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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Avadim - Chapter One, Avadim - Chapter Two, Avadim - Chapter Three

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Avadim - Chapter One

Introduction to Hilchos Avadim

They contain 13 mitzvot: five positive mitzvot and eight negative mitzvot. They are:

1) The laws governing the acquisition of a Hebrew servant;
2) Not to sell him in the manner that servants are usually sold;
3) Not to make him perform excruciating labor;
4) Not to make him perform servile tasks;
5) Not to allow a resident alien to make him perform excruciating labor;
6) To grant a Hebrew servant a severance gift when he attains his freedom;
7) Not to let him go free empty-handed;
8) To redeem a Hebrew maid-servant;
9) To designate her as a wife;
10) Not to sell her a second time
11) To have a Canaanite servant work forever, unless his master causes one of his primary limbs to fall;
12) Not to return to his master a servant who fled from the Diaspora to Eretz Yisrael;
13) Not to oppress this servant who has fled to us.

These mitzvot are explained in the chapters that follow.

הלכות עבדים - הקדמה הלכות עבדים יש בכללן שלש עשרה מצות חמש מצות עשה ושמונה מצות לא תעשה וזהו פרטן: (א) דין קניין עבד עברי.
(ב) שלא ימכר ממכרת עבד.
(ג) שלא יעבדנו בפרך.
(ד) שלא נעבוד בו עבודת עבד.
(ה) שלא נניח גר תושב לרדות בו בפרך.
(ו) להעניק לו בצאתו חפשי.
(ז) שלא יצא ריקם.
(ח) לפדות אמה העבריה.
(ט) ליעדה.
(י) שלא תמכר.
(יא) לעבוד בעבד כנעני לעולם אלא אם כן הפיל לו אדוניו אחד מראשי איבריו.
(יב) שלא להסגיר עבד שברח מחוצה לארץ לארץ ישראל.
(יג) שלא להונות עבד זה הניצל אלינו.
וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:

1

The term "Hebrew servant" used by the Torah refers to a Jew whom the court sells by compulsion, or a person who sells himself willingly.

What is implied? When a person steals and does not have the resources to repay the principal, the court sells him, as we have explained in Hilchot Geneivah.

No other Jewish person is sold by the court, except a thief. Concerning such a thief sold by the court Exodus 21:2 states: "When you acquire a Hebrew servant." And concerning this person, Deuteronomy 15:12 states: "When your Jewish brother will be sold to you."

To what does the term "a person who sells himself" refer? When a Jew becomes sorely impoverished, the Torah gives him permission to sell himself as a servant, as Leviticus 25:39 states: "When your brother will become impoverished and be sold to you."

A person is not allowed to sell himself as a servant and stash away the money, use it to buy merchandise or utensils, or give it to his creditor. He may sell himself only when he needs the money for his very livelihood. A person is not permitted to sell himself unless he has no property remaining at all - i.e., even his clothing no longer remains. Only in such a situation may he sell himself.

א

(שמות כא ב) "עֶבֶד עִבְרִי" הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה זֶה יִשְׂרְאֵלִי שֶׁמָּכְרוּ אוֹתוֹ בֵּית דִּין עַל כָּרְחוֹ אוֹ הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ לִרְצוֹנוֹ. כֵּיצַד. גָּנַב וְאֵין לוֹ לְשַׁלֵּם אֶת הַקֶּרֶן בֵּית דִּין מוֹכְרִין אוֹתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת גְּנֵבָה. וְאֵין לְךָ אִישׁ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמּוֹכְרִין אוֹתוֹ בֵּית דִּין אֶלָּא הַגַּנָּב בִּלְבַד. וְעַל זֶה שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמות כא ב) "כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי". וְעָלָיו הוּא אוֹמֵר בְּמִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה (דברים טו יב) "כִּי יִמָּכֵר לְךָ אָחִיךָ הָעִבְרִי". מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ כֵּיצַד. זֶה יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהֶעֱנִי בְּיוֹתֵר נָתְנָה לוֹ תּוֹרָה רְשׁוּת לִמְכֹּר אֶת עַצְמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לט) "כִּי יָמוּךְ אָחִיךָ עִמָּךְ וְנִמְכַּר לְךָ". וְאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לִמְכֹּר אֶת עַצְמוֹ וּלְהַצְנִיעַ אֶת דָּמָיו אוֹ לִקְנוֹת בָּהֶם סְחוֹרָה אוֹ כֵּלִים אוֹ לִתְּנֵם לְבַעַל חוֹב אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן צָרִיךְ לְאָכְלָן בִּלְבַד. וְאֵין אָדָם רַשַּׁאי לִמְכֹּר אֶת עַצְמוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִשָּׁאֵר לוֹ כְּלוּם וַאֲפִלּוּ כְּסוּת לֹא תִּשָּׁאֵר לוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִמְכֹּר אֶת עַצְמוֹ:

2

We have already explained that a woman is never sold because of a theft. Similarly, she may not sell herself as a servant, nor may she purchase a Hebrew servant or a Canaanite slave, because of the suspicion of immoral behavior.

A convert may not sell himself as a servant. This is derived from Leviticus 25:41: "And he shall return to his family" - i.e., it is speaking about someone who has a family within the Jewish faith.

ב

כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִמְכֶּרֶת בִּגְנֵבָתָהּ וְכֵן אֵינָהּ מוֹכֶרֶת אֶת עַצְמָהּ וְאֵינָהּ קוֹנָה לֹא עֶבֶד עִבְרִי וְלֹא עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי מִפְּנֵי הַחֲשָׁד. וְאֵין הַגֵּר נִקְנֶה בְּעֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מא) "וְשָׁב אֶל מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ" מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מִשְׁפָּחָה:

3

A Hebrew servant who is sold by the court is sold only to a native-born Israelite or to a convert to Judaism. Similarly, a person who sells himself as a servant is not permitted to sell himself to a gentile, not even to a resident alien. If he transgresses and sells himself, even to a gentile, even to the service of a false divinity itself, the sale is binding, as indicated by Leviticus 25:47, which speaks of a person's selling himself: "to what must be uprooted from a sojourner's family." "What must be uprooted" refers to a false divinity.

ג

עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין אֵין מוֹכְרִין אוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ לְגֵר צֶדֶק. וְכֵן הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לִמְכֹּר עַצְמוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם וַאֲפִלּוּ לְגֵר תּוֹשָׁב. וְאִם עָבַר וּמָכַר עַצְמוֹ אֲפִלּוּ לְעַכּוּ''ם וַאֲפִלּוּ לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים עַצְמָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה מָכוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מז) "אוֹ לְעֵקֶר מִשְׁפַּחַת גֵּר". לְעֵקֶר זֶה הַנִּמְכָּר לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים עַצְמָהּ:

4

If a person says: "I am going to sell myself to a gentile," you are not obligated to do anything for him until he actually sells himself. Once he sells himself to a gentile, however, although he transgressed and acted improperly, it is a mitzvah to redeem him, so that he does not assimilate among them, as Leviticus 25:48 states: "After he is sold, redemption should be granted him."

ד

בָּא וְאָמַר לְךָ הֲרֵינִי מוֹכֵר עַצְמִי לְעַכּוּ''ם אֵין אַתָּה זָקוּק לוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּמָּכֵר אֲבָל לְאַחַר שֶׁנִּמְכַּר לְעַכּוּ''ם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָבַר וְעָשָׂה שֶׁלֹּא כַּהֹגֶן מִצְוָה לִפְדּוֹתוֹ וְלֹא יִטָּמַע בָּהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מח) "אַחֲרֵי נִמְכַּר גְּאֻלָּה תִּהְיֶה לּוֹ":

5

Neither a person who sells himself, nor one who is sold by the court, should be sold in public on an auction block, nor in an alley, as slaves are sold, as Leviticus 25:42 states: "He shall not be sold as a slave is sold." Instead, he should be sold in a private and honorable manner.

ה

אֶחָד הַמּוֹכֵר אֶת עַצְמוֹ אוֹ שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין אֵינוֹ נִמְכָּר בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא עַל אֶבֶן הַמִּקָּח וְלֹא בְּסִמְטָא כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהָעֲבָדִים נִמְכָּרִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מב) "לֹא יִמָּכְרוּ מִמְכֶּרֶת עָבֶד" אֵינוֹ נִמְכָּר אֶלָּא בְּצִנְעָה וְדֶרֶךְ כָּבוֹד:

6

It is forbidden to make any Hebrew servant perform excruciating labor. What is excruciating labor? Labor that has no limit, or labor that is unnecessary and is asked of the servant with the intent to give him work so that he will not remain idle.

Based on the above, our Sages said that a master should not tell a Hebrew servant: "Hoe under the vines until I come," for he has not placed a limit on the work asked of him. Instead, he should tell him: "Hoe until this and this time," or "until you reach this and this place."

Similarly, he should not tell him "Dig in this place," if he has no need for that activity. Even telling him to warm a drink for him, or to cool one off for him, if he does not need it, is forbidden, and reflects the violation of a negative commandment, as Leviticus 25:43 states: "Do not impose excruciating work on him." Thus, a Hebrew servant may be compelled to perform only a limited and necessary task.

Similarly, if a Hebrew servant is sold to a gentile, who imposes excruciating labor upon him, the Jews are commanded to prevent him from doing so. If they allow him to continue, they transgress a negative commandment, as Ibid.:53: "He should not impose excruciating work upon him before your eyes." We are not, however, required to enter the gentile's domain and check to see that he is not imposing excruciating labor upon him. This is implied by the term: "before your eyes" - i.e., when you see.

ו

כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אָסוּר לַעֲבֹד בּוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ. וְאֵיזוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדַת פָּרֶךְ זוֹ עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ קִצְבָה וַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לָהּ אֶלָּא תִּהְיֶה מַחְשַׁבְתּוֹ לְהַעֲבִידוֹ בִּלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יִבָּטֵל. מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר לוֹ עֲדֹר תַּחַת הַגְּפָנִים עַד שֶׁאָבוֹא שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא נָתַן לוֹ קִצְבָה. אֶלָּא יֹאמַר לוֹ עֲדֹר עַד שָׁעָה פְּלוֹנִית אוֹ עַד מָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי. וְכֵן לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ חֲפֹר מָקוֹם זֶה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ לְהָחֵם לוֹ כּוֹס שֶׁל חַמִּין אוֹ לְהָצֵן וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לוֹ אָסוּר וְעוֹבֵר עָלָיו בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מג) "לֹא תִרְדֶּה בוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ". הָא אֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ אֶלָּא דָּבָר קָצוּב שֶׁהוּא צָרִיךְ לוֹ. וְכֵן הָעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנִּמְכַּר לוֹ אִם רָדָה בּוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ הֲרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מְצֻוִּין לְמָנְעוֹ. וְאִם הִנִּיחוּהוּ עוֹבְרִים בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נג) "לֹא יִרְדֶּנּוּ בְּפֶרֶךְ לְעֵינֶיךָ". וְאֵין אָנוּ נִזְקָקִין לִכְנֹס לִרְשׁוּתוֹ שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם וְלִבְדֹּק אַחֲרָיו שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבִידֶנּוּ בְּפָרֶךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לְעֵינֶיךָ בִּזְמַן שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹאֶה:

7

Whenever a Jew purchases a Hebrew servant, he may not make him perform debasing tasks that are relegated only for servants - e.g., to have him carry his clothes to the bathhouse or remove his shoes - as Leviticus 25:39 states: "Do not have him perform servile tasks." Instead, one should treat him as a hired laborer, as Ibid.:40 continues: "He shall be like a hired laborer or a resident among you."

It is, however, permitted to have the servant cut the master's hair, launder his clothes and bake his dough. He may not, however, make him the manager of a public bathhouse, a public barber or a public baker. If, however, this was his profession before he was sold, it is permitted. Indeed, at the outset, he should not teach him any profession at all. Instead, he should work at the profession at which he worked previously.

When does the above apply? To a Hebrew servant. For his self-image is depressed because of his being sold. When, however, a Jew has not been sold, he may be hired to perform servile tasks. For he is performing this work out of his own desire and his own consent.

ז

כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אָסוּר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁקָּנָהוּ לְהַעֲבִידוֹ בִּדְבָרִים בּוֹזִים שֶׁהֵם מְיֻחָדִים לַעֲשׂוֹת הָעֲבָדִים כְּגוֹן שֶׁיּוֹלִיךְ אַחֲרָיו כֵּלָיו לְבֵית הַמֶּרְחָץ אוֹ יַחְלֹץ לוֹ מִנְעָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לט) "לֹא תַעֲבֹד בּוֹ עֲבֹדַת עָבֶד". אֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג בּוֹ אֶלָּא כְּשָׂכִיר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "כְּשָׂכִיר כְּתוֹשָׁב יִהְיֶה עִמָּךְ". וּמֻתָּר לְסַפֵּר לוֹ שְׂעָרוֹ וּלְכַבֵּס לוֹ כְּסוּתוֹ וְלֶאֱפוֹת לוֹ עִסָּתוֹ. אֲבָל לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתוֹ בַּלָּן לָרַבִּים אוֹ סַפָּר לָרַבִּים אוֹ נַחְתּוֹם לָרַבִּים. וְאִם הָיְתָה אֻמָּנוּתוֹ זֹאת קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּמָּכֵר הֲרֵי זֶה יַעֲשֶׂה. אֲבָל לֹא יְלַמְּדֵנוּ בַּתְּחִלָּה מְלָאכָה כְּלָל אֶלָּא אֻמָּנוּת שֶׁהָיָה בָּהּ הוּא שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה כְּשֶׁהָיָה עוֹשֶׂה מִקֹּדֶם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּעֶבֶד עִבְרִי מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנַּפְשׁוֹ שְׁפָלָה בִּמְכִירָה. אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא נִמְכַּר מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ כְּעֶבֶד שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה זוֹ אֶלָּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וּמִדַּעַת עַצְמוֹ:

8

When people do not conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, it is permissible to impose one's authority over them by force and subjugate them.

When a king decrees that anyone who does not pay the fixed head tax should be enslaved to the person who pays the head tax for him, a person who pays the head tax for someone may use that person for labor beyond the ordinary measure. He may not, however, use him as a Canaanite slave. If, however, that person does not conduct himself properly, he may use him as a slave.

ח

אֲנָשִׁים שֶׁאֵינָן נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה מֻתָּר לִרְדּוֹתָן בְּחָזְקָה וּלְהִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד בָּהֶן. מֶלֶךְ שֶׁגָּזַר שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן הַמַּס הַקָּצוּב עַל כָּל אִישׁ וְאִישׁ יִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד לְזֶה שֶׁנָּתַן הַמַּס עַל יָדוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי אֲבָל לֹא כְּעֶבֶד. וְאִם אֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג כַּשּׁוּרָה מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ כְּעֶבֶד:

9

A master is obligated to treat any Hebrew servant or maid servant as his equal with regard to food, drink, clothing and living quarters, as implied by Deuteronomy 15:16 "for it is good for him with you." The master should not eat bread made from fine flour while the servant eats bread from coarse flour. The master should not drink aged wine while the servant drinks fresh wine. The master should not sleep on cushions while the servant sleeps on straw. Nor should the master live in a walled city while the servant lives in a village, or the master live in a village while the servant lives in a walled city, as implied by Leviticus 25:41: "And he shall leave you."

On this basis, our Sages said: "Whoever purchases a Hebrew servant purchases a master for himself."

A master must treat his servant with brotherly love, as implied by Leviticus 25:46: "And with regard to your brothers, the children of Israel." Nevertheless, the servant himself must conduct himself as a servant with regard to those tasks he must perform.

ט

כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אוֹ אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה חַיָּב הָאָדוֹן לְהַשְׁווֹתָן לוֹ בְּמַאֲכָל וּבְמַשְׁקֶה בִּכְסוּת וּבְמָדוֹר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו טז) "כִּי טוֹב לוֹ עִמָּךְ" שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא אַתָּה אוֹכֵל פַּת נָקִי וְהוּא אוֹכֵל פַּת קִבָּר אַתָּה שׁוֹתֶה יַיִן יָשָׁן וְהוּא שׁוֹתֶה יַיִן חָדָשׁ אַתָּה יָשֵׁן עַל גַּבֵּי מוֹכִין וְהוּא יָשֵׁן עַל גַּבֵּי הַתֶּבֶן אַתָּה דָּר בִּכְרַךְ וְהוּא דָּר בִּכְפָר אוֹ אַתָּה דָּר בִּכְפָר וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב בִּכְרַךְ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מא) "וְיָצָא מֵעִמָּךְ". מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ כָּל הַקּוֹנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי כְּקוֹנֶה אָדוֹן לְעַצְמוֹ. וְחַיָּב לִנְהֹג בּוֹ מִנְהַג אַחְוָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מו) "וּבְאַחֵיכֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל". וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן צָרִיךְ הָעֶבֶד לִנְהֹג בְּעַצְמוֹ מִנְהַג עַבְדוּת בְּאוֹתָן הָעֲבוֹדוֹת שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ:

10

The institution of a Hebrew maid-servant and that of a Hebrew servant is not practiced except in the time when the Jubilee year is observed. This applies both to a Hebrew servant who sells himself, and to one who is sold by the court. We have already explained when the observance of the Jubilee year was nullified.

י

אֵין אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה נוֹהֶגֶת וְלֹא עֶבֶד עִבְרִי נוֹהֵג אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַיּוֹבֵל נוֹהֵג. בֵּין עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ בֵּין זֶה שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ מָתַי בָּטְלוּ הַיּוֹבְלוֹת:

Avadim - Chapter Two

1

A Hebrew servant who is sold by the court {and one who sells himself} can be acquired through the transfer of money or articles worth money or the transfer of a deed of sale.

What is implied? The person selling himself writes on a paper or a shard: "I am sold to you," or "I have been acquired by you," and gives him the deed.

א

עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין [וְהַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ] נִקְנֶה בְּכֶסֶף וּבִשְׁוֵה כֶּסֶף וּבִשְׁטָר. כֵּיצַד בִּשְׁטָר. כּוֹתֵב לוֹ עַל הַנְּיָר אוֹ עַל הַחֶרֶס הֲרֵינִי מָכוּר לְךָ הֲרֵינִי קָנוּי לְךָ וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ הַשְּׁטָר:

2

A servant sold by the court must serve his master for six years from the day that he was sold. At the beginning of his seventh year, he is released as a free man. If the Sabbatical year falls within his six years of servitude, he must work during it. If, however, the Jubilee year falls during this time, even if he was sold only one year before the Jubilee, he should be granted his freedom, as Leviticus 25:40 states: "Until the Jubilee year, he shall work with you," and ibid.:13 states: "In this Jubilee year, each man shall return to his ancestral heritage."

ב

מְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין עוֹבֵד שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים מִיּוֹם מְכִירָתוֹ וּבִתְחִלַּת הַשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִית שֶׁלּוֹ יֵצֵא בֶּן חוֹרִין. וְאִם פָּגְעָה בּוֹ שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בִּכְלַל הַשֵּׁשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵד בָּהּ. אֲבָל אִם פָּגְעָה בּוֹ שְׁנַת יוֹבֵל אֲפִלּוּ נִמְכַּר שָׁנָה אַחַת לִפְנֵי הַיּוֹבֵל הֲרֵי זֶה יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל יַעֲבֹד עִמָּךְ" (ויקרא כה יג) "בִּשְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל הַזֹּאת" וְגוֹ':

3

A person who sells himself into servitude may sell himself for more than six years. Nevertheless - even if he sold himself for ten years or twenty years - if the Jubilee falls a year after he sold himself, he is released in the Jubilee, as it is written: "Until the Jubilee year, he shall work with you."

ג

הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ לִמְכֹּר עַצְמוֹ לְיֶתֶר עַל שֵׁשׁ. הֲרֵי שֶׁמָּכַר עַצְמוֹ לְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים אוֹ לְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וּפָגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר שָׁנָה הֲרֵי זֶה יוֹצֵא בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל יַעֲבֹד עִמָּךְ":

4

If either a servant who sold himself or who was sold by the court flees his master's domain, he is obligated to complete his six years of servitude. If, however, the Jubilee falls during this time, he is granted his freedom.

ד

אֶחָד הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אוֹ שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין וּבָרַח חַיָּב לְהַשְׁלִים שֵׁשׁ. וְאִם פָּגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל יוֹצֵא לְחֵרוּת:

5

Should the servant become sick - whether he is sick year after year, or whether he becomes sick repeatedly for short periods - if the time during which he is sick is less than four years, it should be counted in the period of six years. If, however, he is sick for four years or more, he is required to complete work for all the days of his illness beyond the six years for which he was originally sold. This is implied by Leviticus 25:40: "He shall be like a hired laborer or a resident among you." If the Jubilee falls in the midst of the time he is compensating for the missed years, he should be released.

When do we calculate the days of sickness? When the sickness is severe and the servant is unable to work. If, however, his sickness is not very severe, and he can do needlework, the time is counted, even if he was sick for the entire six years.

ה

חָלָה בֵּין שֶׁחָלָה שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה אוֹ שֶׁחָלָה חֳלָאִים מְקֻטָּעִים אִם הַכּל פָּחוֹת מֵאַרְבַּע שָׁנִים עוֹלִין לְמִנְיַן שֵׁשׁ. אֲבָל אִם חָלָה אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים חַיָּב לְהַשְׁלִים כָּל יְמֵי הַחֹלִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "כְּשָׂכִיר כְּתוֹשָׁב". וְאִם פָּגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל יֵצֵא. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁמְּחַשְּׁבִין יְמֵי הַחֹלִי כְּשֶׁהָיָה חָלְיוֹ כָּבֵד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת מְלָאכָה. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הָיָה חָלְיוֹ כָּבֵד אֶלָּא יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲשֵׂה מַחַט אֲפִלּוּ חָלָה כָּל שֵׁשׁ עוֹלִין לוֹ:

6

When a person sells himself to a gentile, if he is not redeemed he is not released except in the Jubilee, as Leviticus 25:54 states: "If he is not redeemed by these, he shall be released in the Jubilee, he and his sons together with him."

ו

הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם אִם לֹא נִפְדָּה אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא אֶלָּא בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נד) "וְאִם לֹא יִגָּאֵל בְּאֵלֶּה וְיָצָא בִּשְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל הוּא וּבָנָיו עִמּוֹ":

7

When a person is sold to a gentile, if he cannot obtain the funds necessary to redeem himself, his relatives should redeem him. The closer the relatives, the greater the responsibility as implied by Leviticus 25:49: "His uncle or his uncle's son shall redeem him." The court compels the relatives to redeem him, so that he will not become assimilated among the gentiles.

If his relatives do not redeem him, and he does not attain the funds to redeem himself, it is a mitzvah for every Jew to redeem him. Whether he was redeemed by his relative, or by any other person, he is released and obtains his freedom.

The servant may borrow money to redeem himself from a gentile, and he may redeem himself partially. When, by contrast, a person is sold to a Jew, his relatives, may not redeem him, he may not borrow money to redeem himself, and he may not redeem himself partially.

What is the law that applies to him? If he obtains the funds to pay the amount due for the years that remain, he may pay that amount and be released. If he does not obtain the full amount, he is not released.

ז

הַנִּמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם אִם לֹא הִשִּׂיגָה יָדוֹ לִגְאל קְרוֹבָיו פּוֹדִין אוֹתוֹ וְקָרוֹב קָרוֹב קוֹדֵם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מט) "אוֹ דֹדוֹ אוֹ בֶן דֹּדוֹ יִגְאָלֶנּוּ". וּבֵית דִּין כּוֹפִין אֶת קְרוֹבָיו לִפְדּוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִטָּמַע בָּעַכּוּ''ם. לֹא פְּדָאוּהוּ קְרוֹבָיו אוֹ שֶׁאֵין יָדָם מַשֶּׂגֶת מִצְוָה עַל כָּל אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל לִפְדּוֹתוֹ. וּבֵין שֶׁפְּדָאוּהוּ קְרוֹבִים בֵּין שֶׁפְּדָאָהוּ שְׁאָר אָדָם יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לִלְווֹת וְלִגְאל אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם. וְגוֹאֵל לַחֲצָאִין. אֲבָל הַנִּמְכָּר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין הַקְּרוֹבִים פּוֹדִין אוֹתוֹ וְאֵין לוֶֹה וְגוֹאֵל וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹאֵל לַחֲצָאִין. אֶלָּא כֵּיצַד דִּינוֹ. אִם הִשִּׂיגָה יָדוֹ לִתֵּן כְּפִי הַשָּׁנִים הַנּוֹתָרוֹת נוֹתֵן וְיוֹצֵא וְאִם לָאו לֹא יֵצֵא:

8

Whether a person sells himself to a Jew or a gentile, or whether he is sold by the court, he may deduct money from the price at which he was sold when redeeming himself and obtain his release.

What is implied? A servant was sold by the court for sixty dinarim and worked for four of the six years. He then obtained resources. He should pay 20 dinarim and be granted his freedom. Similarly, if he sold himself for 40 dinarim for ten years, he should deduct four dinarim for every year. He may give the remainder in money or in objects worth money and obtain his freedom.

Similarly, a servant sold to a gentile should calculate the number of years left until the Jubilee, as Leviticus 25:50 states: "And he shall calculate with his master the number of years from the year he was sold until the Jubilee year."

What is implied? If the servant sold himself for 100 dinarim and ten years remained until the Jubilee, he should calculate ten dinarim for each year that he worked, deduct this amount from the money that he was paid, give his owner the remainder in cash and then he is granted his freedom. He may not give his owner produce or utensils. This is implied by the above verse, which mentions: "the money of his purchase" - i.e., he is redeemed with money from a gentile, and not with articles that are worth money.

ח

אֶחָד הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ בֵּין לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין לְעַכּוּ''ם וְאֶחָד שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין הֲרֵי זֶה מְגָרֵעַ מִפִּדְיוֹנוֹ וְיוֹצֵא. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בְּשִׁשִּׁים דִּינָרִים וְעָבַד אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים וּמָצְאָה יָדוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹתֵן עֶשְׂרִים דִּינָרִים וְיֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. וְכֵן אִם מָכַר עַצְמוֹ בְּאַרְבָּעִים דִּינָרִין לְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים הֲרֵי זֶה מְגָרֵעַ אַרְבָּעָה דִּינָרִין לְכָל שָׁנָה שֶׁעָבַד וְנוֹתֵן הַנִּשְׁאָר כֶּסֶף אוֹ שְׁוֵה כֶּסֶף וְיוֹצֵא. וְכֵן הַנִּמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם מְחַשֵּׁב הַדָּמִים לְפִי הַשָּׁנִים הַנִּשְׁאָרוֹת עַד שְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נ) "וְחִשַּׁב עִם קֹנֵהוּ מִשְּׁנַת הִמָּכְרוֹ לוֹ עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל". כֵּיצַד. מָכַר עַצְמוֹ בְּמֵאָה וְנִשְׁאַר לַיּוֹבֵל מִשְּׁנַת מְכִירָה עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים מְחַשֵּׁב עֲשָׂרָה לְכָל שָׁנָה שֶׁעָבַד וְגוֹרֵעַ הַדָּמִים וּמֵשִׁיב הַשְּׁאָר כֶּסֶף לֹא תְּבוּאָה וְלֹא כֵּלִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נ) "כֶּסֶף מִמְכָּרוֹ" בְּכֶסֶף הוּא נִגְאָל מִיַּד הָעַכּוּ''ם וְאֵינוֹ נִגְאָל בִּשְׁוֵה כֶּסֶף:

9

Whenever a Hebrew servant or maid-servant is redeemed by deducting from the price of the sale, the calculation is always made in his or her favor - whether his health improves and his value increases, or his health deteriorates and his value decreases.

What is implied? A servant was sold for 100 dinarim, but now he is worth 200. We calculate the value of the remaining years on the basis of 100. If he was sold for 200 and is now worth 100, we calculate the value of the remaining years on the basis of 100.

ט

כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אוֹ עִבְרִיָּה שֶׁיָּצָא בְּגִרְעוֹן כֶּסֶף וְהִבְרִיא וְהוֹסִיפוּ דָּמָיו אוֹ נִשְׁחַף וּפָחֲתוּ דָּמָיו מְחַשְּׁבִין לוֹ לְהָקֵל עָלָיו. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁנִּמְכַּר בְּמֵאָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מָאתַיִם אֵינוֹ מְחַשֵּׁב עִם אֲדוֹנָיו אֶלָּא לְפִי מֵאָה. נִמְכַּר בְּמָאתַיִם וַהֲרֵי הוּא שָׁוֶה מֵאָה מְחַשֵּׁב עִמּוֹ עַל פִּי הַשָּׁנִים הַנּוֹתָרוֹת לְפִי מֵאָה:

10

When a person is sold to a gentile, he can redeem himself partially, as stated above. Sometimes this will work to his advantage, and sometimes it will work to his disadvantage.

How can it work to his advantage? His master purchased him for 200 zuz. His value decreased and he is now worth 100. The servant gives his master 50, half of his present worth. He then regains his health and is again worth 200. All he is required to pay is 100, the remaining half of his value. He is then released.

How can it work to his disadvantage? His master purchased him for 200 zuz. The servant gave his master half of his worth, 100 zuz. His value then decreased and he is now worth 100. To redeem himself, he must pay his master 50 zuz, half the remaining amount. Thus, he paid 150 zuz to redeem himself even though he is now worth only 100.

י

הַנִּמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ לִגְאל עַצְמוֹ לַחֲצָאִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ פְּעָמִים יִהְיֶה לְהָקֵל וּפְעָמִים לְהַחְמִיר. כֵּיצַד לְהָקֵל. קָנָה אוֹתוֹ בְּמָאתַיִם וְנִשְׁחַף וַהֲרֵי הוּא עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מֵאָה וְנָתַן לוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים חֲצִי דָּמָיו וְהִבְרִיא וַהֲרֵי הוּא שָׁוֶה מָאתַיִם נוֹתֵן לוֹ מֵאָה שֶׁהֵן חֲצִי דָּמָיו הַנִּשְׁאָר וְיָצָא. כֵּיצַד לְהַחְמִיר. קָנָה אוֹתוֹ בְּמָאתַיִם וְנָתַן לוֹ חֲצִי דָּמָיו שֶׁהֵן מֵאָה וְנִשְׁחַף וַהֲרֵי עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מֵאָה נוֹתֵן לוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים שֶׁהֵן דְּמֵי חֶצְיוֹ הַנִּשְׁאָר וְנִמְצָא שֶׁנָּתַן מֵאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מֵאָה:

11

Although a master forgoes the remaining amount of money for which a servant is obligated to work, this obligation is not considered to be waived until the master writes a bill of release for the servant.

What is implied? His master purchased him for 60 zuz. The servant worked for a year or two and then his master told him: "I am willing to waive the work due for the remainder of the money. Go on your way." The servant is not released from his servitude until his master has a legal document composed.

יא

הָרַב שֶׁמָּחַל לָעֶבֶד עַל הַכֶּסֶף שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר לוֹ לַעֲבֹד כְּנֶגְדּוֹ אֵינוֹ מָחוּל לוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב לוֹ שְׁטַר שִׁחְרוּר. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁקָּנָהוּ בְּשִׁשִּׁים וְעָבַד שָׁנָה אוֹ שְׁנָתַיִם וְאָמַר לוֹ שְׁאָר הַדָּמִים מְחוּלִין לְךָ לֵךְ לְדַרְכְּךָ לֹא נִפְטַר מִשִּׁעְבּוּדוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב לוֹ שְׁטָר:

12

The following rules apply when a servant's master dies. If the master is survived by a son, the servant must serve the son until the conclusion of the six years, until the conclusion of the years for which he sold himself, until the Jubilee year, or until he deducts the money for the years he worked and pays the remainder.

If, however, the master is not survived by a son, the servant is granted his freedom. He need not serve a surviving daughter or the deceased's brother. Needless to say, he need not serve other heirs. When a servant is sold to a convert or a gentile, he is not required to serve even his master's son. Instead, when his master dies, he attains his freedom.

Thus, a Hebrew servant can be acquired through the transfer of money or a bill of sale, and can acquire his freedom through one of five means:

a) the conclusion of his years of servitude,

b) the advent of the Jubilee year,

c) by paying money, an amount reduced in consideration of the years he worked,

d) through being given a bill of release, and

e) through the death of the master without a son, or if the master is a gentile or a convert, even if he is survived by a son.

It is a mitzvah to tell a servant: "Go out," at the time of his release. Nevertheless, even if his master does not tell him this, the servant attains his freedom without any cost. Nor is a bill of release required. Even if he had been sick and his master spent much on his medical expenses, the servant has no obligations to the master, as implied by Exodus 21:2: "He shall go free at no charge."

יב

אָדוֹן שֶׁמֵּת אִם הִנִּיחַ בֶּן זָכָר הֲרֵי הָעֶבֶד עוֹבֵד הַבֵּן עַד סוֹף הַשֵּׁשׁ אוֹ עַד סוֹף הַשָּׁנִים שֶׁמָּכַר עַצְמוֹ לָהֶן אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּפְגַּע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל אוֹ עַד שֶׁיְּגַרֵעַ פִּדְיוֹנוֹ וְיִתֵּן הַשְּׁאָר. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הִנִּיחַ בֶּן זָכָר הֲרֵי זֶה יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת וְאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד לֹא אֶת הַבַּת וְלֹא אֶת הָאָח וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד שְׁאָר הַיּוֹרְשִׁין. וְהַנִּמְכָּר לְגֵר צֶדֶק אוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם אֲפִלּוּ הַבֵּן אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁמֵּת הָאָדוֹן יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר שֶׁעֶבֶד עִבְרִי נִקְנֶה בְּכֶסֶף אוֹ בִּשְׁטָר וְקוֹנֶה אֶת עַצְמוֹ בַּחֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים. בְּשָׁנִים אוֹ בְּיוֹבֵל אוֹ בְּגִרְעוֹן כֶּסֶף אוֹ בִּשְׁטַר שִׁחְרוּר אוֹ בְּמִיתַת אָדוֹן בְּלֹא בֵּן וּבְעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ בְּגֵר אֲפִלּוּ הִנִּיחַ בֵּן. מִצְוָה לוֹמַר לוֹ צֵא בִּשְׁעַת יְצִיאָתוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא יוֹצֵא בְּחִנָּם. וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ שְׁטָר. אֲפִלּוּ חָלָה וְהוֹצִיא רַבּוֹ עָלָיו הוֹצָאוֹת הַרְבֵּה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לוֹ כְּלוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ב) "יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי חִנָּם":

Avadim - Chapter Three

1

A master is obligated to provide sustenance for the wife of every Hebrew servant. This applies when their marriage has been consummated as nisuin, but not when she is merely an arusah, or if she is awaiting her yavam. And this applies only when she is permitted to her husband. If, however, she is forbidden to him by a Torah prohibition, or even if she is a sh'niyah, the master is not required to provide her with her sustenance. This is derived from Exodus 21:3: "His wife together with him" - i.e., a woman who is fit to live together with him. Similarly, the master is liable to provide the servant's sons and daughters with their sustenance.

These concepts are derived as follows: With regard to the release of a servant sold by the court, it is written ibid.: "If he is married to a woman, his wife will leave together with him." Would you think that because the master purchased the servant, the servant's wife would be placed in servitude? Instead, the verse is stated for the sole purpose of teaching that the master is obligated to provide the servant's wife with her sustenance.

With regard to the release of a servant who sells himself, Leviticus 25:41 states: "And he shall depart from you, he and his children with him." And with regard to the release of a servant sold to a gentile, it is written ibid.:54: "And he shall go out in the Jubilee year, he and his children with him."

This applies to a wife or children the servant had at the time he was sold, or a wife and children that he acquired after the sale, provided he married with the consent of his master. If, however, the servant married without the consent of his master, the master is not obligated to provide for her sustenance.

א

כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי הֲרֵי הָאָדוֹן חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹת אִשְׁתּוֹ הַנְּשׂוּאָה לוֹ וְלֹא אֲרוּסָה וְשׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם. וְהוּא שֶׁתִּהְיֶה מֻתֶּרֶת לוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה מֵאִסּוּרֵי לָאוִין אֲפִלּוּ שְׁנִיָּה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֶיהָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ אִשָּׁה הָרְאוּיָה לַעֲמֹד עִמּוֹ. וְכֵן חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹת בָּנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו. בִּמְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין נֶאֱמַר (שמות כא ג) "אִם בַּעַל אִשָּׁה הוּא וְיָצְאָה אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ". וְכִי תַּעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתְּךָ שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּקְנָה זֶה נִשְׁתַּעְבְּדָה אִשְׁתּוֹ. אֲבָל לֹא בָּא לְלַמֵּד אֶלָּא שֶׁהָאָדוֹן חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֶיהָ. וּבְמוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מא) "וְיָצָא מֵעִמָּךְ הוּא וּבָנָיו עִמּוֹ". וּבְנִמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נד) "וְיָצָא בִּשְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל הוּא וּבָנָיו עִמּוֹ". אֶחָד אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ בִּשְׁעַת מְכִירָה אוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ אַחַר מְכִירָתוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּקָּחֶנָּה מִדַּעַת הָאָדוֹן. אֲבָל אִם לְקָחָהּ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת רַבּוֹ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֶיהָ:

2

Although a master is obligated to provide for the sustenance of a servant's wife and children, he is not entitled to the proceeds of their work at all. Instead, the proceeds of the work of the servant's wife and any ownerless objects she finds belong to her husband. Whatever rights the husband has in his relationship with his wife, he retains although he is a Hebrew servant.

ב

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָאָדוֹן חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹת אִשְׁתּוֹ וּבָנָיו אֵין לוֹ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם כְּלוּם אֶלָּא הֲרֵי מַעֲשֵׂה הָאִשָּׁה וּמְצִיאָתָהּ לְבַעֲלָהּ. וְכָל שֶׁזּוֹכֶה הַבַּעַל בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ זוֹכֶה זֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עֶבֶד עִבְרִי:

3

When a servant is sold by the court, his master has the option of giving him a Canaanite maid-servant as a wife. This applies to the master who purchased him or the son who becomes his master if the master dies. He may give him a Canaanite maid-servant as a wife and compel him to engage in relations with her so that she gives birth to slaves that he conceived.

She is permitted to him throughout the period of his servitude, as implied by Exodus 21:4: "If his master will give him a wife." A person who sells himself as a servant is forbidden to marry a Canaanite slave, as are all other Jews.

ג

מִי שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין יֵשׁ לְרַבּוֹ לִתֵּן לוֹ שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית. בֵּין הָאָדוֹן בֵּין בְּנוֹ שֶׁל אֲדוֹן אִם מֵת אָבִיו הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹתֵן לוֹ שִׁפְחָה. וְכוֹפֵהוּ עַל זֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁיּוֹלִיד מִמֶּנָּה עֲבָדִים. וַהֲרֵי הִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לוֹ כָּל יְמֵי עַבְדוּתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ד) "אִם אֲדֹנָיו יִתֶּן לוֹ אִשָּׁה" וְגוֹ'. וְהַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אָסוּר בְּשִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית כִּשְׁאָר כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל:

4

A Hebrew servant is not permitted to marry a Canaanite maid-servant unless he already has a Jewish wife and children. If, however, he does not have a Jewish wife and children, his master may not give him a Canaanite maid-servant against his will. This concept is part of the Oral Tradition.

Even if the man sold as a servant is a priest, he is permitted to marry a Canaanite maid-servant throughout the duration of his servitude.

ד

אֵין עֶבֶד עִבְרִי מֻתָּר בְּשִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית עַד שֶׁתִּהְיֶה לוֹ אִשָּׁה יִשְׂרְאֵלִית וּבָנִים. אֲבָל אִם אֵין לוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים אֵין רַבּוֹ מוֹסֵר לוֹ שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית. וְדָבָר זֶה קַבָּלָה הוּא אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה הַנִּמְכָּר כֹּהֵן הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר בְּשִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית כָּל יְמֵי עַבְדוּתוֹ:

5

If a Hebrew servant has a wife and children, although his master may give him a Canaanite maid-servant as a wife, he may not separate the Hebrew servant from his Jewish wife and children. This is implied by the phrase "his wife together with him." He may not give him two maid-servants, nor may he give one maid-servant to two Hebrew servants, as he is allowed to do with regard to his Canaanite slaves,as implied by the phrase: "Give him a wife."

When a servant whose master gave him a Canaanite maid-servant and whose ear was pierced does not desire to leave his master's domain when the Jubilee year arrives, although his master urges him to depart, if his master injures him his master is not liable. He is permitted to strike him, because at that time, the servant becomes prohibited to have relations with a maid- servant.

ה

אִם הָיוּ לוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמּוֹסֵר לוֹ רַבּוֹ שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַפְרִישׁוֹ מֵאִשְׁתּוֹ וּבָנָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ג) "אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ". וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִתֵּן לוֹ שְׁתֵּי שְׁפָחוֹת. וְלֹא לִתֵּן שִׁפְחָה אַחַת לִשְׁנֵי עֲבָדָיו הָעִבְרִים כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁנּוֹתֵן לַכְּנַעֲנִיִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ד) "יִתֶּן לוֹ אִשָּׁה". נִרְצָע שֶׁמָּסַר לוֹ רַבּוֹ שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית וְהִגִּיעַ יוֹבֵל וְהָיָה רַבּוֹ מְסָרֵב בּוֹ לָצֵאת וְאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לָצֵאת וְחָבַל בּוֹ פָּטוּר שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱסַר בְּשִׁפְחָה:

6

A person who sells himself may not prolong his servitude by having his ear pierced. If, however, a servant was sold by the court, worked for six years and does not desire to receive his freedom, he may have his ear pierced. In this instance, he must work until the Jubilee year, or until his master dies.

ו

הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע. אֲבָל מְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין וְעָבַד שֵׁשׁ וְלֹא רָצָה לָצֵאת הֲרֵי זֶה נִרְצָע וְעוֹבֵד עַד שְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל אוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּמוּת הָאָדוֹן:

7

Even though the master leaves a son, the servant whose ear was pierced does not serve the son. This is derived from the exegesis of Exodus 21:6: "And he shall serve him forever." This is interpreted to mean: "And he shall serve him," and not his son; "forever," until the Jubilee year. We thus learn that a servant whose ear was pierced gains his freedom only at the Jubilee or with the death of his master.

ז

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִנִּיחַ בֵּן אֵין הַנִּרְצָע עוֹבֵד אֶת הַבֵּן מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ (שמות כא ו) "וַעֲבָדוֹ", לוֹ וְלֹא לִבְנוֹ. (שמות כא ו) "לְעוֹלָם", לְעוֹלָמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹבֵל. נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁהַנִּרְצָע אֵינוֹ קוֹנֶה אֶת עַצְמוֹ אֶלָּא בַּיּוֹבֵל וּבְמִיתַת הָאָדוֹן:

8

A Hebrew servant who is a priest may not have his ear pierced, because this gives him a physical blemish that disqualifies him from service in the Temple, and Leviticus 25:41 states: "And he shall return to his family," to the status that he enjoyed previously. He does not, however, return to the position of authority that he previously held.

ח

עֶבֶד עִבְרִי כֹּהֵן אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בַּעַל מוּם וַהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (ויקרא כה מא) "וְשָׁב אֶל מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ" לַחֲזָקָה שֶׁהָיָה בָּהּ. וְאֵינוֹ שָׁב לַשְּׂרָרָה שֶׁהָיָה בָּהּ:

9

How is the servant's ear pierced? His master brings him to a court of three judges and the servant makes his statements in their presence. At the conclusion of the six-year period, he brings him to the door or to the doorpost as they are standing affixed in the building. It could be done near the door or the doorpost of the master, or one belonging to any other person.

He should pierce his right ear, in the middle lobe of the ear, with a metal awl until it reaches the door, as Deuteronomy 15:17 states: "And you shall put it through his ear at the door." The doorpost is mentioned only to indicate that the servant may stand next to either the door or the doorpost. Just as the doorpost must be standing, so too, the door must be standing. But the piercing is done to the door.

The master himself pierces the servant's ear, as Exodus 21:6 states: "His master shall pierce" i.e., he, and not his son, his agent or an agent of the court. The ears of two servants should not be pierced at the same time, for mitzvot should not be performed in bundles.

ט

כֵּיצַד רוֹצְעִין. מְבִיאוֹ לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁל שְׁלֹשָׁה וְאוֹמֵר דְּבָרָיו לִפְנֵיהֶם וּמַגִּישׁוֹ לְסוֹף שֵׁשׁ אֶל הַדֶּלֶת אוֹ אֶל הַמְּזוּזָה כְּשֶׁהֵן עוֹמְדִין בְּבִנְיָן. בֵּין דֶּלֶת וּמְזוּזָה שֶׁל אָדוֹן בֵּין שֶׁל כָּל אָדָם. וְנוֹקֵב אֶת אָזְנוֹ הַיְמָנִית בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל אֹזֶן בְּמַרְצֵעַ שֶׁל מַתֶּכֶת עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לַדֶּלֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יז) "וְנָתַתָּ בְאָזְנוֹ וּבַדֶּלֶת". וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר (שמות כא ו) "מְזוּזָה" אֶלָּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה עוֹמֵד בֵּין אֵצֶל דֶּלֶת בֵּין אֵצֶל מְזוּזָה. וּמָה מְזוּזָה כְּשֶׁהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת אַף דֶּלֶת כְּשֶׁהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת. אֲבָל הָרְצִיעָה בַּדֶּלֶת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם מְזוּזָה. הָאָדוֹן הוּא שֶׁרוֹצֵעַ בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ו) "וְרָצַע אֲדֹנָיו" לֹא בְּנוֹ וְלֹא שְׁלוּחוֹ וְלֹא שְׁלִיחַ בֵּית דִּין. וְאֵין רוֹצְעִין שְׁנֵי עֲבָדִים כְּאֶחָד שֶׁאֵין עוֹשִׂין מִצְוֹת חֲבִילוֹת חֲבִילוֹת:

10

More particulars can be derived from the exegesis of Exodus 25:5: "If the servant shall certainly say" - i.e., he must repeat his statement. "The servant" - he must make this statement as a servant - i.e., he must make and repeat his statement at the conclusion of the six years of servitude, at the beginning of the last p'rutah's worth of his servitude.

What is implied? That there remain from the final day at least a p'rutah's worth or slightly more of the servant's time. If, however, there remained less than a p'rutah's worth of time, it is as if he made the statements after the six years were concluded.

י

(שמות כא ה) "וְאִם אָמֹר יֹאמַר הָעֶבֶד" עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר וְיִשְׁנֶה. הָעֶבֶד עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר כְּשֶׁהוּא עֶבֶד אֲבָל אִם אָמַר אַחַר שֵׁשׁ אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר וְיִשְׁנֶה בְּסוֹף שֵׁשׁ בִּתְחִלַּת פְּרוּטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר מִן הַיּוֹם שְׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה מִדְּמֵי מְכִירָתוֹ אוֹ יֶתֶר מְעַט. אֲבָל אִם נִשְׁאַר פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה הֲרֵי זֶה כְּאוֹמֵר אַחַר שֵׁשׁ:

11

If the servant has a Canaanite maid-servant as a wife and children from her, and his master does not have a wife and children, his ear should not be pierced, as implied by Deuteronomy 15:16: "Because he loves you and your household."

If the master has a wife and children, and the servant does not have a wife and children, his ear should not be pierced, as implied by Exodus 21:5: "I love my master, my wife and my children." If the servant loves his master, but his master does not love him, his ear should not be pierced, as implied by Deuteronomy, op. cit.: "It is good for him with you." If the master loves the servant, but the servant does not love his master, his ear should not be pierced, as implied by Deuteronomy, op. cit.: "He loves you."

If the servant is sick, but his master is not sick, his ear should not be pierced, as implied by: "It is good for him with you." If the master is sick, but the servant is not sick, or they are both sick, his ear should not be pierced, as implied by: "It is good for him with you" - i.e., they both must share in goodness.

יא

הָיְתָה לָעֶבֶד שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית וְלוֹ מִמֶּנָּה בָּנִים וּלְרַבּוֹ אֵין אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו טז) "כִּי אֲהֵבְךָ וְאֶת בֵּיתֶךָ". לְרַבּוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים וְלוֹ אֵין אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ה) "אָהַבְתִּי אֶת אֲדֹנִי אֶת אִשְׁתִּי וְאֶת בָּנָי". הוּא אוֹהֵב אֶת רַבּוֹ וְרַבּוֹ אֵינוֹ אוֹהֲבוֹ אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר כִּי טוֹב לוֹ עִמָּךְ. רַבּוֹ אוֹהֲבוֹ וְהוּא אֵינוֹ אוֹהֵב אֶת רַבּוֹ אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר כִּי אֲהֵבְךָ. הוּא חוֹלֶה וְרַבּוֹ אֵינוֹ חוֹלֶה אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר כִּי טוֹב לוֹ עִמָּךְ. רַבּוֹ חוֹלֶה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ חוֹלֶה אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם חוֹלִים אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו טז) "כִּי טוֹב לוֹ עִמָּךְ" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בְּטוֹבָה:

12

What are the differences between a servant who sells himself and a servant sold by the court? A servant who sells himself does not have his ear pierced, while a servant sold by the court has his ear pierced. A servant who sells himself is forbidden to marry a Canaanite maid-servant, while the master of a servant sold by the court may compel the servant to marry a Canaanite maid-servant.47

A servant who sells himself may be sold to a gentile, while a servant sold by the court may be sold only to a Jew, as Deuteronomy 15:12 states: "When your brother is sold to you" - i.e., the court sells him only to "you."

A servant who sells himself may be sold for six years or for more than six years, while a servant sold by the court may be sold for only six years. A servant who sells himself does not receive a severance gift, while a servant sold by the court does receive a severance gift.

יב

מַה בֵּין מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ לִמְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין. מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ נִרְצָע וּמְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין נִרְצָע. מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אָסוּר בְּשִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית וּמְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין רַבּוֹ מוֹסֵר לוֹ שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית. מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ נִמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם וּמְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין אֵינוֹ נִמְכָּר אֶלָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יב) "כִּי יִמָּכֵר לְךָ אָחִיךָ" אֵין בֵּית דִּין מוֹכְרִין אוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא לְךָ. מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ נִמְכָּר לְשֵׁשׁ וְיֶתֶר עַל שֵׁשׁ מְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין אֵינוֹ נִמְכָּר אֶלָּא לְשֵׁשׁ. מוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אֵין מַעֲנִיקִין לוֹ מְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין מַעֲנִיקִין לוֹ:

13

According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that a Hebrew maid-servant may not have her servitude prolonged by having her ear pierced. This appears to be reflected from the relevant verses. For with regard to the piercing of a servant's ear, Exodus 21:5 states: "I love my master, my wife and my children."

What then is implied by Deuteronomy 15:17: "Even to your maid-servant do this"? It teaches that just as it is a mitzvah to give a severance gift to a Hebrew servant, so too, it is a mitzvah to give a Hebrew maid-servant a severance gift.

יג

מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִרְצַעַת וְכֵן יֵרָאֶה מֵעִנְיַן הַכָּתוּב שֶׁהֲרֵי אוֹמֵר בְּנִרְצָע (שמות כא ה) "אָהַבְתִּי אֶת אֲדֹנִי אֶת אִשְׁתִּי וְאֶת בָּנָי". וּמַהוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יז) "וְאַף לַאֲמָתְךָ תַּעֲשֶׂה כֵּן". לְהַעֲנִיק. שֶׁכְּשֵׁם שֶׁמִּצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְהַעֲנִיק עֶבֶד עִבְרִי כָּךְ מַעֲנִיק אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה:

14

Whoever sends away his servant or maid-servant empty-handed transgresses a negative commandment, as Deuteronomy 15:13 states: "Do not send him away empty-handed." The verse also made provision for this to be remedied with a positive commandment, as Ibid.:14 states: "You shall certainly give him a severance gift."

This applies to a Hebrew servant who is released at the conclusion of his six years of servitude, at the advent of the Jubilee, or at the death of his master. Similarly, a severance gift is given to a Hebrew maid-servant who is released under these circumstances, or because she displays signs of physical maturity. When, however, a servant or a maid-servant purchases his freedom by paying the pro-rated portion of his purchase price, a severance gift need not be given, as implied by Ibid.:13 "When you send him away from you as a free man." A servant who redeems himself is not being sent away free. Instead, he pays the amount of money due for the time he was obligated to work and then departs.

Ibid.:14 states: "Give him a generous severance gift from your sheep, your threshing floor and your vat as God has blessed you." By mentioning sheep, a threshing floor and a vat, the verse indicates that the servant must be given objects that will naturally increase and generate blessing as a severance gift. He need not, however, be given money or garments.

How much should he be given? He should not be given less than 30 selaim worth. This may be from one substance or from many substances. This figure parallels the 30 selaim paid as a fine for killing a servant, which Exodus 21:32 states: "Give to his master."

The severance gift must be given whether the master's household was blessed because of the servant's presence or whether it was not blessed, as it is written: "Give him a generous severance gift" - i.e., in all situations. Why then does the verse say: "As God has blessed you"? To teach that you should give him according to the measure of blessing you have been granted.

יד

כָּל הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ עַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ רֵיקָם עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יג) "לֹא תְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ רֵיקָם" וַהֲרֵי הַכָּתוּב נִתְּקוֹ לַעֲשֵׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יד) "הַעֲנֵיק תַּעֲנִיק לוֹ". אֶחָד הַיּוֹצֵא בְּסוֹף שֵׁשׁ אוֹ שֶׁיָּצָא בְּיוֹבֵל אוֹ בְּמִיתַת הָאָדוֹן וְכֵן הָאָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה שֶׁיָּצָאת בְּאֶחָד מִכָּל אֵלּוּ אוֹ בְּסִימָנִין הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מַעֲנִיקִין לָהֶם. אֲבָל הַיּוֹצֵא בְּגִרְעוֹן כֶּסֶף אֵין מַעֲנִיקִין לָהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יג) "וְכִי תְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ חָפְשִׁי מֵעִמָּךְ" וְזֶה לֹא שִׁלְּחוֹ חָפְשִׁי אֶלָּא הָעֶבֶד נָתַן שְׁאָר הַדָּמִים שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר לוֹ לַעֲבֹד בָּהֶן וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָצָא. (דברים טו יד) "הַעֲנֵיק תַּעֲנִיק לוֹ מִצֹּאנְךָ מִגָּרְנְךָ וּמִיִּקְבֶךָ" בְּעִנְיַן צֹאן גֹּרֶן וְיֶקֶב דְּבָרִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם בְּרָכָה מֵחֲמַת עַצְמָן הוּא שֶׁחַיָּב לְהַעֲנִיק לוֹ מֵהֶם אֲבָל הַכְּסָפִים וְהַבְּגָדִים אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לִתֵּן לוֹ מֵהֶם. וְכַמָּה נוֹתֵן לוֹ אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁוֵה שְׁלֹשִׁים סֶלַע בֵּין מִמִּין אֶחָד בֵּין מִמִּינִין הַרְבֵּה כִּשְׁלֹשִׁים שֶׁל קְנַס הָעֶבֶד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ (שמות כא לב) "יִתֵּן לַאדֹנָיו". בֵּין שֶׁנִּתְבָּרֵךְ הַבַּיִת בִּגְלָלוֹ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא נִתְבָּרֵךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הַעֲנֵיק תַּעֲנִיק לוֹ מִכָּל מָקוֹם. אִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר (דברים טו יד) "אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַכְךָ" הַכּל לְפִי הַבְּרָכָה תֵּן לוֹ:

15

If the servant fled and the Jubilee fell and thus he attains his freedom, his master is not obligated to grant him a severance gift, as implied by the term "When you send him away."

The severance gift granted a Hebrew servant is his own; a creditor may not expropriate it. The severance gift granted a Hebrew maid-servant and any ownerless object she finds belong to her father. If her father dies before it reaches his possession, it belongs to her. He brothers have no right to it. For a person cannot transfer to his son as an inheritance a right that he possesses with regard to his daughter.

טו

אִם בָּרַח וּפָגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל כְּשֶׁהוּא בּוֹרֵחַ וְיָצָא לְחֵרוּת אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַעֲנִיקוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יג) "וְכִי תְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ" וְגוֹ'. עֶנֶק עֶבֶד עִבְרִי לְעַצְמוֹ וְאֵין בַּעַל חוֹב גּוֹבֶה הֵימֶנּוּ. וְעֶנֶק אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה וְכֵן מְצִיאָתָהּ לְאָבִיהָ. וְאִם מֵת אָבִיהָ קֹדֶם שֶׁיָּבוֹא לְיָדוֹ הֲרֵי הֵן שֶׁל עַצְמָהּ וְאֵין לְאַחֶיהָ בָּהֶם כְּלוּם שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מוֹרִישׁ זְכוּת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּבִתּוֹ לִבְנוֹ:

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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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