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ב"ה

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Two, Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Three, Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Four

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Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Two

1

Whenever a person kills a colleague with his hands - e.g., he strikes him with a sword or with a stone that can cause death, strangles him until he dies or burns him in fire - he should be executed by the court, for he himself has killed him.

א

כָּל הַהוֹרֵג חֲבֵרוֹ בְּיָדוֹ כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִכָּהוּ בְּסַיִף אוֹ בְּאֶבֶן הַמְּמִיתָה. אוֹ שֶׁחֲנָקוֹ עַד שֶׁמֵּת. אוֹ שְׂרָפוֹ בְּאֵשׁ. הוֹאִיל וַהֲרָגוֹ מִכָּל מָקוֹם הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג בְּבֵית דִּין:

2

But a person who hires a murderer to kill a colleague, one who sends his servants and they kill him, one who binds a colleague and leaves him before a lion or the like and the beast kills him, and a person who commits suicide are all considered to be shedders of blood; the sin of bloodshed is upon their hands, and they are liable for death at the hands of God. They are not, however, liable for execution by the court.

ב

אֲבָל הַשּׂוֹכֵר הוֹרֵג לַהֲרֹג אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁלַח עֲבָדָיו וַהֲרָגוּהוּ. אוֹ שֶׁכְּפָתוֹ וְהִנִּיחוֹ לִפְנֵי הָאֲרִי וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ וַהֲרָגַתְהוּ חַיָּה. וְכֵן הַהוֹרֵג אֶת עַצְמוֹ. כָּל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ שׁוֹפֵךְ דָּמִים הוּא. וַעֲוֹן הֲרִיגָה בְּיָדוֹ וְחַיָּב מִיתָה לַשָּׁמַיִם. וְאֵין בָּהֶן מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין:

3

Which source indicates that this is the law? Genesis 9:6 states: "When a person sheds the blood of a man, by a man his blood shall be shed." This refers to a person who kills a colleague by himself, without employing an agent.

The verse continues: "Of the blood of your own lives I will demand an account." This refers to a person who commits suicide.6

"From the hand of every wild beast will I demand an account" Ibid. 9:5 This refers to a person who places a person before a wild beast so that he will devour him.

"From the hand of a man, from the hand of one's brother, will I demand an account for the soul of a man" ibid.. This refers to a person who hires others to kill a colleague. In all of the three last instances, the verse uses the expression "will I demand an account," indicating that their judgment is in heaven's hands.

ג

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁכֵּן הוּא הַדִּין. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ט ו) "שֹׁפֵךְ דַּם הָאָדָם בָּאָדָם דָּמוֹ יִשָּׁפֵךְ" זֶה הַהוֹרֵג בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ. (בראשית ט ה) "אֶת דִּמְכֶם לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם אֶדְרשׁ" זֶה הוֹרֵג עַצְמוֹ. (בראשית ט ה) "מִיַּד כָּל חַיָּה אֶדְרְשֶׁנּוּ" זֶה הַמּוֹסֵר חֲבֵרוֹ לִפְנֵי חַיָּה לְטָרְפוֹ. (בראשית ט ה) "מִיַּד הָאָדָם מִיַּד אִישׁ אָחִיו אֶדְרשׁ אֶת נֶפֶשׁ הָאָדָם" זֶה הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֲחֵרִים לַהֲרֹג אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ. וּבְפֵרוּשׁ נֶאֱמַר בִּשְׁלָשְׁתָּן לְשׁוֹן דְּרִישָׁה הֲרֵי דִּינָם מָסוּר לַשָּׁמַיִם:

4

When a Jewish king desires to slay any of these murderers and the like - who are not liable for execution by the court - by virtue of his regal authority, in order to perfect society, he has the license.

Similarly, if the court desires to execute them as a result of a immediate fiat, because this was required at the time, they have the license to do as they see fit.

ד

וְכָל אֵלּוּ הָרַצְחָנִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁאֵינָן מְחֻיָּבִין מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין. אִם רָצָה מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהָרְגָם בְּדִין הַמַּלְכוּת וְתַקָּנַת הָעוֹלָם הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ. וְכֵן אִם רָאוּ בֵּית דִּין לְהָרְגָם בְּהוֹרָאַת שָׁעָה אִם הָיְתָה הַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה לְכָךְ יֵשׁ לָהֶם רְשׁוּת כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאוּ:

5

If the king did not execute them, nor did the court deem the time as such to require strengthening the strictures against murder, it should nevertheless have the murderer beaten with severe blows - so that he is on the verge of death - and imprisoned, deprived and afflicted with all types of discomfort in order to strike fear and awe into the hearts of other wicked men, so that this death should not be a stumbling block and a snag for them, causing them to say: "Let me arrange to have my enemies killed the way so-and-so did, and I will not suffer the consequences."

ה

הֲרֵי שֶׁלֹּא הֲרָגָם הַמֶּלֶךְ וְלֹא הָיְתָה הַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה לְכָךְ לְחַזֵּק הַדָּבָר הֲרֵי בֵּית דִּין חַיָּבִין מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְהַכּוֹתָם מַכָּה רַבָּה הַקְּרוֹבָה לְמִיתָה לְאָסְרָם בְּמָצוֹר וּבְמָצוֹק שָׁנִים רַבּוֹת וּלְצַעֲרָן בְּכָל מִינֵי צַעַר כְּדֵי לְהַפְחִיד וּלְאַיֵּם עַל שְׁאָר הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר לָהֶם לְפוּקָה וּלְמִכְשׁוֹל וְיֹאמַר הֲרֵינִי מְסַבֵּב לַהֲרֹג אוֹיְבַי כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעָשָׂה פְּלוֹנִי וְאֶפָּטֵר:

6

Whether a person kills an adult or an infant that is one day old, a male or a female, he should be executed if he killed him intentionally, or exiled if he killed him unintentionally.

With regard to an infant, the above applies provided it was born after a full term pregnancy. If, however, it was born before nine months passed, it is considered to be an inviable birth until it lives for 30 days. If it is killed within those 30 days, the killer should not be executed.

ו

אֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת הַגָּדוֹל אוֹ אֶת הַקָּטָן בֶּן יוֹמוֹ. בֵּין זָכָר בֵּין נְקֵבָה. הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו אִם הָרַג בְּזָדוֹן. אוֹ גּוֹלֶה אִם הָרַג בִּשְׁגָגָה. וְהוּא שֶׁכָּלוּ לוֹ חֳדָשָׁיו. אֲבָל אִם נוֹלַד לְפָחוֹת מִתִּשְׁעָה חֳדָשִׁים הֲרֵי הוּא כְּנֵפֶל עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶה שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְהַהוֹרְגוֹ בְּתוֹךְ שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם אֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו:

7

Whether a person kills a healthy person, a sick person who is on the verge of dying, or even a person in his actual death throes, the killer should be executed. If, however, one kills a person in his death throes because of wounds inflicted upon him by others - i.e., he was stricken until he was on the verge of death, and he is in his death throes, the killer should not be executed by the court.

ז

אֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת הַבָּרִיא אוֹ אֶת הַחוֹלֶה הַנּוֹטֶה לָמוּת. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת הַגּוֹסֵס נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְאִם הָיָה גּוֹסֵס בִּידֵי אָדָם כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִכּוּהוּ עַד שֶׁנָּטָה לָמוּת וַהֲרֵי הוּא גּוֹסֵס. הַהוֹרְגוֹ אֵין בֵּית דִּין מְמִיתִין אוֹתוֹ:

8

When, by contrast, a person is considered trefah,even though he eats, drinks and walks in the market place, one is not held liable by an earthly court for killing him.

Every person is presumed to be physically sound, and a person who kills him should be executed unless it is certainly known that he is a trefah, and the physicians say that his infirmity does not have any remedy for humans and it will surely cause his death, if no other factor does first.

ח

הַהוֹרֵג אֶת הַטְּרֵפָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה וּמְהַלֵּךְ בַּשּׁוּק הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִדִּינֵי אָדָם. וְכָל אָדָם בְּחֶזְקַת שָׁלֵם וְהַהוֹרְגוֹ נֶהֱרָג עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁזֶּה טְרֵפָה וְיֹאמְרוּ הָרוֹפְאִים שֶׁמַּכָּה זוֹ אֵין לָהּ תְּעָלָה בָּאָדָם וּבָהּ יָמוּת אִם לֹא יְמִיתֶנּוּ דָּבָר אַחֵר:

9

When a person who is a trefah kills another man, he should be killed, as reflected by Deuteronomy 19:19, which states: "And you shall destroy the evil from among your midst."

When does this apply? When he committed the murder in the presence of a court. If, however, he committed the murder in the presence of witnesses, he is not liable. The rationale is that the witnesses may be disqualified through hazamah. And if they are disqualified through hazamah, they will not be punished by execution, for they intended merely to have a person who was trefah executed. And whenever the laws of hazamah cannot be applied to testimony, it is not considered to be valid testimony in capital cases.

ט

אָדָם טְרֵפָה שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ נֶהֱרָג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג ו) "וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ". וְהוּא שֶׁיַּהֲרֹג בִּפְנֵי בֵּית דִּין. אֲבָל בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים פָּטוּר שֶׁמָּא יָזֹמּוּ וְאִם הוּזַמּוּ אֵינָן נֶהֱרָגִין שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא זָמְמוּ אֶלָּא לַהֲרֹג טְרֵפָה. וְכָל עֵדוּת שֶׁאֵינָהּ רְאוּיָה לַהֲזָמָה אֵינָהּ עֵדוּת בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת:

10

If a person kills either a Jew or a Canaanite servant, he should be executed. If he kills inadvertently, he should be exiled.

י

אֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ הַהוֹרֵג עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְאִם הָרַג בִּשְׁגָגָה גּוֹלֶה:

11

At first, a person who killed a resident alien should not be executed by the court, as implied by Exodus 21:14, which introduces the laws regarding the punishment for murder, by stating: "When a man acts intentionally against his colleague, killing him...." Needless to say, this ruling applies with regard to a gentile.

Whether a person kills his own Canaanite servant or a servant belonging to someone else, he should be executed. For a servant has accepted the yoke of mitzvot and has been added to "the heritage of God."

יא

בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה מִי שֶׁהָרַג גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב אֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו בְּבֵית דִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא יד) "וְכִי יָזִד אִישׁ עַל רֵעֵהוּ". וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג עַל הָעַכּוּ''ם. וְאֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת עֶבֶד אֲחֵרִים אוֹ הַהוֹרֵג עַבְדּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו שֶׁהָעֶבֶד קִבֵּל עָלָיו מִצְוֹת וְנוֹסַף עַל נַחֲלַת ה':

12

What is the difference between killing one's own Canaanite servant and a servant belonging to someone else? With regard to one's own servant, one has the right to strike him. Thus, if one strikes him with a blow that is sufficient to cause death, and he is on the verge of dying, but survives for 24 hours and dies afterwards, the owner should not be executed, although the servant died because of the blow, as Exodus 21:21 states: "But if he survives for a day or two, he shall not be avenged, for he is his property."

What is the intent of the phrase "for a day or two"? A day that is like two days - i.e., a full 24-hour cycle.

יב

מַה בֵּין עַבְדּוֹ לְעֶבֶד אֲחֵרִים. שֶׁעַבְדּוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ רְשׁוּת לְהַכּוֹתוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הִכָּהוּ הַכָּאָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית וְנָטָה לָמוּת וְעָמַד עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבַּע שָׁעוֹת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵת לֹא הָיָה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמֵּת מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא כא) "לֹא יֻקַּם כִּי כַסְפּוֹ הוּא". וּמַהוּ (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמָיִם" יוֹם שֶׁהוּא כְּיוֹמַיִם שֶׁהוּא מֵעֵת לְעֵת:

13

Different rules apply when, by contrast, one strikes a Canaanite servant who belongs to another person. If one strikes him with a blow sufficient to kill, one may be executed for killing him, as one would be executed for killing any free Jew, even if he does not die because of the blow until several days have passed.

יג

אֲבָל הַמַּכֶּה עֶבֶד שֶׁאֵינוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ מֵת לְאַחַר כַּמָּה יָמִים מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה הוֹאִיל וְהִכָּהוּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו כִּשְׁאָר בְּנֵי חוֹרִין:

14

It appears to me that when a person strikes his servant with a knife, a sword, a stone, a fist or the like, and it was assessed that he would die, and he did die, the leniency granted if the servant survives more than 24 hours does not apply. Instead, even if the servant dies a year later, the owner should be executed because of the servant's death.

To underscore this point, Exodus 21:20 mentions striking the servant "with a rod." For the Torah has granted the owner permission to beat his servant only with a rod, a staff, a strap or the like, and he may not strike him with murderous blows.

יד

יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁהַמַּכֶּה אֶת עַבְדּוֹ בְּסַכִּין וְסַיִף אוֹ בְּאֶבֶן וְאֶגְרוֹף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וַאֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה וּמֵת אֵינוֹ בְּדִין (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם" אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ מֵת לְאַחַר שָׁנָה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר (שמות כא כ) "בַּשֵּׁבֶט" שֶׁלֹּא נָתְנָה תּוֹרָה רְשׁוּת לְהַכּוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא בְּשֵׁבֶט וּמַקֵּל וּרְצוּעָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וְלֹא בְּהַכָּאַת רְצִיחָה:

15

The following rules apply when a person sells his servant and stipulates that the servant must continue to serve him for 30 days - and in those 30 days, either the seller or the purchaser strikes the servant - the leniency granted if the servant survives more than 24 hours does not apply, neither to the seller nor to the purchaser, and the killer should be executed.

The rationale is that the servant no longer is the personal "property" of the seller, nor has he entered the domain of the purchaser.

טו

הַמּוֹכֵר עַבְדּוֹ וּפָסַק עִמּוֹ שֶׁיְּשַׁמְּשֵׁנוּ שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְהִכָּהוּ אֶחָד מֵהֶן בְּתוֹךְ הַשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וֶהֱמִיתוֹ. הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו וְאֵינוֹ בְּדִין (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם". הָרִאשׁוֹן לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ (שמות כא כא) "כַּסְפּוֹ" הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ. וְהַשֵּׁנִי לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עֲדַיִן תַּחְתָּיו:

16

Similarly, if a person is half servant and half free,or there is a servant belonging to two partners, and the owner or one of the owners strikes and kills the servant, the leniency granted if the servant survives more than 24 hours does not apply. For in these cases, there is not an owner who owns the servant as his personal "property." Therefore, the owner should be executed, as would any other person.

טז

וְכֵן מִי שֶׁחֶצְיוֹ עֶבֶד וְחֶצְיוֹ בֶּן חוֹרִין וְעֶבֶד שֶׁל שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין אֵינוֹ בְּדִין (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם". שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָן לְאֶחָד מֵהֶן (שמות כא כא) "כַּסְפּוֹ" הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ. וּלְפִיכָךְ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו כִּשְׁאָר הָעָם:

Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Three

1

The following rule applies when a person strikes a colleague intentionally with a stone or a piece of wood and causes his death. We assess the object with which he was struck, and the place where he was struck, and determine whether or not it is likely that such an article would cause death when used to give a blow in such a place.

This is implied by Numbers 35:17-18, which states: "If he struck him with a fist-sized stone that could cause death... or if he struck him with a fist-sized wooden article that could cause death." "That could cause death" teaches that the murder weapon must be such that would likely cause him to die.

Striking a person on his heart cannot be compared to striking him on his thigh.

א

הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּזָדוֹן בְּאֶבֶן אוֹ בְּעֵץ וֶהֱמִיתוֹ. אוֹמְדִין דָּבָר שֶׁהִכָּהוּ בּוֹ וּמָקוֹם שֶׁהִכָּה עָלָיו. אִם רָאוּי אוֹתוֹ חֵפֶץ לְהָמִית בְּאֵיבָר זֶה אוֹ אֵינוֹ רָאוּי. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה יז) "בְּאֶבֶן יָד אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בָּהּ הִכָּהוּ" (במדבר לה יח) "אוֹ בִּכְלִי עֵץ יָד אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בּוֹ הִכָּהוּ". עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה מַכֵּהוּ עַל לִבּוֹ לְמַכֵּהוּ עַל יְרֵכוֹ:

2

Since the verse states "That could cause death," this phrase also implies that we assess the place where the victim was struck.

Just as we assess the object with which he was struck, and the place where he was struck, we also assess the force of the blow. This is implied by the phrase (Ibid.): "a fist-sized stone," from which we infer that we evaluate the force of the hand. For one cannot compare a person who throws a stone at his colleague from a distance of two cubits to one who throws a stone from a distance of ten cubits. At ten cubits, the stone will have more force. Nor can one compare a person who throws a stone at his colleague from a distance of ten cubits to one who throws a stone from a distance of 100 cubits. For over an extended distance, the force of the blow will be diminished.

ב

הוֹאִיל וְנֶאֱמַר (במדבר לה יז) "אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בָּהּ" מִכָּאן שֶׁאוֹמְדִין מְקוֹם הַמַּכָּה. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁאוֹמְדִין הַחֵפֶץ שֶׁהִכָּה בּוֹ וּמְקוֹם הַמַּכָּה כָּךְ אוֹמְדִין כֹּחַ הַהַכָּאָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה יז) "בְּאֶבֶן יָד" מִכָּאן שֶׁמְּשַׁעֲרִין אֶת הַיָּד. אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה זוֹרֵק אֶבֶן בַּחֲבֵרוֹ בְּרִחוּק שְׁתֵּי אַמּוֹת לְזוֹרֵק בּוֹ בְּרִחוּק עֶשֶׂר שֶׁבְּרִחוּק עֶשֶׂר יִהְיֶה כֹּחָהּ יָתֵר. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה זוֹרֵק בְּרִחוּק עֶשֶׂר לְזוֹרֵק בְּרִחוּק מֵאָה שֶׁבְּרִחוּק הַמָּקוֹם בְּיוֹתֵר יִתְמַעֵט כֹּחַ הַהַכָּאָה:

3

Similarly, the blow itself and the power of the killer and the victim should be assessed: Is he large or small? Is he strong or weak? Is he healthy or sickly? These and all similar questions should be investigated. This is all implied by the phrase: "That could cause death." It teaches that all the factors involved in the person's death should be assessed.

ג

וְכֵן מְשַׁעֲרִין הַמַּכָּה עַצְמָהּ וּמְשַׁעֲרִין כֹּחַ הַהוֹרֵג וְכֹחַ הַנֶּהֱרָג. אִם הוּא גָּדוֹל אוֹ קָטָן אוֹ חָזָק אוֹ חַלָּשׁ אוֹ בָּרִיא אוֹ חוֹלֶה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה יז) "אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בָּהּ". מִיתָתוֹ שֶׁל זֶה מְשַׁעֲרִין כָּל סִבּוֹתֶיהָ:

4

The Torah did not mention a minimum size with regard to an iron object, as Numbers 35:16 states: "If he struck him with an iron utensil and he dies, he is a murderer." This applies even to a needle, provided the object is pointed like a needle, a spit, a knife or the like.

If, however, a person strikes a colleague with a hunk of metal or the like, we evaluate the blow as we would evaluate it if it had been dealt with a piece of wood or a stone.

ד

כְּלִי בַּרְזֶל לֹא נָתְנָה בּוֹ תּוֹרָה שִׁעוּר. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה טז) "וְאִם בִּכְלִי בַרְזֶל הִכָּהוּ וַיָּמֹת רֹצֵחַ הוּא". וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּמַחַט. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לוֹ חֹד כְּמוֹ מַחַט אוֹ שִׁפּוּד אוֹ סַכִּין וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. אֲבָל אִם הִכָּהוּ בְּעֶשֶׁת שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ אוֹמְדִין אוֹתָהּ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאוֹמְדִין הָעֵץ אוֹ הָאֶבֶן:

5

When a person strikes a colleague without an object and kills him - e.g., he strikes him with his hand or foot or butts him with his head and kills him - we should assess the force of the blow, the strength of the victim and the place where the blow was given. One cannot compare a person poking at a colleague with his finger to one who kicks his colleague with all his strength. Nor can one compare a blow given on the heart to a blow given in the groin. Nor can one compare a weak person who strikes a healthy, strong person to a healthy, strong person who strikes a weak or sickly person.

ה

הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּלֹא כְּלִי וֶהֱמִיתוֹ. כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִכָּהוּ בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ בְּרַגְלוֹ אוֹ נְגָפוֹ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וֶהֱמִיתוֹ מְשַׁעֲרִין כֹּחַ הַמַּכָּה וְכֹחַ הַנֶּהֱרָג וּמְקוֹם הַמַּכָּה. אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה דּוֹחֵף חֲבֵרוֹ בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ לְבוֹעֵט בּוֹ בְּרַגְלוֹ בְּכָל כֹּחוֹ. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה מַכֵּהוּ עַל לִבּוֹ לְמַכֵּהוּ עַל מָתְנָיו. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה חַלָּשׁ הַמַּכֶּה אֶת הַבָּרִיא הֶחָזָק לְבָרִיא חָזָק הַמַּכֶּה חַלָּשׁ אוֹ חוֹלֶה:

6

What is the source that teaches that an assessment must be made in such an instance? Numbers 35:21 states: "Or if he maliciously strikes him with his hand and he dies, the one who strikes him shall certainly die." Although it mentions "with his hand," the verse also states that the blow must be given "maliciously." Implied is that we assess the force of the blow.

ו

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁמְּשַׁעֲרִין בְּכָל אֵלּוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה כא) "אוֹ בְאֵיבָה הִכָּהוּ בְיָדוֹ וַיָּמֹת מוֹת יוּמַת הַמַּכֶּה". אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּיָדוֹ הִצְרִיךְ הַכָּתוּב לִהְיוֹת הַהַכָּאָה בְּאֵיבָה מִכְּלָל שֶׁמְּשַׁעֲרִין כֹּחַ הַהַכָּאָה:

7

Similarly, when a person pushes a colleague from a rooftop, causing him to fall and die, we assess the height of the place from which he pushed him and the strength of the person who was pushed. For an infant who fell cannot be compared to an adult who fell.

What is the source that teaches that we must assess the height from which the victim fell? Numbers 35:20 states: "If he pushes him down with hatred."

It appears to me that any place that is not more than ten handbreadths high is not considered of sufficient height to kill, as explained with regard to an animal that fell into a cistern.

ז

וְכֵן הַדּוֹחֵף אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ מֵרֹאשׁ הַגַּג וְנָפַל וּמֵת מְשַׁעֲרִין גֹּבַהּ הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁהִפִּילוֹ מֵעָלָיו וְכֹחַ הַנִּדְחָף. שֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה בֶּן יוֹמוֹ שֶׁנָּפַל לְגָדוֹל שֶׁנָּפַל. וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁמְּשַׁעֲרִין גֹּבַהּ הַמָּקוֹם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה כ) "וְאִם בְּשִׂנְאָה יֶהְדָּפֶנּוּ". וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁכָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין בְּגָבְהוֹ עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים אֵין בּוֹ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ בְּבוֹר לְעִנְיַן בְּהֵמָה:

8

The same laws apply if a person strikes a colleague with a stone, a block of wood, a clod of earth, a block of salt or sulfur, or a basket full of dust or pebbles, or even if he strikes him with a cake of dried figs. This is implied by the phrase "That could cause death" - i.e., anything that may cause death. And it is the weight of the object that makes it fit to cause death.

ח

אֶחָד הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּאֶבֶן אוֹ בְּעֵץ. אוֹ שֶׁהִכָּהוּ בְּגוּשׁ עָפָר אוֹ בְּגוּשׁ מֶלַח וְגָפְרִית אוֹ בְּסַל מָלֵא עָפָר אוֹ צְרוֹרוֹת וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּפֶלַח דְּבֵלָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה יז) "אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בָּהּ" כָּל שֶׁהוּא רָאוּי לְהָמִית וְהַכֹּבֶד הוּא שֶׁמֵּמִית:

9

When a person pushes a colleague into water or into a fire, an assessment should be made. If the person could ascend, the one who pushed him is not liable for execution. If he could not ascend, the one who pushed him is liable.

Similarly, if one held a colleague in water or in fire until he did not have any strength to ascend, and the colleague died, the one who held him is liable, even if he did not push him there at the outset.

Similarly, a person is liable for execution in all of the following instances: he held his hand over a colleague's mouth and nose until he left him in his death throes, unable to live; he bound a colleague and left him in the sun or the cold until he died; he built an airtight construction over him that prevented air from coming in; he placed a colleague in a house or a cave and filled it with smoke until he died; or he placed a colleague in an airtight marble building and lit a candle, causing the colleague to die because of the lack of air. In all of these instances, the person who caused the victim's death is executed; it is as if he had strangled him by hand.

ט

הַדּוֹחֵף אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ לְתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם אוֹ לְתוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ אוֹמְדִין אוֹתוֹ אִם יָכוֹל לַעֲלוֹת מִשָּׁם פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין וְאִם לָאו חַיָּב. וְכֵן אִם כָּבַשׁ עָלָיו [בְּתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם אוֹ] בְּתוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁאַר בּוֹ כֹּחַ לַעֲלוֹת וּמֵת חַיָּב. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ הוּא הַדּוֹחֵף בַּתְּחִלָּה. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְמַנִּיחַ יָדוֹ עַל פִּי חֲבֵרוֹ וְחָטְמוֹ עַד שֶׁהִנִּיחוֹ מְפַרְפֵּר וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְחַיּוֹת. אוֹ שֶׁכְּפָתוֹ וְהִנִּיחוֹ בַּצִּנָּה אוֹ בַּחַמָּה עַד שֶׁמֵּת. אוֹ שֶׁבָּנָה עָלָיו מָקוֹם עַד שֶׁמָּנַע מִמֶּנּוּ הָרוּחַ. אוֹ שֶׁהִכְנִיסוֹ לַמְּעָרָה אוֹ לַבַּיִת וְעִשֵּׁן עָלָיו עַד שֶׁמֵּת. אוֹ שֶׁהִכְנִיסוֹ לְבַיִת שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ וְהִדְלִיק עָלָיו נֵר עַד שֶׁהֱמִיתוֹ הַהֶבֶל. בְּכָל אֵלּוּ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו שֶׁזֶּה כְּמִי שֶׁחֲנָקוֹ בְּיָדוֹ:

10

Different rules apply, however, in the following instances: A person binds a colleague and leaves him to starve to death; he binds him and leaves him in a place that will ultimately cause him to be subjected to cold or heat, and these influences indeed come and kill the victim; he covers him with a barrel; he uncovers the roof of the building where he was staying; or he causes a snake to bite him. Needless to say, a distinction is made if a colleague dispatches a dog or a snake at a colleague. In all the above instances, the person is not executed. He is, nevertheless, considered to be a murderer, and "the One who seeks vengeance for bloodshed" will seek vengeance for the blood he shed.

י

אֲבָל הַכּוֹפֵת אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִנִּיחוֹ בָּרָעָב עַד שֶׁמֵּת. אוֹ שֶׁכְּפָתוֹ וְהִנִּיחוֹ בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁסּוֹף הַצִּנָּה אוֹ הַחַמָּה לָבוֹא לְשָׁם וּבָאָה וֶהֱמִיתַתּוּ. אוֹ שֶׁכָּפָה עָלָיו גִּגִּית. אוֹ שֶׁפָּרַע עָלָיו אֶת הַמַּעֲזִיבָה. אוֹ שֶׁהִשִּׁיךְ עָלָיו אֶת הַנָּחָשׁ. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם שִׁסָּה בּוֹ כֶּלֶב אוֹ נָחָשׁ. בְּכָל אֵלּוּ אֵין מְמִיתִין אוֹתוֹ. וַהֲרֵי הוּא רוֹצֵחַ. וְדוֹרֵשׁ דָּמִים דּוֹרֵשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ דָּם:

11

Similarly execution is not required in the following instances. A person pushed his colleague into a cistern and there was a ladder that he could have used to climb out, or he shot an arrow at him, but he was holding a shield with which he could protect himself - and another person came and took away the ladder or the shield. Neither of the two is executed by the court.

Moreover, even if the person who pushed the victim is himself the one who takes away the ladder, he is not liable for execution. God will, however, seek him out and avenge the bloodshed.

יא

וְכֵן הַדּוֹחֵף חֲבֵרוֹ בְּבוֹר וְהָיָה שָׁם סֻלָּם שֶׁיָּכוֹל לַעֲלוֹת עָלָיו. אוֹ שֶׁזָּרַק בּוֹ חֵץ וְהָיָה תְּרִיס בְּיָדוֹ לְהָגֵן עָלָיו. וּבָא אַחֵר וְסִלֵּק אֶת הַסֻּלָּם וְהֵסִיר אֶת הַתְּרִיס. שְׁנֵיהֶן אֵין נֶהֱרָגִין בְּבֵית דִּין. אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה הַדּוֹחֵף עַצְמוֹ הוּא שֶׁחָזַר וְסִלֵּק הַסֻּלָּם פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין. וְנִדְרָשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ הַדָּם:

12

When a person throws a stone against a wall, and the stone rebounds and kills a person, the thrower of the stone is liable for execution by the court. For it was propelled by the power of the person who threw it.

A similar principle applies with regard to a person playing with a ball, who was given a warning and caused death by throwing it. If the victim was within four cubits of the wall, he is not liable. If the victim was beyond four cubits away, even if he was standing at the end of a distance of 100 cubits, the thrower is liable, provided the ball is of sufficient weight to kill, as explained.

יב

הַזּוֹרֵק צְרוֹר בַּכֹּתֶל וְחָזְרָה הָאֶבֶן לַאֲחוֹרֶיהָ וְהָרְגָה חַיָּב מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁמִּכֹּחוֹ הִיא בָּאָה. וְכֵן אֵלּוּ שֶׁמְּשַׂחֲקִין בְּכַדּוּר שֶׁהִתְרוּ בָּהֶן וְהָרְגוּ. בְּתוֹךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת פְּטוּרִין. חוּץ לְאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת אֲפִלּוּ לְסוֹף מֵאָה אַמָּה חַיָּבִין. וְהוּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

13

If a person threw a stone upward and it went to the side and caused death, the one who threw it is liable.

If a person binds a colleague and puts him in a place where he cannot flee, and then turns a current of water on him, causing him to die, the killer should be executed. This law applies provided the victim dies from the first burst of water that flows because of his deeds.

יג

זָרַק אֶבֶן לְמַעְלָה וְהָלְכָה לַצְּדָדִין וְהָרְגָה חַיָּב. הַכּוֹפֵת אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִנִּיחוֹ בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִבְרֹחַ וְהֵצִיף עָלָיו מַיִם וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְהוּא שֶׁיָּמוּת מִכֹּחַ רִאשׁוֹן הַבָּא מִמַּעֲשָׂיו:

Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Four

1

A person who intended to kill one person and instead killed another is not liable - neither for execution by the court, nor for financial liability, nor for exile.

He is not liable for exile because the cities of refuge will not serve as protection for him, as will be explained.

Therefore, a person who throws a stone into a group of Jews without the intent of killing any specific person is not liable for execution by the court, even though he in fact kills a person.

א

הַמִּתְכַּוִּן לַהֲרֹג אֶת זֶה וְהָרַג אֶת זֶה פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין וּמִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין וּמִן הַגָּלוּת. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין עָרֵי מִקְלָט קוֹלְטוֹת אוֹתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. לְפִיכָךְ הַזּוֹרֵק אֶבֶן לְתוֹךְ עֵדָה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְהָרַג אֶחָד מֵהֶן פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין:

2

Similarly, a killer is not held liable for execution in the following instances. He intended to strike a colleague on his loins, and the utensil was not sufficient to kill if it struck a person on his loins, but it instead struck him on his heart and he died. Or a person intended to strike a colleague on his heart, and the blow was sufficient to kill had it struck him on the heart, but instead it struck the victim on his loins and it was not sufficient to kill an ordinary person if it struck him on his loins, but this person died. In these instances, the killer is not liable for execution by the court, nor is he exiled, because a person who kills intentionally is never exiled.

If, however, he intended to strike him on his loins, and the blow was sufficient to kill him if it struck him on his loins, but it struck him on his heart, killing him, the killer should be executed. Similar principles apply in all analogous instances.

ב

נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהַכּוֹת אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו וְלֹא הָיָה בַּכְּלִי כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל מָתְנָיו וְהָלְכָה לָהּ הָאֶבֶן עַל לִבּוֹ וְהָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל לִבּוֹ וּמֵת. אוֹ שֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן לְהַכּוֹתוֹ עַל לִבּוֹ וְהָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל לִבּוֹ וְהָלְכָה לָהּ עַל מָתְנָיו וְלֹא הָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל מָתְנָיו וּמֵת. פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹלֶה שֶׁאֵין הַהוֹרֵג בְּכַוָּנָה גּוֹלֶה. אֲבָל אִם נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהַכּוֹתוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו וְהָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל מָתְנָיו וְהָלְכָה לָהּ עַל לִבּוֹ וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

3

When a person strikes a colleague with a stone or a fist in a manner that could cause his death, but he does not die immediately, an assessment should be made.

If the judges assess that the victim would live, the person who struck the blow is liable only to pay the five damages awarded to a person who is injured, and he is released. Even if the victim falls ill, and his situation becomes more serious and ultimately he dies, the person who struck the blow is not held liable.

If the judges assess that the victim would die, they should imprison the person who struck the blow immediately and wait to see the outcome. If the victim does die, the person who struck the blow should be executed. If, however, the victim's condition improves, and he becomes healed entirely to the extent that he walks in the marketplace on his feet like other healthy people, the person who struck the blow should pay the damages and should be released.

ג

הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּאֶבֶן אוֹ בְּאֶגְרוֹף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אוֹמְדִין אוֹתוֹ. אִם אֲמָדוּהוּ לְחַיִּים נוֹתֵן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים וְנִפְטָר. וַאֲפִלּוּ חָלָה הַמֻּכֶּה וְהִכְבִּיד וּמֵת מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְאִם אֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה אוֹסְרִין אֶת הַמַּכֶּה בְּבֵית הַסֹּהַר מִיָּד וּמַמְתִּינִים לָזֶה. אִם מֵת יֵהָרֵג הַמַּכֶּה וְאִם הֵקֵל וְנִתְרַפֵּא רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה וְהָלַךְ בַּשּׁוּק עַל רַגְלָיו כִּשְׁאָר הַבְּרִיאִים מְשַׁלֵּם הַמַּכֶּה חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים וְנִפְטָר:

4

The Torah's expression על משענתו does not mean that he should walk while supported by a staff or by another person. For even a person who is on the verge of dying can walk leaning on a support. Instead, the intent in this verse is that he walk supported by his own power, without relying on any other factor for support.

ד

זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (שמות כא יט) "עַל מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ" אֵינוֹ שֶׁיַּהֲלֹךְ וְהוּא נִשְׁעָן עַל הַמִּטָּה אוֹ עַל אַחֵר. שֶׁאֲפִילוּ הַנּוֹטֶה לָמוּת יָכוֹל לְהַלֵּךְ עַל הַמִּשְׁעֶנֶת. לֹא נֶאֱמַר מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ אֶלָּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מְהַלֵּךְ עַל מִשְׁעֶנֶת בֻּרְיוֹ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה צָרִיךְ כֹּחַ אַחֵר לְהִשָּׁעֵן עָלָיו:

5

If it was assessed that the victim would die, and afterwards his condition improved, but then deteriorated, and ultimately he died, the killer should be executed. We do not make a second assessment after the victim's condition improves, for there is a basis for the assumption that he died because of the original blow.

ה

אֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה וְהֵקֵל מִמַּה שֶּׁהָיָה וּלְאַחַר מִכָּאן הִכְבִּיד וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג. וְאֵין אוֹמְדִין אוֹתוֹ אֹמֶד שֵׁנִי כְּשֶׁהֵקֵל. שֶׁרַגְלַיִם לַדָּבָר:

6

If ten people strike a person with ten different sticks and he dies, they are all not held liable for execution by the court. This law applies regardless of whether they struck him one after the other or they struck him at the same time.

These concepts are derived from Leviticus 24:17: "If he strikes any person mortally he should be put to death." כל translated as "any" also means "all." Implied is that death is not required unless one person alone is entirely accountable for the person's death.

The same law applies if two people push a colleague into water or hold him there, or several people are sitting together and an arrow emerges from their company and kills; none is held liable for execution.

ו

הִכּוּהוּ עֲשָׂרָה בְּנֵי אָדָם בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַקְלוֹת וּמֵת בֵּין שֶׁהִכּוּהוּ בָּזֶה אַחַר זֶה בֵּין שֶׁהִכּוּהוּ כְּאַחַת כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כד יז) "כָּל נֶפֶשׁ אָדָם" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֶחָד שֶׁהָרַג כָּל הַנֶּפֶשׁ. וְהוּא הַדִּין לִשְׁנַיִם שֶׁדְּחָפוּהוּ אוֹ שֶׁכְּבָשׁוּהוּ לְתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ רַבִּים יוֹשְׁבִים וְיָצָא חֵץ מִבֵּינֵיהֶן וְהָרַג שֶׁכֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין:

7

A different ruling is rendered in the following instance. Ten people threw stones at a person one after the other, and none of the stones was of sufficient weight to cause death. Afterwards, another person cast a stone that was of sufficient weight to cause death and the victim died. The last person who threw the stone should be executed.

If a murderer who was sentenced to execution becomes intermingled with other people, they are all absolved. Similarly, when a murderer who was not convicted becomes intermingled with other murderers who were sentenced to execution, none should be executed. The rationale is that judgment can be passed on a person only in his presence. All the killers should, however, be imprisoned.

ז

זָרְקוּ בּוֹ עֲשָׂרָה אֶבֶן זֶה אַחַר זֶה וְכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן אֵין בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית וְזָרַק אֶחָד אֶבֶן בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה וְיֵשׁ בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. רוֹצֵחַ שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ וְנִתְעָרֵב בַּאֲחֵרִים וְלֹא נוֹדַע מִי הוּא מֵהֶן כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין. וְרוֹצֵחַ שֶׁלֹּא נִגְמַר דִּינוֹ שֶׁנִּתְעָרֵב בְּרוֹצְחִים אֲחֵרִים שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינָן כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין מִן הַמִּיתָה שֶׁאֵין גּוֹמְרִין דִּינוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם אֶלָּא בְּפָנָיו. וְאוֹסְרִין אֶת כֻּלָּן:

8

The following laws apply when a person kills people, but the witnesses did not observe his act together - instead one saw him after the other did: a person killed in the presence of witnesses, but a warning was not given; or the witnesses to a murder contradicted each other with regard to the fine points of the testimony, but not with regard to the fundamental questions.

All those murderers should be forced to enter a kipah.There they are fed parched bread and small amounts of water until their digestive tract contracts. Then they are fed barley until their bellies burst because of the extent of the sickness and they die.

ח

הַהוֹרֵג נְפָשׁוֹת וְלֹא הָיוּ עֵדִים רוֹאִין אוֹתוֹ כְּאַחַת אֶלָּא רָאָהוּ הָאֶחָד אַחַר הָאֶחָד אוֹ שֶׁהָרַג בִּפְנֵי שְׁנֵי עֵדִים בְּלֹא הַתְרָאָה אוֹ שֶׁהֻכְחֲשׁוּ הָעֵדִים בִּבְדִיקוֹת וְלֹא הֻכְחֲשׁוּ בַּחֲקִירוֹת. כָּל אֵלּוּ הָרַצְחָנִים כּוֹנְסִין אוֹתָן לְכִפָּה וּמַאֲכִילִין אוֹתָן לֶחֶם צַר וּמַיִם לַחַץ עַד שֶׁיָּצֵרוּ מֵעֵיהֶן וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתָן שְׂעוֹרִים עַד שֶׁתִּבָּקַע כְּרֵסָם מִכֹּבֶד הַחלִי:

9

This measure is not taken with regard to other crimes punishable by execution by the court. If a defendant is liable for execution, he should be executed. If he is not liable for execution, he should be released.

Although there are other sins that are more serious than murder, they do not present as serious a danger to society as murder does. Even idol worship - and needless to say, incest or the violation of the Sabbath - are not considered as severe as murder. For these sins involve man's relationship with God, while murder also involves man's relationship with his fellow man.

Whoever commits this sin is an utterly wicked person. All the mitzvot that he performs throughout his lifetime cannot outweigh this sin and save him from judgment. Thus, Proverbs 28:17 states: "A man weighed down with life's blood will flee to the pit."

Come and learn from the example of Ach'av King of Israel. He was an idolater so debased in his paganism that I Kings 21:25 says: "There was none like Ach'av who gave himself over to the performance of wickedness in the eyes of God." And yet when his merits and sins were weighed in the presence of the Lord of spirits, there was no sin that warranted his destruction and was not counterbalanced by a positive quality, except the blood of Navot.

Thus, it is written Ibid. 22:21, in the description of the prophecy of Ach'av's death in battle: "And the spirit came and stood before God." Our Sages commented:: "This is the spirit of Navot." And God told the spirit (Ibid.:2): "You will persuade him and prevail."

Now this wicked man Ach'av did not actually kill his victim with his own hands; he merely brought about his death. How much more so this condemnation should apply when a person kills another with his own hands.

ט

וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין דָּבָר זֶה לִשְׁאָר מְחֻיְּבֵי מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין אֲבָל אִם נִתְחַיֵּב מִיתָה מְמִיתִין אוֹתוֹ וְאִם אֵינוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה פּוֹטְרִין אוֹתוֹ. שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ עֲוֹנוֹת חֲמוּרִין מִשְּׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים אֵין בָּהֶן הַשְׁחָתַת יִשּׁוּבוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם כִּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים. אֲפִלּוּ עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר עֲרָיוֹת אוֹ חִלּוּל שַׁבָּת אֵינָן כִּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים. שֶׁאֵלּוּ עֲוֹנוֹת הֵן מֵעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם אֲבָל שְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים מֵעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּינוֹ לְבֵין חֲבֵרוֹ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ עָוֹן זֶה הֲרֵי הוּא רָשָׁע גָּמוּר וְאֵין כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה כָּל יָמָיו שְׁקוּלִין כְּנֶגֶד עָוֹן זֶה וְלֹא יַצִּילוּהוּ מִן הַדִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כח יז) "אָדָם עָשֻׁק בְּדַם נָפֶשׁ" וְגוֹ'. צֵא וּלְמַד מֵאַחְאָב עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ (מלכים א כא כה) "רַק לֹא הָיָה כְּאַחְאָב". וּכְשֶׁנִּסְדְּרוּ עֲוֹנוֹתָיו וּזְכֻיּוֹתָיו לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהֵי הָרוּחוֹת לֹא נִמְצָא עָוֹן שֶׁחִיְּבוֹ כְּלָיָה וְלֹא הָיָה שָׁם דָּבָר אַחֵר שֶׁשָּׁקוּל כְּנֶגְדּוֹ אֶלָּא דְּמֵי נָבוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א כב כא) "וַתֵּצֵא הָרוּחַ וַתַּעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי ה'" זֶה רוּחַ נָבוֹת וְנֶאֱמַר לוֹ (מלכים א כב כב) "תְּפַתֶּה וְגַם תּוּכָל". וַהֲרֵי הוּא הָרָשָׁע לֹא הָרַג בְּיָדוֹ אֶלָּא סִבֵּב. קַל וָחֹמֶר לַהוֹרֵג בְּיָדוֹ:

10

It is a mitzvah to kill minim and apikorsim.

The term minim refers to Jewish idolaters or those who perform transgressions for the sake of angering God, even if one eats non-kosher meat for the sake of angering God or wears sha'atnez for the sake of angering God.

The term apikorsim refers to Jews who deny the Torah and the concept of prophecy.

If there is the possibility, one should kill them with a sword in public view. If that is not possible, one should develop a plan so that one can cause their deaths.

What is implied? If one sees such a person descend to a cistern, and there is a ladder in the cistern, one should take the ladder, and excuse oneself, saying: "I must hurry to take my son down from the roof. I shall return the ladder to you soon." Similarly, one should devise other analogous plans to cause the death of such people.

י

הָאֶפִּיקוֹרְסִים וְהֵם עוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אוֹ הָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת לְהַכְעִיס אֲפִלּוּ אָכַל נְבֵלָה אוֹ לָבַשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז לְהַכְעִיס הֲרֵי זֶה אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹס וְשֶׁכּוֹפְרִין בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַנְּבוּאָה הָיָה מִצְוָה לְהָרְגָן. אִם יֵשׁ בְּיָדוֹ כֹּחַ לְהָרְגָן בְּסַיִף בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא הוֹרֵג. וְאִם לָאו הָיָה בָּא עֲלֵיהֶן בַּעֲלִילוֹת עַד שֶׁיְּסַבֵּב הֲרִיגָתָן. כֵּיצַד. רָאָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן שֶׁנָּפַל לִבְאֵר וְהַסֻּלָּם בַּבְּאֵר. הָיָה מְסַלְּקוֹ וְאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי טָרוּד לְהוֹרִיד בְּנִי מִן הַגַּג וְאַחֲזִירֶנּוּ לְךָ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ:

11

With regard to a gentile idolater with whom we are not at war, a Jewish shepherd of small livestock, and the like, by contrast, we should not try to cause their deaths. It is, however, forbidden to save their lives if their lives are threatened. For example, if such a person fell into the sea, one should not rescue him. Leviticus 19:16] states: "Do not stand idly by while your brother's blood is at stake." This does not apply with regard to such individuals, because they are not "your brothers."

יא

אֲבָל עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁאֵין בֵּינֵינוּ וּבֵינָם מִלְחָמָה וְרוֹעֵי בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֵין מְסַבְּבִים לָהֶן הַמִּיתָה וְאָסוּר לְהַצִּילָן אִם נָטוּ לָמוּת. כְּגוֹן שֶׁרָאָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן שֶׁנָּפַל לַיָּם אֵינוֹ מַעֲלֵהוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט טז) "לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ". וְאֵין זֶה רֵעֶךָ:

12

When does the above apply? With regard to a Jew who sins and perseveres in his wickedness, continually repeating it - e.g., shepherds of small livestock who show no consideration for the prohibition against robbery and continue in their perversity.

When, by contrast, a Jew commits transgressions, but does not maintain his wickedness continually, merely occasionally sinning for his own personal satisfaction - e.g., one who eats non-kosher food for pleasure - it is a mitzvah to save his life, and it is forbidden to stand idly by when his life is threatened.

יב

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל בַּעַל עֲבֵרָה וְהָעוֹמֵד בְּרִשְׁעוֹ וְשׁוֹנֶה בּוֹ תָּמִיד כְּגוֹן רוֹעֵי בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה שֶׁפָּקְרוּ בְּגֵזֶל וְהֵם הוֹלְכִים בְּאִוַּלְתָּן. אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּעַל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד בְּרִשְׁעוֹ תָּמִיד אֶלָּא עוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת לַהֲנָאַת עַצְמוֹ כְּגוֹן אוֹכֵל נְבֵלוֹת לְתֵאָבוֹן מִצְוָה לְהַצִּילוֹ וְאָסוּר לַעֲמֹד עַל דָּמוֹ:

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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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