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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 6

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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 6

1

Any priest who has a physical blemish - whether a permanent blemish or a temporary blemish1 - should not enter the area of the altar and beyond in the Temple, as [Leviticus 21:21-23] states: "[Any man from among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a blemish...] shall not come near the curtain,2 nor may he approach the altar. If he transgresses and enters [this area],3 he is liable for lashes even if he did not perform any service.

If he performs service in the Temple, he invalidates and desecrates his service. He is worthy of lashes for the service as well,4 as [ibid.:17] states: "One who has a blemish shall not draw near [to offer...]."5 According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this warning means that he shall not draw near to the Temple service.

א

כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מוּם בֵּין מוּם קָבוּעַ בֵּין מוּם עוֹבֵר לֹא יִכָּנֵס לַמִּקְדָּשׁ מִן הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וּלְפָנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא כג) "אֶל הַפָּרֹכֶת לֹא יָבֹא וְאֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא יִגַּשׁ". וְאִם עָבַר וְנִכְנַס לוֹקֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא עָבַד. וְאִם עָבַד בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ פָּסַל וְחִלֵּל עֲבוֹדָה וְלוֹקֶה אַף עַל הָעֲבוֹדָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא יז) "אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בוֹ מוּם לֹא יִקְרַב". מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁאַזְהָרָה זוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִקְרַב לַעֲבוֹדָה:

2

Similarly, a person with a temporary blemish who performs service in the Temple invalidates [his service] and is liable for lashes,6 as [ibid.:18] states: "Any man who has a blemish shall not draw close...." According to the Oral Tradition, we have learned that this is a warning against [a priest] with a temporary blemish [serving]. [A priest] with a blemish who serves is not liable for death, only for lashes.

ב

וְכֵן בַּעַל מוּם עוֹבֵר שֶׁעָבַד פָּסַל וְלוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא יח) "כָל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר בּוֹ מוּם לֹא יִקְרָב". מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁזּוֹ אַזְהָרָה לְבַעַל מוּם עוֹבֵר. וְאֵין בַּעֲלֵי מוּמִין שֶׁעָבְדוּ בְּמִיתָה אֶלָּא בְּמַלְקוֹת בִּלְבַד:

3

All physical blemishes - whether the priest had them from birth or acquired them afterwards, whether they will heal or they will not heal - disqualify [him] until they heal.

ג

כָּל הַמּוּמִין כֻּלָּן אֶחָד שֶׁהָיוּ בּוֹ מִתְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתוֹ וְאֶחָד שֶׁנּוֹלְדוּ בּוֹ אַחַר כֵּן בֵּין עוֹבְרִין בֵּין שֶׁאֵינָן עוֹבְרִין הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל עַד שֶׁיַּעֲבוֹרוּ:

4

A permanent blemish is a broken leg or a broken arm.7 A temporary blemish is a dry skin eruption or a moist skin eruption also known as a chazizit.8 Not only the blemishes mentioned in the Torah,9 but any apparent bodily blemish disqualifies the priests, as [ibid.:21] states: "Any man who has a blemish," i.e., any type. Those mentioned by the Torah are merely examples.10

ד

מוּם קָבוּעַ כְּגוֹן שֶׁבֶר רֶגֶל אוֹ שֶׁבֶר יָד. וּמוּם עוֹבֵר כְּגוֹן גָּרָב אוֹ יַלֶּפֶת וְהִיא הַחֲזָזִית. וְלֹא הַמּוּמִין הַכְּתוּבִין בַּתּוֹרָה בִּלְבַד הֵן שֶׁפְּסוּלִין בְּכֹהֲנִים אֶלָּא כָּל הַמּוּמִין הַנִּרְאִין בַּגּוּף שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא יח) (ויקרא כא כא) "כֹּל אֲשֶׁר בּוֹ מוּם" מִכָּל מָקוֹם. וְאֵלּוּ הַכְּתוּבִים בַּתּוֹרָה דֻּגְמָא הֵן:

5

There are three types of blemishes [involving humans]:11

a) blemishes that disqualify a priest from serving and an animal from being offered [as a sacrifice];12

b) blemishes that only prevent a man from serving;13

c) blemishes that do not disqualify a priest, but because of the impression that would be created,14 [our Sages] stated that every priest who has such a blemish should not serve.

ה

שְׁלֹשָׁה מִינֵי מוּמִין הֵם. יֵשׁ מוּמִין שֶׁהֵן פּוֹסְלִין הַכֹּהֵן מִלַּעֲבֹד וְהַבְּהֵמָה מִלִּקָּרֵב. [וְיֵשׁ מוּמִין שֶׁפּוֹסְלִין בָּאָדָם בִּלְבַד מִלַּעֲבֹד]. וְיֵשׁ מוּמִין שֶׁאֵין פּוֹסְלִין אֲבָל מִפְּנֵי מַרְאִית הָעַיִן אָמְרוּ שֶׁכָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ אֶחָד מֵהֶן אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד:

6

Whenever [a priest] who has a blemish that disqualifies both a person and animal serves, whether inadvertently or intentionally, his service is invalid. If he served intentionally, he is liable for lashes. Whenever [a priest] who has a blemish that disqualifies only a person serves, even though he is liable for lashes,15 his service is valid.16 If he has one of the blemishes that disqualify him because of the impression that could be created, he is not liable for lashes and his service is valid.

ו

כָּל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מוּם שֶׁפּוֹסֵל בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה וְעָבַד בֵּין בְּשׁוֹגֵג בֵּין בְּמֵזִיד עֲבוֹדָתוֹ פְּסוּלָה. וְאִם הָיָה מֵזִיד לוֹקֶה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מוּם מִן הַמּוּמִין הַמְיֻחָדִין לָאָדָם וְעָבַד אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא לוֹקֶה לֹא חִלֵּל עֲבוֹדָתוֹ. וְאִם הָיָה בּוֹ דָּבָר מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵם מִפְּנֵי מַרְאִית הָעַיִן אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה:

7

Only blemishes that are apparent17 disqualify a person. Blemishes that are within the cavity of the body, e.g., a person's kidney or his spleen was removed or his intestines were perforated, even though he becomes a treifah,18 his service is acceptable. [This is derived from the mention, Leviticus 21:19, of] "a broken leg or a broken arm." Just as these are apparent, all [disqualifying blemishes] must be apparent.

ז

אֵין פּוֹסֵל בָּאָדָם אֶלָּא מוּמִין שֶׁבְּגָלוּי. אֲבָל מוּמִין שֶׁבַּחֲלַל הַגּוּף כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּטַּל כֻּלְיָתוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם אוֹ טְחוֹל שֶׁלּוֹ אוֹ שֶׁנִּקְּבוּ מֵעָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה טְרֵפָה עֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא יט) "שֶׁבֶר רָגֶל אוֹ שֶׁבֶר יָד" מָה אֵלּוּ בְּגָלוּי אַף כּל בְּגָלוּי:

8

An uncircumcised person19 is like a foreigner [as Ezekiel 44:9] states: "Any foreigner20 with an uncircumcised heart and uncircumcised flesh." Therefore if an uncircumcised [priest] serves, he disqualifies his service and is liable for lashes21 like a non-priest22 who serves. He is not, however, liable for death.23

ח

הֶעָרֵל הֲרֵי הוּא כְּבֶן נֵכָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל מד ט) "כָּל בֶּן נֵכָר עֶרֶל לֵב וְעֶרֶל בָּשָׂר". לְפִיכָךְ עָרֵל שֶׁעָבַד חִלֵּל עֲבוֹדָתוֹ וְלוֹקֶה כְּזָר שֶׁעָבַד. אֲבָל אֵינוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה:

9

A priest who married women sinfully24 may not serve25 until he is compelled by the court to take a vow dependent on the discretion of other people so that it cannot be nullified26 that he will not continue to sin. He may then perform the service, descend [from the altar], and divorce her. Similarly, if he would become impure due to contact with a human corpse,27 he is disqualified until he makes a resolution in court not to contract such impurity. If he transgressed and performed service before taking such a vow or making such a resolution, he does not disqualify his service even though he remains married in sin.28

ט

כֹּהֵן שֶׁהָיָה נוֹשֵׂא נָשִׁים בַּעֲבֵרָה אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד עַד שֶׁיַּדִּירוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין עַל דַּעַת רַבִּים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לוֹ הֲפָרָה שֶׁלֹּא יוֹסִיף לַחֲטֹא וְעוֹבֵד וְיוֹרֵד וּמְגָרֵשׁ. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה מִטַּמֵּא לְמֵתִים פָּסוּל עַד שֶׁיְּקַבֵּל עָלָיו בְּבֵית דִּין שֶׁלֹּא יִטַּמֵּא. וְאִם עָבַר וְעָבַד קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּדִּיר אוֹ שֶׁיְּקַבֵּל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא נָשׂוּי בַּעֲבֵרָה לֹא חִלֵּל עֲבוֹדָה:

10

When a priest performed service and afterwards, his [genealogy] was checked and it was discovered that he was a challal,29 his previous service is acceptable, but he may not serve in the future. If, however, he does [continue] to serve, he does not desecrate the service. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 33:11]: "May God bless His legion and find acceptable the work of his hand." [implied is that] He will find acceptable even the desecrated among them.30

י

כֹּהֵן שֶׁעָבַד וְנִבְדַּק וְנִמְצָא חָלָל עֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה לְשֶׁעָבַר וְאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד לְהַבָּא. וְאִם עָבַד לֹא חִלֵּל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג יא) "בָּרֵךְ ה' חֵילוֹ וּפֹעַל יָדָיו תִּרְצֶה" אַף חֻלִּין שֶׁבּוֹ תִּרְצֶה:

11

The High Court would sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone.31 Their primary ongoing activity was sitting and judging the priests, e.g., examining the lineage of the priests32 and inspecting their blemishes. Whenever a disqualifying factor was found in the lineage of a priest, he would put on black clothes and wrap himself in black and leave the Temple Courtyard. Whoever is found to be bodily sound and of acceptable lineage puts on white garments and enters and serves with his priestly brethren.

יא

בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל הָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין בְּלִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית. וְעִקַּר מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם הַתָּדִיר שֶׁהָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין וְּדָנִין אֶת הַכְּהֻנָּה וּבוֹדְקִין הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּיוּחֲסִין וּבְמוּמִין. כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁנִּמְצָא פָּסוּל בְּיִחוּסוֹ לוֹבֵשׁ שְׁחוֹרִים וּמִתְעַטֵּף שְׁחוֹרִים וְיוֹצֵא מִן הָעֲזָרָה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא שָׁלֵם וְכָשֵׁר לוֹבֵשׁ לְבָנִים וְנִכְנָס וּמְשַׁמֵּשׁ עִם אֶחָיו הַכֹּהֲנִים:

12

[A priest] who is discovered to be of acceptable lineage, but was discovered to have a physical blemish should sit in the Chamber of Wood33 and [removes] worm-eaten wood for the [Altar's] pyre.34 He should be included in the division of the sacrifices with the members of his clan and may partake [of the sacrifices],35as [Leviticus 21:22] states: "He may partake of the food of his God from [the sacrifices of] the most holy order and of the sacred foods."

יב

מִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא כָּשֵׁר בְּיִחוּסוֹ וְנִמְצָא בּוֹ מוּם. יוֹשֵׁב בְּלִשְׁכַּת הָעֵצִים וּמְתַלֵּעַ עֵצִים לַמַּעֲרָכָה וְחוֹלֵק בְּקָדָשִׁים עִם אַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אָב שֶׁלּוֹ וְאוֹכֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא כב) "לֶחֶם אֱלֹהָיו מִקָּדְשֵׁי הַקָּדָשִׁים וּמִן הַקָּדָשִׁים יֹאכֵל":

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

From the repetition of verses in Leviticus concerning this issue, the Sifra derives that the prohibition encompasses both types of blemishes.

2.

The curtain separating between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies.

3.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 69) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 277) consider this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. In his gloss to Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban differs. He maintains that although there is a prohibition against a blemished priest serving in the Temple as the Rambam continues to explain, there is no Scriptural prohibition against merely entering this portion of the Temple area. The Megilat Esther supports the Rambam's view.

The Kessef Mishneh notes that from Hilchot Sanhedrin 19:4, it appears that lashes are given only if the priest enters the building of the Temple, not this portion of the courtyard.

4.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 70) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 275) consider also this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. As indicated by the following halachah, according to the Rambam, this prohibition refers to a priest with a permanent blemish.

5.

Although the prooftext refers specifically to the daily offering, the Sifra explains that the repetition of verses indicates that the prohibition encompasses all sacrifices.

6.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 71) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 276) consider also this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. The Ramban differs and maintains that there is only one negative commandment against a priest with a blemish serving in the Temple and it includes both instances, a permanent blemish and a temporary blemish.

8.

Ibid.:20.

9.

Ibid.:18-21.

10.

In his commentary to the Torah, the Ramban takes a slightly different approach, maintaining that those blemishes mentioned in the Torah outline the general categories of blemishes.

11.

There are also blemishes that disqualify an animal, but do not disqualify a human, as stated in Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach, ch. 2. See the gloss of the Radbaz there which 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 to be found in a human." Nevertheless, if a priest does have such a condition, it is considered as a blemish and he is disqualified.

12.

These are described in Chapter 7.

13.

These are described in Chapter 8.

14.

See the conclusion of ch. 8.

15.

If he serves intentionally.

16.

The commentaries note that there appears to be a contradiction between this statement and the Torah's explicit statements. The Torah mentions exceptionally long eye-brows and crushed testicles as blemishes. These blemishes apply to a human and not to an animal. Nevertheless, it appears that they are also included by the statement (ibid.:23): "He shall not desecrate My sacred offerings."

17.

Even blemishes that are ordinarily covered by a person's clothes are considered as apparent.

18.

A person who will not live more than 12 months.

19.

This applies even when there was no transgression in the priest remaining uncircumcised, e.g., an instance when two of his brothers died because of circumcision (Rashi, Sanhedrin 83a).

20.

This term also has the connotation of an idolater.

21.

Rashi (ibid. 84a) states that since the warning is dependent on a verse from the Prophets and not from the Torah itself, the person is not liable for lashes. The Rambam's view is based on Zevachim 18b which maintains that the prohibition was taught by the Oral Tradition. Ezekiel merely provided a support. The Rambam, however, mentions the verse from Ezekiel because of the connection to the non-priest so that there will be a link to an explicit prohibition from the Torah.

22.

See Chapter 9, Halachah 1.

23.

As a non-priest is (ibid.).

24.

E.g., he married a divorcee or another woman forbidden to the priesthood. See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, chs. 17-19 where these prohibitions are detailed.

25.

These laws have parallels in the present era as well. Such a priest may not recite the Priestly Blessing [Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 128:40)].

26.

Since the vow is not being taken dependent on his own discretion, but on that of other people, it cannot be nullified. See Hilchot Sh'vuot 6:8.

27.

Which is forbidden to a priest, as stated in Hilchot Evel, ch. 1.

28.

For this prohibition is merely a Rabbinic safeguard.

29.

A challal is a priest conceived in relations forbidden to a priest or the son of a challal. None of the mitzvot of the priesthood apply to him.

30.

Challal, "desecrated," and chayl, "legion," share two of the same root letters. Hence the above concept can be derived (Kiddushin 66b).

31.

The presence of the Sanhedrin in this chamber is discussed in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 5:17 and Hilchot Sanhedrin 14:11-12.

32.

See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 20:2.

33.

Located in the Women's Courtyard; see Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 5:8.

34.

For worm-eaten wood is undesirable. See Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach 6:2.

35.

See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 10:17.

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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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