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Issurei Mizbeiach - Chapter 1

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Issurei Mizbeiach - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach

They contain fourteen mitzvot: four positive commandments and ten negative commandments. They are:

1) To offer for all sacrifices only unblemished cattle;
2) Not to set apart a blemished beast for the altar;
3) Not to slaughter (such a beast for the altar);
4) Not to sprinkle its blood;
5) Not to burn its fat (on the altar);
6) Not to offer up a beast with a temporary blemish;
7) Not to offer a beast with a blemish, even when presented by gentiles;
8) Not to inflict a blemish in cattle set apart for the altar;
9) To redeem cattle, set apart for the altar, which have become unfit to be offered up;
10) To offer up a beast, only when at least eight days old; before then, it is immature and is not to be offered up;
11) Not to offer up for sacrifice the hire of a harlot or "the price of a dog";
12) Not to burn on the altar leaven or honey;
13) To salt all sacrifices;
14) Not to omit seasoning all sacrifices with salt.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות איסורי המזבח - הקדמה

יש בכללן ארבע עשרה מצוות: ארבע מצוות עשה, ועשר מצוות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן:

(א) להקריב כל הקרבנות תמימים.
(ב) שלא להקדיש בעל מום למזבח.
(ג) שלא יִשחט.
(ד) שלא יזרוק דמו.
(ה) שלא יקטיר חלבו.
(ו) שלא יקריב בעל מום עובר.
(ז) שלא יקריב בעל מום אפילו בקרבנות הגוים.
(ח) שלא יטיל מום בקדשים.
(ט) לפדות פסולי המוקדשין.
(י) להקריב מיום השמיני והלאה, וקודם זמן זה הוא נקרא "מחוסר זמן" ואין מקריבין אותו.
(יא) שלא להקריב אתנן ומחיר.
(יב) שלא להקטיר שאור ודבש.
(יג) למלוח כל הקרבנות.
(יד) שלא להשבית מלח מעל הקרבנות.

וביאור מצוות אלו בפרקים אלו:

1

It is a positive commandment for all the sacrifices to be unblemished and of choice quality,1 as [Leviticus 22:21] states: "unblemished to arouse favor."2 This is a positive commandment.3

א

מצות עשה להיות כל הקרבנות תמימין ומובחרין שנאמר תמים יהיה לרצון זו מצות עשה:

2

[Conversely,] anyone who consecrates a blemished animal for the altar violates a negative commandment4 and is liable for lashes5 for consecrating it, as [ibid.:20] states: "Whatever has a blemish should not be sacrificed." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning against consecrating a blemished animal. Even one who consecrates such an animal for the money to pay for libations6 is liable for lashes, for this represents a disgrace to the sacrifices.7

ב

וכל המקדיש בהמה שיש בה מום לגבי המזבח עובר בלא תעשה ולוקה על הקדשו שנאמר כל אשר בו מום לא תקריבו מפי השמועה למדו שזו אזהרה למקדיש בעלי מומין אפילו הקדישו לדמי [נסכים] לוקה שבזיון קדשים הוא:

3

[When a person consecrates an animal and] intends to say [that it is consecrated as] a peace offering, but actually says "as a burnt offering," or [intended to consecrate it] as a burnt offering, but said, "a peace offering," his statements are of no consequence unless his mouth and his heart are identical.8 Therefore if one intended to consecrate a blemished animal as a burnt offering, but consecrated it as peace offering or intended to consecrate it as a peace offering, but consecrated it as burnt offering, he is not liable for lashes even though he intended to perform a transgression.

If someone thought that it was permitted to consecrate a blemished animal for the altar and did so, the consecration is effective and he is not liable for lashes.9

ג

המתכוין לומר שלמים ואמר עולה עולה ואמר שלמים לא אמר כלום עד שיהיו פיו ולבו שוים לפיכך המתכוין לומר על בעל מום עולה והקדישו שלמים או שלמים ואמר עולה אע"פ שנתכוון לאיסור אינו לוקה מי שדימה שמותר להקדיש בעל מום למזבח והקדיש ה"ז קדוש ואינו לוקה:

4

One who slaughters a blemished animal for the sake of a sacrifice10 is liable for lashes,11 for [ibid.:22] states: "Do not offer these12 to God." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning to one who slaughters.

Similarly, one who pours the blood of blemished animals on the altar is liable for lashes,13 for, with regard to them,14 [ibid.:24] states: "Do not offer to God." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning to one who pours the blood of blemished animals on the altar.

And also one who sets afire the selected portions of blemished sacrifices on the altar is liable for lashes,15 for, with regard to them,16 [ibid.:22] states: "Do not place them as a fire offering on the altar." This refers to the fats. Thus we can deduce that one who consecrates a blemished animal, slaughter it, poured its blood [on the altar], and set afire its selected portions is worthy of four sets of lashes.

ד

השוחט בעל מום לשם קרבן לוקה שהרי נאמר בבעלי מומין לא תקריבו אלה לה' ומפי השמועה למדו שזה אזהרה לשוחט וכן הזורק דם בעלי מומין על המזבח לוקה שהרי נאמר בהן לא תקריבו (אלה) ליי' מפי השמועה למדו שזה אזהרה לזורק וכן המקטיר אימורי בעלי מומין על המזבח לוקה שנאמר ואשה לא תתנו מהם על המזבח אלו החלבים נמצאת למד שאם הקדיש בעל מום ושחטו וזרק דמו והקטיר אימוריו לוקה ארבע מלקיות:

5

One transgresses the above commandments whether the animal has a permanent blemish or a temporary blemish, he violates all of these commandments, as [Deuteronomy 17:1] states: "Do not sacrifice to God your Lord an ox or a sheep that has a blemish." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning [against offering] an animal with a temporary blemish,17 for example, an animal had a moist skin eruption or a boil.18 If he sacrificed, it, he is liable for lashes.

ה

אחד בעל מום קבוע או בעל מום עובר אם הקריבו עובר בכל אלו שנאמר לא תזבח לה' אלהיך שור ושה אשר יהיה בו מום מפי השמועה למדו שזה אזהרה לבעל מום עובר כגון שהיה בבהמה גרב לח או חזזית אם הקריבה לוקה:

6

[The above applies], not only to sacrifices of the Jewish people, but also to the sacrifices brought by gentiles.19 If [a priest] offered [such sacrifices] and the animals were blemished, he is liable for lashes,20 as [Leviticus 22:25] states: "From the hands of foreigners, you may not offer the food of your God from all of these."21

ו

ולא קרבנות ישראל בלבד אלא אף קרבנות עכו"ם אם הקריבן והן בעלי מומין לוקה שנאמר ומיד בן נכר לא תקריבו את לחם אלהיכם מכל אלה:

7

One who brings about a blemish in a sacrificial animal, e.g., he blinded its eye or cut off its hand,22 is liable for lashes.23 For with regard to a sacrifice, [Leviticus 22:21] states: "It shall not have any blemish." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning not to cause a blemish."

Lashes are given [for the violation of this prohibition] only when the Temple was standing, for then [the animal] was fit to be offered a sacrifice and [the person] disqualified it. In the present age, by contrast, even though one transgressed a negative commandment, he is not liable for lashes.24

ז

המטיל מום בקדשים כגון שסימא עינו או קטע ידו לוקה שהרי נאמר בקרבן כל מום לא יהיה בו מפי השמועה למדו שזה אזהרה שלא יתן בו מום ואינו לוקה אלא בזמן שבית המקדש קיים שהרי היה ראוי לקרבן ופסלו אבל בזמן הזה אף על פי שעבר בלא תעשה אינו לוקה:

8

If a person brought about a blemish25 in a sacrificial animal and another person came and brought about a second blemish, the second person is not liable for lashes.26

ח

הטיל מום בקדשים ובא אחר והטיל בה מום אחר השני אינו לוקה:

9

[This prohibition applies] both with regard to one who causes a blemish in sacrificial animals themselves or in animals to which their holiness was transferred27with the exception of a firstborn or a tithed animal. In those instances, one who causes a blemish in an animal to which their holiness was transferred is not liable for lashes, for they are not fit to be sacrificed, as will be explained in the appropriate place.28 Similarly, one who causes a blemish in the ninth animal which was mistakenly called the tenth,29 is not liable for lashes.

ט

אחד המטיל מום בקדשים עצמן או בתמורתן חוץ מן הבכור ומן המעשר שהמטיל מום בתמורתן אינו לוקה לפי שאינן ראויין לקרבן כמו שיתבאר במקומו וכן המטיל מום בתשיעי של טעות עשירי אינו לוקה:

10

Although one who consecrates a blemished animal30 [for the sacrifices of] the altar is liable for lashes,31 [the animal] becomes consecrated. It must be redeemed [after] evaluation by a priest.32 It then reverts to the status of an ordinary [animal]33 and its money should be used to purchase [an animal for the same type of] sacrifice. This law also applies when a consecrated animal contracts a disqualifying blemish.34

It is a positive commandment to redeem sacrificial animals that contracted disqualifying blemishes and cause them to revert to the status of an ordinary animals so that one may partake of them,35 as [Deuteronomy 12:15] states: "Nevertheless, whenever your heart desires, you may slaughter and partake of meat." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that the verse is speaking about consecrated animals that must be redeemed.36We already explained in [Hilchot] Arachin37 that [Leviticus 27:11]: "With regard to any impure animal38 of which a sacrifice should not be brought as an offering to God, [you shall have the animal stand before the priest...]",39 is speaking about blemished animals that have been redeemed.

י

המקדיש בעלת מום למזבח אף ע"פ שלוקה הרי זה נתקדשה ותפדה בערך הכהן ותצא לחולין ויביא בדמיה קרבן וכן הדין בבהמת קדשים שנפל בה מום ומצות עשה הוא לפדות קדשים שנולד בהן מום ויצאו לחולין ויאכלו שנאמר רק בכל אות נפשך תזבח ואכלת בשר מפי השמועה למדו שהכתוב מדבר בפסולי המוקדשין שיפדו וכבר ביארנו בערכין שזה שנאמר ואם כל בהמה טמאה אשר לא יקריבו ממנו קרבן לה' שהוא מדבר בבעלי מומין שנפדו:

11

What are the differences between [the laws pertaining to an animal] with a permanent blemish and one with a temporary blemish? If an animal with a permanent blemish40 gives birth while it is consecrated,41 the offspring must be redeemed; it then receives the status of an ordinary animal even if it is unblemished.42[The rationale is that] a secondary entity should not be treated with greater severity than the primary entity.43 If it became pregnant before it was redeemed and it gave birth after it was redeemed, the offspring has the status of an ordinary animal.44If [the consecrated animal that was blemished] died before it was redeemed, it should be redeemed after it died.45 [The rationale is that] holiness never encompassed its actual body only on its worth, because it had a permanent blemish.46

If, by contrast, one consecrates an animal that possesses a temporary blemish or he consecrates an unblemished animal and after he consecrated it, it contracted a permanent blemish [different laws apply]. If it died before it was redeemed, it should be buried like other unblemished consecrated animals,47 because it must be stood before the court and evaluated,48 as we explained in [Hilchot] Arachin.49 If it was slaughtered before it was redeemed, it may be redeemed as long as it is making convulsive motions.50 Afterwards, one may partake of it. If it gave birth, its offspring may be sacrificed.51 If it became pregnant before it was redeemed52and it gave birth before it was redeemed, the offspring is forbidden.53 It may not be redeemed. What should be done? Before the mother is redeemed, the offspring should be dedicated to the same [type of] sacrifice as its mother,54 because it may not be offered because of [the sanctification of] its mother, because its [holiness] comes from sanctification that was suspended.55

יא

מה בין בעלת מום קבוע לבעלת מום עובר שבעלת מום קבוע אם ילדה והיא קדש יפדה הולד ויצא לחולין אע"פ שהוא תמים כדי שלא יהיה טפל חמור מן העיקר ואם נתעברה קודם שתפדה וילדה אחר פדיון הולד חולין ואם מתה קודם שתפדה נפדית אחר שתמות שהרי לא חלה קדושה גמורה על גופה אלא על דמיה מפני שהיתה בעלת מום קבוע אבל המקדיש בעלת מום עובר או תמימה ואחר שהקדישה נולד לה מום קבוע אם מתה קודם שתפדה תקבר כשאר הקדשים התמימים מפני שהיא צריכה העמדה והערכה כמו שביארנו בערכין ואם נשחטה קודם שתפדה ה"ז נפדית כל זמן שהיא מפרכסת ואח"כ תאכל ואם ילדה יקרב ולדה נתעברה קודם שתפדה וילדה אחר שנפדית הולד אסור ואינו נפדה אלא כיצד יעשה סמוך לפדיון אמו מתפיס זה הולד לשם אותו הזבח לפי שאינו יכול להקריבו [מכח אמו] מפני שבא מכח קדושה דחויה:

12

Whenever a consecrated animal that was disqualified56 is redeemed, it may be slaughtered in a butchers' market and sold there, [after] being weighed with a scale like ordinary meat.57 [The only] exceptions are the firstborn animals and the tithes.58

[The rationale for the distinction is that] selling the animal in the market causes its price to rise. Therefore other sacrifices whose value remains consecrated - for they are sold and the proceeds of the sale are used to bring another animal as a sacrifice - it should be sold in the market like an ordinary animal.59 In contrast, with regard to a first born animal and a tithed animal - since the proceeds of their sale do not remain consecrated, instead, the animals may be eaten [as ordinary meat,] because of the blemish, as will be explained60 - they may not be slaughtered in a butchers' market or sold there.61 Even if [the value of] the firstborn animal was consecrated,62 it should not be weighed in a scale and sold in a market.63 [The rationale is that] one may consecrate only an article that he has acquired in a complete and total manner.64

יב

כל פסולי המוקדשין כשיפדו מותר לשוחטן בשוק של טבחים ולמוכרן שם ולשקול בשרם בליטרא כשאר החולין חוץ מן הבכור ומן המעשר מפני שמכירתם בשוק מוסיף בדמיהן שאר הקדשים שדמיהן חוזרין להקדש שהרי מביא בדמיהם בהמה אחרת מוכרין אותן בשוק כחולין אבל הבכור והמעשר שאין דמיהם להקדש אלא נאכלין במומן כמו שיתבאר אין שוחטין אותם בשוק של טבחים ואין מוכרין אותם שם אפילו התפיס בכור לבדק הבית אינו נשקל בליטרא ולא ימכר בשוק שאינו יכול להתפיס אלא דבר הקנוי לו קנין גמור:

Footnotes
1.

See the conclusion of these halachot (Chapter 7, Halachah 11).

2.

The Sifra explains that the phrase should be understood, not only as a description.

3.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 61) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 286) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

4.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 91) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 285) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. One is liable for merely consecrating such an animal even if it is never actually offered on the altar (Sefer HaChinuch).

5.

The Sefer HaChinuch questions why lashes should be given, because the transgression does not involve a deed, but explains that it can be considered comparable to temurah, exchanging an animal for a sacred animal. There too the exchange/consecration of the animal is considered as significant enough to warrant lashes.

6.

And thus the animal will be sold, rather than offered on the altar itself.

7.

For as above, the sacrifices should be associated only with perfect and unblemished animals. Anything less is an insult to He to Whom they are offered.

8.

See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 14:12; Hilchot Nizirut 9:8. This is a general principle: Whenever a person wants to take a vow, consecrate an article, or set it aside as holy, his statements must reflect the will of his heart.

9.

Since he did not know of the prohibition involved, his act does not minimize the holiness of the sacrifices. Hence the consecration is effective. And since, he did not act intentionally. He is not liable for lashes. The Ra'avad takes issue with the Rambam on this point, based on his understanding of Temurah 17a. The commentaries elaborate on this difference of opinion.

10.

The Kessef Mishnehemphasizes that he must slaughter the animal for the sake of a sacrifice to be liable.

11.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 92) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 288) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

12.

The verse speaks of animals with physical blemishes.

13.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 93) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 289) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

14.

The verse speaks of animals with physical blemishes.

15.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 94) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 290) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

16.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 92) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 288) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

17.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 95) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 494) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. In his hasagot to Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban differs and maintains that this should not be considered as a separate commandment, but rather as an element of the above commandments. Even according to the Rambam, this one negative commandment includes all of the three prohibitions mentioned above.

18.

See Chapter 2, Halachah 7, where these blemishes are listed.

19.

See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 3:2-3 for a description of these sacrifices.

20.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 96) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 292) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

21.

The verse speaks of animals with physical blemishes.

22.

The examples the Rambam gives are permanent blemishes. Generally, temporary blemishes cannot be brought about by human acts. Moreover, even if a person does cause a temporary blemish, he does not violate this prohibition. There is a logical basis for this conclusion, because as long as the animal is not permanently blemished, it is not disqualified as an offering (Radbaz; Minchat Chinuch, mitzvah 287).

23.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 97) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 287) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

24.

The Radbaz explains that this concept can be derived from the prooftext cited in Halachah 1: "unblemished to arouse favor." Implied is that when a sacrificial animal can arouse favor, i.e., when there is a Temple where it can be offered, it must be unblemished. If that is not the case, there is no penalty for causing such a blemish.

The Kessef Mishnehand other commentaries have noted that the Rambam's ruling appears to be in contradiction with Avodah Zarah 13b which implies that there is no prohibition at all in causing a blemish in the present era, because there is no Temple where the sacrifices can be offered. The Minchat Chinuch (loc. cit.) and others explain that the difference can be resolved on the basis of the Rambam's ruling (Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 6:15) that if the altar is constructed on the Temple Mount, sacrifices may be brought even if the entire Temple has not been rebuilt.

25.

From Chapter 2, Halachah 15, it would appear that if the first merely brought about a temporary blemish, the second would be liable.

26.

For the animal was already disqualified due to the actions of the first person. Although the second person is not liable for lashes, he is still considered to have violated a Scriptural prohibition.

27.

Although it is forbidden to transfer the holiness of a sacrificial animal to another animal, once that act has been performed, the second animal is consecrated and the prohibitions associated with a sacrifice apply to it.

28.

Hilchot Temurah 3:1.

29.

As explained in Hilchot Bechorot 8:1-2, when a person is tithing his flocks and he mistakenly calls the ninth animal to emerge, the tenth. In such an instance, a certain measure of holiness is conveyed upon that animal and it cannot be eaten until it becomes blemished. It should not, however, be offered on the altar. Since it is not fit to be offered, causing a blemish in it does not make one liable for lashes.

30.

This is speaking about an animal with a permanent blemish. The laws that apply if it has merely a temporary blemish are mentioned in the following halachah.

31.

As stated in Halachah 1.

32.

As indicated by the sources cited by the Rambam at the conclusion of this halachah, the evaluation of the animal's worth must be made by a priest and not by any other person.

33.

Once such an animal has been redeemed, it may be shorn or used for labor (Hilchot Me'ilah 1:9).

34.

I.e., they should be redeemed and a sacrifice brought with the money, as stated in Hilchot Arachin 5:11.

35.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 86) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 441) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

36.

I.e., the new concept taught by the verse is not that one may slaughter ordinary animals and partake of their meat, for there is no need for a verse to teach us that. Instead, the new idea is that consecrated animals can be redeemed and then used as food. It is, however, forbidden to shear them and perform work with them even after they have been redeemed (Hilchot Me'ilah, loc. cit.).

37.

Hilchot Arachin, loc. cit.

38.

Bechorot 37b explains that the intent is not an animal from an impure species, but rather an animal from a kosher species that became disqualified because of a blemish, for there is a second verse (27:27) that speaks about evaluating non-kosher animals.

39.

To be evaluated and then it may be redeemed.

40.

It had a permanent blemish before it was consecrated.

41.

I.e., before it was redeemed.

42.

This represents a departure from the usual practice, because generally, unblemished animals are not redeemed, but are offered as sacrifices; see Teumrah 33b.

43.

I.e., it would not be appropriate for the animal that was consecrated not to be offered as a sacrifice and its offspring, which was never directly consecrated, to be used for that purpose.

44.

For it was redeemed together with its mother.

45.

And then its meat can be used even as food for animals, and certainly for humans. Moreover, a formal process of evaluation by a court is not required before its redemption.

46.

The Rambam is explaining why leniency is granted to redeem it after it died although generally we do not redeem a consecrated animal to feed its meat to the dogs (Chapter 2, Halachah 10; based on Temurah 6:5). In this instance, however, because the animal was blemished permanently, the consecration never affected its actual body, only its worth (i.e., it was not destined to be sacrificed itself, but rather to be sold and the proceeds used to purchase a sacrifice). Hence, after it dies, it can still be sold after it is redeemed.

47.

Rather than redeemed. See Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashim 19:11.

48.

And this process of evaluation must be performed while the animal is alive.

49.

Hilchot Arachin 5:12.

50.

For as long as it is making convulsive motions, it is considered alive and the process of evaluation can take place (ibid.:13).

51.

See Hilchot Temurah 4:9.

52.

But after it contracted a permanent blemish.

53.

To be used for ordinary purposes by Rabbinic decree. Although according to Scriptural Law, its holiness has departed, our Sages forbade its use, lest many such animals be maintained and flocks of them raised (Bechorot 15b).

54.

It then receives holiness on its own accord, independent of its mother.

55.

Since the mother was unfit to be sacrificed because of its blemish, its holiness is considered to be suspended. Because the holiness of the mother was suspended, the offspring is not considered to be consecrated to the complete extent. Hence it must be consecrated again.

(It must be noted that the commentaries have questioned this ruling, because in Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 15:4, the Rambam writes that the holiness of consecrated animals is never suspended. It can, however, be explained that a suspension stemming from a permanent blemish is different, because the animal can never be fit for sacrifice again. See a parallel in Hilchot Temurah 3:4.)

56.

Because of a blemish or similar reason.

57.

I.e., we do not say that since the animal was originally consecrated, it is disrespectful to treat it in this manner after it was redeemed. The Radbaz adds that the purchaser need not be notified that the meat came from a sacrifice that was disqualified.

58.

See Hilchot Bechorot 1:18; 6:5-7 which mentions the restrictions against selling such meat.

59.

So that the best price could be received for it.

60.

Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashim 6:18; Hilchot Bechorot 1:3; 6:4; Hilchot Temurah 3:1-2.

61.

For this represents disdain for consecrated property.

62.

By the priest who received it after it was blemished.

63.

One might think that since its value will be given to the Temple treasury, one would be allowed to sell it like normal meat to increase its price, as explained above.

64.

In this instance, the priest cannot sell this animal in the market as private property. Hence he does not have the right to give this privilege to the Temple treasury (Rashi, Zevachim 75b).

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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