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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Maaseh Hakorbanot - Chapter 6

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Maaseh Hakorbanot - Chapter 6

1

It is a positive commandment to offer the burnt-offering1 according to its statutes as they are written in the Torah.2 How is the burnt-offering brought? One slaughters [the animal] and casts its blood in the manner described,3 skins it, cuts it into pieces and offers all the pieces on the pyre of the altar, as [Leviticus 1:9] states: "The priest shall offer the entire [sacrifice] on the pyre of the altar."

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לַעֲשׂוֹת הָעוֹלָה כְּמִשְׁפָּטָהּ הַכְּתוּבָה בַּתּוֹרָה. וְכֵיצַד מַעֲשֵׂה הָעוֹלָה. שׁוֹחֵט וְזוֹרֵק הַדָּם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וּמַפְשִׁיט וּמְנַתֵּחַ וּמַקְטִיר כָּל הַנְּתָחִים עַל גַּבֵּי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא א ט) "וְהִקְטִיר הַכֹּהֵן אֶת הַכּל הַמִּזְבֵּחָה":

2

The wool on the heads of the sheep, the hair of the beards of the goats, and the bones, sinews, horns, and hoofs of the [sacrificial animals]4 should be offered on the pyre of the altar5 if they are still connected [naturally6 to the animal's body]. If they have been separated, they should not be brought up [to the altar].7 [This is derived from Deuteronomy 12:27 which mentions]: "Your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood."8All parts of the sacrificial animal which flew off9 the altar should not be returned to it. Similarly, a coal which flew off the altar should not be returned to it.

ב

צֶמֶר שֶׁבְּרָאשֵׁי כְּבָשִׂים וְשֵׂעָר שֶׁבִּזְקַן הַתְּיָשִׁים וְהָעֲצָמוֹת וְהַגִּידִים וְהַקַּרְנַיִם וְהַטְּלָפַיִם בִּזְמַן שֶׁהֵן מְחֻבָּרִין מַקְטִירִין אֶת הַכּל. וְאִם פָּרְשׁוּ לֹא יַעֲלוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב כז) "עלֹתֶיךָ הַבָּשָׂר וְהַדָּם". וְכֻלָּן שֶׁפָּקְעוּ מֵעַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא יַחְזִיר. וְכֵן גַּחֶלֶת שֶׁפָּקְעָה מֵעַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא יַחְזִיר:

3

[The following rules apply when] the limbs [of a sacrificial animal] flew off the altar. If they still have substance, even if they flew off after midnight,10 they should be returned to the altar,11 [for Leviticus 6:2] speaks of [the burnt-offering remaining] "on its fire, on the altar, the entire night." If they do not have substance, even if they flew off before midnight, they should not be returned.12 If the meat became charred and dried up upon them like wood13 and they flew off before midnight, they should be returned. After midnight, they should not be returned.14

ג

אֵיבָרִים שֶׁפָּקְעוּ מֵעַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ אִם יֵשׁ בָּהֶן מַמָּשׁ אֲפִלּוּ פָּקְעוּ אַחַר חֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה יַחְזִיר. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ו ב) "עַל מוֹקְדָה עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כָּל הַלַּיְלָה". וְאִם אֵין בָּהֶם מַמָּשׁ אֲפִלּוּ פָּקְעוּ קֹדֶם חֲצוֹת לֹא יַחְזִיר. נִתְחָרֵךְ הַבָּשָׂר וְיָבַשׁ עֲלֵיהֶן כְּעֵץ וּפָקְעוּ קֹדֶם חֲצוֹת יַחְזִיר אַחַר חֲצוֹת לֹא יַחְזִיר:

4

After one cuts up the limbs of the burnt-offering, all of the different portions should be brought to the altar's ramp15 and salted there.16 Afterwards, all of the limbs should be brought up to the top of the altar.17 The gid hanesheh18 should be removed at the top of the altar19 and tossed on the pile of ash in the midst of the altar. All of the limbs should be cast on the altar, as [implied by the prooftext cited above], "the flesh and the blood." Just as the blood is cast [on the altar],20 so too, all of the flesh must be cast [on the pyre].21 After they were tossed [on the altar, the priest] should come and arrange them on the pyre, as [Leviticus 1:12] states: "And the priest shall arrange them." If limbs [of sacrificial animals] were roasted and then brought up to the altar, they are not considered as a pleasing fragrance.

ד

כְּשֶׁמְּנַתֵּחַ אֵיבְרֵי הָעוֹלָה מוֹלִיכִין אֶת כָּל הַנְּתָחִים לַכֶּבֶשׁ וּמוֹלְחִין אוֹתָם שָׁם. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַעֲלִין כָּל הָאֵיבָרִים לְרֹאשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ. וּמֵסִיר גִּיד הַנָּשֶׁה בְּרֹאשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וּמַשְׁלִיכוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי הַדֶּשֶׁן שֶׁבְּאֶמְצַע הַמִּזְבֵּחַ. וְזוֹרֵק כָּל הָאֵיבָרִים עַל הָאֵשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב כז) "הַבָּשָׂר וְהַדָּם". כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהַדָּם בִּזְרִיקָה כָּךְ כָּל הַבָּשָׂר בִּזְרִיקָה. וְאַחַר שֶׁזּוֹרְקָן חוֹזֵר וְעוֹרֵךְ אוֹתָן עַל הָאֵשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא א יב) "וְעָרַךְ הַכֹּהֵן אֹתָם". וְאֵיבָרִים שֶׁצְּלָאָן וְאַחַר כָּךְ הֶעֱלָן לַמִּזְבֵּחַ אֵין בָּהֶם מִשּׁוּם רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ:

5

How is the burnt-offering cut up? One would not break the animal's leg. Instead, a hole was made in it.22 It was hung from [the hole]23 and skinned. If [the burnt-offering] was an ox, it should be skinned without being hung.24

The person25 continues skinning, until he gets to the breast, When he gets to the breast, he should cut off the head26 and give it to a priest. He then cuts off the feet27 and gives them to others. He then completes skinning the animal. He rips open the heart and takes out its blood. He then proceeds to the forelegs and cuts them off.28 He proceeds to the right hindleg and gives it to [the priest] who merited [to carry] the head. The two testicles should be taken with it.

Afterwards, he rips open the animal's [belly] until he reveals the intestines. He takes the fat29 and places it on the head, to cover the place of slaughter.30 He takes the inner organs and gives them to another [priest].

ה

כֵּיצַד מְנַתְּחִין אֶת הָעוֹלָה. לֹא הָיָה שׁוֹבֵר אֶת הָרֶגֶל אֶלָּא נוֹקְבוֹ וְתוֹלֶה בּוֹ וּמַפְשִׁיט. וְאִם הָיָה שׁוֹר מַפְשִׁיטוֹ בְּלִי תְּלִיָּה. וּמַפְשִׁיט עַד שֶׁהוּא מַגִּיעַ לֶחָזֶה. הִגִּיעַ לֶחָזֶה חוֹתֵךְ אֶת הָרֹאשׁ וְנוֹתְנוֹ לַכֹּהֵן. וְחוֹתֵךְ אֶת הַכְּרָעַיִם וְנוֹתְנָן לְאַחֵר וּמַשְׁלִים אֶת הַהֶפְשֵׁט. וְקוֹרֵעַ אֶת הַלֵּב וּמוֹצִיא אֶת דָּמוֹ. וְחוֹתֵךְ אֶת הַיָּדָיִם וְנוֹתְנָן לְאַחֵר. עָלָה לְרֶגֶל יְמִינִי חוֹתְכוֹ וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְמִי שֶׁזָּכָה בָּרֹאשׁ וּשְׁתֵּי בֵּיצִים עִמָּהּ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ קוֹרֵעַ אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה עַד שֶׁיִּגָּלוּ (אֶת) הַמֵּעַיִם. וְנוֹטֵל אֶת הַפֶּדֶר וְנוֹתְנוֹ עַל הָרֹאשׁ מִלְּמַעְלָה עַל בֵּית הַשְּׁחִיטָה. וְנוֹטֵל אֶת הַקְּרָבַיִם וְנוֹתְנָן לְאַחֵר:

6

[The latter] goes and washes them with water, as [Leviticus 1:13] states: "The inner organs and the feet should be washed with water." [This excludes] wine, a mixture of wine and water, and other liquids. All types of water are, [however,] acceptable.31

To what extent should he wash them? The stomach should be washed in the Washing Chamber32 to whatever degree necessary. The intestines should be washed at least three times.33 They should be washed on the marble table located between the pillars.

ו

הוֹלֵךְ וּמְדִיחָן בַּמַּיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא א יג) "וְהַקֶּרֶב וְהַכְּרָעַיִם יִרְחַץ בַּמָּיִם". לֹא בְּיַיִן וְלֹא בְּמֶזֶג וְלֹא בִּשְׁאָר מַשְׁקִין. וְכָל הַמֵּימוֹת כְּשֵׁרִין. כַּמָּה מְדִיחָן. הַכָּרֵס מְדִיחִין אוֹתָהּ בְּבֵית [הַמְּדִיחִין] כָּל צָרְכָּהּ. הַקְּרָבַיִם אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין מִשָּׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים. וּמְדִיחִין אוֹתָן עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹת שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ שֶׁבֵּין הָעַמּוּדִים:

7

He then takes the knife and separates the lung from the liver and [also] the lobe of the liver from the liver.34 He should not move the liver from its place. He hollows out the chest and gives it to another [priest]. He then proceeds upward to the right flank and cuts if off and descends to the backbone. He does not touch the backbone35 until he reaches the two soft ribs. He cuts it off and gives it to another [priest] while the liver is attached to it.

ז

נָטַל אֶת הַסַּכִּין וּמַפְרִישׁ אֶת הָרֵאָה מִן הַכָּבֵד וְאֶצְבַּע הַכָּבֵד מִן הַכָּבֵד וְאֵינוֹ מֵזִיז הַכָּבֵד מִמְּקוֹמוֹ. וְנוֹקֵב אֶת הֶחָזֶה וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְאַחֵר. וְעוֹלֶה לַדֹּפֶן הַיְמָנִית וְחוֹתֵךְ וְיוֹרֵד עַד הַשִּׁדְרָה וְלֹא יִגַּע בַּשִּׁדְרָה. עַד שֶׁהוּא מַגִּיעַ לִשְׁתֵּי צְלָעוֹת רַכּוֹת חוֹתְכָהּ וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְאַחֵר וְהַכָּבֵד תְּלוּיָה בָּהּ:

8

He then reaches the neck and leaves it with two ribs on either side. He cuts it off and gives it to another priest with the windpipe, the heart, and the lungs attached to it. He proceeds to the left flank and leaves two soft ribs above and two soft ribs below and, as he had left in the other one. Thus on the two sides, he leaves four ribs on either side. He then cuts it off and gives it to another person together with the backbone36 with the spleen attached to it.

ח

בָּא לוֹ לַגֵּרָה מַנִּיחַ בָּהּ שְׁתֵּי צְלָעוֹת מִכָּאן וּשְׁתֵּי צְלָעוֹת מִכָּאן. חוֹתְכָהּ וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְאַחֵר וְהַקָּנֶה וְהַלֵּב וְהַרֵאָה תְּלוּיִין בָּהּ. בָּא לוֹ לַדֹּפֶן הַשְּׂמָאלִית וּמַנִּיחַ בָּהּ שְׁתֵּי צְלָעוֹת רַכּוֹת מִלְּמַעְלָה וּשְׁתֵּי צְלָעוֹת רַכּוֹת מִלְּמַטָּה וְכָךְ הָיָה מַנִּיחַ בַּחֲבֶרְתָּהּ. נִמְצָא מַנִּיחַ בִּשְׁתֵּי הַדְּפָנוֹת אַרְבַּע צְלָעוֹת בְּזוֹ וְאַרְבַּע צְלָעוֹת בְּזוֹ. חוֹתְכָהּ וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְאַחֵר וְהַשִּׁדְרָה עִמָּהּ וְהַטְּחוֹל תָּלוּי בָּהּ:

9

He then comes to the tail and severs it and gives it to another [priest] together with the fat-tail, the lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys with it.37 He should take the left foot and give it to another [priest]. This order should be followed when skinning and cutting up a burnt-offering of an animal. These are the portions referred to by the Torah [in Leviticus 1:6]: "You shall cut it into its portions."38

ט

בָּא לוֹ לָעֹקֶץ חוֹתְכוֹ וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְאַחֵר. וְהָאַלְיָה וְאֶצְבַּע הַכָּבֵד וּשְׁתֵּי כְּלָיוֹת עִמָּהּ. נוֹטֵל אֶת הָרֶגֶל הַשְּׂמָאלִית וְנוֹתְנָהּ לְאַחֵר. וּכְסֵדֶר זֶה מַפְשִׁיטִין וּמְנַתְּחִין עוֹלַת בְּהֵמָה. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן הַנְּתָחִין הָאֲמוּרִין בַּתּוֹרָה (ויקרא א ו) "וְנִתַּח אֹתָהּ לִנְתָחֶיהָ":

10

How many priests bring the limbs to the ramp? If the burnt-offering is from sheep, six priests should carry it.

י

בְּכַמָּה מוֹלִיכִין אֶת הָאֵיבָרִים לַכֶּבֶשׁ. אִם מִן הַצֹּאן הִיא הָעוֹלָה מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתָהּ שִׁשָּׁה:

11

The first [priest] carries the head and the [right] foot.39 [He carries] the head in his right hand40 with its nose facing his forearm and its horns between his fingers. The place where [the animal] was slaughtered is held upward with the fat upon it. The right foot is in his left hand41 with the side from which the skin was removed42 facing outward.

יא

הָרִאשׁוֹן בָּרֹאשׁ וּבָרֶגֶל. הָרֹאשׁ בִּימִינוֹ וְחָטְמוֹ כְּלַפֵּי זְרוֹעוֹ. וְקַרְנָיו בֵּין אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו. וּבֵית שְׁחִיטָה לְמַעְלָה וְהַפֶּדֶר עָלֶיהָ וְהָרֶגֶל שֶׁל יָמִין בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּבֵית עוֹרָהּ לַחוּץ:

12

The second [priest carries] the two forelegs, the right one in his right hand and the left one in his left hand.43 The side from which the skin was removed should face outward.

יב

הַשֵּׁנִי בִּשְׁתֵּי הַיָּדָיִם שֶׁל יָמִין בִּימִינוֹ וְשֶׁל שְׂמֹאל בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּבֵית עוֹרָן לַחוּץ:

13

The third [priest carries] the tail and the hindleg, the tail in his right hand with the fat-tail that hangs between his fingers. Together with it should be the lobe of the liver and the two kidneys. The left hindleg should be in his left hand with the side from which the skin was removed facing outward.

יג

הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בָּעֹקֶץ וּבָרֶגֶל. הָעֹקֶץ בִּימִינוֹ וְהָאַלְיָה מְדֵלְדֶּלֶת בֵּין אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו וְאֶצְבַּע הַכָּבֵד וּשְׁתֵּי הַכְּלָיוֹת עִמּוֹ וְהָרֶגֶל שֶׁל שְׂמֹאלוֹ בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּבֵית עוֹרָן לַחוּץ:

14

The fourth [priest carries] the breast and the neck, the breast in his right hand and the neck in his left hand with the ribs between his fingers.

יד

הָרְבִיעִי בֶּחָזֶה וּבַגֵּרָה. הֶחָזֶה בִּימִינוֹ וְהַגֵּרָה בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ וְצַלְעוֹתֶיהָ בֵּין אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו:

15

The fifth [priest carries] the two flanks, the right flank in his right hand and the left flank in his left hand. The side from which the skin was removed should face outward.

טו

הַחֲמִישִׁי בִּשְׁתֵּי דְּפָנוֹת שֶׁל יָמִין בִּימִינוֹ וְשֶׁל שְׂמֹאל בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּבֵית עוֹרָן לַחוּץ:

16

The sixth [priest carries] the intestines in a bowl.44 The feet should be placed above them.45 [This applies] if the burnt-offering was a sheep or a goat. If, however, it was a ram, two priests should bring the intestines.46

Similarly, [if it was a sheep,] the flour of the accompanying offering should be brought by one priest and the wine by another. If it was a ram, the flour should be brought by two priests47 and the wine, by two priests.

טז

הַשִּׁשִּׁי בַּקְּרָבַיִם נְתוּנִין בְּבָזָךְ וּכְרָעַיִם עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן מִלְּמַעְלָה. אִם הָיְתָה הָעוֹלָה כֶּבֶשׂ אוֹ עֵז. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה אַיִל מוֹלִיכִין הַקְּרָבַיִם שְׁנַיִם. וְכֵן הַסּלֶת שֶׁל נְסָכֶיהָ בְּיַד אֶחָד וְהַיַּיִן בְּיַד אַחֵר. וְאִם הָיָה אַיִל הַסּלֶת בִּשְׁנַיִם וְהַיַּיִן בִּשְׁנַיִם:

17

Thus eight [priests] bring [a burnt offering of] a sheep or a goat to the altar.48 That of a ram is brought by eleven [and that of an ox is brought by twenty-four].

יז

נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁהַכֶּבֶשׁ אוֹ הָעֵז מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתוֹ שְׁמוֹנָה לַמִּזְבֵּחַ. וְהָאַיִל מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתוֹ אַחַד עָשָׂר:

18

There are 24 [priests] who bring [a burnt offering of] an ox to the altar. The first brings the head. The second and the third bring the right foot.49The fourth and the fifth bring the tail. The sixth and the seventh bring the left foot. The eighth brings the breast. The neck is brought by three [priests], the ninth, tenth, and eleventh. The two forelegs are brought by two priests, the two flanks, by two, and the intestines, the flour, and the wine in sets of three.50 Thus there are 24.

יח

הַשּׁוֹר מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתוֹ אַרְבָּעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים. הָרִאשׁוֹן מוֹלִיךְ אֶת הָרֹאשׁ. וְהַשֵּׁנִי וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁי מוֹלִיכִין הָרֶגֶל שֶׁל יָמִין. וְהָרְבִיעִי וְהַחֲמִישִׁי מוֹלִיכִין אֶת הָעֹקֶץ. וְהַשִּׁשִּׁי וְהַשְּׁבִיעִי מוֹלִיכִין אֶת הָרֶגֶל שֶׁל שְׂמֹאל. וְהַשְּׁמִינִי מוֹלִיךְ אֶת הֶחָזֶה. וְהַגֵּרָה מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתָהּ שְׁלֹשָׁה. תְּשִׁיעִי וַעֲשִׂירִי וְאַחַד עָשָׂר. וּמוֹלִיכִין שְׁתֵּי הַיָּדָיִם בִּשְׁנַיִם. וּשְׁתֵּי הַדְּפָנוֹת בִּשְׁנַיִם. וְהַקְּרָבַיִם וְהַסּלֶת וְהַיַּיִן בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה שְׁלֹשָׁה הֲרֵי אַרְבָּעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים:

19

Why was a large limb of an ox not divided into portions? Because it is written: "You shall cut it into its portions." [Implied is that] its portions should not be cut into portions.

When are the above [number of priests] required [to bring the limbs to the altar]?51 For a communal burnt-offering. If it was desired that the portions of an individual burnt-offering be brought to the altar with less than this [number of priests] or more, it is possible.

יט

וְלָמָּה לֹא יְחַלְּקוּ הָאֵיבָר הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁל שׁוֹר לַחֲלָקִים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא א ו) "וְנִתַּח אֹתָהּ לִנְתָחֶיהָ" וְלֹא נְתָחֶיהָ לִנְתָחִים. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּעוֹלוֹת הַצִּבּוּר. אֲבָל עוֹלוֹת הַיָּחִיד אִם רָצוּ לְהוֹלִיךְ נְתָחֶיהָ בְּפָחוֹת מֵאֵלּוּ אוֹ בְּיוֹתֵר מוֹלִיכִין:

20

How was the burnt-offering of a fowl brought? [The priest] would ascend upon the ramp52 He would turn [right] to the surrounding ledge and approach the southeast corner.53 There he would sever the head [of the fowl] at the nape of its neck, severing [the head]54 entirely. If he does not sever it entirely, [the sacrifice] is invalid. He then squeezes out the blood of the head and the blood of the body on the wall of the altar above the [scarlet] band in the middle of the altar.

If he squeezed out the blood of the head, but did not squeeze out the blood of the body, [the sacrifice] is invalid. If he squeezed out the blood of the body, but did not squeeze out the blood of the head, [the sacrifice] is valid.55

כ

עוֹלַת הָעוֹף כֵּיצַד הָיְתָה נַעֲשֵׂית. עוֹלֶה לַכֶּבֶשׁ וּפָנָה לַסּוֹבֵב וּבָא לוֹ לְקֶרֶן דְּרוֹמִית מִזְרָחִית וְהָיָה מוֹלֵק שָׁם אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ מִמּוּל עָרְפָּהּ וּמַבְדִּיל. וְאִם לֹא הִבְדִּיל פְּסוּלָה. וּמְמַצֶּה דַּם הָרֹאשׁ וְדַם הַגּוּף עַל קִיר הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לְמַעְלָה מִן הַחוּט שֶׁבְּאֶמְצַע הַמִּזְבֵּחַ. וְאִם מִצָּה דַּם הָרֹאשׁ וְלֹא מִצָּה דַּם הַגּוּף פְּסוּלָה. מִצָּה דַּם הַגּוּף וְלֹא מִצָּה דַּם הָרֹאשׁ כְּשֵׁרָה:

21

He should take the head and bring the opening where it was severed close to the altar, dips it into salt,56 and cast it on the pyre. He then focuses his attention on the body. He removes the crop,57 the skin that is upon it with its feathers,58and the intestines that are removed with it59 and casts them on the ash pile.60

כא

וְנוֹטֵל אֶת הָרֹאשׁ וּמַקִּיף בֵּית מְלִיקָתוֹ לַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְסוֹפְגוֹ בְּמֶלַח וְזוֹרְקוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי הָאִשִּׁים. וּבָא לוֹ לַגּוּף וְהֵסִיר אֶת הַמֻּרְאָה וְהָעוֹר שֶׁעָלֶיהָ בְּיָדוֹ עִם הַנּוֹצָה וְאֶת בְּנֵי מֵעַיִם הַיּוֹצְאִין עִמָּהּ וּמַשְׁלִיכָן לְבֵית הַדֶּשֶׁן:

22

[Leviticus 1:17 states:] "He shall split it with its wings" - [this is performed] by hand,61 not with a knife. He need not separate [one part of the body from the other], as [that verse] states: "He [need] not separate it." If he separates it, it is valid. He then spreads salt upon it and casts it upon the altar.

If he did not remove the craw, the feathers, or the intestines or spread salt upon it, it is valid. As long as the change that one makes comes after squeezing out the blood, [the sacrifice] is acceptable.62

כב

(ויקרא א יז) "וְשִׁסַּע אֹתוֹ בִכְנָפָיו". בְּיָדוֹ בְּלֹא סַכִּין. וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְהַבְדִּיל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא א יז) "לֹא יַבְדִּיל" וְאִם הִבְדִּיל כָּשֵׁר. וְסוֹפְגוֹ בְּמֶלַח וְזוֹרְקוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי הָאִשִּׁים. לֹא הֵסִיר אֶת הַמֻּרְאָה וְלֹא אֶת הַנּוֹצָה וְלֹא אֶת בְּנֵי מֵעַיִם וְלֹא סְפָגָהּ בְּמֶלַח כָּל שֶׁשִּׁנָּה בָּהּ מֵאַחַר תַּמְצִית הַדָּם כְּשֵׁרָה:

23

How is melikah performed? [The priest] cuts and descends with his nail at the nape of the neck.63 If he desires to move his nail back and forth,64 he may. If he wishes to chop and descend with his nail,65 he may. If the organs necessary for ritual slaughter slip from their place,66 he need not be concerned.

He must cut through the spine, i.e., the neckbone, without cutting through the majority of the meat surrounding it, for if he would cut through the majority of the meat, [the sacrificial animal] would be considered as dead67 before he reached the organs necessary for ritual slaughter. With regard to a burnt offering, as he descends he must cut both the organs68 necessary for ritual slaughter.

When one performs melikah with a knife or does so from the side, it is not considered as melika. Instead, it is like strangling or decapitating the fowl. The entire [width of] the nape of the neck is acceptable for melikah.

כג

כֵּיצַד מוֹלְקִין. קוֹצֵץ וְיוֹרֵד בַּצִּפֹּרֶן מִמּוּל עֹרֶף. אִם רָצָה לְהוֹלִיךְ וּלְהָבִיא מוֹלִיךְ וּמֵבִיא. וְאִם רָצָה לִהְיוֹת דּוֹרֵס וְיוֹרֵד בַּצִּפֹּרֶן דּוֹרֵס. וְאִם נֶעֶקְרוּ הַסִּימָנִים אֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ. וְחוֹתֵךְ שִׁדְרָה וּמִפְרֶקֶת בְּלֹא רֹב בָּשָׂר. שֶׁאִם חָתַךְ רֹב בָּשָׂר הֲרֵי זוֹ כְּמֵתָה קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לַסִּימָנִין. וְצָרִיךְ לַחְתֹּךְ שְׁנֵי הַסִּימָנִים בָּעוֹלָה כְּשֶׁהוּא יוֹרֵד. וְהַמּוֹלֵק בְּסַכִּין אוֹ מִן הַצְּדָדִין אֵינָהּ מְלִיקָה אֶלָּא כְּמִי שֶׁחָנַק אוֹ נָחַר. וְכָל הָעֹרֶף כָּשֵׁר לִמְלִיקָה:

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Footnotes
1.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 63) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 115) include this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. This refers both to the burnt-offerings brought by individuals and those brought by the Jewish people as a whole.

2.

Having described the general principles that apply with regard to all the sacrifices, the Rambam begins to focus on each one individually, describing its laws in a particular chapter or set of halachot. Here the Rambam focuses on the manner in which the sacrifices are brought. In later sets of halachot, he speaks of the obligations of individuals and of the Jewish people as a whole to bring these sacrifices.

3.

See Chapter 5, Halachot 1-3, with regard to the slaughter of the animal and Halachah 6 of that chapter with regard to casting its blood on the altar.

4.

All of these are not fundamental parts of the animal's body. Hence while they are connected to the body, they are considered as part of it and must be offered on the altar's pyre. The implication is that ordinarily, they would not be separated and the animal would be offered on the altar while they were attached. Nevertheless, if they had been separated and they had descended from the altar, they are considered as distinct and there is no longer any obligation to offer them.

5.

If, however, they flew off the pyre, but remained on the altar, they should be placed back on the pyre (Meilah 9b).

6.

This addition is made on the basis of the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Zevachim 9:5).

7.

Indeed, if they were brought up to the altar as separate entities, they should be taken down again, rather than offered (Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashim 3:16). Nevertheless, if they were separated on the altar itself before they were offered, they should not be taken down, but instead should be offered on its pyre (Radbaz, Rav Yosef Corcus).

8.

The prooftext is defining the meat and the blood as the fundamental elements of a burnt offering. The implication is that it is necessary for them to be consumed by the altar's fire and hence, they must be returned to the altar if they flew off. There is, by contrast, no fundamental necessity for the secondary elements of the animal's body to be consumed by fire. Hence there is no obligation to return them to the altar if they flew off.

9.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Zevachim 9:6), the Rambam explains that often we see that when entities that contain moisture are placed on a fire, the moisture will vaporize. At times, the process will be powerful enough to lift up that entity and propel it upward.

10.

When at times a distinction is made, as the Rambam explains in the second portion of the halachah.

11.

To be consumed by its fire, as the mitzvah requires.

12.

For the mitzvah of having them consumed by fire has been completed.

13.

I.e., they did not become like ash.

14.

Zevachim 86a notes that the prooftext cited speaks of the burnt offering being on the altar's fire "the entire night, until the morning." From the redundancy, our Sages derive that within the night, a distinction should be made. See also the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.).

15.

See Halachot 10-18 which describes the manner in which the limbs are brought to the altar.

16.

For salt must be applied to all offerings (see Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach 5:11-12).

17.

Different priests would perform this service, i.e., one priest would bring a limb to the ramp and salt it and another one would bring it to the top of the altar (Radbaz, Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 4:6,8).

18.

The Rabbis identified the gid hanesheh as the sciatic nerve, the large main nerve running down the back of an animal's hind leg. This nerve must be separated before the meat of an animal is eaten or offered on the altar. See Hilchot Ma'achaolot Assurot 8:1 for more details.

19.

It should not be removed beforehand, because the limb will not look attractive as it is being carried to the altar (Chulin 90b).

20.

As described in Chapter 5, Halachah 6.

21.

Indeed, the altar's ramp was separated slightly from the altar itself to insure that the limbs were thrown on the fire rather than merely placed there (Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 2:13).

22.

As obvious from the continuation of the halachah, the hole is not made in the animal's foot, but on its thigh above its knee. Thus it will remain hanging after its legs were cut off.

23.

There were pillars in the Temple Courtyard with hooks to serve this purpose (Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 5:13).

24.

Perhaps because of its weight, hanging it up would present a difficulty.

25.

In Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 9:6, the Rambamd states that the skinning of the animal and its division into portions need not be performed by a priest.

26.

If he would skin the breast before cutting off the head, the skin would hang from the neck and it would be difficult to cut off the head precisely (Tifferet Yisrael, Tamid 4:2). Alternatively, since the head is offered first, it is appropriate that it be cut off first (Radbaz).

27.

The portion below the knees.

28.

I.e., the portion from the knee until the shoulder joint.

29.

I.e., the fat that is on the digestive organs.

30.

So that when the head is carried to the altar, the opening where it was severed will not be seen. This is a gesture of respect for the Divine Presence.

31.

I.e., even water that is collected is acceptable (Kessef Mishneh).

32.

This chamber is described in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 5:17. The stomach was washed there, because it would not be respectful to wash out its filth in the Temple Courtyard.

33.

Since they are narrow, it is difficult to clean them thoroughly. At least three washings are necessary. If more are required to clean them, they should be washed more [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Tamid 4:2)].

34.

For it is sacrificed with the tail as stated in Halachot 9 and 13.

35.

For the backbone is offered with the left flank.

36.

The Radbaz explains that the backbone is left intact so that the vertebrae will not separate into individual units.

37.

The ribs that were left are also taken with it (Radbaz).

38.

Rav Yosef Corcus states that there is no Scriptural source for the division of the animal in this manner. Instead, this was simply the most practical and logical way of dividing it.

39.

In this way, a portion of the animal with many bones (the head) and much meat (the leg) will have been offered. The head is also given priority, because it has been mentioned explicitly in the Torah (Radbaz).

40.

For the offering of the head is most important.

41.

Since carrying the limbs to the altar is not part of the atonement process, there is no difficulty in it being performed with one's left hand (Rabbenu Asher).

42.

I.e., the outer side. Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Tamid 4:4).

43.

These limbs are the largest and hence, receive priority.

44.

Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (op. cit.). Others interpret the term bezech differently.

45.

To cover them, for their appearance is not appealing (Radbaz).

46.

Since a ram is much larger than a sheep, it would be difficult for one priest to carry the intestines alone. The Radbaz explains that the intent is that the intestines are cut in half and part given to one priest and part to another. The Tifferet Yisrael (Yoma 2:6) differs and maintains that two priests carry them together.

47.

Here too, because it is a larger amount, it would be difficult for one priest to carry it. Here too, the Radbaz explains that the intent is that each priest carries a container with half of the meal offering, while the Tifferet Yisrael maintains that it is placed in a large container and that container is carried by two priests together.

48.

The Rambam is speaking about any burnt-offering. Therefore he does not mention the chavitin offering which is brought together with the daily burnt-offering.

49.

For the foot of an ox is large and requires two priests to bring it. Similar concepts apply with regard to the other limbs.

50.

Here also the Radbaz explains that the portions would be divided, with each priest receiving a separate portion. This, he maintained, is a greater expression of honor and respect than to have the priests carry the burdens together.

51.

The bracketed additions are made on the basis of the gloss of the Radbaz. He explains that the animal may not be cut into smaller portions, as implied by the first clause of this halachah. (Indeed, the prooftext cited refers to an individual burnt-offering.)

52.

Holding the fowl.

53.

Zevachim 65a states that this corner is chosen, because it is close to the ash pile where the skin and the intestines would be cast.

54.

The Lechem Mishneh (gloss to Chapter 7, Halachah 6) quotes authorities who maintain that he need not sever the head entirely from the body entirely. What must be severed are the gullet and the windpipe organs. Just as ritual slaughter requires that they be severed, so too, they must be severed in the rite of melikah. The Kessef Mishneh (to that halachah) however, understand the Rambam's words simply. The head must be separated from the body entirely.

55.

The rationale for both these rulings is that the majority of the blood is lodged in the body.

56.

For all offerings must be salted.

57.

One of the stomaches of the fowl.

58.

Our translation follows the Rambam's Commentary of the Mishnah (Zevachim 6:5). The Radbaz interprets the term notzah as feces rather than as feathers and explains that this enables us to understand why these organs are not burnt together with the rest of the fowl. The intestines of an animal are washed out before being offered. Hence they are fit to be offered on the altar. Those of the fowl are not.

59.

As required by Leviticus 1:16.

60.

The ash pile on the floor of the Temple Courtyard, between the ramp and the altar, near the southeastern corner of the altar. See Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 2:12. The term ash-pile has several meanings; see Chapter 7, Halachah 4.

61.

As evident from Judges 14:6 (Zevachim 65b).

62.

Because the primary element of the sacrifice was completed (Rav Yosef Corcus).

63.

See Chapter 7, Halachah 8, which describes the manner in which the priest would hold the fowl. As stated there, this was one of the difficult tasks performed in the Sanctuary.

64.

As one does when performing ritual slaughter (Hilchot Shechitah 2:7).

65.

Such a motion is unacceptable for ritual slaughter (ibid. 3:7).

66.

This would disqualify an animal for ritual slaughter (ibid. 3:14).

67.

I.e., that would make the animal. trefe.

68.

Cutting the majority of them is, however, acceptable. They need not be severed entirely.

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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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