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ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Shemita - Chapter 2

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Shemita - Chapter 2

1

A person should not remove waste materials from his courtyard and place them in his field in the Sabbatical year, because it appears that he is fertilizing his field so that it will be improved for him to sow it.1 If he did remove them, but made a waste heap, it is permitted.2

He should not make a waste heap in his field until the time when it is common to fertilize the fields as is done when tilling the land passes, i.e., when the bitter3 [apples] become [very dried out and] knotted. He should not make a waste heap that contains less than 150 se'ah of waste, so that it will be obvious that it is a waste heap.4 If he wishes to add to it, he may. If he has a small amount [of waste matter placed in his field before the beginning of the Sabbatical year], he can continue to increase it [throughout the Sabbatical year]. One should not make more than three waste heaps in an area large enough to sow a se'ah of grain.5

א

לֹא יוֹצִיא אָדָם זְבָלִים מֵחֲצֵרוֹ וְיִתֵּן בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כִּמְזַבֵּל שָׂדֵהוּ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה יָפָה לִזְרִיעָה. וְאִם הוֹצִיא וְהֶעֱמִיד מִמֶּנּוּ אַשְׁפָּה מֻתָּר. וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה אַשְׁפָּה בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ עַד שֶׁיַּעֲבֹר זְמַן שֶׁמְּזַבְּלִין בּוֹ לַעֲבוֹדַת הָאָרֶץ וְהוּא מִשֶּׁיִּקְשֹׁר הַמָּתוֹק. וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה אַשְׁפָּה פְּחוּתָה מִמֵּאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים סְאָה שֶׁל זֶבֶל כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּהְיֶה נִכֶּרֶת שֶׁהִיא אַשְׁפָּה. וְאִם יִרְצֶה לְהוֹסִיף מוֹסִיף. הָיָה לוֹ דָּבָר מֻעָט מוֹסִיף עָלָיו וְהוֹלֵךְ. וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה בְּכָל בֵּית סְאָה יֶתֶר מִשָּׁלֹשׁ אַשְׁפַּתּוֹת:

2

When a person desires to make waste heaps throughout his entire field, three in each area large enough to sow a se'ah, he may.6 If he desires to combine his waste into one large waste heap,7 he may.

ב

וְהָרוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל שָׂדֵהוּ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁלֹשׁ אַשְׁפַּתּוֹת לְתוֹךְ בֵּית סְאָה עוֹשֶׂה. וְהָרוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת זִבְלוֹ אוֹצָר עוֹשֶׂה:

3

When a person would place waste on a rock, dug out three handbreadths of the earth and then made a heap of waste, or built [a platform] three handbreadths high above the earth and placed the waste upon them, there is no required measure. Even if he made several waste heaps in an area large enough to sow a se'ah of grain, it is permitted. [The rationale is] it is obvious that his intent is not to improve the land,8 but rather to collect his waste.9

ג

הָיָה מַעֲמִיד הַזֶּבֶל עַל הַסֶּלַע אוֹ שֶׁהֶעֱמִיק בָּאָרֶץ שְׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים וְהֶעֱרִים הַזֶּבֶל אוֹ שֶׁבָּנָה עַל הָאָרֶץ גֹּבַהּ שְׁלֹשָׁה וְהֶעֱמִיד עָלָיו הַזֶּבֶל. אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ שִׁעוּר. אֲפִלּוּ עָשָׂה כֵּן כַּמָּה אַשְׁפַּתּוֹת לְתוֹךְ בֵּית סְאָה בֵּין גְּדוֹלוֹת בֵּין קְטַנּוֹת מֻתָּר. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַדָּבָר נִכָּר שֶׁאֵינָן לַעֲבוֹדַת הָאָרֶץ אֶלָּא לִכְנִיסַת הַזֶּבֶל:

4

A person is permitted to remove waste from a corral of sheep and place it in his field as [is permitted to] all those who collect waste.10

When a person makes a corral in his field in the Sabbatical year,11 he should not make it larger than an area it takes to sow two se'ah.12 [When it is that size,] he may bring his sheep into it. When they have fertilized the entire corral, he may leave one wall of the corral and make another corral on its side, [and then bring his sheep there]. In this manner, he can fertilize a portion of his field large enough to sow four se'ah.

ד

מֻתָּר לְאָדָם לְהוֹצִיא זֶבֶל מִן הַסַּהַר שֶׁל צֹאן וְנוֹתֵן לְתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל מַכְנִיסֵי זֶבֶל. וְהָעוֹשֶׂה דִּיר בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית לֹא יַעֲשֵׂהוּ יֶתֶר עַל בֵּית סָאתַיִם וְיַכְנִיס הַצֹּאן לְתוֹכוֹ. וּכְשֶׁיְּזַבְּלוּ אֶת כָּל הַדִּיר מֵנִיחַ דֹּפֶן אֶחָד מִדָּפְנֵי הַדִּיר וְעוֹשֶׂה דִּיר אַחֵר בְּצִדּוֹ. נִמְצָא מְזַבֵּל בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ בֵּית אַרְבַּעַת סְאִין:

5

If, however, his entire field was only large enough to sow four se'ah, he should leave a portion [unfertilized], because of the impression that might be created.13 [In this way,] everyone will know that the sheep deposited their wastes there and fertilized it and they will not say that the person fertilized his entire field in the Sabbatical year.

ה

הָיְתָה כָּל שָׂדֵהוּ בֵּית אַרְבַּעַת סְאִין מְשַׁיֵּר מִמֶּנָּה מִקְצָת מִפְּנֵי מַרְאִית הָעַיִן. כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ הַכּל שֶׁהַצֹּאן הֵטִילוּ בָּהּ וְנִדַּיְירָה. וְלֹא יֹאמְרוּ זִבֵּל זֶה כָּל שָׂדֵהוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית:

6

A person should not open a quarry in his field14 at the outset in the Sabbatical year, lest it be said that he intended to improve his field by removing the rocks from it. If he began before the Sabbatical year and quarried from it 27 blocks - each block being one cubit by one cubit and one cubit high or larger - from a group of stones that were three cubits by three cubits and three cubits high, it is permitted to extract from it all one desires during the Sabbatical year.15

ו

לֹא יִפְתַּח אָדָם מֶחְצָב בַּתְּחִלָּה לְתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית שֶׁמָּא יֹאמְרוּ לְתַקֵּן שָׂדֵהוּ נִתְכַּוֵּן שֶׁיָּסִיר מִמֶּנָּה הַסֶּלַע. וְאִם הִתְחִיל מִקֹּדֶם שְׁבִיעִית וּפִצֵּל מִמֶּנָּה שֶׁבַע וְעֶשְׂרִים אֲבָנִים בְּרִבּוּעַ שָׁלֹשׁ עַל שָׁלֹשׁ עַל רוּם שָׁלֹשׁ כָּל אֶבֶן מֵהֶן אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה בְּרוּם אַמָּה אוֹ גְּדוֹלוֹת מִזּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְנַקֵּר מִמֶּנּוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה:

7

[The following rules apply when there is] a stone wall that is ten handbreadths or more high and one desired to remove all the stones. If it contained ten or more stones, each one at least [large enough to require] two people to carry it, he may take them,16 for an observer will know that he is taking them because he needs the stones.17 If the wall was less than ten handbreadths high, there were less than ten stones or the stones were smaller [and did not require] two people to carry it, he may take them, but must leave [a row] a handbreadth high above the ground.18

ז

גָּדֵר שֶׁל אֲבָנִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּגָבְהוֹ עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים אוֹ יֶתֶר וְרָצָה לִטּל כָּל אֲבָנָיו אִם הָיוּ בּוֹ עֶשֶׂר אֲבָנִים אוֹ יֶתֶר כָּל אַחַת מֵהֶן מַשּׂוֹי שְׁנַיִם אוֹ גְּדוֹלוֹת מִזּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹטֵל שֶׁהָרוֹאֶה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁלְּצֹרֶךְ הָאֲבָנִים הוּא נוֹטֵל. הָיָה פָּחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ פָּחוֹת מֵעֶשֶׂר אֲבָנִים אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ אֲבָנָיו קְטַנּוֹת מִמַּשּׂוֹי שְׁנַיִם נוֹטֵל עַד שֶׁיַּנִּיחַ טֶפַח סָמוּךְ לָאָרֶץ:

8

When does the above19 apply? When he intends to improve his field20 or he began to remove the stones in the Sabbatical year. If, however, he did not intend to improve his field21 or began removing them before the Sabbatical year,22 he may take everything he desires23 during the Sabbatical year, clearing away [the stones] until he reaches the earth. Similarly, if he was removing the stones from a colleague's field, even though he was a contractor,24 he may clear them away until he reaches the earth.25

ח

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן לְתַקֵּן שָׂדֵהוּ (אוֹ) שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִטּל בַּשְּׁבִיעִית. אֲבָל אִם לֹא נִתְכַּוֵּן לְתַקֵּן שָׂדֵהוּ אוֹ שֶׁהִתְחִיל מִקֹּדֶם שְׁבִיעִית נוֹטֵל בַּשְּׁבִיעִית כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה מִכָּל מָקוֹם וּגוֹמֵם עַד לָאָרֶץ. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה נוֹטֵל מִשְּׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא קִבְּלָן גּוֹמֵם עַד לָאָרֶץ:

9

[The following rules apply when, in a field, there are] stones that would be dislocated by a plow or which were covered [by earth] and then uncovered. If there are two stones that are each large enough to require two people to carry them, it is permitted to remove them.26If they are smaller than this, he should not take them.27

ט

אֲבָנִים שֶׁרְאוּיוֹת שֶׁתְּזַעְזֵעַ אוֹתָן הַמַּחֲרֵשָׁה אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ מְכֻסּוֹת וְנִתְגַּלּוּ. אִם יֵשׁ בָּהֶן שְׁתַּיִם שֶׁל מַשּׂוֹי שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִטּוֹל אוֹתָן. הָיוּ קְטַנּוֹת מִזֶּה לֹא יִנָּטְלוּ:

10

When a person removes stones from his field because he needs the stones [for construction], he should remove the upper ones and leave those in contact with the earth. Similarly, if he has a pile of pebbles or of stones in his field, he should take the upper one's and leave those in contact with the earth. If there is a large rock or straw beneath them, he may take all of them.28

י

הַמְסַקֵּל שָׂדֵהוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא צָרִיךְ לָאֲבָנִים נוֹטֵל אֶת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת וּמַנִּיחַ אֶת הַנּוֹגְעוֹת בָּאָרֶץ. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה לוֹ בְּשָׂדֵהוּ גַּרְגֵּר שֶׁל צְרוֹרוֹת אוֹ גַּל שֶׁל אֲבָנִים נוֹטֵל אֶת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת וּמַנִּיחַ אֶת הַנּוֹגְעוֹת בָּאָרֶץ. וְאִם יֵשׁ תַּחְתֵּיהֶן סֶלַע אוֹ קַשׁ יִטּל אֶת כֻּלָּן:

11

A person should not fill a groove in the ground with earth or level it with earth, because he is improving his land.29 He may, however, make a divider before the groove, [separating it from the remainder of his field].30 He may take any stone [in the groove] that he can pick up if he stretches out his hand while he is standing at the edge of the groove.31

יא

לֹא יְמַלֵּא אָדָם גַּיא עָפָר אוֹ יְתַקְּנֶנּוּ בְּעָפָר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמְּתַקֵּן אֶת הָאָרֶץ. אֲבָל עוֹשֶׂה הוּא חַיִץ עַל פְּנֵי הַגַּיא. וְכָל אֶבֶן שֶׁיָּכוֹל לִפְשֹׁט אֶת יָדוֹ וְלִטְּלָהּ וְהוּא עוֹמֵד עַל שְׂפַת הַגַּיא הֲרֵי זוֹ תִּנָּטֵל:

12

It is permitted to bring stones carried on one's shoulder - i.e., two or three are carried on one's shoulder at a time - from any place, whether from a colleague's field or from one's own field. Similarly, a contractor32 may bring stones, even small ones, from any place whether from the field he hired33 or from a field that he did not hire.

יב

אַבְנֵי כָּתֵף וְהֵם הַנִּטָּלוֹת שְׁתַּיִם שָׁלֹשׁ עַל הַכָּתֵף מֻתָּר לַהֲבִיאָן מִכָּל מָקוֹם בֵּין מִשְּׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ בֵּין מִשָּׂדֵהוּ. וְכֵן הַקַּבְּלָן מֵבִיא מִכָּל מָקוֹם וַאֲפִלּוּ אֲבָנִים גְּדוֹלוֹת בֵּין מִשָּׂדֶה שֶׁקִּבְּלָהּ בֵּין מִשָּׂדֶה שֶׁלֹּא קִבְּלָהּ:

13

[The following laws apply when there is] an open space [in a wall separating one's property from the public domain] that was filled with earth.34 If its [stones] do not create an obstacle block for people in the public domain, it is forbidden to rebuild it.35 If they create a stumbling block for people36 or it was not filled with earth, but instead open to the public domain,37 it is permitted to rebuild it.38

יג

פִּרְצָה שֶׁהִיא סוּגָה בְּעָפָר אִם אֵינָהּ מַכְשֶׁלֶת אֶת הָרַבִּים אָסוּר לִבְנוֹתָהּ. וְאִם הָיְתָה מַכְשֶׁלֶת אֶת הָרַבִּים אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה סוּגָה בְּעָפָר אֶלָּא פְּתוּחָה לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים מֻתָּר לִבְנוֹתָהּ:

14

It is forbidden for a person to build a wall between his field and his colleague's field in the Sabbatical year. He may, however, build a wall between his field and the public domain.39 [When he builds the wall,] he is permitted to dig deeply until he reaches a stone.40 He may remove the earth and gather it in his field41 in the same manner as waste is gathered.42 Similarly, if a person dug out a cistern, a trench, or a storage cavity in the Sabbatical year, he may gather the earth in the same manner as all those who dig.

יד

אָסוּר לוֹ לִבְנוֹת גָּדֵר בַּשְּׁבִיעִית בֵּין שָׂדֵהוּ לִשְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ. אֲבָל בּוֹנֶה גָּדֵר בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים. וּמֻתָּר לְהַעֲמִיק עַד הַסֶּלַע וּמוֹצִיא אֶת הֶעָפָר וְצוֹבְרוֹ בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל מַעֲמִידִין זֶבֶל. וְכֵן אִם חָפַר בּוֹר וְשִׁיחַ וּמְעָרָה בַּשְּׁבִיעִית צוֹבֵר הֶעָפָר בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הַחוֹפְרִים:

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 4, fertilizing is a task forbidden by Rabbinic Law.

2.

Because it does not appear that he is preparing to fertilize his field immediately.

3.

Our translation is taken from the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 3:1)]. There he explains that although matok, the name the Mishnah uses, means "sweet," this fruit has a bitter taste and that term is used as a euphemism. Some have identified this species with the colocynth, a wild gourd with a very bitter flavor. The Radbaz identifies it with a bitter species of grass.

4.

Any thing smaller might convey the impression that he is fertilizing his field.

5.

Hilchot Shabbat 16:3 defines an area in which a se'ah of grain is sown as 50 cubits by 50 cubits. In this instance as well, if he makes more than three waste heaps, it might appear that his intent is to fertilize the field.

6.

I.e., we are not concerned that an onlooker might think that he is fertilizing his field.

7.

I.e., create one very large waste heap that encompasses a greater area than the three waste heaps in a 2500 sq. cubit area.

8.

By fertilizing it, for the waste is not in direct contact with the earth.

9.

For use after the Sabbatical year.

10.

I.e., according to the guidelines established in the previous halachot. Those halachot dealt with removing waste from one's home and courtyard. In this halachah, the Rambam is adding that the same rules also apply with regard to the waste from corrals. To establish this conceptual flow, the Rambam changes the order of the clauses in the mishnah (Sh'vi'it 3:4). The Radbaz offers this explanation to rebut the Ra'avad's objections.

11.

The Ra'avad cites the Jerusalem Talmud (Sh'vi'it 3:4) which emphasizes that the person's intent should not be to fertilize his field, but to take care of his sheep. When he does that, he can have a portion of his field fertilized as a by-product.

12.

100 by 50 cubits.

13.

I.e., when an observer will see that the entire field was not fertilized, he will realize that the person did not fertilize it by hand, because then there would be no purpose in leaving part of it unfertilized.

14.

The Radbaz explains that the Rambam's ruling applies whether the quarry is open or underground. There are, he explains, other opinions that maintain that if the quarry is open, there is no obligation to begin extracting the stones before the Sabbatical year.

15.

Provided one's intent is genuinely to quarry stone and not to improve the field (Radbaz).

16.

I.e., all the stones, even those smaller than the size specified.

17.

When a person is taking many stones of this size, the effort involved clearly indicates that he is intending to use them for building and not merely to improve his field.

18.

So that he will not have prepared his field by removing the stones.

19.

That he must leave a row of stones a handbreadth high above the earth.

20.

By leaving an additional area that he could sow in the following year.

21.

The Radbaz asks: We see that our Sages forbade certain activities because of the impression that an observer might derive. If so, what does the owner's intent matter? An observer may think that he is intending to clear his field. For this reason, he explains that the owner must perform an activity that makes it obvious that he is intending to use the stones for building, for example, using them for construction that is presently being performed on his property.

22.

This indicates that he was not using the Sabbatical year to perform whatever work that was possible in his field.

23.

I.e., even small stones and even when he tears down a wall that is less than ten handbreadths high.

24.

I.e., a person who hires out the field for his own purposes. See Halachah 12 and the Rambam's commentary to its source (Sh'vi'it 3:9).

25.

Because he would not take the stones unless they would benefit him. Needless to say, one may not destroy a wall in a colleague's field at whim. Thus even when the owner knows that the wall is being torn down, as long as it is being torn down to be used for building, it is permitted to do so.

26.

For, as above, the size of these stones indicates that they will be used for building. The implication is that not only is the person allowed to remove these two large stones, he is allowed to remove all the stones in the field (Radbaz). Needless to say, this leniency is granted only when he genuinely intends to use the stones for construction, not when he desires to clear his field.

One might ask: Why are only two stones required to be of this size in this instance, while in Halachah 8, ten large stones are required?

Among the answers given is that in this instance, since the stones are scattered over a larger area, their removal is less likely to be noticed by an observer. In Halachah 8, by contrast, since the stones are all located in one place, an observer will see that they have been removed (Pe'at HaShulchan).

27.

Lest an observer think that he is intending to clear his field.

28.

For if he desired to clear his field, he would take the large stone or straw that is beneath them as well.

29.

And such work is forbidden in the Sabbatical year.

30.

Our translation and the bracketed addition are based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 3:8).

31.

If, however, he must descend into the groove to pick up a stone, it is forbidden to remove it, lest an impression be created that the person is seeking to improve his field and make the groove fit for sowing (ibid.).

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, offering a different interpretation of his source (Sh'vi'it, loc. cit.). [The Ra'avad's interpretation is paralleled by Rabbenu Shimshon's understanding of that mishnah.] The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh offer different explanations that reinforce the Rambam's understanding.

32.

A person who had hired the field. See Halachah 8.

33.

Even though he hired the field, it is not his own and we do not suspect that he will transgress to improve it. The Ra'avad understands Sh'vi'it 3:9, the Rambam's source differently, seeing it as interrelated to the concepts mentioned in the previous halachah.

34.

I.e., rather than being rebuilt with stone.

35.

For an onlooker will think that the person is rebuilding it for the purpose of improving his field and enabling him to sow it the following year. See the explanations in the notes to the following halachah.

36.

For an observer will understand that he is rebuilding it to remove an obstacle for people at large. (Alternatively, when there are obstacles for people at large, we do not enforce restrictions instituted only because of the possibility that an observer will derive a mistaken impression.)

37.

In this situation, by closing it, he is creating a divider between his field and the public domain.

38.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's ruling, maintain that since there is a gap in the fence separating his field from the public domain, he is allowed to rebuild it in all instances. The Ra'avad and the Kessef Mishneh note that the Jerusalem Talmud (the conclusion of ch. 3 of Sh'vi'it ) supports the Rambam's position.

39.

Building a wall between one's own field and a colleague's is prohibited lest an onlooker think that one is preparing the land in order to sow one's field. Alternatively, we fear that the person may change his mind and sow the land (Radbaz). A person is, however, permitted to build a wall between his own field and the public domain to set off his property from the public domain. Alternatively, it is not common to sow the land next to the public domain, so there is no need for the above suspicions.

In the previous halachah, repairing a wall between one's field and the public domain is prohibited when the open space is filled with earth. Here, since it is entirely open, a wall may be built, as in the latter clause of that halachah.

40.

Since he digs until a stone, but does not remove the stone, it is clear that his intent is not to improve his field, for one cannot sow on a stone.

41.

But not in the public domain. See Sh'vi'it 3:10.

42.

See Halachot 1-3.

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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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