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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 2

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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 2


The High Priest enters the Holy of Holies each year only on Yom Kippur.1 An ordinary priest may enter the Sanctuary for service every day.2


אֵין כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל נִכְנָס לְקֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים אֶלָּא מִיּוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים לְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים. וְכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט נִכְנָס לַקֹּדֶשׁ לַעֲבוֹדָה בְּכָל יוֹם:


The priests were all3 warned not to enter the Sanctuary or the Holy of Holies when they are not in the midst of the service,4 as [Leviticus 16:2] states: "He shall not come to the Holy Chamber at all time" - this refers to the Holy of Holies. "...Within the curtain" - this warns [the priests against unwarranted entry] into the entire Temple.5


וְהֻזְהֲרוּ כָּל הַכֹּהֲנִים שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּנְסוּ לַקֹּדֶשׁ אוֹ לְקֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁעַת עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז ב) "וְאַל יָבֹא בְכָל עֵת אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ" זֶה קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים (ויקרא טז ב) "מִבֵּית לַפָּרֹכֶת" לְהַזְהִיר עַל כָּל הַבַּיִת:


A priest - whether an ordinary priest or a High Priest - who enters the Holy of Holies on any of the other days of the year, or a High Priest who enters there on Yom Kippur outside the time of service, he is liable for death at the hand of heaven, as [ibid.] states: "And he shall not die."

How many times does he enter on Yom Kippur? Four, as will be explained in the appropriate place.6 If he enters a fifth time, he is liable for death at the hand of heaven.


כֹּהֵן שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְקֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים בִּשְׁאָר יְמוֹת הַשָּׁנָה בֵּין כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט בֵּין כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אוֹ כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁנִּכְנַס לוֹ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁעַת הָעֲבוֹדָה חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז ב) "וְלֹא יָמוּת". וְכַמָּה פְּעָמִים הוּא נִכְנָס לְשָׁם בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אַרְבַּע כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. וְאִם נִכְנָס חֲמִישִׁית חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם:


One - whether an ordinary priest or a High priest - who enters the Sacred Chamber outside the Holy of Holies, not for the sake of service, nor prostrating oneself,7 is liable for lashes, but is not liable for death. [This is derived from the above verse which states:] "Before the covering [that is upon the Ark] so that he will not die." [Implied is that] for [unauthorized entry into] the Holy of Holies, he is liable for death, but [entering] the remainder of the Sanctuary is merely the violation of a negative commandment and is punishable by lashes.


וְהַנִּכְנָס לַקֹּדֶשׁ חוּץ לְקֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים שֶׁלֹּא לַעֲבוֹדָה אוֹ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת בֵּין הֶדְיוֹט בֵּין גָּדוֹל לוֹקֶה. וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז ב) "אֶל פְּנֵי הַכַּפֹּרֶת" (ויקרא טז ב) "וְלֹא יָמוּת". עַל קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים בְּמִיתָה וְעַל שְׁאָר הַבַּיִת בְּלָאו וְלוֹקֶה:


A priest - whether an ordinary priest or a High priest - who departs from the Temple is liable for death8 [at the hand of heaven] only in the midst of his service,9 as [ibid 10:7] states: "From the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, you shall not depart, lest you die." Implied is that you should not abandon the service and leave hastily and in panic because of this decree.10 Similarly, the charge [issued to] the High Priest [ibid. 21:12]: "He shall not depart from the Temple," applies only in the midst of his service, i.e., that he should not abandon his service and depart.


כֹּהֵן שֶׁיָּצָא מִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בִּשְׁעַת הָעֲבוֹדָה בִּלְבַד חַיָּב מִיתָה בֵּין כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל בֵּין כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא י ז) "וּמִפֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֹא תֵצְאוּ פֶּן תָּמֻתוּ". כְּלוֹמַר לֹא תָּנִיחוּ עֲבוֹדָה וְתֵצְאוּ מְבֹהָלִים וּדְחוּפִים מִפְּנֵי גְּזֵרָה זוֹ. וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל (ויקרא כא יב) "וּמִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא יֵצֵא" אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת הָעֲבוֹדָה בִּלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יָנִיחַ עֲבוֹדָתוֹ וְיֵצֵא:


If so, why was this warning repeated for the High Priest? [Because there is a difference between the laws that apply to him and those which apply to an ordinary priest]. When an ordinary priest was in the midst of his service in the Temple and he heard that a person for whom he is obligated to mourn has died, he should not perform sacrificial service, even though he does not leave the Temple,11 because he is in an acute state of mourning.12 if he performed service while in an acute state of mourning, he profanes his service, whether he is offering an individual sacrifice or a communal offering. A High Priest, by contrast, performs sacrificial service while he is in a state of acute mourning, as [implied by ibid.]: "From the Temple, he should not depart and not profane." Implied is that he should remain [in the Temple] and perform the service with which he was involved and it does not become profaned.


אִם כֵּן מִפְּנֵי מָה נִשְׁנֵית אַזְהָרָה זוֹ בְּכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל. שֶׁכֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט שֶׁהָיָה בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ וְשָׁמַע שֶׁמֵּת לוֹ מֵת שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לְהִתְאַבֵּל עָלָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא מִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא אוֹנֵן וְאִם עָבַד וְהוּא אוֹנֵן שֶׁל תּוֹרָה חִלֵּל עֲבוֹדָתוֹ בֵּין בְּקָרְבַּן יָחִיד בֵּין בְּקָרְבַּן צִבּוּר. אֲבָל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל עוֹבֵד כְּשֶׁהוּא אוֹנֵן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא יב) "וּמִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא יֵצֵא וְלֹא יְחַלֵּל" כְּלוֹמַר יֵשֵׁב וְיַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁהָיָה עוֹסֵק בָּהּ וְאֵינָהּ מִתְחַלֶּלֶת:


What is the source that teaches that the service of one in an acute state of mourning is invalid? [It is derived from] an inference from a less severe situation to a more severe one.13 A priest disqualified because of a physical deformity may partake of sacrificial foods.14 Nevertheless, if he performs service, he profanes it.15 How much more so should one who is in acute mourning and thus forbidden to partake of sacrificial foods16 - as [Deuteronomy 26:14] states: "I did not eat from it in a state of acute morning" - profane his service [if he performs it].


וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁעֲבוֹדַת הָאוֹנֵן פְּסוּלָה. מִקַּל וָחֹמֶר. אִם בַּעַל מוּם שֶׁאוֹכֵל בְּקָדָשִׁים אִם עָבַד חִלֵּל. אוֹנֵן שֶׁהוּא אָסוּר בְּקָדָשִׁים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כו יד) "לֹא אָכַלְתִּי בְאֹנִי מִמֶּנּוּ" דִּין הוּא שֶׁיְּחַלֵּל:


Although a High Priest may perform service while he is in a state of acute mourning, he is forbidden to partake of sacrificial food, as [Leviticus 10:19] states: "If I had partaken of the sin-offering today, would it have found favor in God's eyes."17 Similarly, he does not participate in the division of the sacrificial foods so that he could partake of the food in the evening.

When a person in an acute state of mourning performs sacrificial service, he is not liable for lashes. He is permitted to touch sacrificial foods even though he did not immerse himself [in a mikveh], for this safeguard was enforced only with regard to eating. With regard to touching [objects], he is considered as pure, as will be explained in the appropriate place.18


וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל עוֹבֵד אוֹנֵן אָסוּר לֶאֱכל בְּקָדָשִׁים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא י יט) "וְאָכַלְתִּי חַטָּאת הַיּוֹם הַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינֵי ה'". וְכֵן אֵינוֹ חוֹלֵק לֶאֱכל בָּעֶרֶב. אוֹנֵן שֶׁעָבַד אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה. וּמֻתָּר לִגַּע בְּקָדָשִׁים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא טָבַל שֶׁלֹּא עָשׂוּ מַעֲלָה אֶלָּא בַּאֲכִילָה אֲבָל בִּנְגִיעָה הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:


What is meant by a person in an acute state of mourning? One who lost one of the relatives19 for whom he is required to mourn. On the day of the person's death, he is considered in acute mourning according to Scriptural Law. And at night, he is in acute mourning according to Rabbinic Law.


אֵי זֶהוּ אוֹנֵן זֶה שֶׁמֵּת לוֹ מֵת מִן הַקְּרוֹבִים שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לְהִתְאַבֵּל עֲלֵיהֶן בְּיוֹם הַמִּיתָה בִּלְבַד הוּא הַנִּקְרָא אוֹנֵן דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְלַיְלָה הוּא אוֹנֵן מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:


When [it was necessary] to wait several days and [only] afterwards, a corpse was buried, for all those days after the day of the deceased's passing, [his relative] is considered in an acute state of mourning according to Rabbinic Law. This also [applies] with regard to the day of burial, but not the following night.

Therefore if [a close relative of a priest] dies and he buries him after the day of his death, throughout the day of the burial, he may not offer or partake of sacrifices according to Rabbinic Law. He should then immerse himself and partake of sacrifices at night. The day on which a person hears a report that a relative of his died within 30 days20 and the day on which he gathers his bones21 is considered as the day of one's burial, but [the restrictions] do not apply at night. On the day of [a close relative's] death, by contrast, just as it is forbidden to partake of sacrificial foods during the day according to Scriptural Law, so too, it is forbidden for him to partake of them that night according to Rabbinic Law. [The only] exception is the Paschal sacrifice which he may eat at night, as will be explained in the appropriate place.22


וּמֵת שֶׁשָּׁהָה יָמִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִקְבַּר כָּל אוֹתָם הַיָּמִים שֶׁאַחַר יוֹם הַמִּיתָה הוּא אוֹנֵן מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם וְכֵן יוֹם הַקְּבוּרָה וְאֵינוֹ תּוֹפֵשׂ לֵילוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ מִי שֶׁמֵּת לוֹ מֵת (וּקְבָרוֹ) לְאַחַר יוֹם הַמִּיתָה כָּל יוֹם הַקְּבוּרָה אֵינוֹ מַקְרִיב וְאֵינוֹ אוֹכֵל בְּקָדָשִׁים מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְטוֹבֵל וְאוֹכֵל לָעֶרֶב. וְיוֹם שְׁמוּעָה קְרוֹבָה וְיוֹם לִקּוּט עֲצָמוֹת הֲרֵי הוּא כְּיוֹם קְבוּרָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ תּוֹפֵשׂ לֵילוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. לְפִיכָךְ טוֹבֵל וְאוֹכֵל בְּקָדָשִׁים לָעֶרֶב. אֲבָל יוֹם הַמִּיתָה כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאָסוּר לֶאֱכל בּוֹ קָדָשִׁים מִן הַתּוֹרָה כָּךְ אָסוּר לֶאֱכל בְּלֵילוֹ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. חוּץ מִן הַפֶּסַח בִּלְבַד שֶׁהוּא אוֹכֵל לָעֶרֶב כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:


Throughout the seven days of mourning, a mourner should not send sacrifices [to be offered in the Temple].23 [Indeed, he should not send] even wine, wood, or frankincense. Similarly, a person afflicted with tzara'at24 should not send his sacrifices [to be offered in the Temple]. For as long as he is not fit to enter the camp [of the Levites],25 he is not fit for his sacrifices to be offered. There is an unresolved question whether a person under a ban of ostracism26 may send his sacrifices [to be offered] or not.27 Hence, if they were offered on his behalf, [his obligation] is satisfied.


הָאָבֵל אֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּחַ קָרְבְּנוֹתָיו כָּל שִׁבְעָה. אֲפִלּוּ יַיִן אוֹ עֵצִים אוֹ לְבוֹנָה. וְכֵן מְצֹרָע אֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּחַ קָרְבְּנוֹתָיו כָּל זְמַן שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְבִיאָה אֶל הַמַּחֲנֶה אֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְהַקְרָבָה. אֲבָל הַמְנֻדֶּה יֵשׁ בּוֹ סָפֵק אִם מְשַׁלֵּחַ אִם אֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּחַ לְפִיכָךְ אִם הִקְרִיבוּ עָלָיו נִרְצָה:


A person who is impure because of contact with a dead lizard or the like and an uncircumcised person may send their sacrifices28 and they are offered with the exception of the Paschal sacrifice. That sacrifice may not be offered for a person who is impure because of contact with a dead lizard.29 Nor may a Paschal sacrifice be offered for an uncircumcised person, as will be explained.30 No sacrifices at all are offered for a person who is impure because of contact with a corpse until he becomes ritually pure.31


טְמֵא שֶׁרֶץ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ וְהֶעָרֵל מְשַׁלְּחִין אֶת קָרְבְּנוֹתֵיהֶם וּמַקְרִיבִין עֲלֵיהֶן חוּץ מִפֶּסַח שֶׁאֵין שׁוֹחֲטִין אוֹתוֹ עַל טְמֵא שֶׁרֶץ וְאֵין שׁוֹחֲטִין עַל הֶעָרֵל פֶּסַח כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. אֲבָל טְמֵא מֵת אֵין מַקְרִיבִין עָלָיו קָרְבָּן כְּלָל עַד שֶׁיִּטָּהֵר:

Test Yourself on This Chapter


As explained in Halachah 3.


I.e., to offer incense, kindle the menorah, or to bow.


According to its simple meaning, the prooftext cited below refers only to Aaron. Nevertheless, through the Biblical exegesis, the Sifra interprets it as referring to all priests (Kessef Mishneh).


Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 68) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 184) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. In Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam explains that this mitzvah is an expression of honor and reverence toward the Temple.


The Kessef Mishneh questions the Rambam's interpretation of the verse, for seemingly, "within the curtain" refers to the Holy of Holies. On the surface, the opposite would be more appropriate: "The Holy Chamber" could be interpreted as referring to the entire Temple and "within the curtain" to the Holy of Holies. He explains the verse as follows: Were the verse to have mentioned "the Holy Chamber" alone, we would have thought that it refers only to the Holy of Holies and not to the Temple at large. Since, however, the verse adds "within the curtain," we understand that it refers to the Holy of Holies" and "the Holy Chamber" refers to the entire Sanctuary.

There is, however, a difference in the punishments for which one is liable for the violation of the two aspects of this commandment, as the Rambam states in Halachah 4.


Hilchot Avodat Yom HaKippurim, ch. 4.


With regard to the priests' prostrating themselves, see Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 5:11. The Kessef Mishneh explains that the priests were not allowed to enter the Sanctuary to prostrate themselves at all times. Instead, they would enter only at a specific time, when the service of the morning was completed.


Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 165) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 151) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.


If, however, he is not involved in the Temple service, he is not required to remain in the Temple.


The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam, maintaining that the prooftext the Rambam cites was directed to Aaron's sons and applied only at the time of the death of Nadav and Avihu at the dedication of the Sanctuary. In other instances, there is no prohibition for an ordinary priest to leave the Temple. The prohibition applies to the High Priest alone. The Kessef Mishneh refers to the Sifra which - as interpreted by the Ramban - serves as support for the Rambam's ruling.


The Ra'avad amplifies his difference of opinion with the Rambam, maintaining that the ordinary priest should certainly leave the Temple to participate in the funeral of a close relative. Indeed, he is forced to become impure to take part in the burial. Indeed, since he cannot complete the service, what value is there in him remaining?

The Kessef Mishneh justifies the Rambam's ruling, explaining that were he to depart from the Temple, it would be demeaning to the service that he had performed. The implication would be that it was not of serious importance to him. Also, there is a practical dimension; if he would depart, there might not be anyone to see that the service is in fact completed.


See Halachah 9 for a definition of this term. See also Hilchot Evel 4:6, 9, for particulars with regard to the state of aninut, acute mourning.


The Rambam's statements are taken from Zevachim 17b. The Talmud there offers another derivation. Significantly, in his Sefer HaMitzvot, loc. cit., the Rambam uses that derivation and not the one mentioned here.


See Chapter 6, Halachah 12.


See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 10:17.


See Hilchot Ma'aser Sheni 3:7.


Aaron asked this rhetorical question to Moses after serving in the Sanctuary, but not partaking of the offerings, on the day his sons died.


As explained in Hilchot Shaar Avot HaTuma'ah 12:15, since a person who was in a state of acute mourning was forbidden to partake of holy objects, it is possible that he diverted his attention from his hands and touched a source of impurity unknowingly. Nevertheless, this is only a safeguard and applies only with regard to partaking of food and not to touching it.

[It must be emphasized that there is a difference in the versions of the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Zevachim 12:1). Some versions of the text follow the ruling here, but others state that it is forbidden for a person to touch sacred food.]


A person's mother, father, son, daughter, brother, and sister. One must mourn for his or her spouse according to Rabbinic Law (Hilchot Evel 2:1).


I.e., the person died beforehand and the priest heard the report within 30 days of his death. In that instance, he is required to observe a full week of shivah mourning (Hilchot Evel 7:1).


I.e., unearths his grave for the sake of reburying him in another place.


Hilchot Korban Pesach 6:9. There it is explained that our Sages did not wish to enforce their decree in a situation that would lead to the violation of a transgression punishable by karet.


See Mo'ed Kattan 15b which states that this is derived from the term shelamim ("peace-offerings"). That name implies that these offerings may only be brought when a person is at peace with himself.


A physical ailment similar to leprosy which causes one to become ritually impure.


I.e., the Temple Mount; see Chapter 3, Halachah 2, which explains these concepts.


See Hilchot Talmud Torah, ch. 7, for a definition of this term.


Mo'ed Kattan 15b explains this question as follows: During the 40 years between the sin of the spies and the entry of the Jews into Eretz Yisrael, they were considered as if they were under a ban of ostracism from God. Nevertheless, their sacrifices were offered. Hence one might conclude that even though a person is under a ban of ostracism, his sacrifices may be offered. That conclusion is not accepted unquestionably, however, because it is possible to make a distinction between one who is ostracized by God (as the Jews were in the desert) and one ostracized by man. It is possible that the latter situation is more severe.


They may not, however, enter the Temple themselves to take part in the offering.

The Kessef Mishneh raises a question for it is necessary to perform semichah (leaning on the sacrificial animal with all one's strength; see Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot, ch. 3) on sacrifices. Since these individuals may not enter the Temple Courtyard, because of their impurity, they cannot perform semichah. Hence, seemingly, the sacrifices should not be offered. The Kessef Mishneh states that perhaps the Rambam is speaking only of certain sacrifices where semichah is not required.


Unless he has already immersed himself. See Hilchot Korban Pesach 6:1.


For as explained in Hilchot Korban Pesach 2:3, 5-6, the Paschal sacrifice should be sacrificed only on behalf of individuals who are fit to partake of it and a person who is ritually impure and an uncircumcised person are forbidden to do so.


I.e., he must have the ashes of the red heifer sprinkled upon him, and he must immerse in the mikveh.

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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 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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