The oil is the entity that should be returned to the altar and the bone is the entity attached to it (Rav Yosef Corcus). Although on its own accord, the bone should not be returned to the altar as stated in the previous halachah, since it is attached to the oil, it should be returned, lest this be considered as treating sacred articles with disdain (Kessef Mishneh).

45.

The inner altar has an added measure of holiness, because it was anointed and thus is comparable to a sacred vessel (Rashi, Zevachim 23b).

46.

See Halachah 16.

47.

This includes all incense offerings, because no incense offerings are ever offered on the outer altar.

48.

Instead, it should be offered on the altar's pyre.

49.

Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach 6:4-5.

50.

Hilchot K'lei Hamikdash 1:16-17. The rationale is that these vessels were anointed only for the sake of measuring and only for measuring the particular types of substances - liquids or solids - intended for them.

51.

The receptacles used to receive the blood from the sacrificial animal and then cast it on the altar.

52.

Since they were anointed to serve as receptacles, they consecrate anything placed inside of them.

53.

If, by contrast, an entity is placed within a sacred vessel outside the Temple Courtyard, it is not consecrated.

54.

And not something that fell in accidentally.

55.

If, however, solids are piled up over the edges of a sacred container, they are not consecrated. Note the apparent contrast to Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 1:19 which states that liquid measures consecrate the overflow that drips down their sides.

56.

I.e., the hole prevents them from being used as a container.

57.

I.e., if they remained overnight or were taken out of the Temple Courtyard.

58.

This refers to offerings of flour and the like. As mentioned in the previous halachah, blood that is placed in such utensils is sanctified to be offered on the altar.

59.

I.e., placing it in the sacred utensil is significant - for if it was not significant, it would not have been disqualified, and would have been able to be used on the following day.

60.

As are sacred entities which became disqualified.

61.

The square of the altar must be totally intact, even a slight chip disqualifies it, as stated in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 1:14-16; 2:18.

62.

Even if the altar is repaired before sunset, the blood of these sacrifices should not be cast upon it. Since at the outset, the altar was fit to have their blood cast upon it and then there was a time when that service could not be performed, the blood is disqualified forever.

63.

This is a concept that applies in many different contexts of the laws concerning the consecration of animals. See Chapter 4, Halachah 24; Chapter 6, Halachah 1; Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 15:4; et al.

As mentioned in the notes to Hilchot Avodat Yom HaKippurim 4:15, this represents a reversal of the Rambam's initial position on the matter.

64.

The meal-offering brought as part of the dedication of the altar. As the verse states, it was considered as a sacrifice of the most holy order.

65.

Zevachim 60a explains that there is no obligation to eat sacrificial food near the altar. Rather the intent is as explained here.

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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
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 sales@moznaim.com