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Wednesday, 17 Iyar 5776 / May 25, 2016

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Me`ilah - Perek 1

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Me`ilah - Perek 1

Halacha 1

It is forbidden for an ordinary person to benefit from articles sanctified unto God, whether they are entities that are offered on the altar or articles consecrated for the improvement of the Temple. Anyone who derives a perutah' worth of benefit from an article sanctified unto God, is considered as having misappropriated a consecrated article.

Halacha 2

The concept of me'ilah, misappropriating consecrated articles, does not apply to sacrificial entities from the sacrifices that are permitted to be eaten, e.g., the meat of sin-offerings and guilt-offerings after their blood was cast on the altar, the two breads after the blood of the two sheep was cast on the altar. This applies even if these or the like are eaten by a non-priest. Since it is permitted for some people to benefit from them, anyone who benefits from them is not considered to have misappropriated consecrated articles. Even if they were disqualified and prohibited to be eaten, since there is a time when they are permitted to be eaten, one is not liable me'ilah.

Halacha 3

Anyone who purposely misappropriates consecrated articles is liable for lashes and must pay the value he decreased the value of the sacred articles. The warning against me'ilah is derived from Deuteronomy 12:17: "You may not partake of the tithes of your grain... your pledges... in your outlying cities." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning against one who partakes of the meat of a burnt-offering for it must be offered entirely to God. The same applies to all other consecrated articles that are dedicated to God alone, whether something consecrated for the altar or for the improvement of the Temple. If one derives a perutah's worth of benefit, he is liable for lashes. If he misappropriated a consecrated article unknowingly, he must make restitution for the benefit he received and add a fifth. Also, he must bring a ram worth two selaim and have it sacrificed as a guilt offering. This brings atonement for him and it is called: "the guilt offering for misappropriation,] as Leviticus 5:15-16 states "And he sinned inadvertently, misappropriating what was consecrated unto God and he shall bring his guilt-offering... and he should make restitution for what he misappropriated from the consecrated articles, adding a fifth." Paying the principal with the additional fifth and bringing the sacrifice is a positive commandment.

Halacha 4

Payment of the principal and bringing the guilt-offering are essential for the atonement; payment of the additional fifth is not essential. This is derived from the prooftext that speaks of: "the ram of the asham." Our Sages interpreted the term asham as referring to the principal and stated: The ramand the payment of the principal are fundamental requirements. The additional fifth is not a fundamental requirement.

Halacha 5

If the person brought the guilt-offering before he made restitution for the principal, he did not fulfill his obligation. If one is in doubt whether he derived benefit from a consecrated article or not, he is exempt from making restitution and bringing a sacrifice.

The additional fifth is considered as a consecrated article itself. If one benefits from it, he should add a fifth to the fifth. We have already explained several times that the fifth is one fourth of the principal so that the principal and the fifth will be five units.

Halacha 6

There are articles for which one is not liable for me'ilah according to Scriptural Law, but from which it is forbidden to benefit according to Rabbinic decree.A person who derives benefit from them must only make restitution for the principal. He need not add a fifth, nor must he bring a guilt-offering.

Halacha 7

All of the sacrifices offered on the altar - whether sacrifices of the highest degree of sanctity or sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity - are forbidden to be shorn and it is forbidden to perform work with them, as Deuteronomy 15:19 states: "Do not perform work with the firstborn of your oxen and do not shear the firstborn of your sheep." The same applies to all other sacrificial animals. One who shears an ox or works with a sheep is liable for lashes according to Scriptural Law.

One who pulls out hair is not considered as if he shears it. It appears to me that one is not liable unless he shears double the width of a sit. This prohibition should not be more severe than the prohibition against shearing on the Sabbath.

Halacha 8

When there is a doubt whether an animal is consecrated, e.g., an animal concerning which there is a question whether it is a firstborn or the like, it is forbidden to shear it or work with it, but one who shears it or works with it, is not liable for lashes.

Halacha 9

When a sacrificial animal contracted a physical blemish and it was redeemed as we explained, it is not permitted to shear it or to work with it. The prohibitions are still in effect until it is slaughtered. If it was slaughtered after it was redeemed, it is permitted to partake of it.

When does the above apply? When the animal was consecrated before it contracted a permanent blemish or it contracted a temporary blemish before it was consecrated. If, however, one consecrated an animal with a permanent physical blemish as a sacrifice for the altar, it is only forbidden to be shorn and for work to be performed with it according to Rabbinic Law. If it is redeemed, it is like an ordinary animal in all regards and like an ordinary animal, it may be shorn and work may be performed with it. The only exceptions to this principle are a firstborn animal and one separated as the tithes. In these instances, the holiness falls on their physical bodies even if at the outset they have permanent physical blemishes. They are never considered as ordinary animals entirely and it is always forbidden to shear them or perform work with them.

It is forbidden to mate an animal that is a firstborn or a sacrificial animal that was disqualified.

Halacha 10

It is permitted, even as an initial preference, to pull off hair from a sacrificial animal in order to show a physical blemish to an expert. It is forbidden to benefit from the hair that was pulled off or which fell from a consecrated animal, a firstborn animal, or one designated as the tithes, even after it was redeemed and slaughtered because of its blemish. This is a decree lest the sacrifice of such an animal be delayed, because it does not come to bring about atonement.

It is, by contrast, permitted to benefit from wool which fell from an animal designated as a sin-offering or a guilt-offering after it has been redeemed and slaughtered because of a physical blemish. The rationale is that since these offerings come to bring about atonement, the owners will not delay their sacrifice. There is an unresolved doubt if it is permitted to benefit from wool that was pulled off from a burnt-offering.

It is permitted to benefit from any wool that becomes pulled off from sacrificial animals after they have contracted a blemish, for it was not pulled off intentionally.The only exception is the wool of a firstborn animal and one designated as a tithe. In those instances, it is forbidden to benefit from wool even if it was pulled off from such an animal after it contracted a blemish.

Halacha 11

When a person slaughters a firstborn or another consecrated animal, he may pull off the wool from either side to make a place for the knife, provided he does not remove the wool from its place.

Halacha 12

It is forbidden to shear and perform work with animals consecrated for the improvement of the Temple according to Rabbinic decree. According to Scriptural Law, they are not forbidden. Therefore one who shears such animals or performs work with them is not liable for lashes. He does, however, receive stripes for rebellious conduct.

Halacha 13

When one consecrates a fetus for the altar, it is forbidden to perform work with its mother according to Rabbinic decree. The rationale for this decree is that work weakens the fetus. It is, however, permitted to shear the mother, because this does not harm the fetus.

When one consecrates one limb of an animal - whether for the improvement of the Temple or for the altar - there is an unresolved doubt whether or not the entire animal is forbidden to be sheared or for work to be performed with it. Therefore, if one performs such an activity, he is not liable for lashes.

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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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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
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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