Get the best of content every week!
Find answers to fascinating Jewish questions, enjoy holiday tips and guides, read real-life stories and more!

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Arachim Vacharamim - Chapter 2

Show content in:

Arachim Vacharamim - Chapter 2


When a person says: "I pledge the airech of my hand," " eye," or " foot," or "...that person's hand" or "...that person's eye," his words are of no consequence.1 [If he says:] "I pledge the airech of my heart" or " liver" or "...that person's heart" or "...that person's liver," he must pay the entire airech.2 Similarly, with regard to any limb which if removed would cause the person to die, if one says: "I pledge its airech," he must pay the airech of the entire person.


הָאוֹמֵר עֵרֶךְ יָדִי אוֹ עֵרֶךְ עֵינִי אוֹ רַגְלִי עָלַי אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר עֵרֶךְ יָד זֶה אוֹ עֵינוֹ עָלַי לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. עֵרֶךְ לִבִּי אוֹ כְּבֵדִי עָלַי אוֹ עֵרֶךְ לִבּוֹ שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי אוֹ כְּבֵדוֹ עָלַי נוֹתֵן עֵרֶךְ כֻּלּוֹ. וְכֵן כָּל אֵיבָר שֶׁאִם יִנָּטֵל מִן הַחַי יָמוּת אִם אָמַר עֶרְכּוֹ עָלַי נוֹתֵן עֵרֶךְ כֻּלּוֹ:


If a person says: "I pledge half my airech," he must pay half his airech. If he says: "I pledge the airech of half myself," he must pay his entire airech, for it is impossible for him to live if half his body is removed.3


אָמַר חֲצִי עֶרְכִּי עָלַי נוֹתֵן חֲצִי עֶרְכּוֹ. עֵרֶךְ חֶצְיִי עָלַי נוֹתֵן עֵרֶךְ כֻּלּוֹ שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּנָּטֵל חֶצְיוֹ וְיִחְיֶה:


When a person says: "I pledge the worth of my hand" or "...the worth of so-and-so's hand," we evaluate how much he is worth with a hand and how much he would be worth without a hand and he should give [the difference] to the Temple treasury.4

What is implied? If he is sold in his entirety, he will be worth fifty [zuz], but if he were sold aside from his hand - i.e., his hand would remain the property of its owner and the purchaser would not have any portion of it5 - he would be worth forty, he is obligated to pay ten to the Temple treasury. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.


הָאוֹמֵר דְּמֵי יָדִי עָלַי אוֹ דְּמֵי יַד פְּלוֹנִי עָלַי שָׁמִין אוֹתוֹ כַּמָּה הוּא שָׁוֶה בְּיָד וְכַמָּה הוּא שָׁוֶה בְּלֹא יָד וְנוֹתֵן לַהֶקְדֵּשׁ. כֵּיצַד. אִם נִמְכַּר הוּא כֻּלּוֹ [יִהְיֶה] שָׁוֶה חֲמִשִּׁים. וְאִם יִמָּכֵר חוּץ מִיָּדוֹ שֶׁתִּשָּׁאֵר יָדוֹ זוֹ לִבְעָלָיו וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לַלּוֹקֵחַ בָּהּ כְּלוּם שָׁוֶה אַרְבָּעִים. נִמְצָא זֶה יִתְחַיֵּב לְשַׁלֵּם לַהֶקְדֵּשׁ עֲשָׂרָה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


When a person says: "I pledge the worth of my head" or " liver" or "I pledge the worth of so-and-so's head" or "'s liver," he must pay his entire worth.6 Similarly, if one says: "I pledge the worth of half myself," he must pay his entire worth. When, however, he says: "I pledge half my worth," he [is obligated] to pay [only] half his worth.


הָאוֹמֵר דְּמֵי רֹאשִׁי אוֹ כְּבֵדִי עָלַי אוֹ דְּמֵי רֹאשׁוֹ שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי עָלַי אוֹ לִבּוֹ אוֹ כְּבֵדוֹ עָלַי נוֹתֵן דְּמֵי כֻּלּוֹ. וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר דְּמֵי חֶצְיִי עָלַי נוֹתֵן דְּמֵי כֻּלּוֹ. אֲבָל הָאוֹמֵר חֲצִי דָּמַי עָלַי נוֹתֵן חֲצִי דָּמָיו:


When one says: "I pledge my weight" or "I pledge the weight of so-and-so," he should pay his weight. [If] he specified "[his weight in] silver," [he should pay in] silver; if [in] gold, [he should pay] in gold.7

If he said: "I pledge the weight of my arm" or " leg," we see how much it would weigh and he must pay the money that he specified. What is the length of the arm in this context? Until the elbow.8 And the leg is until the knee. [The rationale is that] with regard to vows, we follow [the meaning of] the terms as used by people at large.9


הָאוֹמֵר מִשְׁקָלִי עָלַי אוֹ מִשְׁקַל פְּלוֹנִי עָלַי נוֹתֵן מִשְׁקָלוֹ אִם כֶּסֶף כֶּסֶף אִם זָהָב זָהָב כְּמוֹ שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ. אָמַר מִשְׁקַל יָדִי אוֹ רַגְלִי עָלַי רוֹאִין כַּמָּה הִיא רְאוּיָה לִשְׁקל וְנוֹתֵן מָמוֹן שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ. עַד הֵיכָן הִיא הַיָּד לְעִנְיָן זֶה עַד הֶאָצִיל וְהָרֶגֶל עַד הָאַרְכֻּבָּה לְפִי שֶׁבִּנְדָרִים הוֹלְכִין אַחַר לְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם:


When a person says: "I pledge my height in silver" or " gold," he must give a scepter of his height that will [stand straight] without bending from the type [of metal] he specified. If he said: "I pledge the extent of my height," he may give even a scepter that will bend from the type [of metal] he specified.10


הָאוֹמֵר קוֹמָתִי עָלַי כֶּסֶף אוֹ זָהָב נוֹתֵן שַׁרְבִיט שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִכְפָּף מְלֹא קוֹמָתוֹ מִמִּין שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ. אָמַר מְלֹא קוֹמָתִי עָלַי נוֹתֵן אֲפִלּוּ שַׁרְבִיט שֶׁנִּכְפָּף מִמִּין שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ:


[The following laws apply when a person] says: "I pledge my weight" and does not specify from which substance. If he is very wealthy and [obviously] intended to give a substantial donation, he should give his weight in gold.11 Similarly, if [such a person] says: "I pledge the weight of my arm," "...the weight of my leg," or " height" without specifying the substance from which he will give, he should give gold. If, however, [the donor] is not exceedingly wealthy, he should give his weight or the weight of his hand from any substance which is commonly weighed in that locale, even fruits. Similarly, he should give a scepter as tall as he is [from any substance], even from wood. Everything depends on his wealth and [our assessment of] his intent.


הָאוֹמֵר מִשְׁקָלִי עָלַי וְלֹא פֵּרֵשׁ מֵאֵי זֶה מִין. אִם הָיָה עָשִׁיר בְּיוֹתֵר וְנִתְכַּוֵּן לְמַתָּנָה מְרֻבָּה נוֹתֵן מִשְׁקָלוֹ זָהָב. וְהוּא הַדִּין בְּאוֹמֵר מִשְׁקַל יָדִי אוֹ רַגְלִי אוֹ קוֹמָתִי וְלֹא פֵּרֵשׁ מֵאֵי זֶה מִין נוֹתֵן זָהָב. וְאִם אֵינוֹ מֻפְלָג בַּעֲשִׁירוּת נוֹתֵן מִשְׁקָלוֹ אוֹ מִשְׁקַל יָדוֹ מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁדַּרְכָּן לְהִשָּׁקֵל בְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם אֲפִלּוּ פֵּרוֹת. וְכֵן נוֹתֵן שַׁרְבִיט מְלֹא קוֹמָתוֹ אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁל עֵץ הַכּל לְפִי מָמוֹנוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ:


When a person uses any [of the following] expressions - "I pledge my standing," " sitting," "...the place where I sit," " width," " thickness," or " circumference" - [his intent is a matter of question12 and] there is doubt [regarding his obligation. Hence,] he should [be required to] give [generously] according to [what could be expected of a person of] his means until he says: "This was not my intent."13 If he died,14 his heirs are required to give the minimum that the expression could mean.15


הָאוֹמֵר עָמְדִי עָלַי יְשִׁיבָתִי עָלַי אוֹ מְקוֹם יְשִׁיבָתִי עָלַי אוֹ רָחְבִּי עָלַי עָבְיִי עָלַי הֶקֵּפִי עָלַי כָּל אֵלּוּ סָפֵק וּמֵבִיא לְפִי מָמוֹנוֹ. עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לֹא כָּךְ נִתְכַּוַּנְתִּי. וְאִם מֵת יִתְּנוּ הַיּוֹרְשִׁים פָּחוּת שֶׁבַּלְּשׁוֹנוֹת:


When a person says: "I pledge a silver coin," he should not give less than a silver dinar.16 When he says: "I pledge a brass coin," he should not give less than [brass coins worth] a silver me'ah.17 "I pledge iron," he should not give less than [a piece of iron] one cubit by one cubit fit for the blade [of iron that protected against] ravens which stood at the top of the roof of the Temple, as explained in its place.18


הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי מַטְבֵּעַ כֶּסֶף לֹא יִפְחֹת מִדִּינָר כֶּסֶף. מַטְבֵּעַ נְחשֶׁת לֹא יִפְחֹת מִמָּעָה כֶּסֶף. הֲרֵי עָלַי בַּרְזֶל לֹא יִפְחוֹת מֵאַמָּה עַל אַמָּה לְכָלֶה עוֹרֵב שֶׁהָיָה לְמַעְלָה בְּגַג הַהֵיכָל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:


When he says: "I pledge silver" or "" without mentioning the word "coin," he should [be required to] give a slab of silver or of gold of [significant] weight until he says: "This was not my intent." Similarly, if he explicitly mentioned a weight [of silver or gold], but forgot how much he specified, he should [be required to] give until he says: "This was not my intent."


הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי כֶּסֶף אוֹ זָהָב וְלֹא הִזְכִּיר מַטְבֵּעַ יָבִיא לָשׁוֹן שֶׁל כֶּסֶף אוֹ שֶׁל זָהָב יִהְיֶה מִשְׁקָלָהּ עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לֹא לְכָךְ נִתְכַּוַּנְתִּי. וְכֵן אִם פֵּרֵשׁ הַמִּשְׁקָל וְשָׁכַח כַּמָּה פֵּרֵשׁ יָבִיא עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לֹא לְכָךְ נִתְכַּוַּנְתִּי:


Whether a person says: "I pledge my worth" or "I pledge the worth of so-and-so," or whether one says: "I pledge a manah,"19 "...fifty zuz," "...silver," or "," they are all called "monetary obligations." [Both] arechim and monetary obligations are given toward capital improvements for the Temple, as explained.20


אֶחָד הָאוֹמֵר דָּמַי עָלַי אוֹ דְּמֵי פְּלוֹנִי עָלַי. אוֹ הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי מָנֶה אוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים אוֹ כֶּסֶף אוֹ זָהָב. הַכּל הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים חַיָּבֵי דָּמִים. וְהַדָּמִים וְהָעֲרָכִין לְבֶדֶק הַבַּיִת כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


There were two chambers in the Temple: one was called "the chamber of secret gifts," and the other "the chamber for vessels." "The chamber of secret gifts" was given that name because sin-fearing men make donations there furtively and poor people of distinguished lineage receive their sustenance from there in secret.21

"The chamber for vessels" was given that name because anyone who donated a vessel [to the Temple] would cast it there. Once in thirty days, the treasurers would open [the chamber]. Any utensil that could be used for the improvement of the Temple was saved [for that purpose]. The remainder would be sold and the proceeds placed in the chamber for [funds] consecrated for physical improvements to the Temple.


שְׁתֵּי לְשָׁכוֹת הָיוּ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. אַחַת לִשְׁכַּת חֲשָׁאִים. וְאַחַת לִשְׁכַּת הַכֵּלִים. לִשְׁכַּת חֲשָׁאִים יִרְאֵי חֵטְא נוֹתְנִין לְתוֹכָן בַּחֲשַׁאי וַעֲנִיִּים בְּנֵי טוֹבִים מִתְפַּרְנְסִים מִמֶּנָּה בַּחֲשַׁאי. לִשְׁכַּת הַכֵּלִים כָּל מִי שֶׁהִתְנַדֵּב כְּלִי זוֹרְקוֹ לְתוֹכָהּ וְאַחַת לִשְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם הַגִּזְבָּרִין פּוֹתְחִין אוֹתָהּ. כָּל כְּלִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא בּוֹ צֹרֶךְ לְבֶדֶק הַבַּיִת מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ וְהַשְּׁאָר נִמְכָּרִין וּדְמֵיהֶן נוֹפְלִין לְלִשְׁכַּת בֶּדֶק הַבַּיִת:


If [funds] were needed [to purchase] sacrifices for the altar and the funds collected for that purpose were not sufficient, what is necessary can be taken from [the funds] consecrated for physical improvements to the Temple.22 If, however, [funds] were required for physical improvements to the Temple and there were not sufficient resources in the chamber dedicated for that purpose, we do not take what is necessary from [the funds] consecrated for sacrifices for the altar.23


הֻצְרְכוּ לְקָדְשֵׁי מִזְבֵּחַ וְלֹא הִסְפִּיקוּ לָהֶן תְּרוּמַת הַלִּשְׁכָּה מוֹצִיאִין אֶת הָרָאוּי לָהֶן מִקָּדְשֵׁי בֶּדֶק הַבַּיִת. אֲבָל אִם הֻצְרְכוּ לְבֶדֶק הַבַּיִת וְלֹא מָצְאוּ בְּלִשְׁכַּת בֶּדֶק הַבַּיִת דָּבָר הַמַּסְפִּיק לָהֶן אֵין מוֹצִיאִין הָרָאוּי לָהֶן מִקָּדְשֵׁי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ:

Test Yourself on This Chapter


The rationale is that the Torah prescribed an airech for a person in his or her totality, not for his individual limbs (Arachin 4a; 20a).


Since the person's life is dependent on his heart or his liver, pledging the airech of these organs is like pledging his entire airech. See Arachin 20a.


The same law applies if he pledges the airech of half of his heart (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Arachin 5:3).


This reflects one of the differences between pledges of worth and arechim. He is liable for his pledge, because his words have significance. His hand has value that can be appraised.


Arachin 19b emphasizes that we do not evaluate his value as if his hand were amputated, for then his worth would depreciate greatly, because no one wants a person without a hand.


Again, since the person's life is dependent on that organ, it is as if his entire worth was pledged.


The laws that apply if he did not specify in what his weight should be measured are stated in Halachah 7.


The Rambam's opinion is shared by Tosafot 19a. Rashi and others, however, offer a different interpretation.


In a halachic context, by contrast, the term yad can refer to the hand. See Hilchot Berachot 6:4; Hilchot Mikveot 11:4.


Adding the extra term "extension of" indicates that he is deviating from the ordinary manner in which the term would be explained (Arachin 19a).


Arachin, loc. cit., derives this from an instance which occurred in the Talmudic era. A very rich woman pledged her daughter's weight to the Temple. Our Sages obligated her to give her weight in gold.


For example, if he pledged: "My standing," we are unsure whether he meant a scepter that could stand on its own or one that would bend. If he pledged: "My sitting," we are unsure of whether he meant a scepter as tall as he is when he sits or one of his full height that is bent according to his position when he sits. See Rashi and Tosafot, Arachin, loc. cit., where the possible interpretations of each of the above terms are explained.


I.e., we compel him to give generously, because if he gives less than the amount he promised, he will be transgressing the prohibition against desecrating his vow. If, however, he says: "This was not my original intent," we are certain that he fulfilled his vow (Lechem Mishneh).


And thus his estate is obligated to fulfill his vow (Chapter 1, Halachah 21).


There is no question of the heirs desecrating a vow, because they did not take the vow. The only question is the lien against the estate. Accordingly, we follow the principle that money is not expropriated from a person unless it is certain that he is liable (Lechem Mishneh).


We assume that this was the intent, for this is the most commonly used silver coin.


We assume that this was the intent, for anything less would not have significant value.


As related in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 4:3, there was a blade of iron position on top of the Temple building to prevent ravens from resting there and dirtying it with droppings. We assume that this was the intent, for there would be no other purpose to give iron to the Temple treasury.


One hundred zuz.


Chapter 1, Halachah 10.


See Hilchot Matanot Aniyim 10:8 which explains that giving charity in this manner - i.e., where neither the donor nor the recipient know of each other's identity - is one of the highest forms of giving.


We are permitted to use funds designated for one charitable purpose for a charitable purpose that is higher. And the offering of the communal sacrifices is considered the highest possible purpose.


Because doing so would be considering lowering the level of holiness from that for which the funds were designated.

The Ra'avad questions the Rambam's ruling based on several sources. The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh justify the Rambam's position.

Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.
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.
Download Rambam Study Schedules: 3 Chapters | 1 Chapter | Daily Mitzvah