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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 1

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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchot Biat Hamikdash

They contain fifteen mitzvot: two positive commandments and thirteen negative commandments. They are:


1) That an intoxicatd person shall not enter the Sanctuary;
2) That no one, whose hair is dishevelled, shall enter the Sanctuary;
3) That one whose garment is torn, shall not enter it;
4) That a priest shall not go in to the Sanctuary at all times;
5) That a priest shall not go forth from the Sanctuary during service;
6) To send the ritually unclean out of the Sanctuary;
7) That one who is unclean shall not enter the Sanctuary;
8) That one who is unclean shall not enter the area of the Temple-Mount;
9) That one who is unclean shall not take part in the service;
10) That one who has been cleansed by immersion shall not take part in the service on the day (when he has been cleansed);
11) That one who serves in the Sanctuary shall sanctify his hands and feet (by washing at the laver);
12) That a person with a physical blemish shall not enter the Sanctuary nor approach at the altar;
13) That a person with a physical blemish shall not take part in the service;
14) That a person with a temporary physical blemish shall not take part in the service;
15) That a stranger (not descended from Aaron) shall not take part in the service.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות ביאת מקדש - הקדמה

יש בכללן חמש עשרה מצוות: שתי מצוות עשה, ושלוש עשרה מצות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן:

(א) שלא יכנס כהן שיכור למקדש.
(ב) שלא יכנס בו כהן פרוע ראש.
(ג) שלא יכנס בו כהן קרוע בגדים.
(ד) שלא יכנס כהן בכל עת אל ההיכל.
(ה) שלא יצא כהן מן המקדש בשעת העבודה.
(ו) לשלח טמאים מן המקדש.
(ז) שלא יכנס טמא למקדש.
(ח) שלא יכנס טמא להר הבית.
(ט) שלא ישמש טמא.
(י) שלא ישמש טבול יום.
(יא) לקדש העובד ידיו ורגליו.
(יב) שלא יכנס בעל מום להיכל ולמזבח.
(יג) שלא לעבוד בעל מום.
(יד) שלא יעבוד בעל מום עובר.
(טו) שלא יעבוד זר.

וביאור מצוות אלו בפרקים אלו:

1

Whenever a priest who is fit to perform Temple service1 drinks wine, he is forbidden2 to enter the area of the Altar or [proceed] beyond there.3 If he entered [that area]4 and performed service,5 his service is invalid and he is liable for death at the hand of heaven, as [Leviticus 10:9] states: "[Do not drink intoxicating wine...] so that you do not die."6

The above applies provided one drinks a revi'it7 of undiluted wine at one time, provided the wine is over 40 days old.8 If, however, one drank less than a revi'it of wine, one drank a revi'it intermittently,9 one mixed it with water,10 or one drank even more than a revi'it of wine from the vat, i.e., within 40 days of its being brought into being,11 he is exempt and his service is not profaned. If he drank more than a revi'it of wine, even though it was diluted and even though he drank it intermittently, he is liable for death and his service is invalidated.12

א

כל כהן הכשר לעבודה אם שתה יין אסור לו להכנס מן המזבח ולפנים ואם נכנס ועבד עבודתו פסולה וחייב מיתה בידי שמים שנאמר ולא תמותו והוא ששתה רביעית יין חי בבת אחת מיין שעברו עליו מ' יום אבל אם שתה פחות מרביעית יין או שתה רביעית והפסיק בה או מזגה במים או ששתה יין מגיתו בתוך מ' אפילו יתר מרביעית פטור ואינו מחלל עבודה שתה יתר מרביעית מן היין אע"פ שהיה מזוג ואף ע"פ שהפסיק ושהה מעט מעט חייב מיתה ופוסל העבודה:

2

If a person is intoxicated from beverages other than wine, he is forbidden to enter the Temple.13 If he enters and performs service while intoxicated from other beverages - even if he is intoxicated from milk or figs - he is liable for lashes, but his service is valid, for one is liable for death only when drinking wine at the time of service and one does not invalidate service unless he is intoxicated from wine.

ב

היה שכור משאר משקין המשכרין אסור להכנס למקדש ואם נכנס ועבד והוא שכור משאר משקין המשכרין אפילו מן החלב או מן הדבלה הרי זה לוקה ועבודתו כשרה שאין חייבין מיתה אלא על היין בשעת עבודה ואין מחלל עבודה אלא שכור מן היין:

3

Just as a priest is forbidden to enter the Temple while intoxicated, so too, it is forbidden for any person, whether priest or Israelite, to render a halachic ruling when he is intoxicated.14 Even if he ate dates or drank milk and his mind became somewhat confused, he should not issue a ruling, as [the above passage (ibid.:11)] continues: "And to give instruction to the children of Israel." If he gave a ruling concerning a matter that is explicitly stated in the Torah to the extent that it is known by the Sadducees, he is permitted. For example, he ruled that a sheretz15 is impure and a frog is pure; [he ruled that] blood is forbidden, or the like.

ג

וכשם שאסור לכהן להכנס למקדש מפני השכרות כך אסור לכל אדם בין כהן בין ישראל להורות כשהוא שתוי אפילו אכל תמרים או שתה חלב ונשתבשה דעתו מעט אל יורה שנאמר ולהורות את בני ישראל ואם הורה בדבר שהוא מפורש בתורה עד שידעוהו הצדוקים מותר כגון שהורה שהשרץ טמא והצפרדע טהור והדם אסור וכיוצא בזה:

4

It is permitted for a person who is intoxicated to teach Torah, even Torah law and the interpretation of verses, provided he does not deliver a ruling.16 If he was a sage who delivers rulings on a regular basis, he should not teach, for his teaching constitutes the delivery of a ruling.17

ד

ומותר לשכור ללמד תורה ואפי' הלכות ומדרשות והוא שלא יורה ואם היה חכם קבוע להוראה לא ילמד שלימודו הוראה היא:

5

When a person drank precisely a revi'it and it was diluted with the slightest amount of water, he slept a bit, or he walked a mil,18 the effects of the wine will have worn off and he is permitted to serve [in the Temple]. If, however, he drank more than a revi'it even if it was diluted, sleeping slightly or journeying adds to his drunkenness. Depending on how intoxicated he was, he must wait until there is no trace of his drunkenness whatsoever.

ה

שתה כדי רביעית בלבד והיה בה מים כל שהוא או ישן מעט או הלך כדי מיל כבר עבר היין ומותר לעבוד אבל אם שתה יותר מרביעית אפילו מזוג שינת מעט או הדרך מוסיפין בשכרותו אלא ישהא לפי השכרות עד שלא ישאר משכרותו שום דבר שבעולם:

6

The men of the priestly watch19 are permitted to drink wine at night, but not during the day during the week [they serve in the Temple]. Even the members of the other clans20 who were not scheduled to work on a particular day [are forbidden], lest the Temple service overburden the members of the clan who serve that day and they require other members of the watch to help them.

The members of the clan of a particular day are forbidden to drink both during the day and night of that day, lest they drink at night and arise to their service in the morning without the effects of the wine having worn off.21

ו

אנשי משמר מותרין לשתות יין בלילות אבל לא בימי שבתן ואפילו שאר בתי אבות של משמר שאין עבודתן היום שמא תכבד העבודה על אנשי בית אב של יום ויצטרכו לאחרים מאנשי משמרתן לסייען ואנשי בית אב של אותו היום אסורים לשתות בין ביום בין בלילה שמא ישתה בלילה וישכים לעבודתו ועדיין לא סר יינו מעליו:

7

Whenever a priest knows the watch from which he descends and the clan from which he descends, and he knows the day on which the members of his clan were scheduled to serve [in the Temple], he is forbidden to drink wine that entire day.22 If one knows from which watch he is descended, but does not know his clan, he is forbidden to drink wine the entire week during which his clan worked.

If [a priest] does not know [the identity of] his watch or his clan, the law would dictate that he should never be allowed to drink wine.23 Nevertheless, his difficulty24 leads to his solution and he is permitted to drink wine at all times, for he is not allowed to serve [in the Temple] until his clan and watch are established.

ז

כל כהן שיודע מאי זה משמר הוא ומאי זה בית אב הוא ויודע שבתי אבותיו קבועים בעבודה [היום] אסור לו לשתות יין כל אותו היום היה יודע מאי זה משמר הוא ואינו מכיר בית אב שלו אסור לו לשתות כל אותה שבת שמשמרתו עובדין בה לא היה מכיר משמרתו ולא בית אבותיו הדין נותן שאסור לשתות יין לעולם אבל תקנתו קלקלתו והרי הוא מותר לשתות תמיד שאינו יכול לעבוד עד שיקבע בבית אב שלו ובמשמרתו:

8

A priest who lets his hair grow long25 is forbidden to enter the area of the Altar or [proceeds] beyond there.26 If he enters this area and performs service,27 he is liable for death at the hand of Heaven like an intoxicated [priest] who serves,28 as [indicated by Ezekiel 44:20-21]: "None of the priests shall drink wine. They shall not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow long."29 Just as [priests who serve] intoxicated from wine are liable to die, so too, those who allow their hair to grow long are liable to die.

ח

כהן שגדל שערו אסור לו להכנס מן המזבח ולפנים ואם נכנס ועבד חייב מיתה בידי שמים כשכור שעבד שנאמר ויין לא ישתו כל כהן וראשם לא יגלחו ופרע לא ישלחו מה שתויי יין במיתה אף מגודלי פרע במיתה:

9

[Priests who] let their hair grow long do not disqualify their service. Even though they are obligated to die, their service is valid.30

ט

ואין פרועי הראש מחללין עבודה אף על פי שהוא במיתה עבודתו כשירה:

10

Just as the priests are not warned against drinking wine except at the time they enter the Temple, so too, they are forbidden to grow their hair long only at the time they enter the Temple.31

To whom does the above apply? To an ordinary priest. A High Priest, by contrast, is forbidden to let his hair grow long and rend his garments forever,32 for he should be in the Temple at all times.33 Therefore with regard to him, [Leviticus 21:10] states: "He should not let [the hair of] his head grow long, nor should he rend his garments."

י

כשם שאין הכהנים מוזהרין על היין אלא בשעת ביאה למקדש כך אין אסורין לגדל פרע אלא בשעת ביאה למקדש במה דברים אמורים בכהן הדיוט אבל כהן גדול אסור לגדל פרע ולקרוע בגדיו לעולם שהרי תמיד הוא במקדש ולכך נאמר בו את ראשו לא יפרע ובגדיו לא יפרום:

11

What is meant by growing one's hair long? [Leaving it uncut for] 30 days like a Nazirite, concerning whom [Numbers 6:5] states: "He shall let the mane of the hair of his head grow long" and a nazirite vow is not less than 30 days.34 Therefore an ordinary priest who serves [in the Temple] must cut his hair every 30 days.35

יא

כמה הוא גידול פרע שלשים יום כנזיר שנאמר בו גדל פרע שער ראשו ואין נזירות פחותה משלשים יום לפיכך כהן הדיוט העובד מגלח משלשים יום לשלשים יום:

12

The priests of the watch [serving in the Temple that week] are forbidden to cut their hair and launder their garments during that week,36 so that they will not enter the Temple when they are unkept.37 Instead, they should cut their hair, wash, and do their laundry before coming [to the Temple].

יב

ואנשי משמר אסורין לספר ולכבס בשבתן כדי שלא יעלו למשמרתן כשהן מנוולין אלא מגלחין ורוחצין ומכבסין קודם שיעלו:

13

When a priest's watch is concluded in the midst of a festival, he is permitted to cut his hair in the midst of the festival.38 If, however, his watch concludes on the day preceding a festival, he should cut his hair only on that day.39

יג

מי ששלמה משמרתו בתוך הרגל מותר לגלח ברגל אבל אם שלמה בערב הרגל אינו מגלח אלא בערב הרגל:

14

The laws [applying to a priest who enters the Temple with] torn garments are the same as those [applying to one with] long hair, as [Leviticus 10:6] states: "Do not let [the hair on] your heads grow long or rend your garments lest you die."40 Thus if [a priest] served with torn garments, he is liable for death at the hand of Heaven although his service is valid and was not profaned.41

יד

דין קרועי בגדים ודין פרועי ראש אחד הוא שנאמר ראשיכם לא תפרעו ובגדיהם לא תפרומו ולא תמותו הא אם עבד והוא קרוע בגדים חייב מיתה בידי שמים אע"פ שעבודתו כשירה ולא חללה:

15

It appears to me42 that any priest who is fit to serve who enters the area of the altar or [proceeds] beyond there43 while intoxicated due to wine, drunk due to other alcoholic beverages, with long hair, or with torn garments as one tears because of a person's death, he is liable for lashes, even if he did not perform service. [The rationale is that] he is fit for service and entered [the Temple] at the time of service in such an unkept manner although he was warned not to enter.

טו

יראה לי שכל כהן הכשר לעבודה אם נכנס מן המזבח ולפנים והוא שתוי יין או שכור משאר המשכרין או פרוע ראש או קרוע בגדים כדרך שקורעין על המתים אף על פי שלא עבד עבודה הרי זה לוקה הואיל והוא ראוי לעבודה ונכנס בשעת העבודה מנוול ככה והרי הוא מוזהר שלא יכנס:

16

The laws that apply to someone who enters beyond the altar and the laws that apply to ones who depart from there are the same. What is implied? One drank44 a revi'it of wine between the Ulam and the altar or tore his garments there and departed, he is liable for lashes.45 Similarly, if he performed service as he departed, he is liable for death.

טז

ודין הנכנס ככה מן המזבח ולפנים ודין היוצא משם אחד הוא כיצד כגון ששתה רביעית יין בין האולם ולמזבח או קרע בגדיו שם ויצא לוקה וכן אם עבד ביציאתו חייב מיתה:

17

Similarly, it is forbidden for any person, whether a priest or an Israelite, to enter the entire Temple area, from the Courtyard of the Israelites and onward46 when he is intoxicated from wine, drunk [from other beverages], with unkept long hair or with torn garments. Although there is no explicit warning [against this in the Torah], it is not a sign of honor or reverence47 to the great and holy house to enter it unkept. If, however, an Israelite48 lets his hair grow until it is formed into a weave and it was not unkept, he is permitted to enter the Courtyard of the Israelites.49

יז

וכן אסור לכל אדם בין כהן בין ישראל להכנס למקדש כולו מתחילת עזרת ישראל ולפנים כשהוא שתוי יין או שכור או פרוע ראש דרך ניוול או קרוע בגדים אע"פ שאינו באזהרה שאין זה כבוד ומורא לבית הגדול והקדוש שיכנס בו מנוול אבל ישראל שגדל שערו עד שנעשה מחלפת ולא היה דרך ניוול הרי זה מותר להכנס לעזרת ישראל:

Footnotes
1.

This excludes a challal, a son born to a priest from a forbidden relationship, and a priest who has a disqualifying physical blemish. They are not liable for this severe punishment.

2.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 73) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 152) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. Note also the parallels in Hilchot Nesiat Kapayim 15:4.

3.

I.e., ascends the steps to the Temple building or enters that structure. See also Halachah 15 and notes.

4.

If he entered this area while intoxicated, but did not perform service, he is only liable for lashes, as stated in Halachah 15. Similar concepts apply if he drank intoxicating beverages while in this area (Halachah 16).

5.

The services for which he is liable are described in Chapter 9, Halachah 2.

6.

He may, however, be punished by a mortal court with lashes and thus freed from the more severe spiritual punishment. See Hilchot Sanhedrin 19:2.

7.

A liquid measure equal to 86 cc. according to Shiurei Torah and 150 cc. according to Chazon Ish. [It is reputed that the wines of the Talmudic era were very strong and drinking even this small amount could cause intoxication.]

8.

And thus has had time to ferment and reach an alcoholic content sufficient enough to cause intoxication.

9.

Since he paused while drinking it, its intoxicating effect will be less.

10.

Even if one drank the entire quantity, since it was diluted, it will have a lesser effect.

11.

Since its alcoholic content will not be that high, one is not liable. There is, nevertheless, a prohibition against serving in the Temple even when having drunk such wine (Kessef Mishneh).

12.

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, maintaining that although serving in the Temple in such a condition is forbidden, the priest is not liable for such severe punishment, nor is his service disqualified. The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh offer interpretations of Keritot 13b that substantiate the Rambam's position.

13.

One of the opinions in Keritot 13b derives this concept from the literal meaning of Leviticus 10:9, translated above as: "Do not drink intoxicating wine," i.e., it interprets the term veseicher according to its simple meaning, i.e., an alcoholic beverage other than wine. There is another opinion in that source that interprets veseicher as an adjective (which we have translated as "intoxicating") describing the manner in which one drinks wine. Apparently, the Rambam does not see the two interpretations as mutually exclusive. See Kessef Mishneh. See also Halachah 15.

14.

See Sefer HaMitzvot, loc. cit., where the Rambam links the two prohibitions in the same negative commandment. One is not, however, liable for death for delivering a ruling while intoxicated. Note the discussion of this matter by the Ramban and Megilat Esther in their glosses to Sefer HaMitzvot.

15.

One of the eight forbidden teeming animals mentioned in Leviticus 11:29-30. A frog is not one of those animals.

16.

I.e., a directive for actual practice.

17.

Note the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 7:5) which quotes an opinion stating that it is permitted to rule in cases involving financial law when slightly intoxicated.

18.

A Talmudic measure equivalent to a kilometer. If he rode rather than walked, he must ride three mil (Eruvin 64b).

19.

Who serve in the Temple that week. See Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 4:3, 11.

20.

As stated in that source, on each particular day, there was a clan whose members would perform the Temple service for that day.

21.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam and maintains that the intent of Ta'anit 17a (the Rambam's source) is not the night before the priests serve in the Temple, but the night afterwards. They are forbidden because it is possible that they will have to continue offering the limbs and fat-tails of the animals at night if they were not able to offer them during the day. The Kessef Mishneh supports the Rambam's interpretation, explaining that there is no need to prohibit the priests from drinking wine the entire night for this reason. It is sufficient that they be restrained until these limbs have been offered.

22.

Were it not for the reason mentioned at the conclusion of the halachah, this law would apply even in the present era. This is a decree, enacted lest the Temple be rebuilt and the priests be required to serve at their appointed time.

23.

Lest he be drinking on a day forbidden for him.

24.

I.e., his lack of knowledge of his watch and clan.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam with regard to the reason why there is no decree against the priests drinking wine in the present age. He rejects the Rambam's view, because with Mashiach's coming, the lineage of the priests will be established according to the spirit of prophecy (see Hilchot Melachim 12:3) and the priests will immediately be called upon to begin their service in the Temple. Instead, the rationale is that because of the length of the exile, we do not expect that the Temple will be built instantaneously. [This is also the view of Rashi (Ta'anit 17a)]. The Kessef Mishneh supports the Rambam's view, noting that according to the Rambam, we may offer sacrifices even if the Temple is not rebuilt (Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 6:15) and furthermore, the establishment of the priest's lineage even through the spirit of prophecy will not take only one day.

25.

See Halachah 11 for a definition of this term.

26.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 163) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 149) includes this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. Note the objections of the Ramban to the inclusion of this charge as one of the mitzvot and the resolutions offered by Megilat Esther in their glosses to Sefer HaMitzvot.

27.

The law that applies if he does not perform service is explained in Halachah 15.

28.

As stated in Halachah 1.

29.

The prooftext for this prohibition from the Torah (Leviticus 10:6), "Do not let [the hair of] your heads grow long," is not sufficient, because that could be interpreted as merely granting license for Aaron's sons to conduct themselves in this manner. Other mourners must rend their garments and let their hair grow and they were not required to. The verse from Ezekiel teaches that the charge applies at all times and is not specific to that situation (Kessef Mishneh; Sefer HaMitzvot, loc. cit.).

30.

I.e., the equation of their service to that of intoxicated priests is not complete.

The Rambam's view is not accepted by all authorities. There are some who maintain that such a priest's service is also disqualified. See the Ramban's gloss to Sefer HaMitzvot.

31.

The Ra'avad differs and from the verse in Ezekiel cited above understands that all priests are prohibited against growing their hair long and must take haircuts once in 30 days. The Kessef Mishneh supports the Rambam's position. See the following halachah and notes.

32.

See Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 5:6 where the Rambam explains the restrictions incumbent on the High Priest in greater detail. As he states there, these prohibitions apply to a High Priest even outside of the Temple and even when he is not in mourning.

33.

See ibid. 5:7.

34.

Hilchot Nizirut 3:2. Thus we can assume that growing one's hair long encompasses a 30 day period.

35.

Implied is that if a priest does not desire to serve, he is not required to cut his hair (Kessef Mishneh).

36.

This does not refer to the priestly garments, for the priestly garments are not washed (Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 8:5). Instead, the intent is the priest's personal garments. As a mark of respect, he should ascend to the Temple in freshly laundered clothes (Yeri'ot Shlomo).

37.

Note a parallel decree in Hilchot Shivitat Yom Tov 7:19. See also Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 6:11.

38.

Although doing so is usually forbidden, as stated in Hilchot Shivitat Yom Tov, loc. cit. Here leniency was granted, because he is considered to have been held back from cutting his hair before the festival by forces beyond his

39.

And not during the festival.

40.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 164) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 150) includes this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. In this instance as well, the Ramban objects to the inclusion of this charge as one of the 613 mitzvot.

41.

This ruling appears in direct contradiction to Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 8:4 where the Rambam writes: "If [the priestly garments] were muddy, torn, longer than his appropriate measure... and a priest performed service while wearing them, his service is invalid." Among the resolutions offered is that in Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash, the Rambam is speaking about clothes that remain torn (therefore, even after the fact, the service is invalid), while here he was speaking about torn garments that were mended. As the Radbaz explains, here the Rambam is speaking about a tear like the tear made when one rends his garments in mourning (which can be mended) as indicated in the following halachah, and there, he is speaking about a garment that was torn in many places.

42.

This expression indicates a conclusion which the Rambam reached through the process of deduction and not derived from any specific source.

43.

The Ra'avad agrees that this law applies to a priest that ascends the altar in these unkept states, but differs with regard to a priest who proceeds further and ascend the steps of the Temple. He maintains that entering that area in these unkept states is forbidden only according to Rabbinic Law. The Kessef Mishneh offers an explanation that justifies the Rambam's ruling.

44.

I.e., as a conscious transgression.

45.

The Ra'avad offers a different interpretation of the Rambam's source, the Sifra to Parshat Shemini. The Kessef Mishneh and others offer support for the Rambam's interpretation.

46.

As explained in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah, ch. 7, the other areas of the Temple Mount have a lesser degree of holiness.

47.

See Hilchot Beit HaBechirah, loc. cit., which speaks of the command to fear the Temple.

48.

Or a Levite as will be explained.

49.

Rambam LeAm gives the example of the prophet Samuel who was a Nazirite and hence, allowed his hair to grow long. Nevertheless, he combed it until it was attractive and hence, he was allowed to remain in the Sanctuary of Shiloh.

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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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