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

Chovel uMazzik - Chapter Five

Show content in:

Chovel uMazzik - Chapter Five


It is forbidden for a person to injure anyone, neither his own self nor another person. Not only a person who causes an injury, but anyone who strikes in strife an upright Jewish person, whether a minor or an adult, whether a man or a woman, violates a negative commandment, as Deuteronomy 25:3 states: "Do not continue... to flog him." One may conclude that if the Torah adjures us against adding to the blows due a sinner, surely this prohibition applies with regard to striking a righteous person.


אָסוּר לְאָדָם לַחֲבל בֵּין בְּעַצְמוֹ בֵּין בַּחֲבֵרוֹ. וְלֹא הַחוֹבֵל בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא כָּל הַמַּכֶּה אָדָם כָּשֵׁר מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין קָטָן בֵּין גָּדוֹל בֵּין אִישׁ בֵּין אִשָּׁה דֶּרֶךְ נִצָּיוֹן הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה ג) "לֹא יֹסִיף" (דברים כה ג) "לְהַכֹּתוֹ". אִם הִזְהִירָה תּוֹרָה מִלְּהוֹסִיף בְּהַכָּאַת הַחוֹטֵא קַל וָחֹמֶר לְמַכֶּה אֶת הַצַּדִּיק:


It is even forbidden to raise up one's hand against a colleague. Whoever raises a hand against a colleague, even though he does not hit him, is considered to be a wicked person.


אֲפִלּוּ לְהַגְבִּיהַּ יָדוֹ עַל חֲבֵרוֹ אָסוּר וְכָל הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ יָדוֹ עַל חֲבֵרוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִכָּהוּ הֲרֵי זֶה רָשָׁע:


When a person strikes a colleague with a blow that does not warrant a p'rutah to be paid in recompense, he should receive lashes. For there is no financial penalty to be exacted for transgression of this negative commandment.

Even if a person strikes a servant belonging to a colleague with a blow that does not warrant a p'rutah to be paid in recompense, he should receive lashes. This penalty is required because a servant is obligated to perform certain mitzvot.

If a gentile strikes a Jew, he deserves capital punishment, as implied by Exodus 2:12): "He turned to and fro... and struck the Egyptian."


הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ הַכָּאָה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ שְׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה לוֹקֶה שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין כָּאן תַּשְׁלוּמִין כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לָאו זֶה נִתָּן לְתַשְׁלוּמִין. וַאֲפִלּוּ הִכָּה עֶבֶד חֲבֵרוֹ הַכָּאָה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ שְׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה לוֹקֶה שֶׁהֲרֵי יֶשְׁנוֹ בְּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת. וְעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהִכָּה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל חַיָּב מִיתָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות ב יב) "וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה" (שמות ב יב) "וַיַּךְ אֶת הַמִּצְרִי":


Our Sages imposed a penalty on foolish and violent men, and gave a person who was injured [the following privilege. His word is accepted when he takes an oath while holding a sacred article that another person caused him such and such an injury, and he is awarded the appropriate damages. This applies provided there are witnesses.

What is implied? Two people testify that the injured person entered the domain of the accused whole and left after being injured, but they did not see the injury being inflicted. Although the accused claims not to have inflicted the injury, since the injured person claims that he did, the injured person is given the prerogative of taking an oath and collecting the money due.


קְנָס קָנְסוּ חֲכָמִים לְאֵלּוּ הַשּׁוֹטִים בַּעֲלֵי זְרוֹעַ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַנֶּחְבָּל נֶאֱמָן וְנִשְׁבָּע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ שֶׁזֶּה חָבַל בּוֹ חֲבָל זֶה וְנוֹטֵל מַה שֶּׁרָאוּי לוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שָׁם עֵדִים. כֵּיצַד. הָיוּ שְׁנֵי עֵדִים מְעִידִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְתוֹךְ יָדוֹ שָׁלֵם וְיָצָא חָבוּל וְלֹא רָאוּהוּ בְּעֵת שֶׁחָבַל בּוֹ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא חָבַלְתִּי וְהַלָּה אוֹמֵר אַתָּה חָבַלְתָּ בִּי הֲרֵי זֶה נִשְׁבָּע וְנוֹטֵל:


When does the above apply? When the injury was located in a place where the person could have inflicted it upon himself, or a third person was there whom the injured person could have instructed to strike him to implicate the accused. If, however, a third party was not present, and the injury was in a place that the injured could not have inflicted upon himself - e.g., he was bitten between his shoulders and the like - he may collect the appropriate payment without an oath.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיְתָה הַמַּכָּה בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהַכּוֹת בְּעַצְמוֹ אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה עִמָּהֶם שְׁלִישִׁי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁזֶּה הַנֶּחְבָּל אָמַר לוֹ לַחֲבל בּוֹ וּלְהִתְרַעֵם עַל אַחֵר. אֲבָל אִם אֵין עִמָּהֶם אַחֵר וְהָיְתָה הַמַּכָּה בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּעַצְמוֹ כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיְתָה נְשִׁיכָה בֵּין כְּתֵפָיו וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹטֵל בְּלֹא שְׁבוּעָה:


If the person who caused the injury admits causing it, he is liable to pay all five assessments. For there are witnesses that the injured person entered the accused's domain of sound body at the time of the quarrel and departed with an injury.

If, however, there are no witnesses there at all, the injured person states: "This person injured me," and the accused admits doing so, he is not liable for the assessments for damages and the pain. He is, however, liable for the assessments for unemployment, embarrassment and medical attention, because of his own admission.

For this reason, if he denies causing the injury, he can free himself of liability by taking a Rabbinic oath.


הוֹדָה הַחוֹבֵל שֶׁהוּא חָבַל מְשַׁלֵּם חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים שֶׁהֲרֵי הָעֵדִים הָיוּ שָׁם שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְתוֹךְ יָדוֹ שָׁלֵם בִּשְׁעַת הַמְּרִיבָה וְיָצָא חָבוּל. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הָיוּ שָׁם עֵדִים כְּלָל הוּא אוֹמֵר חָבַלְתָּ בִּי וְהוֹדָה מֵעַצְמוֹ פָּטוּר מִן הַנֵּזֶק וּמִן הַצַּעַר וְחַיָּב בְּשֶׁבֶת וּבְבשֶׁת וּבְרִפּוּי עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם כָּפַר וְאָמַר לֹא חָבַלְתִּי נִשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת:


Why should a person pay these three assessments on the basis of his own admission? The assessments for unemployment and medical attention represent a financial obligation and are not considered to be k'nasot. For if he does not reimburse the injured person for them, he will have caused him to forfeit the money he spent on medical treatment and the money he lost through unemployment.

And with regard to embarrassment, it was when he admitted before the court that he caused the injury, that he brought about the embarrassment. For when an injury is caused in private, a person is not caused any embarrassment. It is his admission before the court that embarrasses him.


וְלָמָּה מְשַׁלֵּם אָדָם שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ. שֶׁהַשֶּׁבֶת וְהָרִפּוּי מָמוֹן הוּא וְלֹא קְנָס. שֶׁאִם לֹא יִתֵּן לוֹ הֲרֵי חִסְּרוֹ מָמוֹן שֶׁהוּא מִתְרַפֵּא בּוֹ וּבִטֵּל מִמְּלַאכְתּוֹ. וְהַבּשֶׁת לֹא הִגִּיעָה לוֹ אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוֹדָה בְּפָנֵינוּ שֶׁהוּא חָבַל בּוֹ. שֶׁהַנֶּחְבָּל שֶׁלֹּא חָבַל בּוֹ [בִּפְנֵי] אָדָם אֵין לוֹ בֹּשֶׁת וְהוֹדָאָתוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין הִיא שֶׁבִּיְּשָׁה אוֹתוֹ:


From this one can conclude that there is no difference with regard to the embarrassment assessment, whether that assessment is due him because he caused the person to be embarrassed in the presence of others, or it is due him because he made an acknowledgement in the presence of others of the embarrassment he caused. Therefore, a person is liable for an embarrassment assessment because of his own statements.


נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁאֵין הֶפְרֵשׁ בְּבשֶׁת בֵּין בּשֶׁת הַמַּגִּיעַ לוֹ אִם חָבַל בּוֹ בִּפְנֵי אֲחֵרִים וּבֵין בּשֶׁת הַמַּגִּיעַ לוֹ בְּעֵת שֶׁהוֹדָה בִּפְנֵי אֲחֵרִים שֶׁחָבַל בּוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ מְשַׁלֵּם אָדָם בּשֶׁת עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ:


A person who damages a colleague's property cannot be compared to one who injures his physical person. When a person who damages a colleague's property pays him what he is obligated to pay him, he receives atonement. In contrast, when a person injures a colleague's physical person, paying him the five assessments is not alone sufficient to generate atonement. Even if the person who caused the injury sacrifices all the rams of Nevayot, he cannot generate atonement, nor is his sin forgiven until he asks the person who was injured to forgive him.


אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה מַזִּיק חֲבֵרוֹ בְּגוּפוֹ לְמַזִּיק מָמוֹנוֹ. שֶׁהַמַּזִּיק מָמוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ כֵּיוָן שֶׁשִּׁלֵּם מַה שֶּׁהוּא חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם נִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ. אֲבָל חָבַל בַּחֲבֵרוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ הִקְרִיב כָּל אֵילֵי נְבָיוֹת אֵינוֹ מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ וְלֹא נִמְחַל עֲוֹנוֹ עַד שֶׁיְּבַקֵּשׁ מִן הַנֶּחְבָּל וְיִמְחל לוֹ:


It is forbidden for the person who suffered the injury to be cruel and not to forgive the one who caused the injury. This is not the course of behavior for a descendant of Israel.

Instead, since the person who caused the injury asks and pleads of him for forgiveness once or twice, and he knows that he has repented from his sin and regrets his evil deeds, he should forgive him. Whoever hastens to grant forgiveness is praiseworthy and is regarded favorably by the Sages.


וְאָסוּר לַנֶּחְבָּל לִהְיוֹת אַכְזָרִי וְלֹא יִמְחל אֵין זוֹ דֶּרֶךְ זֶרַע יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ הַחוֹבֵל וְנִתְחַנֵּן לוֹ פַּעַם רִאשׁוֹנָה וּשְׁנִיָּה וְיָדַע שֶׁהוּא שָׁב מֵחֶטְאוֹ וְנִחָם עַל רָעָתוֹ יִמְחל לוֹ. וְכָל הַמְמַהֵר לִמְחל הֲרֵי הוּא מְשֻׁבָּח וְרוּחַ חֲכָמִים נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ:


There is another difference between the damages to an individual's physical person and to his property. If a person tells a colleague: "Blind my eye..." or "Cut off my arm, and you will not be liable," he is liable for the five assessments. The rationale is that it is well known that a person does not genuinely desire this.

When, by contrast, a person tells a colleague: "Tear my garment..." or "Break my jug, and you will not be liable," he is not liable. If, however, he did permit him to damage his property, but did not stipulate that he would not be liable, he is obligated to pay for the damages.


וְעוֹד יֵשׁ הֶפְרֵשׁ בֵּין נִזְקֵי גּוּפוֹ לְנִזְקֵי מָמוֹנוֹ. שֶׁהָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ סַמֵּא אֶת עֵינִי קְטַע אֶת יָדִי עַל מְנָת שֶׁאַתָּה פָּטוּר הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב בַּחֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים שֶׁהַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ שֶׁאֵין אָדָם רוֹצֶה בְּכָךְ. אֲבָל הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ קְרַע אֶת כְּסוּתִי שְׁבֹר אֶת כַּדִּי עַל מְנָת שֶׁאַתָּה פָּטוּר הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְאִם לֹא אָמַר לוֹ עַל מְנָת שֶׁאַתָּה פָּטוּר הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִרְשָׁהוּ לְהַשְׁחִית:


When does the above apply? When first the person entrusted the articles to the person who destroyed them as a watchman - i.e., he borrowed them or was entrusted with them for safekeeping. In such a situation, if the owner told the watchman to break it or rip it, and the watchman did so, the watchman is liable to pay for the damages, unless the owner explicitly stipulated that the watchman would not be held liable.

When, however, the owner of an article tells a colleague: "Take this utensil and break it," "Take this garment and rip it," if the other person follows the instructions he was given, he is not liable.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁבָּאוּ הַכֵּלִים לְיָדוֹ תְּחִלָּה בְּתוֹרַת שְׁמִירָה. כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁאוּלִין אוֹ מֻפְקָדִין אֶצְלוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ שְׁבֹר וּקְרַע וְעָשָׂה כֵן חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לוֹ עַל מְנָת שֶׁאַתָּה פָּטוּר. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר לוֹ קַח כְּלִי זֶה וְשָׁבְרוֹ. בֶּגֶד זֶה וְקָרְעוֹ. וְעָשָׂה כֵן הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר:


When a person tells a colleague: "Break a utensil belonging to so and so, and you will not be liable," and the listener follows these instructions, the listener is liable financially. It is as if he told him: "Blind so-and-so's eye, and you will not be liable."

Although the person who caused the damages is liable to pay, the person who gave him the instructions is considered to be his partner in the transgression and a wicked person. For he caused a blind man to stumble, and supported a person who committed a transgression.


הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ שְׁבֹר כֵּלָיו שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי עַל מְנָת שֶׁאַתָּה פָּטוּר וְעָשָׂה הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. וּכְאִלּוּ אָמַר לוֹ סַמֵּא עֵינוֹ שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי עַל מְנָת שֶׁאַתָּה פָּטוּר. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעוֹשֶׂה הוּא חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. הֲרֵי זֶה הָאוֹמֵר לוֹ שֻׁתָּפוֹ בָּעָוֹן וְרָשָׁע הוּא. שֶׁהֲרֵי הִכְשִׁיל עִוֵּר וְחִזֵּק יְדֵי עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה:

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