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Avadim - Chapter Nine

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Avadim - Chapter Nine


When a Jew has relations with a Canaanite maid-servant - even if she is his own maid-servant - the offspring is considered a Canaanite slave with regard to all matters. And one may use him for service forever as any other slave.


יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבָּא עַל שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא שִׁפְחָתוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה הַוָּלָד כְּנַעֲנִי לְכָל דָּבָר וְנִמְכָּר וְנִקְנֶה וּמִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁים בּוֹ לְעוֹלָם כִּשְׁאָר הָעֲבָדִים:


The laws applying to a Canaanite slave apply whether the master purchases the Canaanite slave from a fellow Jew, a resident alien, a gentile living under our jurisdiction or a person from another nation.

Similarly, a resident alien, a gentile living under our jurisdiction or a person from another nation has the prerogative of selling himself to a Jew as a slave, and then he is a slave with regard to all matters. Similarly, when a gentile sells his sons and his daughters they become Canaanite slaves. This is reflected by Leviticus 25:45: "From the children of the residents from them and from their families who are with you who give birth in your land may you purchase." All of these are Canaanite slaves with regard to all matters.


אֶחָד הַקּוֹנֶה עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ מִן גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב אוֹ מִן עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהוּא כָּבוּשׁ תַּחַת יָדֵינוּ אוֹ מֵאֶחָד מִשְּׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת יֵשׁ לוֹ לִמְכֹּר אֶת עַצְמוֹ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְעֶבֶד וַהֲרֵי הוּא עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי לְכָל דָּבָר. וְכֵן מוֹכֵר בָּנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מה) "מֵהֶם תִּקְנוּ וּמִמִּשְׁפַּחְתָּם אֲשֶׁר עִמָּכֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹלִידוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם". וְכָל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ הֲרֵי הוּא כְּעֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי לְכָל דָּבָר:


If a person from another nationality engages in relations with one of our Canaanite maid-servants, a son who is conceived is a Canaanite slave, as implied by the phrase Ibid.: "Who give birth in your land." If, however, one of our slaves has relations with a gentile woman, the offspring is not a slave, as implied by the phrase: "Who give birth in your land." For a slave is not considered to have any genealogical connection to his offspring.


אֶחָד מִן הָאֻמּוֹת שֶׁבָּא עַל שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית שֶׁלָּנוּ הֲרֵי הַבֵּן עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "אֲשֶׁר הוֹלִידוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם". אֲבָל הָעֶבֶד שֶׁלָּנוּ שֶׁבָּא עַל אַחַת מִן הָאֻמּוֹת אֵין הַבֵּן עֶבֶד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "אֲשֶׁר הוֹלִידוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם" וְעֶבֶד אֵין לוֹ יַחַס:


When a gentile king wages war, brings captives and sells them, a slave who is purchased in this manner is considered a Canaanite slave with regard to all matters. The same laws apply if such a king grants permission for anyone who desires to go and kidnap people from the nation with whom he is waging war and sell them as slaves, or if his laws state that whoever does not pay his taxes - or does such and such or fails to do such and such - may be sold as a slave, the laws he ordains are binding, and these individuals are considered Canaanite slaves.


מֶלֶךְ עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁעָשָׂה מִלְחָמָה וְהֵבִיא שִׁבְיָה וּמְכָרָהּ. וְכֵן אִם הִרְשָׁה לְכָל מִי שֶׁיִּרְצֶה שֶׁיֵּלֵךְ וְיִגְנֹב מֵאֻמָּה שֶׁהִיא עוֹשָׂה עִמּוֹ מִלְחָמָה שֶׁיָּבִיא וְיִמְכֹּר לְעַצְמוֹ. וְכֵן אִם הָיוּ דִּינָיו שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן הַמַּס יִמְכֹּר. אוֹ מִי שֶׁעָשָׂה כָּךְ וְכָךְ אוֹ לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה יִמְכֹּר. הֲרֵי דִּינָיו דִּין וְעֶבֶד הַנִּלְקָח בְּדִינִין אֵלּוּ הֲרֵי הוּא כְּעֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי לְכָל דָּבָר:


When a gentile purchases another gentile as a slave, he does not purchase his physical person, but only the fruits of his labor. Nevertheless, if the gentile sells this slave to a Jew, his physical person is acquired by the Jew.


עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁקָּנָה עַכּוּ''ם לְעַבְדוּת לֹא קָנָה גּוּפוֹ וְאֵין לוֹ בּוֹ אֶלָּא מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו. אַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם מְכָרוֹ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי גּוּפוֹ קָנוּי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל:


A woman may purchase maid-servants, but she should not purchase slaves - even those below the age of majority, lest suspicions of her modesty arise. If she does purchase them, she acquires their physical person as a man would. It appears to me that she is forbidden only to purchase slaves that are nine years old or older.

Similarly, it is forbidden for a person to free a Canaanite slave. Anyone who frees such a slave violates a positive commandment, for Leviticus 25:46 states: "And you shall have them work for you forever." Nevertheless, if the master frees him, he attains his freedom, as we have explained. And once he frees him, we compel his master to compose a bill of release for him conforming to all the laws we have described.

It is permitted to free a slave for the sake of a mitzvah, even a mitzvah of Rabbinic origin - e.g., if ten free men were not present in the synagogue, a person may free his slave to complete the quorum. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. Similarly, if people are treating a person's maid-servant in a licentious manner and she presents a stumbling block to sinful people, we compel her master to free her so that she will marry and thus remove the stumbling block. The same principles apply in all analogous situations.


הָאִשָּׁה קוֹנָה שְׁפָחוֹת וְאֵינָהּ קוֹנָה עֲבָדִים אֲפִלּוּ קְטַנִּים מִפְּנֵי הַחֲשָׁד וְאִם קָנְתָה אוֹתָם הֲרֵי זוֹ קָנְתָה גּוּפָם כְּאִישׁ. וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁאֵינָהּ אֲסוּרָה לִקְנוֹת אֶלָּא עֶבֶד בֶּן תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים וּמִתֵּשַׁע וּלְמַעְלָה. וְכֵן אָסוּר לְאָדָם לְשַׁחְרֵר עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי. וְכָל הַמְשַׁחְרְרוֹ עוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מו) "לְעלָם בָּהֶם תַּעֲבֹדוּ". וְאִם שִׁחְרְרוֹ מְשֻׁחְרָר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְכוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לִכְתֹּב גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר בְּכָל הַדְּרָכִים שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וּמֻתָּר לְשַׁחְרְרוֹ לִדְבַר מִצְוָה אֲפִלּוּ לְמִצְוָה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּגוֹן שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ עֲשָׂרָה בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת הֲרֵי זֶה מְשַׁחְרֵר עַבְדּוֹ וּמַשְׁלִים בּוֹ הַמִּנְיָן. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְכֵן שִׁפְחָה שֶׁנּוֹהֲגִין בָּהּ הָעָם מִנְהַג הֶפְקֵר וַהֲרֵי הִיא מִכְשׁוֹל לַחוֹטְאִים כּוֹפִין אֶת רַבָּה וּמְשַׁחְרְרָהּ כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּנָּשֵׂא וְיָסוּר הַמִּכְשׁוֹל. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


A master may tell his Canaanite slave: "Work for me, but I will not provide you with sustenance," and the slave must instead, go and beg from door to door and derive his sustenance from charity. For the Jews are obligated to support the slaves that live among them.

When does the above apply? To a man's own slaves. For the court does not take any steps to protect the property of adults. If a person does not provide food and drink for his slaves in a fitting manner, they will flee or die. And a person has greater concern for his own money than anyone else. Different rules apply, however, to slaves that his wife brought to his household as nichsei m'log. He is obligated to provide for their sustenance, for this is one of the conditions of bringing them to his household. For if the husband does not provide them with sustenance, they will die or flee, and he is not responsible for them.


יָכוֹל הָרַב לוֹמַר לְעַבְדּוֹ כְּנַעֲנִי עֲשֵׂה עִמִּי וְאֵינִי זָנְךָ אֶלָּא יֵלֵךְ וְיִשְׁאַל עַל הַפְּתָחִים וְיִתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הַצְּדָקָה שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל מְצֻוִּין לְהַחֲיוֹת הָעֲבָדִים שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בַּעֲבָדָיו שֶׁאֵין בֵּית דִּין נִזְקָקִין לִגְדוֹלִים לִשְׁמֹר מָמוֹנָם וְאִם לֹא יַאֲכִיל לַעֲבָדָיו וְיַשְׁקֵם כָּרָאוּי הֵם יִבְרְחוּ אוֹ יָמוּתוּ וְאָדָם חָס עַל מָמוֹן עַצְמוֹ יֶתֶר מִכָּל אָדָם. אֲבָל עֲבָדִים שֶׁהִכְנִיסָה לוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ בְּתוֹרַת נִכְסֵי מְלוֹג חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁעַל מְנָת כֵּן הִכְנִיס אוֹתָם שֶׁאִם לֹא יָזוּן אוֹתָם יָמוּתוּ וְיִבְרְחוּ וַהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ חַיָּב בְּאַחֲרָיוּתָן:


It is permissible to have a Canaanite slave perform excruciating labor. Although this is the law, the attribute of piety and the way of wisdom is for a person to be merciful and to pursue justice, not to make his slaves carry a heavy yoke, nor cause them distress. He should allow them to partake of all the food and drink he serves. This was the practice of the Sages of the first generations who would give their slaves from every dish of which they themselves would partake. And they would provide food for their animals and slaves before partaking of their own meals. And so, it is written Psalms 123:2: "As the eyes of slaves to their master's hand, and like the eyes of a maid-servant to her mistress' hand, so are our eyes to God."

Similarly, we should not embarrass a slave by our deeds or with words, for the Torah prescribed that they perform service, not that they be humiliated. Nor should one shout or vent anger upon them extensively. Instead, one should speak to them gently, and listen to their claims. This is explicitly stated with regard to the positive paths of Job for which he was praised Job 31:13, 15: "Have I ever shunned justice for my slave and maid-servant when they quarreled with me.... Did not He who made me in the belly make him? Was it not the One who prepared us in the womb?"

Cruelty and arrogance are found only among idol-worshipping gentiles. By contrast, the descendants of Abraham our patriarch, i.e., the Jews whom the Holy One, blessed be He, granted the goodness of the Torah and commanded to observe righteous statutes and judgments, are merciful to all.

And similarly, with regard to the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which He commanded us to emulate, it is written Psalms 145:9: "His mercies are upon all of His works." And whoever shows mercy to others will have mercy shown to him, as implied by Deuteronomy 13:18: "He will show you mercy, and be merciful upon you and multiply you."

Blessed be the Merciful One who grants assistance. This concludes the 12th book.


מֻתָּר לַעֲבֹד בְּעֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי בְּפָרֶךְ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַדִּין כָּךְ מִדַּת חֲסִידוּת וְדַרְכֵי חָכְמָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אָדָם רַחְמָן וְרוֹדֵף צֶדֶק וְלֹא יַכְבִּיד עֵלּוֹ עַל עַבְדּוֹ וְלֹא יָצֵר לוֹ וְיַאֲכִילֵהוּ וְיַשְׁקֵהוּ מִכָּל מַאֲכָל וּמִכָּל מִשְׁתֶּה. חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הָיוּ נוֹתְנִין לָעֶבֶד מִכָּל תַּבְשִׁיל וְתַבְשִׁיל שֶׁהָיוּ אוֹכְלִין. וּמַקְדִּימִין מְזוֹן הַבְּהֵמוֹת וְהָעֲבָדִים לִסְעוּדַת עַצְמָן. הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהילים קכג ב) "כְעֵינֵי עֲבָדִים אֶל יַד אֲדוֹנֵיהֶם כְּעֵינֵי שִׁפְחָה אֶל יַד גְּבִרְתָּהּ". וְכֵן לֹא יְבַזֵּהוּ בַּיָּד וְלֹא בִּדְבָרִים. לְעַבְדוּת מְסָרָן הַכָּתוּב לֹא לְבוּשָׁה. וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה עָלָיו צְעָקָה וְכַעַס אֶלָּא יְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ בְּנַחַת וְיִשְׁמַע טַעֲנוֹתָיו. וְכֵן מְפֹרָשׁ בְּדַרְכֵי אִיּוֹב הַטּוֹבִים שֶׁהִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ בָּהֶן (איוב לא יג) "אִם אֶמְאַס מִשְׁפַּט עַבְדִּי וַאֲמָתִי בְּרִבָם עִמָּדִי" (איוב לא טו) "הֲלֹא בַבֶּטֶן עשֵֹׁנִי עָשָׂהוּ וַיְכֻנֶנּוּ בָּרֶחֶם אֶחָד". וְאֵין הָאַכְזָרִיּוּת וְהָעַזּוּת מְצוּיָה אֶלָּא בְּעַכּוּ''ם עוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אֲבָל זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ וְהֵם יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהִשְׁפִּיעַ לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא טוֹבַת הַתּוֹרָה וְצִוָּה אוֹתָם בְּחֻקִּים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים צַדִּיקִים רַחְמָנִים הֵם עַל הַכּל. וְכֵן בְּמִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶּׁצִּוָּנוּ לְהִדָּמוֹת בָּהֶם הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהילים קמה ט) "וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו". וְכָל הַמְרַחֵם מְרַחֲמִין עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג יח) "וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים וְרִחַמְךָ וְהִרְבֶּךָ":

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