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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Eight, Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Nine, Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Ten

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Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Eight

1

It is a positive commandment to set aside cities of refuge, as Deuteronomy 19:2 states: "You shall set aside three cities." The practice of setting aside cities of refuge applies only in Eretz Yisrael.

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְהַפְרִישׁ עָרֵי מִקְלָט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט ב) "שָׁלוֹשׁ עָרִים תַּבְדִּיל לָךְ". וְאֵין עָרֵי מִקְלָט נוֹהֲגוֹת אֶלָּא בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל:

2

There were six cities of refuge. Three Moses our teacher set aside in TransJordan, and three Joshua set aside in the land of Canaan.

ב

וְשֵׁשׁ עָרִים הָיוּ. שָׁלֹשׁ הִבְדִּיל משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן. וְשָׁלֹשׁ הִבְדִּיל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן:

3

None of the cities of refuge served as a haven until they were all set aside, as implied by Numbers 35:13: "There shall be six cities of refuge for you." And so, Moses informed us that the three cities of refuge in TransJordan did not serve as a haven until the three in the land of Canaan were set aside.

If so, why did Moses set them aside? He said: "Since a mitzvah came to my hand, I will fulfill it."

ג

אֵין אַחַת מֵעָרֵי מִקְלָט קוֹלֶטֶת עַד שֶׁיֻּבְדְּלוּ כֻּלָּן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה יג) "שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי מִקְלָט תִּהְיֶינָה לָכֶם". וְהוֹדִיעָנוּ משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ שֶׁאֵין שָׁלֹשׁ שֶׁבְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן קוֹלְטוֹת עַד שֶׁיֻּבְדְּלוּ שָׁלֹשׁ שֶׁבְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן. וְלָמָּה הִבְדִּילָן אָמַר הוֹאִיל וּבָאָה מִצְוָה לְיָדִי אֲקַיְּמֶנָּה:

4

In the era of the King Mashiach, three other cities will be added to these six, as Deuteronomy 19:9 states: "And you shall add three other cities to these three cities."

Where are these cities added? In the cities of the Keni, K'nizi, and the Kadmoni, concerning which a covenant was made with Abraham, but which have not yet been conquered. Concerning these cities, the Torah ibid.:8 says: "And if God, your Lord, will expand your boundaries...."

ד

בִּימֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ מוֹסִיפִין שָׁלֹשׁ אֲחֵרוֹת עַל אֵלּוּ הַשֵּׁשׁ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט ט) "וְיָסַפְתָּ לְךָ עוֹד שָׁלֹשׁ עָרִים עַל הַשָּׁלֹשׁ הָאֵלֶּה". וְהֵיכָן מוֹסִיפִין אוֹתָן בְּעָרֵי הַקֵּינִי וְהַקְּנִזִּי וְהַקַּדְמוֹנִי שֶׁנִּכְרַת לְאַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ בְּרִית עֲלֵיהֶן וַעֲדַיִן לֹא נִכְבְּשׁוּ וַעֲלֵיהֶן נֶאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים יט ח) "וְאִם יַרְחִיב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת גְּבֻלְךָ":

5

The Jewish court is obligated to construct roads leading to the cities of refuge; they should be maintained and widened. Any stumbling block and obstacle should be removed from them.

On these roads neither a hill, a valley, nor a river should be left. Instead, a bridge should be built across so as not to impede a person fleeing there. This is all implied by Deuteronomy 19:3, which states: "You shall prepare the road for yourselves."

The width of the road to the city of refuge should not be less than 32 cubits. Signs stating "Refuge, refuge," should be written at intersections, so that killers would be aware of the way and turn there.

ה

וְחַיָּבִין בֵּית דִּין לְכַוֵּן הַדְּרָכִים לְעָרֵי מִקְלָט לְתַקְּנָם וּלְהַרְחִיבָן. וּמְסִירִין מֵהֶן כָּל מִכְשׁוֹל וְכָל תַּקָּלָה. וְאֵין מַנִּיחִין בַּדֶּרֶךְ לֹא תֵּל וְלֹא גַּיְא וְלֹא נָהָר. אֶלָּא עוֹשִׂין עָלָיו גֶּשֶׁר כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְעַכֵּב אֶת הַבּוֹרֵחַ לְשָׁם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט ג) "תָּכִין לְךָ הַדֶּרֶךְ". וְרֹחַב דֶּרֶךְ עָרֵי מִקְלָט אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים וּשְׁתַּיִם אַמּוֹת. וּמִקְלָט מִקְלָט הָיָה כָּתוּב עַל פָּרָשַׁת דְּרָכִים כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּכִּירוּ הָרַצְחָנִים וְיִפְנוּ לְשָׁם:

6

Every year, on the fifteenth of Adar, the court would send out emissaries to inspect the roads leading to the cities of refuge. Wherever they found flaws, they would have them repaired. If a court was dilatory regarding this matter, it is considered as if they shed blood.

ו

בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בַּאֲדָר בְּכָל שָׁנָה בֵּית דִּין מוֹצִיאִין שְׁלוּחִים לְתַקֵּן הַדְּרָכִים. וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁמְּצָאוּהוּ שֶׁנִּתְקַלְקֵל מְתַקְּנִים אוֹתוֹ. וּבֵית דִּין שֶׁנִּתְרַשְּׁלוּ בְּדָבָר זֶה מַעֲלֶה עֲלֵיהֶן הַכָּתוּב כְּאִלּוּ שָׁפְכוּ דָּמִים:

7

When the cities of refuge were first set aside, they would measure from one city to another to determine whether they were set aside in equal measures. This is also implied by the verse: "You shall prepare the road for yourselves."

ז

וְכֵן מוֹשְׁחִין בֵּין כָּל עִיר וְעִיר מֵעָרֵי מִקְלָט בִּתְחִלַּת הַפְרָשָׁתָן עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ מְשֻׁלָּשׁוֹת בְּשָׁוֶה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט ג) "תָּכִין לְךָ הַדֶּרֶךְ":

8

The cities of refuge that are designated should not be big cities or metropolises, nor should they be small villages. Instead, they should be cities of intermediate size.

They should be located solely in trading places, where water is found. If there is no water near them, water should be diverted toward them. They should located solely in a populated area. If the surrounding populace is reduced, it should be increased. If the number of inhabitants of the city of refuge decrease, priests, Levites, and Israelites should be brought to live there.

Snares may not be set in such a city, nor may rope traps be set there, so that the blood redeemer will not come there.

ח

עָרֵי מִקְלָט אֵין עוֹשִׂין אוֹתָן לֹא עֲיָרוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת וְלֹא כְּרַכִּים גְּדוֹלִים וְלֹא קְטַנִּים אֶלָּא עֲיָרוֹת בֵּינוֹנִיּוֹת. וְאֵין מוֹשִׁיבִין אוֹתָן אֶלָּא בִּמְקוֹם שְׁוָקִים וּבִמְקוֹם הַמַּיִם. וְאִם אֵין שָׁם מַיִם מַכְנִיסִין לְתוֹכָן מַיִם. וְאֵין מוֹשִׁיבִין אוֹתָן אֶלָּא בִּמְקוֹם אֻכְלוּסִין. נִתְמַעֲטוּ אֻכְלוּסֵיהֶן מוֹסִיפִין עֲלֵיהֶן. נִתְמַעֲטוּ דִּיּוּרֵיהֶן מַכְנִיסִין לְתוֹכָן כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּים וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים. וְאֵין פּוֹרְסִין בְּתוֹכָן מְצוּדוֹת וְאֵין מַפְשִׁילִין בְּתוֹכָן חֲבָלִים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה רֶגֶל גּוֹאֵל הַדָּם מְצוּיָה שָׁם:

9

All of the cities of the Levites serve as a haven; each is a city of refuge. This is indicated by Numbers 35:6-7: "And in addition to them, you shall give them 42 cities. All the cities that you shall give the Levites shall be 48 in number." The verse thus established an association between them; all of them serve as havens.

ט

כָּל עָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם קוֹלְטוֹת וְכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן עִיר מִקְלָט הִיא. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה ו) "וַעֲלֵיהֶם תִּתְּנוּ אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁתַּיִם עִיר" (במדבר לה ז) "כָּל הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ לַלְוִיִּם אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁמֹנֶה עִיר". הִקִּישָׁן הַכָּתוּב כֻּלָּן זוֹ לָזוֹ לִקְלֹט:

10

What then is the difference between those cities that are set aside as cities of refuge, and the other cities of the Levites?

The cities of refuge serve as havens whether one enters them with the intent of taking refuge or one enters them without that intent; since a killer enters their confines, they serve as a haven for him. The other cities of the Levites serve as a haven only when one enters with that intent in mind.

Also, a killer who lives in a designated city of refuge does not have to pay rent. If, by contrast, he lives in another one of the cities of the Levites, he must pay his landlord rent.

י

וּמַה הֶפְרֵשׁ יֵשׁ בֵּין עָרֵי מִקְלָט שֶׁהֻבְדְּלוּ לְמִקְלָט וּבֵין שְׁאָר עָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם. שֶׁעָרֵי מִקְלָט קוֹלְטוֹת בֵּין לְדַעַת בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא לְדַעַת הוֹאִיל וְנִכְנַס בָּהֶן נִקְלָט. וּשְׁאָר עָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם אֵינָן קוֹלְטוֹת אֶלָּא לְדַעַת. וְרוֹצֵחַ הַדָּר בְּעָרֵי מִקְלָט אֵינוֹ נוֹתֵן שְׂכַר בֵּיתוֹ. וְהַדָּר בִּשְׁאָר עָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם נוֹתֵן שָׂכָר לְבַעַל הַבַּיִת:

11

Whenever a city serves as a haven, the surrounding area also serves as a haven.

When a tree is standing within the limits of a city of refuge and its leaves extend beyond those limits, once a killer comes below its leaves they serve as a haven for him. If a tree stands outside the limits and its leaves extend within those limits, as soon as he reaches its trunk it serves as a haven for him. If the blood redeemer kills him there, he should be executed.

Even though the surrounding area of a city serves as a haven, a killer should not dwell there, as [implied by Numbers 35:25: "He shall dwell in it," i.e., not in its surrounding area.

יא

כָּל עִיר הַקּוֹלֶטֶת תְּחוּמָהּ קוֹלֵט כָּמוֹהָ. אִילָן שֶׁעוֹמֵד בְּתוֹךְ תְּחוּם עָרֵי מִקְלָט וְנוֹפוֹ נוֹטֶה חוּץ לַתְּחוּם מִשֶּׁיַּגִּיעַ תַּחַת הַנּוֹף נִקְלָט. הָיָה עוֹמֵד חוּץ לַתְּחוּם וְנוֹפוֹ נוֹטֶה לְתוֹךְ הַתְּחוּם מִשֶּׁיַּגִּיעַ לְעִקָּרוֹ נִקְלָט וְהַהוֹרְגוֹ שָׁם נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתְּחוּם קוֹלֵט אֵין הָרוֹצֵחַ דָּר בּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה כה) "וְיָשַׁב בָּהּ" בָּהּ וְלֹא בִּתְחוּמָהּ:

Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Nine

1

The following procedure should be adhered to when the corpse of a slain person is found lying on the earth, and it is not known who struck him. It is left in place. Five elders from the High Court in Jerusalem come and measure from the corpse to the nearby cities, as indicated by Deuteronomy 21:2: "And your elders and your judges shall go out and measure...."

Even if the corpse is found right next to a city, or it is clearly obvious that a particular city is closer, it is a mitzvah to measure.

א

הָרוּג שֶׁנִּמְצָא נוֹפֵל לָאָרֶץ וְלֹא נוֹדַע מִי הִכָּהוּ מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. וְיוֹצְאִין חֲמִשָּׁה זְקֵנִים מִבֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבִּירוּשָׁלַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא ב) "וְיָצְאוּ זְקֵנֶיךָ וְשֹׁפְטֶיךָ" וּמוֹדְדִין מִמֶּנּוּ אֶל הֶעָרִים שֶׁסְּבִיבוֹת הֶחָלָל. אֲפִלּוּ נִמְצָא בְּצַד עִיר זוֹ שֶׁהַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁהִיא הַקְּרוֹבָה מִצְוָה לִמְדֹּד:

2

After they measure and establish which city is closest, they bury the person who was murdered in the place he was found. The elders from Jerusalem return to their city, and the court of the city that was designated brings a calf paid for by all the inhabitants. They bring the the calf to a river that flows forcefully. This is the meaning of the term eitan found in the Torah (Deuteronomy 21:4).

ב

אַחַר שֶׁמּוֹדְדִין וְנוֹדְעָה הָעִיר הַקְּרוֹבָה קוֹבְרִין אֶת הַנֶּהֱרָג בִּמְקוֹמוֹ וְחוֹזְרִין זִקְנֵי יְרוּשָׁלַיִם לִמְקוֹמָן. וּבֵית דִּין שֶׁל אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר מְבִיאִין עֶגְלַת בָּקָר מִשֶּׁל אַנְשֵׁי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר וּמוֹרִידִין אוֹתָהּ אֶל נַחַל שֶׁשּׁוֹטֵף בְּחָזְקָה וְזֶהוּ (דברים כא ד) "אֵיתָן" הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה:

3

It should be decapitated there with a cleaver, from behind. The court of that city and all the elders of the city, even if they are 100 in number, must wash their hands at the place where the calf was decapitated.

There, in the midst of the river, the elders declare in the holy tongue Deuteronomy 21:7: "Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did we see this with our eyes." Their intent is that the murdered person did not come into their city and they let him leave without giving him provisions for the way, nor did they see him go and they let him leave without accompaniment.

The priests then say in the Holy Tongue Ibid.:8: "Atone for Your nation Israel...." They depart. The Holy One, blessed be He, then forgives the shedding of the blood, as the above verse continues: "And the blood will be atoned."

ג

וְעוֹרְפִין אוֹתָהּ שָׁם בְּקוֹפִיץ מֵאַחֲרֶיהָ. וּבֵית דִּין שֶׁל אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר עִם כָּל זְקֵנֶיהָ אֲפִלּוּ הֵם מֵאָה כֻּלָּן רוֹחֲצִין אֶת יְדֵיהֶן שָׁם בִּמְקוֹם עֲרִיפָתָהּ וְאוֹמְרִים שָׁם בְּתוֹךְ הַנַּחַל בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ (דברים כא ז) "יָדֵינוּ לֹא שָׁפְכוּ אֶת הַדָּם הַזֶּה וְעֵינֵינוּ לֹא רָאוּ". כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא בָּא לְיָדֵינוּ הַנֶּהֱרָג הַזֶּה וּפְטָרְנוּהוּ בְּלֹא מְזוֹנוֹת וְלֹא רְאִינוּהוּ וּפְטָרְנוּהוּ בְּלֹא לְוָיָה. וְהַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹמְרִים בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ (דברים כא ח) "כַּפֵּר לְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל". וְהוֹלְכִין לָהֶן. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְכַפֵּר עַל הַדָּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא ח) "וְנִכַּפֵּר לָהֶם הַדָּם":

4

When the judges measure the distance from the corpse to the nearest city, they must measure exactly and not by estimation. They should measure only to a city that has a court of 23 judges.

They should never measure, however, to Jerusalem, for the inhabitants of Jerusalem are never required to bring a calf to be decapitated. For Jerusalem was never divided among the tribes, and the mitzvah of decapitating a calf applies "in the land that God your Lord is giving you to inherit" Deuteronomy 19:1.

ד

כְּשֶׁמּוֹדְדִין מִן הֶחָלָל מְדַקְדְּקִין בַּמִּדָּה וְאֵין מְקַדְּרִין בָּהּ. וְאֵין מוֹדְדִין אֶלָּא לְעִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל עֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה. וְאֵין מוֹדְדִין לִירוּשָׁלַיִם שֶׁיְּרוּשָׁלַיִם אֵין מְבִיאָה עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְחַלְּקָה לִשְׁבָטִים וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים כא א) "בָּאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּהּ":

5

If the corpse is found close to Jerusalem or close to a city that does not have a court, that city should be ignored, and a measurement should be made to the other cities close by.

If the corpse is found close to a border city or to a city inhabited by gentiles, no measurement is made at all. For we presume that the person was killed by gentiles.

ה

נִמְצָא קָרוֹב לִירוּשָׁלַיִם אוֹ לְעִיר שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ בֵּית דִּין מַנִּיחִין אוֹתָהּ וּמוֹדְדִין אֶל שְׁאָר הָעֲיָרוֹת הַסְּמוּכוֹת לוֹ. נִמְצָא סָמוּךְ לַסְּפָר אוֹ לְעִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ עַכּוּ''ם אֵין מוֹדְדִין כָּל עִקָּר שֶׁהֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקַת שֶׁהֲרָגוּהוּ עַכּוּ''ם:

6

The city that is closest to the corpse does not bring the calf unless its population is equal to that of the city that is further away. If, however, the population of the city that is further away exceeds that of the closer city, the number of inhabitants becomes the determining factor, and the more populous city must bring the calf.

ו

אֵין הָעִיר הַקְּרוֹבָה מְבִיאָה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁמִּנְיַן הָרֹב שֶׁבָּהּ כְּמוֹ מִנְיַן הָעִיר הָרְחוֹקָה מִמֶּנָּה. אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ אֵלּוּ שֶׁבָּרְחוֹקָה מְרֻבִּין עַל אַנְשֵׁי הַקְּרוֹבָה מִמֶּנָּה הוֹלְכִין אַחַר הָרֹב וְהַמְרֻבִּין מְבִיאִין הָעֶגְלָה:

7

Although at times the Torah considers number to be a determining factor, and at times proximity to be a determining factor, number carries more weight than proximity.

ז

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוֹלְכִין אַחַר הָרֹב מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְהוֹלְכִין אַחַר הַקָּרוֹב הָרֹב עָדִיף:

8

If a corpse is found equidistant between two cities, and both cities have the same number of inhabitants, they should bring a calf in partnership and make the following stipulation: If this city is the closer, the calf belongs to its inhabitants, and the others are giving them their portion in it as a present. And if the other city is closer, the calf belongs to its inhabitants and the others are giving them their portion in it as a present. For it is impossible to be exact in measurement, even with regard to something that comes about as a result of human activity.

ח

נִמְצָא הַנֶּהֱרָג מְכֻוָּן בֵּין שְׁתֵּי עֲיָרוֹת וְאַנְשֵׁי זוֹ כְּאַנְשֵׁי זוֹ בְּשָׁוֶה יָבִיאוּ עֶגְלָה אַחַת בְּשֻׁתָּפוּת. וְיַתְנוּ וְיֹאמְרוּ. אִם זוֹ הִיא הַקְּרוֹבָה הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁלָּהֶן וְאֵלּוּ יִתְּנוּ לָהֶם חֶלְקָם מַתָּנָה. וְאִם אֵלּוּ הֵם הַקְּרוֹבִים הֲרֵי הוּא שֶׁלָּהֶן וְאֵלּוּ יִתְּנוּ לָהֶן חֶלְקָם מַתָּנָה. לְפִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְצַמְצֵם וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּידֵי אָדָם:

9

From which portion of the corpse should we measure? From the nose.

If the body of a corpse is found in one place and the head in another place, the body is brought to the head, and then the corpse is buried in that place. Similarly, whenever a corpse is found with no one to bury it, the body is brought to the head, and then the corpse is buried in that place.

ט

מֵהֵיכָן מוֹדְדִין. מֵחָטְמוֹ. נִמְצָא גּוּפוֹ בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד וְרֹאשׁוֹ בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר מוֹלִיכִין הַגּוּף אֵצֶל הָרֹאשׁ וְקוֹבְרִים אוֹתוֹ בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. וְכֵן כָּל מֵת מִצְוָה מוֹלִיכִין גּוּפוֹ אֵצֶל רֹאשׁוֹ וְנִקְבָּר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:

10

If many corpses were found next to each other, a measurement should be made from the nose of each one individually. If one city is discovered to be closest to all of them, it brings one calf for all the corpses.

If the corpses are found piled one on top of the other, we should measure from the top corpse, since it is lying on top of the others.

י

נִמְצְאוּ מֵתִים רַבִּים זֶה בְּצַד זֶה. מוֹדְדִין מֵחָטְמוֹ שֶׁל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵהֶן. וְאִם הָיְתָה עִיר אַחַת קְרוֹבָה לְכֻלָּם מְבִיאָה עֶגְלָה אַחַת עַל כֻּלָּן. נִמְצְאוּ זֶה עַל גַּבֵּי זֶה מוֹדְדִין מִן הָעֶלְיוֹן כְּמוֹת שֶׁהֵן מֻנָּחִין:

11

Deuteronomy 21:1 states: "When a corpse is found...." Challal, the term used for corpse indicates a person slain with a sword, and not strangled to death, nor a person in his death throes; these are not implied by the term challal.

The verse continues "on the earth" - i.e., not buried in a mound; "fallen" and not hanging from a tree; "in the field" - and not floating on the water. "And it is not known who killed him" - thus, if the murderer's identity is known, a calf was not decapitated.

יא

נֶאֱמַר (דברים כא א) "כִּי יִמָּצֵא חָלָל" לֹא חָנוּק וְלֹא מְפַרְפֵּר שֶׁאֵין זֶה נִקְרָא חָלָל. (דברים כא א) "בָּאֲדָמָה" לֹא טָמוּן בְּגַל. (דברים כא א) "נֹפֵל" לֹא תָּלוּי בְּאִילָן. (דברים כא א) "בַּשָּׂדֶה" לֹא צָף עַל פְּנֵי הַמַּיִם. (דברים כא א) "לֹא נוֹדַע מִי הִכָּהוּ" הָא אִם נוֹדַע לֹא הָיוּ עוֹרְפִין:

12

Even if only one witness - or even a servant,a woman, or a person disqualified to serve as a witness because of his transgressions - saw the murderer, the calf would not be decapitated. For this reason, in the later part of the Second Temple Period, when the number of those who murdered overtly increased, the decapitation of the calf was nullified.

יב

אֲפִלּוּ רָאָה הַהוֹרֵג עֵד אֶחָד אֲפִלּוּ עֶבֶד אוֹ אִשָּׁה אוֹ פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת בָּעֲבֵרָה לֹא הָיוּ עוֹרְפִין. לְפִיכָךְ מִשֶּׁרַבּוּ הָרַצְחָנִים בְּגָלוּי בָּטְלָה עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה:

13

If one witness says: "I saw the murderer," and another witness disputes his statement, saying: "You did not see him," the calf would be decapitated.

When does the above apply? When the two witnesses came at the same time. If, however, the witness who claims to have seen the murderer came first and testified, his word is believed as would be that of two witnesses in this context. Therefore, if another witness comes and disputes his testimony, claiming that the first witness did not see the murderer, the words of the second witness are of no consequence, and the calf would not be decapitated.

יג

עֵד אֶחָד אוֹמֵר רָאִיתִי אֶת הַהוֹרֵג וְעֵד אֶחָד הִכְחִישׁוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ לֹא רָאִיתָ הָיוּ עוֹרְפִין. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁבָּאוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם כְּאַחַת. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר אֶחָד אֲנִי רָאִיתִי אֶת הַהוֹרֵג הֲרֵי זֶה נֶאֱמָן כִּשְׁנַיִם לְעִנְיָן זֶה. וְאִם בָּא אַחַר כָּךְ עֵד אֶחָד וְהִכְחִישׁוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ לֹא רָאִיתָ אֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין עַל דִּבְרֵי הָאַחֲרוֹן וְאֵין עוֹרְפִין:

14

If after the one witness testifies that he saw the murderer, two witnesses come and testify that he did not see him, it is considered as if there are two testimonies of equal weight, disputing each other, and the calf should be decapitated.

If a woman says: "I saw the murderer," and another woman disputes her testimony and says: "You did not see," the calf should be decapitated. This applies regardless of whether the women came together or one after the other.

If two say: "We saw him," and one says, "You did not see him," the calf should not be decapitated. If one says: "I saw him," and two say, "You did not see him," the calf should be decapitated.

יד

בָּאוּ שְׁנַיִם אַחַר שֶׁהֵעִיד הָאֶחָד וְהִכְחִישׁוּהוּ וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ לֹא רָאִיתָ הֲרֵי הֵן כִּשְׁתֵּי עֵדֻיּוֹת הַמַּכְחִישׁוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ וְעוֹרְפִין. אִשָּׁה אוֹמֶרֶת רָאִיתִי אֶת הַהוֹרֵג וְאִשָּׁה אַחֶרֶת מַכְחֶשֶׁת אוֹתָהּ וְאוֹמֶרֶת לֹא רָאִית הָיוּ עוֹרְפִין בֵּין שֶׁבָּאוּ שְׁתֵּיהֶן כְּאַחַת בֵּין שֶׁבָּאוּ זוֹ אַחַר זוֹ. שְׁנַיִם אוֹמְרִים רָאִינוּ וְאֶחָד אוֹמֵר לָהֶן לֹא רְאִיתֶם אֵין עוֹרְפִין. אֶחָד אוֹמֵר רָאִיתִי וּשְׁנַיִם אוֹמְרִים לוֹ לֹא רָאִיתָ הָיוּ עוֹרְפִין:

15

When does the above apply? When the three witnesses mentioned are either all acceptable or all unacceptable. If, however, one acceptable witness says: "I saw the murderer," and two women or two unacceptable witnesses contradict him and say that he did not see him, the calf should not be decapitated.

טו

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיוּ שְׁלָשְׁתָּן כְּשֵׁרִים אוֹ פְּסוּלִים. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר עֵד אֶחָד רָאִיתִי הַהוֹרֵג וּשְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים אוֹ שְׁנֵי פְּסוּלִים אוֹמְרִים לוֹ לֹא רָאִיתָ אֵין עוֹרְפִין:

16

When two women or two unacceptable witnesses say: "We saw the murderer," and one acceptable witness denies their statements and says that they did not see him, the calf should be decapitated.

Even when 100 women or 100 unacceptable witnesses say: "We saw the murderer", and one acceptable witness denies all their statements, all the unacceptable witnesses are considered as if they were one man, with the weight of a single witness.

טז

שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים אוֹ שְׁנֵי פְּסוּלִים אוֹמְרִים רָאִינוּ הַהוֹרֵג וְעֵד אֶחָד מַכְחִישָׁם וְאוֹמֵר לֹא רְאִיתֶם עוֹרְפִים. שֶׁאֲפִילוּ מֵאָה נָשִׁים אוֹ מֵאָה פְּסוּלִים וְעֵד אֶחָד מַכְחִישׁ אֶת כֻּלָּן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד וְעֵד אֶחָד:

17

When three women or three unacceptable witnesses say: "We saw the murderer," and four women or four unacceptable witnesses say: "You did not see him," the calf should be decapitated. This is the guiding principle: With regard to unacceptable witnesses, accept the testimony supported by the most witnesses in all situations.

יז

שָׁלֹשׁ נָשִׁים אוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה פְּסוּלִים אוֹמְרִים רָאִינוּ הַהוֹרֵג וְאַרְבַּע נָשִׁים אוֹ אַרְבָּעָה פְּסוּלִים אוֹמְרִים לֹא רְאִיתֶם עוֹרְפִין. זֶה הַכְּלָל בִּפְסוּלִין [הַלֵּךְ] אַחַר רֹב הַמִּנְיָן בְּכָל מָקוֹם:

Rotzeach uShmirat Nefesh - Chapter Ten

1

The law of the decapitated calf is practiced only in Eretz Yisrael. It is also practiced in TransJordan.

א

אֵין דִּין עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה נוֹהֵג אֶלָּא בָּאָרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכֵן בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן:

2

The calf that is decapitated may be two years old or younger. If, however, it is two years and one day old, it is not acceptable. Physical blemishes do not disqualify it. Nevertheless, if it is taref, it is unacceptable. For "atonement" is mentioned with regard to it, as it is mentioned with regard to sacrificial offerings.

ב

עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה בַּת שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים אוֹ פָּחוֹת. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה בַּת שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד פְּסוּלָה. וְאֵין הַמּוּמִין פּוֹסְלִין וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם הָיְתָה טְרֵפָה פְּסוּלָה. (דברים כא ח) "כַּפָּרָה" נֶאֱמַר בָּהּ כְּקָדָשִׁים:

3

Deuteronomy 21:3 states: "that has never been worked, and that has never carried a yoke." Accordingly, all types of work disqualify the calf, just as they disqualify a red heifer.

Why is "a yoke" then singled out; seemingly it is included with the other tasks in the expression "that has never been worked"? To teach that a yoke disqualifies a calf whether or not it carries it while working. If a calf carries a yoke for a distance of a handbreadth, it is disqualified even though it did not plow with it or perform any work. With regard to other tasks, by contrast, they do not disqualify a calf unless work was actually performed.

ג

כָּל הָעֲבוֹדוֹת פּוֹסְלוֹת אֶת הָעֶגְלָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁפּוֹסְלִין בְּפָרָה אֲדֻמָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא ג) "אֲשֶׁר לֹא עֻבַּד בָּהּ". וְלָמָּה נֶאֱמַר עֹל אַחַר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אֲשֶׁר לֹא עֵבַּד בָּהּ שֶׁהוּא כּוֹלֵל הָעל עִם שְׁאָר עֲבוֹדוֹת. שֶׁהָעל פּוֹסֵל בֵּין בִּשְׁעַת מְלָאכָה בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁעַת מְלָאכָה כֵּיוָן שֶׁמָּשְׁכָה בְּעל טֶפַח נִפְסְלָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא חָרַשׁ בָּהּ וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהּ מְלָאכָה. וּשְׁאָר עֲבוֹדוֹת אֵין פּוֹסְלִין אֶלָּא עַד שְׁעַת מְלָאכָה:

4

Whenever the calf performs a task for its own benefit, that does not disqualify it; for example, the owner spread his garment over it to protect it from flies. Any task that is not for its own benefit - e.g., the owner spread his garment over it, so that it should carry it - disqualifies it. The same applies in all analogous situations, as we have explained in Hilchot Parah.

ד

כָּל מְלָאכָה שֶׁהִיא לְצָרְכָּהּ כְּגוֹן פֵּרַשׂ טַלִּיתוֹ עָלֶיהָ מִפְּנֵי הַזְּבוּבִים אֵינוֹ פּוֹסְלָהּ. וְכָל שֶׁהִיא שֶׁלֹּא לְצָרְכָּהּ כְּגוֹן שֶׁפֵּרַשׂ טַלִּיתוֹ עָלֶיהָ לְנוֹשְׂאָהּ פְּסוּלָה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה:

5

The calf should be decapitated only during the daytime, for "atonement" is mentioned with regard to it, as it is mentioned with regard to sacrificial offerings.

It is acceptable to decapitate it any time during the entire day. Two calves should not be decapitated at the same time, for mitzvot should not be performed in bundles.

ה

אֵין עוֹרְפִין אֶת הָעֶגְלָה אֶלָּא בַּיּוֹם לְפִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בָּהּ (דברים כא ח) "כַּפָּרָה" כְּקָדָשִׁים. וְכָל הַיּוֹם כָּשֵׁר לַעֲרִיפָתָהּ. וְאֵין עוֹרְפִין שְׁתֵּי עֶגְלוֹת כְּאַחַת שֶׁאֵין עוֹשִׂין מִצְוֹת חֲבִילוֹת חֲבִילוֹת:

6

It is forbidden to benefit from a calf that is decapitated. It should be buried at the place where it was decapitated.

Once it is taken down to the river, benefiting from it becomes forbidden, even though it has not yet been decapitated. Thus, if it dies there or was slaughtered after it was decapitated, one is forbidden to benefit from it, and it should be buried.

ו

עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה אֲסוּרָה בַּהֲנָאָה וְנִקְבֶּרֶת בִּמְקוֹם עֲרִיפָתָהּ וּמִשֶּׁתֵּרֵד לַנַּחַל תֵּאָסֵר בַּהֲנָאָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא נֶעֶרְפָה. וְאִם מֵתָה אוֹ נִשְׁחֲטָה אַחַר יְרִידָתָהּ הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲסוּרָה בַּהֲנָאָה וְתִקָּבֵר:

7

If, however, the witnesses are found to be lying, it is permitted to benefit from the calf.

What is implied? One witness testified that he saw the murderer, and two witnesses come and negate his testimony, telling him: "You did not see him." If on this basis, the court set aside a calf and brought it down to the river to decapitate it because of their testimony, and these witnesses were disqualified afterwards as lying witnesses, it is permitted to benefit from the calf.

ז

נִמְצְאוּ הָעֵדִים זוֹמְמִין הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת בַּהֲנָאָה. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁאָמַר עֵד אֶחָד אֲנִי רָאִיתִי אֶת הַהוֹרֵג וּבָאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְהִכְחִישׁוּהוּ וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ לֹא רָאִיתָ. וְהִפְרִישׁוּ אֶת הָעֶגְלָה וְהוֹרִידוּהָ לַנַּחַל לְעָרְפָהּ עַל פִּיהֶם. וְאַחַר כָּךְ הוּזַמּוּ הַשְּׁנַיִם. הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת בַּהֲנָאָה:

8

If the murderer was discovered before the calf was decapitated, it should be released and allowed to pasture with the herd. If he was discovered after the calf was decapitated, before it was buried, it should be buried in its place. For at the outset, it was brought because of a doubt. It atoned for this lack of knowledge and served its purpose.

Even when the murderer is discovered after the decapitation of the calf, he should be executed, as Deuteronomy 21:9 states: "You shall thus rid yourselves of the guilt for the shedding of innocent blood."

ח

נִמְצָא הַהוֹרֵג עַד שֶׁלֹּא תֵּעָרֵף הָעֶגְלָה תֵּצֵא וְתִרְעֶה בָּעֵדֶר. נִמְצָא אַחַר שֶׁנֶּעֶרְפָה תִּקָּבֵר בִּמְקוֹמָהּ. שֶׁעַל הַסָּפֵק בָּאָה מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ כִּפְּרָה סְפֵקָהּ וְהָלְכָה לָהּ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּמְצָא הָרוֹצֵחַ אַחַר עֲרִיפָתָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה יֵהָרֵג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא ט) "וְאַתָּה תְּבַעֵר הַדָּם הַנָּקִי":

9

It is forbidden ever to sow seeds or till the river in which the calf was decapitated, as Deuteronomy 21:4 states: "that must never be worked or sown." Whoever performs work with the land itself - e.g., he plowed, he dug, he seeded, he planted, or the like - should be punished with lashes.

It is, however, permitted to comb flax there, or to drill stones, for this is similar to weaving a garment there or sewing it there, for these are tasks that are not performed with the land itself. To emphasize this concept, the verse states: "that must never be worked or sown." Implied is that just as sowing involves the land itself, similarly all work that is forbidden there involves the land itself.

ט

הַנַּחַל שֶׁנֶּעֶרְפָה בּוֹ הָעֶגְלָה אָסוּר בִּזְרִיעָה וַעֲבוֹדָה לְעוֹלָם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא ד) "אֲשֶׁר לֹא יֵעָבֵד בּוֹ וְלֹא יִזָּרֵעַ". וְכָל הָעוֹבֵד שָׁם עֲבוֹדָה בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל קַרְקַע כְּגוֹן שֶׁחָרַשׁ אוֹ חָפַר אוֹ זָרַע אוֹ נָטַע וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּאֵלּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה. וּמֻתָּר לִסְרֹק שָׁם פִּשְׁתָּן וּלְנַקֵּר שָׁם אֲבָנִים שֶׁזֶּה כְּמִי שֶׁאָרַג שָׁם בֶּגֶד אוֹ תְּפָרוֹ שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְלָאכָה בְּגוּף הַקַּרְקַע. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר לֹא יֵעָבֵד וְלֹא יִזָּרֵעַ מָה זְרִיעָה בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל קַרְקַע אַף כָּל הָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁנֶּאֶסְרָה שָׁם אֵינָהּ אֶלָּא בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל קַרְקַע:

10

When the inhabitants of a city that was closest to a corpse have delayed and have not brought a calf for decapitation, they should be compelled to bring it even though several years have passed. For those who are liable to bring a calf for decapitation remain liable despite the fact that Yom Kippur has passed.

י

אַנְשֵׁי עִיר קְרוֹבָה שֶׁנִּתְאַחֲרוּ וְלֹא הֵבִיאוּ עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה. כּוֹפִין אוֹתָן וּמְבִיאִין וַאֲפִלּוּ לְאַחַר כַּמָּה שָׁנִים. שֶׁחַיָּבֵי עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה שֶׁעָבַר עָלֶיהָ יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים חַיָּבִים לְהָבִיא אַחַר יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים:

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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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