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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Hilchot Nizkei Mamon - Chapter Five

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Hilchot Nizkei Mamon - Chapter Five


[The following laws apply when] an animal was pasturing and entered fields and vineyards [belonging to others]. Even though it did not cause any damage,1 a warning should be given to its owner on three occasions.2 [Afterwards,] if he does not watch his animal and prevent it from pasturing [in other people's fields], the owner of the field has the right to slaughter the animal in a ritually acceptable manner,3 and tell its owners: "Come and sell your meat." [The rationale is that] it is forbidden for a person to cause damages and then to pay for the damages he caused. Even being an [indirect] cause of damage is forbidden.


בְּהֵמָה שֶׁהָיְתָה רוֹעָה וּפָרְשָׁה וְנִכְנְסָה בַּשָּׂדוֹת וּבַכְּרָמִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא הִזִּיקָה מַתְרִין בִּבְעָלֶיהָ שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים. אִם לֹא שָׁמַר בְּהֶמְתּוֹ וְלֹא מְנָעָהּ מִלִּרְעוֹת יֵשׁ רְשׁוּת לְבַעַל הַשָּׂדֶה לְשָׁחֳטָהּ שְׁחִיטָה כְּשֵׁרָה וְאוֹמֵר לִבְעָלֶיהָ בּוֹאוּ וּמִכְרוּ בָּשָׂר שֶׁלָּכֶם. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאָסוּר לָאָדָם לְהַזִּיק וּלְשַׁלֵּם מַה שֶּׁהִזִּיק אֲפִלּוּ לִגְרֹם הַנֵּזֶק אָסוּר:


For this reason, our Sages forbade [our people] from raising small animals4 and small beasts5 in Eretz Yisrael, where there are fields and vineyards.6 One may, however, raise these animals in the forests and deserts of Eretz Yisrael.7In Syria,8 it is permitted to raise these animals everywhere.


לְפִיכָךְ אָסְרוּ חֲכָמִים לְגַדֵּל בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה וְחַיָּה דַּקָּה בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּמְקוֹם הַשָּׂדוֹת וְהַכְּרָמִים אֶלָּא בַּיְעָרִים וּבַמִּדְבָּרוֹת שֶׁבְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל. וּמְגַדְּלִין בְּסוּרְיָא בְּכָל מָקוֹם:


Joshua and his court established ten conditions at the time they divided the land [into ancestral plots]: a) One may pasture a small animal in forests that are thick with trees;9 one may not, however, pasture a large animal there.10 In a forest that is not thick with trees, one may not pasture either a large animal or a small animal without the permission of the owners. b) Any person is permitted to collect wood from a field belonging to a colleague. This refers to wood that is not valuable - comparable to thorns, brambles and prickly shrubs. Moreover, this refers to fresh twigs that are still connected to their source of nurture,11 and applies only when the person will not uproot them entirely.12 It is forbidden to take other types of wood. c) Any person may collect grass that is growing on its own accord anywhere,13 except for a field of fenugrec that was sown to be used as animal fodder.14 d) A person may cut off a branch from any tree in any place,15 except from the branches left in an old olive tree.16 One may not, however, cut off closer than the length of an egg from the place where the branches begin to spread from an olive tree. And one may cut only from the place where a shoot is joined to the trunk of a reed or a vine. With regard to other trees, one may cut from the center of the tree and not from its higher branches. [Although] permission was granted to cut off a branch, this applies only to [cutting] from a new branch17 that does not yet produce fruit, but not from an old branch that produces fruit. One may cut off [a branch] only from a portion of the tree that is not exposed to the sun.18 e) When a new spring of water emerges, the inhabitants of the city in whose territory it emerges may make use of it,19 even though its source is elsewhere. No others may take water from it together with them. f) Any person may catch fish in Lake Kinneret, provided he fishes with a small net. Only the tribe20 to which the lake was awarded as part of their ancestral portion may spread out large nets that will prevent the passage of other boats.21 g) Any person who needs to relieve himself may turn off the path, go behind any fence he sees and defecate there. [This applies] even with regard to a field of saffron.22 One may pick up a stone from there and clean oneself with it. h) Any person who loses his way in a vineyard or the like may break through the vines and ascend, or break through the vines and descend until he is able to find his way. i) When the public thoroughfare is filled with mud, or the ravines are filled with water, passersby may take side paths, even though they are private property. j) A corpse that has no one to bury it23 acquires its place and should be buried there by the person who finds it. This applies provided the corpse is not lying lengthwise across the path,24 or within the Sabbath boundaries of a city. In those instances, the corpse should be transported to a cemetery.25


עֲשָׂרָה תְּנָאִים הִתְנָה יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁחִלֵּק אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) הִתְנָה שֶׁמַּרְעִין בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה בִּיעָרִים שֶׁאִילָנֵיהֶן גַּסִּין. אֲבָל אֵין מַרְעִין שָׁם בְּהֵמָה גַּסָּה. וּבְיַעַר שֶׁאִילָנָיו דַּקִּים אֵין מַרְעִין בּוֹ לֹא גַּסָּה וְלֹא דַּקָּה אֶלָּא מִדַּעַת בְּעָלָיו. ב) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כָּל אָדָם מֻתָּר לְלַקֵּט עֵצִים מִשְּׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עֵצִים פְּחוּתִים וּקְרוֹבִים לִהְיוֹת קוֹצִים כְּגוֹן הִיזְמֵי וְהִיגֵי. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לַחִים וּמְחֻבָּרִין וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יְשָׁרֵשׁ. אֲבָל שְׁאָר עֵצִים אָסוּר. ג) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כָּל אָדָם מֻתָּר לְלַקֵּט עֲשָׂבִים הָעוֹלִין מֵאֲלֵיהֶן בְּכָל מָקוֹם חוּץ מִשְּׂדֵה תִּלְתָּן שֶׁזְּרָעָהּ לִבְהֵמָה. ד) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אָדָם קוֹטֵם נְטִיעָה בְּכָל מָקוֹם חוּץ מִגְּרוֹפִיּוֹת שֶׁל זַיִת וְאֵינוֹ קוֹטֵם מִן הָאִילָנוֹת אֶלָּא בְּזַיִת כְּבֵיצָה וּבְקָנִים וּבִגְפָנִים מִן הַפְּקָק וּלְמַעְלָה וּבִשְׁאָר הָאִילָן מִתּוֹכוֹ שֶׁל אִילָן לֹא מֵחֻדּוֹ. וּכְשֶׁהִתִּיר לִקְטֹם לֹא הִתִּיר אֶלָּא מֵחָדָשׁ שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה פֵּרוֹת אֲבָל לֹא מִיָּשָׁן שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה פֵּרוֹת. וְאֵינוֹ קוֹטֵם אֶלָּא מִמָּקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹאֶה פְּנֵי חַמָּה. ה) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁהַמַּעְיָן הַיּוֹצֵא בַּתְּחִלָּה בְּנֵי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר שֶׁיָּצָא בִּגְבוּלָם מִסְתַּפְּקִין מִמֶּנּוּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין עִקָּרוֹ בְּחֶלְקָם. וְאֵין לַאֲחֵרִים לְהִסְתַּפֵּק עִמָּהֶם מִמֶּנּוּ. ו) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כָּל אָדָם מֻתָּר לָצוּד דָּגִים מִיָּם טְבֶרְיָה וְהוּא שֶׁיָּצוּד בְּחַכָּה בִּלְבַד. אֲבָל לֹא יִפְרשֹׁ קֶלַע וְיַעֲמִיד סְפִינָה שָׁם אֶלָּא בְּנֵי הַשֵּׁבֶט שֶׁהִגִּיעַ אוֹתוֹ הַיָּם בְּחֶלְקָם. ז) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁכָּל אָדָם שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִנְקָבָיו מִסְתַּלֵּק מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ וְנִכְנַס אֲחוֹרֵי הַגָּדֵר שֶׁפָּגַע בּוֹ וְנִפְנֶה שָׁם וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּשָׂדֶה מְלֵאָה כַּרְכֹּם וְנוֹטֵל מִשָּׁם צְרוֹר וּמְקַנֵּחַ. ח) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁכָּל הַתּוֹעֶה בֵּין הַכְּרָמִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מְפַסֵּג וְעוֹלֶה מְפַסֵּג וְיוֹרֵד עַד שֶׁיֵּצֵא לְדַרְכּוֹ. ט) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁיִּרְבֶּה הַטִּיט בְּדַרְכֵי הָרַבִּים אוֹ נְקִיעֵי מַיִם יֵשׁ לְעוֹבְרֵי דְּרָכִים לְהִסְתַּלֵּק לְצִדְדֵי הַדְּרָכִים וּמְהַלְּכִין שָׁם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מְהַלְּכִין בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ בְּעָלִים. י) וְכֵן הִתְנָה שֶׁמֵּת מִצְוָה קוֹנֶה מְקוֹמוֹ וְנִקְבָּר בַּמָּקוֹם שֶׁיִּמָּצֵא בּוֹ. שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה מֻטָּל עַל הַמֵּצַר וְלֹא בְּתוֹךְ תְּחוּם הַמְּדִינָה. אֲבָל אִם נִמְצָא עַל הַמֵּצַר אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הַתְּחוּם מְבִיאוֹ לְבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת:


King Solomon ordained that passersby are permitted to walk on private paths in the fields during the summer months until the second phase of fall rains descend.26


שְׁלֹמֹה תִּקֵּן שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עוֹבְרֵי דְּרָכִים מֻתָּרִין בִּימוֹת הַחַמָּה לְהַלֵּךְ בַּשְּׁבִילִין שֶׁבַּשָּׂדוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶן בְּעָלִים עַד שֶׁתֵּרֵד רְבִיעָה שְׁנִיָּה:


These rules apply in all places, even in the diaspora.27


וְתַקָּנוֹת אֵלּוּ כֻּלָּן נוֹהֲגוֹת בְּכָל מָקוֹם אֲפִלּוּ בְּחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ:


From the time dew descends in Babylonia, it is forbidden to walk through private pathways belonging to others.28


וּמִשֶּׁיָּרַד הַטַּל בְּבָבֶל אָסוּר לְהַלֵּךְ בִּשְׁבִילִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶן בְּעָלִים:


Although it is forbidden to raise a small animal in Eretz Yisrael, one may maintain possession of one for 30 days prior to a pilgrimage festival,29 or prior to the wedding of one's son.30 A butcher may buy an animal for slaughter and may leave it for a certain time until he slaughters it, as long as it does not pasture with the flock. Instead, whoever maintains possession of a small animal must keep it within his house, so that it does not cause damage.


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מְגַדְּלִין בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מֻתָּר לַשְׁהוֹתָהּ קֹדֶם לָרֶגֶל שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְקֹדֶם לְמִשְׁתֵּה בְּנוֹ שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. וְהַטַּבָּח לוֹקֵחַ וְשׁוֹחֵט לוֹקֵחַ וּמַשְׁהֶה עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁחֹט מְעַט מְעַט. וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא תֵּצֵא וְתִרְעֶה בָּעֵדֶר. אֶלָּא כָּל הַמַּשְׁהֶה מַשְׁהֶה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תַּזִּיק:


[Our Sages] established an equation between Babylonia and Israel, prohibiting the raising of small animals and beasts there as well. For [in Talmudic times,] the majority of the fields and vineyards there belonged to Jews.31


וּכְבָר עָשׂוּ בָּבֶל כְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל לֶאֱסֹר בָּהּ גִּדּוּל בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה וְחַיָּה דַּקָּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיוּ רֹב הַשָּׂדוֹת וְהַכְּרָמִים שָׁם בְּאוֹתָן הַיָּמִים שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל:


Similarly, our Sages forbade raising pigs in all places.32 Also, [our Sages forbade raising] dogs unless they are tied by a chain. One may, however, raise dogs in a city near the border.33 During the day [the dogs] should be chained, and at night let loose. Our Sages said:34 "Cursed be one who raises dogs and pigs, because they frequently cause a great degree of damage."


וְכֵן אָסְרוּ חֲכָמִים לְגַדֵּל חֲזִירִים בְּכָל מָקוֹם. וְלֹא אֶת הַכֶּלֶב אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה קָשׁוּר בְּשַׁלְשֶׁלֶת. אֲבָל מְגַדֵּל הוּא כְּלָבִים בָּעִיר הַסְּמוּכָה לַסְּפָר. בַּיּוֹם קוֹשְׁרוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה מַתִּירוֹ. וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אָרוּר מְגַדֵּל כְּלָבִים וַחֲזִירִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֶזֵּקָן מְרֻבֶּה וּמָצוּי:


When a shepherd repents, he should not be obligated to sell [his entire herd] immediately. Instead, he should sell a bit at a time.35 Similarly, if a person has inherited dogs and pigs, he is not required to sell all of them immediately, but instead may sell them bit by bit.


רוֹעֶה שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר מִיָּד אֶלָּא מוֹכֵר עַל יָד עַל יָד. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁנָּפְלוּ לוֹ כְּלָבִים וַחֲזִירִים בִּירֻשָּׁה אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר מִיָּד אֶלָּא מוֹכֵר מְעַט מְעַט:


The Ra'avad and Rabbenu Asher take issue with the Rambam on this point, explaining that the owner of the field generally does not have the right to slaughter an animal belonging to another person. Bava Kama 23b does speak of the owner of a field slaughtering goats belonging to someone else, but this was a special instance. He knew that the goats were being taken to the market to be slaughtered.The Maggid Mishneh explains that the Rambam had a different interpretation of that passage. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 397:1-2) follows the Ra'avad's interpretation.


The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (op. cit.) interpret this to be implying that if the owner of the animal says, Why come to me with a complaint? Let the owner of the field build a strong fence around his field to prevent animals from entering, his claim is not accepted. He is required to take responsibility for his animal.


This minimizes to the greatest degree possible the loss that the owner of the animal would suffer.


E.g., sheep and goats.


E.g., deer.


For they will harm the produce. The Maggid Mishneh explains that this law (and those that follow) were instituted as part of the provisions of yishuv Eretz Yisrael, the settlement of our Holy Land. (See also Hilchot Edut 10:4, which states that a shepherd of sheep or goats is not acceptable as a witness, because it is likely that he will pasture his flocks in fields belonging to others. See also Hilchot Bechorot 3:6.)It is, however, permissible to raise large animals like cows in Eretz Yisrael.


Where the damage is not significant.


See Hilchot Terumot 1:4,9, which defines the status of Syria as less than that of Eretz Yisrael, but greater than that of the diaspora as a whole.


I.e., the owner of the forest has no right to protest.


For it could damage the forest.


If they are dry and severed from the ground, they are fit to serve as firewood for the owners of the field.


Significantly, the Tur (Choshen Mishpat 274) does not mention this dimension.


This is beneficial for the owner of the field, because the grass detracts from the field's growth potential.


For grass and fenugrec make excellent fodder. For that reason, if the fenugrec is being grown for human consumption, one may pick the grass. Bava Kama 81a states that if the fenugrec is growing in rows, one may assume that it has been planted for human consumption.


This is allowed to enhance the settlement of Eretz Yisrael, for it will enable more trees to be grown there.


When an olive tree has become old, and it no longer produces a significant amount of fruit, all of its branches are cut off except two, so that its growth potential will become concentrated. Cutting off one of these remaining branches would damage the future of the tree.


One that is less than a year old.


For it is the branches that are exposed to the sun that provide a tree with its nurture.


Without payment.


I.e., the tribe of Naftali.


The Tur (loc. cit.) and others differ with the Rambam and maintain that even the owner of a lake may not fish with nets large enough to prevent the passage of a boat.Others interpret large nets as referring to nets that will catch large quantities of fish. Fishing privileges of that nature are not granted to another tribe.


A type of spice that will be damaged by the unpleasant odor of feces.


We have used a loose translation. The Hebrew term meit mitzvah, literally a corpse that we are commanded to bury, refers to a Jewish corpse lying on the road, that has no one to bury it (Hilchot Eivel 3:8).


Our translation is taken from Rashi's commentary on Bava Kama 81b. In these instances, the presence of a grave will be likely to impart impurity to a large number of people.


The commentaries question why the Rambam requires a corpse found in the road to be taken to the cemetery. In Hilchot Tum'at Meit 8:7, he states that in such an instance, a corpse may be buried in a nearby field. This indeed is the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 364:3).


I.e., from the seventeenth of Cheshvan on. Until then, passersby will not do any damage to the fields. Once the rains descend, however, the seeds begin to take root, and treading on them would damage them.


The Tur (Choshen Mishpat 274) quotes this ruling. The Shulchan Aruch, however, does not mention these laws. The Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 274:1) quotes the Tur's view and questions why the Shulchan Aruch ignored these laws. He explains that it is possible that the Shulchan Aruch also maintains that these laws are applicable in the diaspora, but failed to mention them because it was uncommon for Jews to own land at that time.The concept that these laws apply in the diaspora is somewhat difficult according to the Maggid Mishneh (and Rashi), who explain that the motivating rationale for these laws is the concern for yishuv Eretz Yisrael, the settlement of our Holy Land. Others explain that these provisions are intended to avoid strife and friction.


For this will cause damage to the land there.


In the time of the Temple, these animals were offered as sacrifices. Even after the Temple's destruction, it is still a mitzvah to celebrate on the festivals by eating meat (Hilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 6:18).


For these feasts are also considered to be se'udot mitzvah (feasts associated with the performance of a mitzvah).


From this, we can assume that these laws would apply in any community where most of the lands are owned by Jews.


In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Bava Kama 7:7), the Rambam states that this law applies to all animals that are forbidden to be eaten. (See also The Guide for the Perplexed, Volume III, Chapter 48, which speaks of the unfavorable tendencies brought about by eating pork.)From the conclusion of this halachah, however, it appears that the Rambam is focusing on a different rationale: the material and not the spiritual damage that pigs can cause.


For they will serve as watchdogs and raise a clamor in the event of attack.


Bava Kama 82b, 83a.


If he were required to sell his entire herd immediately, it is possible that he would have to reduce the price of the animals. Our Sages feared that the possibility of this loss would intimidate the shepherd and prevent him from repenting.

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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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