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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Beit Habechirah - Chapter 7

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Beit Habechirah - Chapter 7


There is a positive commandment to hold the Temple in awe,1 as [Leviticus 19:30] states: "And you shall revere my Sanctuary."2 Nevertheless, it is not the [physical building of] the Temple which must be held in awe, but rather, He who commanded that it be revered.3


מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְיִרְאָה מִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט ל) (ויקרא כו ב) "וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ". וְלֹא מִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ אַתָּה יָרֵא אֶלָּא מִמִּי שֶׁצִּוָּה עַל יִרְאָתוֹ:


How is reverence for it manifest? A person should not enter the Temple Mount holding a staff,4 or with sandals on his feet,5 or wearing only underwear,6 with dust on his feet, or with money wrapped in his kerchief.7

It is superfluous to say that it is forbidden to spit on the entire Temple Mount.8 If one must spit, he should let it be absorbed in his clothing.9

One should not take a shortcut through the Temple Mount, by entering from one gate, and leaving from the opposite one, in order to shorten the way.10 Rather, one should walk around from the outside, entering only for the purpose of a mitzvah.11


וְאֵי זוֹ הִיא יִרְאָתוֹ לֹא יִכָּנֵס אָדָם לְהַר הַבַּיִת בְּמַקְלוֹ אוֹ בְּמִנְעָל שֶׁבְּרַגְלָיו אוֹ בַּאֲפֻנְדָּתוֹ אוֹ בָּאָבָק שֶׁעַל רַגְלָיו אוֹ בְּמָעוֹת הַצְּרוּרִין לוֹ בִּסְדִינוֹ וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאָסוּר לָרֹק בְּכָל הַר הַבַּיִת אֶלָּא אִם נִזְדַּמֵּן לוֹ רֹק מַבְלִיעוֹ בִּכְסוּתוֹ. וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה הַר הַבַּיִת דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁיִּכָּנֵס מִפֶּתַח זוֹ וְיֵצֵא מִפֶּתַח שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָהּ כְּדֵי לְקַצֵּר הַדֶּרֶךְ אֶלָּא יַקִּיפוֹ מִבַּחוּץ. וְלֹא יִכָּנֵס לוֹ אֶלָּא לִדְבַר מִצְוָה:


All who enter the Temple Mount12 should [face] the right side, walk around [in that direction],13 and leave on the left side.14 [This applies to everyone] except to one to whom [a grievous] event occurred. He would circle around towards the left side.15 Therefore, [those who met him] would ask him: "Why are you circling towards the left?"16

"Because I have become a mourner," [he would answer].

"May the One Who rests in this House comfort you," [they would reply].

[Or he might answer:] "Because I have been ostracized."17

[In which case, they would reply:] "May the One Who rests in this House bring about a change in your heart and thus, you will follow the words of your colleagues. Then, they will draw you near."18


וְכָל הַנִּכְנָסִין לְהַר הַבַּיִת נִכְנָסִין דֶּרֶךְ יָמִין וּמַקִּיפִין וְיוֹצְאִין דֶּרֶךְ שְׂמֹאל חוּץ מִמִּי שֶׁאֵרְעוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא מַקִּיף עַל הַשְּׂמֹאל. לְפִיכָךְ הָיוּ שׁוֹאֲלִין לוֹ מַה לְּךָ מַקִּיף עַל הַשְּׂמֹאל. שֶׁאֲנִי אָבֵל. הַשּׁוֹכֵן בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה יְנַחֶמְךָ. שֶׁאֲנִי מְנֻדֶּה. הַשּׁוֹכֵן בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה יִתֵּן בִּלְבָבְךָ וְתִשְׁמַע לְדִבְרֵי חֲבֵרֶיךָ וִיקָרְבוּךָ:


Anyone who has completed his service [in the Temple and desires] to leave, should not [turn around and] leave with his back to the Temple. Rather, he should walk backwards slightly19 and [then], walk slowly, and [turn] to his side20 until leaving the Temple Courtyard.21

Similarly, the members of the priestly watch,22 the representatives of the Jewish people,23 and the Levites [when they descend] from their platform,24 should leave the Temple in this manner, similar to one who steps backwards after his prayers.25 All these [are expressions of] reverence for the Temple.


כָּל שֶׁהִשְׁלִים עֲבוֹדָה וְנִסְתַּלֵּק לוֹ אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא וַאֲחוֹרָיו לַהֵיכָל אֶלָּא מְהַלֵּךְ אֲחוֹרַנִּית מְעַט מְעַט וּמְהַלֵּךְ בְּנַחַת עַל צִדּוֹ עַד שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִן הָעֲזָרָה. וְכֵן אַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמָר וְאַנְשֵׁי מַעֲמָד וּלְוִיִּם מִדּוּכָנָן כָּךְ הֵם יוֹצְאִין מִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ כְּמִי שֶׁפּוֹסֵעַ אַחַר תְּפִלָּה לַאֲחוֹרָיו. כָּל זֶה לְיִרְאָה מִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ:


A person should not act frivolously before the gate of Nicanor, the eastern gate of the Temple Courtyard,26 for it is positioned opposite the chamber of the Holy of Holies.

Everyone who enters the Temple Courtyard should walk in a dignified manner,27in the region where he is permitted to enter.28 He should conceive of himself as standing before God, as [I Kings 9:3] states: "My eyes and My heart will be there forever."

One should walk with awe, fear, and trembling,29 as [Psalms 55:15] states: "We would walk in the House of the Lord with fervor."30


לֹא יָקֵל אָדָם אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ כְּנֶגֶד שַׁעַר מִזְרָחִי שֶׁל עֲזָרָה שֶׁהוּא שַׁעַר נִיקָנוֹר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מְכֻוָּן כְּנֶגֶד בֵּית קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים. וְכָל הַנִּכְנָס לָעֲזָרָה יְהַלֵּךְ בְּנַחַת בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁמֻּתָּר לוֹ לְהִכָּנֵס לְשָׁם. וְיִרְאֶה עַצְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי ה' כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א ט ג) (דברי הימים ב ז טז) "וְהָיוּ עֵינַי וְלִבִּי שָׁם כָּל הַיָּמִים". וּמְהַלֵּךְ בְּאֵימָה וּבְיִרְאָה וּרְעָדָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים נה טו) "בְּבֵית אֱלֹהִים נְהַלֵּךְ בְּרָגֶשׁ":


It is forbidden for anyone to sit in the Temple Courtyard,31 [for] sitting in the Temple Courtyard is prohibited32 except for the Kings of the House of David, as [II Samuel 7:18] states: "And King David entered and sat before the Lord."33

The Sanhedrin34 met in the half of the Chamber of Hewn Stone which was not consecrated.35


וְאָסוּר לְכָל אָדָם לֵישֵׁב בְּכָל הָעֲזָרָה וְאֵין יְשִׁיבָה בָּעֲזָרָה אֶלָּא לְמַלְכֵי בֵּית דָּוִד בִּלְבַד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ז יח) (דברי הימים א יז טז) "וַיָּבֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד וַיֵּשֶׁב לִפְנֵי ה'". וְהַסַּנְהֶדְרִין שֶׁהָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין בְּלִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית לֹא הָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין אֶלָּא בְּחֶצְיָהּ שֶׁל חל:


Even though, the Temple is now in ruin because of our sins,36 a person must hold its [site] in awe, as one would regard it when it was standing.

[Therefore,] one should only enter a region which he is permitted to enter. He should not sit in [the area of] the Temple Courtyard, nor should he act frivolously when standing before [the place of] the eastern gate, as [implied by Leviticus 19:30]: "You shall observe My Sabbaths and you shall revere My Sanctuary." [Explaining the analogy between the two commands, the Sages comment:]37 "Just as the observance of the Sabbath [applies] for eternity, so too, the reverence for the Temple must be eternal. Even though it is in ruin, it remains holy."


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַמִּקְדָּשׁ הַיּוֹם חָרֵב בַּעֲוֹנוֹתֵינוּ חַיָּב אָדָם בְּמוֹרָאוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה נוֹהֵג בּוֹ בְּבִנְיָנוֹ. לֹא יִכָּנֵס אֶלָּא לְמָקוֹם שֶׁמֻּתָּר לְהִכָּנֵס לְשָׁם וְלֹא יֵשֵׁב בָּעֲזָרָה וְלֹא יָקֵל רֹאשׁוֹ כְּנֶגֶד שַׁעַר הַמִּזְרָח שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט ל) (ויקרא כו ב) "אֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ". מַה שְּׁמִירַת שַׁבָּת לְעוֹלָם אַף מוֹרָא מִקְדָּשׁ לְעוֹלָם שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָרֵב בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ עוֹמֵד:


When the Temple is standing, a person may not act frivolously in the area from Mt. Scopus,38 which is outside of Jerusalem, and inwards [towards the city.39 This prohibition only applies] when he can see the Temple, and there is no fence between him and the Temple.


בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַמִּקְדָּשׁ בָּנוּי אָסוּר לוֹ לְאָדָם לְהָקֵל אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ מִן הַצּוֹפִים שֶׁהוּא חוּץ לִירוּשָׁלַיִם וְלִפְנִים. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רוֹאֶה אֶת הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. וְלֹא יִהְיֶה גָּדֵר מַפְסִיק בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין הַמִּקְדָּשׁ:


At all times,40 a person may not defecate41 or sleep42 [with his body positioned] between the east and the west.43 It is superfluous to state that one should not place a toilet between the east and the west in any place [throughout the world,] for the Temple is in the west. Therefore, one should not defecate to the west nor to the east, for it is opposite the west. Rather, we should always defecate and sleep [with our bodies] to the north and south.44

Whoever urinates from Mt. Scopus inward to the city should not sit facing the Temple. Rather, [he should position himself] to the north or to the south, or have the Temple at his side.45


אָסוּר לְאָדָם לְעוֹלָם שֶׁיִּפָּנֶה אוֹ שֶׁיִּישַׁן בֵּין מִזְרָח לַמַּעֲרָב. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵין קוֹבְעִין בֵּית הַכִּסֵּא בֵּין מִזְרָח לַמַּעֲרָב בְּכָל מָקוֹם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַהֵיכָל בְּמַעֲרָב. לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יִפָּנֶה לְמַעֲרָב וְלֹא לְמִזְרָח מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּנֶגֶד הַמַּעֲרָב. אֶלָּא בֵּין צָפוֹן לְדָרוֹם נִפְנִים וִישֵׁנִים. וְכָל הַמֵּטִיל מַיִם מִן הַצּוֹפִים וְלִפְנִים לֹא יֵשֵׁב וּפָנָיו כְּלַפֵּי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֶלָּא לְצָפוֹן אוֹ לְדָרוֹם אוֹ יְסַלֵּק הַקֹּדֶשׁ לַצְּדָדִין:


A person may not make46 a house47 according to the Temple's design,48 a porch with the design of the Entrance Hall,49 a courtyard resembling the Temple Courtyard,50 a table according to the design of the Table for the Showbread, or a lamp in the design of the Menorah.51 However, one may make a lamp [resembling the Menorah] with five branches or with eight branches52 [even] with seven branches if it is not made of metal.53


וְאָסוּר לְאָדָם שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בַּיִת תַּבְנִית הֵיכָל. אַכְסַדְרָא תַּבְנִית אוּלָם. חָצֵר כְּנֶגֶד הָעֲזָרָה. שֻׁלְחָן בְּצוּרַת שֻׁלְחָן. וּמְנוֹרָה בְּצוּרַת מְנוֹרָה. אֲבָל עוֹשֶׂה הוּא מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל חֲמִשָּׁה קָנִים אוֹ שֶׁל שְׁמוֹנָה קָנִים אוֹ מְנוֹרָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁל מַתֶּכֶת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ שִׁבְעָה קָנִים:


The [encampment of the Jewish people] in the desert[ was divided into] three areas:54

the camp of Israel, which was itself subdivided into four camps;55

the camp of the Levites about which [Numbers 1:50] states: "They shall camp around the Sanctuary;"56

and the camp of the Shechinah [which included the area] beginning at the entrance to the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting inwards.57

Correspondingly, for [future] generations:

[The area] from the entrance to Jerusalem to the Temple Mount is comparable to the camp of Israel.58

[The area] from the entrance to the Temple Mount until the entrance to the Temple Courtyard, the gate of Nicanor, is comparable to the camp of the Levites.59

[The area] from the entrance to the Temple Courtyard inward, is comparable to the camp of the Shechinah.60

The chayl61 and the Women's Courtyard62 were regions of increased sanctity which were first instituted in the Temple.63


שְׁלֹשָׁה מַחֲנוֹת הָיוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר. מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהוּא אַרְבַּע מַחֲנוֹת. וּמַחֲנֵה לְוִיָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בָּהּ (במדבר א נ) "וְסָבִיב לַמִּשְׁכָּן יַחֲנוּ". וּמַחֲנֵה שְׁכִינָה וְהוּא מִפֶּתַח חֲצַר אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְלִפְנִים. וּכְנֶגְדָּן לְדוֹרוֹת. מִפֶּתַח יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עַד הַר הַבַּיִת כְּמַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל. וּמִפֶּתַח הַר הַבַּיִת עַד פֶּתַח הָעֲזָרָה שֶׁהוּא שַׁעַר נִיקָנוֹר כְּמַחֲנֵה לְוִיָּה. וּמִפֶּתַח הָעֲזָרָה וְלִפְנִים מַחֲנֵה שְׁכִינָה. וְהַחֵיל וְעֶזְרַת הַנָּשִׁים מַעֲלָה יְתֵרָה בְּבֵית עוֹלָמִים:


The entire land of Eretz Yisrael is more sanctified than all other lands. How is its holiness expressed?

The Omer offering, the two loaves (offered on Shavuot), and the first fruits must be brought from its [territory] and cannot be brought from other lands.


כָּל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת מִכָּל הָאֲרָצוֹת. וּמַה הִיא קְדֻשָּׁתָהּ שֶׁמְּבִיאִין מִמֶּנָּה הָעֹמֶר וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וְהַבִּכּוּרִים מַה שֶּׁאֵין מְבִיאִין כֵּן מִשְּׁאָר אֲרָצוֹת:


Eretz Yisrael has ten gradations of holiness, each higher than the preceding level. The cities which are surrounded by a wall are holier than the rest of the Land.

[How is this holiness expressed?]

Those afflicted by tzara'at are sent out of [these cities].

A corpse cannot be buried inside them until the entire city or its seven chosen representatives agree.

If a corpse has been taken outside a city, it should not be returned, even though all of the inhabitants are willing.

If the inhabitants of a city desire to disinter [a corpse] and remove it from the country, they may. The graves [of any individual] may be disinterred except for those of a king or of a prophet.

[The following rules apply in the case of a grave which was originally placed outside a city. Afterwards, the city grew in size to the point where] it surrounded the grave on all four sides, or merely on two sides which faced each other. If [originally,] there was more than 50 cubits between the grave and the city on either side, [the corpse] cannot be disinterred from the grave until every inhabitant of the city agrees. If a smaller distance [had originally been left,] it may be removed.


עֶשֶׂר קְדֻשּׁוֹת הֵן בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְזוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִזּוֹ. עֲיָרוֹת הַמֻּקָּפוֹת חוֹמָה מְקֻדָּשׁוֹת מִשְּׁאָר הָאָרֶץ שֶׁמְּשַׁלְּחִין מִתּוֹכָן אֶת הַמְצֹרָעִים וְאֵין קוֹבְרִין בְּתוֹכָן מֵת עַד שֶׁיִּרְצוּ שִׁבְעָה טוֹבֵי הָעִיר אוֹ כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר. וְאִם יָצָא הַמֵּת חוּץ לָעִיר אֵין מַחֲזִירִין אוֹתוֹ לְתוֹכָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרָצוּ כֻּלָּן לְהַחְזִירוֹ. רָצוּ בְּנֵי הָעִיר לְהוֹצִיא הַקֶּבֶר מִן הַמְּדִינָה מְפַנִּין אוֹתוֹ. וְכָל הַקְּבָרוֹת מְפַנִּין חוּץ מִקֶּבֶר נָבִיא אוֹ מֶלֶךְ. קֶבֶר שֶׁהִקִּיפַתּוּ הָעִיר בֵּין מֵאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹתָיו בֵּין מִשְּׁתֵי רוּחוֹת זוֹ כְּנֶגֶד זוֹ אִם הָיְתָה בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין הָעִיר יֶתֶר מֵחֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה לְכָאן וַחֲמִשִּׁים לְכָאן אֵין מְפַנִּין אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּרְצוּ כֻּלָּן. פָּחוֹת מִכָּאן מְפַנִּין אוֹתוֹ:


Jerusalem is holier than other walled cities. We must eat the sacrifices of lesser sanctity and the second tithes within its walls.

[Because of this holiness], the following [restrictions] were enacted in regard to Jerusalem:

No corpse is left within [its boundaries] overnight.

Human bones may not be transported within it.

Homes cannot be rented within it.

A resident alien may not be given the opportunity to settle in the city.

No graves may remain within [its boundaries] except for the graves of the House of David and the grave of Chuldah, the prophetess, which were there from the days of the first prophets.

We should not plant gardens or orchards within the city. It cannot be sowed or plowed [as a field], so that it will not smell foul. No trees may be maintained within it, except for a rose garden which was there from the days of the first prophets.

We may not maintain a garbage dump there, because of creeping animals.

We may not [build] balconies or protrusions extending into the public domain because of Tumat Ohel.

We may not create furnaces within it because of the smoke.

We may not raise chickens within it, because they may cause ritually pure articles [to become impure]. Similarly, a priest may not raise chickens throughout Eretz Yisrael, because they cause ritually pure articles [to become impure].

A house in the city which is sold is never designated as the permanent property of the buyer.

A house in the city is never designated as leprous.

It cannot be judged as an "apostate city."

An Eglah Arufah is never brought from it.

[The latter four statements apply] because [Jerusalem] was never divided among the tribes.


יְרוּשָׁלַיִם מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת מִשְּׁאָר הָעֲיָרוֹת הַמֻּקָּפוֹת חוֹמָה. שֶׁאוֹכְלִין קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים וּמַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי לְפָנִים מֵחוֹמָתָהּ. וְאֵלּוּ דְּבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם. אֵין מְלִינִין בָּהּ אֶת הַמֵּת. וְאֵין מַעֲבִירִין בְּתוֹכָהּ עַצְמוֹת אָדָם. וְאֵין מַשְׂכִּירִין בְּתוֹכָהּ בָּתִּים. וְאֵין נוֹתְנִין בְּתוֹכָהּ מָקוֹם לְגֵר תּוֹשָׁב. וְאֵין מְקַיְּמִין בָּהּ קִבְרוֹת חוּץ מִקִּבְרֵי בֵּית דָּוִד וְקֶבֶר חֻלְדָּה שֶׁהָיוּ בָּהּ מִימוֹת נְבִיאִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים. וְאֵין נוֹטְעִין בָּהּ גַּנּוֹת וּפַרְדֵּסִים. וְאֵינָהּ נִזְרַעַת וְאֵינָהּ נֶחֱרֶשֶׁת שֶׁמָּא תִּסְרַח. וְאֵין מְקַיְּמִין בָּהּ אִילָנוֹת חוּץ מִגִּנַּת וְרָדִים שֶׁהָיְתָה שָׁם מִימוֹת נְבִיאִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים. וְאֵין מְקַיְּמִין בָּהּ אַשְׁפָּה מִפְּנֵי הַשְּׁרָצִים. וְאֵין מוֹצִיאִין הֵימֶנָּה זִיזִין וּגְזוּזְטְרָאוֹת לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים מִפְּנֵי אֹהֶל הַטֻּמְאָה. וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין בָּהּ כִּבְשׁוֹנוֹת מִפְּנֵי הֶעָשָׁן. וְאֵין מְגַדְּלִין בָּהּ תַּרְנְגוֹלוֹת מִפְּנֵי הַקָּדָשִׁים. וְכֵן לֹא יְגַדְּלוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים תַּרְנְגוֹלִים בְּכָל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִפְּנֵי הַטָּהֳרוֹת. וְאֵין הַבַּיִת נֶחְלָט בָּהּ. וְאֵינוֹ מִטַּמֵּא בִּנְגָעִים. וְאֵינָהּ נַעֲשֵׂית עִיר הַנִּדַּחַת. וְאֵינָהּ מְבִיאָה עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְחַלְּקָה לִשְׁבָטִים:


The Temple Mount is holier than [the city of Jerusalem]. Zavim, Zavot, Niddot, and women who have given birth may not enter there. [However,] a corpse may be brought into the Temple Mount and one has contracted ritual impurity from a corpse may definitely enter there.


הַר הַבַּיִת מְקֻדָּשׁ מִמֶּנָּה שֶׁאֵין זָבִין וְזָבוֹת נִדּוֹת וְיוֹלְדוֹת נִכְנָסִין לְשָׁם. וּמֻתָּר לְהַכְנִיס הַמֵּת עַצְמוֹ לְהַר הַבַּיִת וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר טְמֵא מֵת שֶׁהוּא נִכְנָס לְשָׁם:


The chayl is holier than the Temple Mount. Gentiles and those who contracted impurity through contact with a corpse or engaging in sexual relations with a Niddah may not enter there.


הַחֵיל מְקֻדָּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁאֵין עַכּוּ''ם וּטְמֵא מֵת וּבוֹעֵל נִדָּה נִכְנָסִים לְשָׁם:


The Women's Courtyard is holier than the chayl. A person who has immersed himself in a mikveh, but must wait until the sun sets to become ritually pure, may not enter there.

This prohibition was instituted by the Sages. According to Torah law, such a person may enter the camp of the Levites. [Similarly,] a person who contracted ritual impurity through contact with a corpse and who entered the Women's Courtyard, is not liable for a sin offering.


עֶזְרַת הַנָּשִׁים מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת מִן הַחֵיל שֶׁאֵין טְבוּל יוֹם נִכְנָס לְשָׁם. וְאִסּוּר זֶה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם אֲבָל מִן הַתּוֹרָה מֻתָּר לִטְבוּל יוֹם לְהִכָּנֵס לְמַחֲנֵה לְוִיָּה. וּטְמֵא מֵת שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְעֶזְרַת הַנָּשִׁים אֵינוֹ חַיָּב חַטָּאת:


The Courtyard of the Israelites is holier than the Women's Courtyard.64 A person who has purified himself, but has not brought the required sacrifices,65 may not enter there.66 Similarly, an impure person who enters there is liable for karet.67


עֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת מֵעֶזְרַת נָשִׁים שֶׁאֵין מְחֻסַּר כִּפּוּרִים נִכְנַס לְשָׁם. וְטָמֵא שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְשָׁם חַיָּב כָּרֵת:


The Priestly Courtyard is holier than [the Courtyard of the Israelites].68 An Israelite may only enter there when required for:

a) Semichah,69 c) slaughtering,70 b) confession,71 tenufah.72


עֶזְרַת הַכֹּהֲנִים מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת מִמֶּנָּה. שֶׁאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִכְנָסִין לְשָׁם אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת צָרְכֵיהֶם לִסְמִיכָה וּלְכַפָּרָה וְלִשְׁחִיטָה וְלִתְנוּפָה:


[The area] between the Altar and the Entrance Hall is holier than the area mentioned above. Priests who have physical deformities,73 have grown long hair,74 or whose [priestly] garments are torn may not enter there.75


בֵּין הָאוּלָם וְלַמִּזְבֵּחַ מְקֻדָּשׁ מִמֶּנָּה שֶׁאֵין בַּעֲלֵי מוּמִין וּפְרוּעֵי רֹאשׁ וּקְרוּעֵי בְּגָדִים נִכְנָסִין לְשָׁם:


The Temple building is holier than [the area] between the Altar and the Entrance Hall. Only a priest who has sanctified his hands and feet may enter there.76


הַהֵיכָל מְקֻדָּשׁ מִבֵּין הָאוּלָם וְלַמִּזְבֵּחַ. שֶׁאֵין נִכְנָס לְשָׁם אֶלָּא רְחוּץ יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם:


The chamber of the Holy of Holies is holier than it. Only the High Priest may enter there, on Yom Kippur, while he is involved in the Temple service.77


בֵּית קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים מְקֻדָּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁאֵין נִכְנָס לְשָׁם אֶלָּא כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים בִּשְׁעַת הָעֲבוֹדָה:


There was a place in the upper storey [of the Temple]78which was located directly opposite the Holy of Holies.79 It was entered only once in seven years, to [inspect it] and find out what is necessary for its repair.80

When builders [are required] to enter the Temple building to construct or repair it, or to remove an impure object,81 it is a mitzvah for the [craftsmen] who enter to be priests who do not possess any disqualifying physical deformities.82

If no [capable craftsmen meeting those criteria] can be found, priests with disqualifying deformities should enter.83

If none are found, Levites should enter.84

If none are found, Israelites should enter.

It is a mitzvah for [those who enter] to be ritually pure. If no [capable craftsman] who are ritually pure can be found, impure [craftsmen] may enter.85

[If there is a choice between a craftsman] who is impure and a priest with a disqualifying deformity, the priest with the deformity should enter, for [although the prohibitions against] ritual impurity are put aside in regard to matters which concern the entire people, [they are not relaxed completely].86

All those who enter to repair the Temple87 should be lowered down inside crates [from the upper floor].88 If no crates are available or if it is impossible [to make arrangements for them to enter] using crates, they may enter through the [usual] entrances.


מָקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה בַּעֲלִיָּה מְכֻוָּן עַל קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים אֵין נִכְנָסִין לוֹ אֶלָּא פַּעַם אַחַת בְּשָׁבוּעַ לֵידַע מַה הוּא צָרִיךְ לְחַזֵּק בִּדְקוֹ. בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנִּכְנָסִין הַבַּנָּאִים לִבְנוֹת וּלְתַקֵּן בַּהֵיכָל אוֹ לְהוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם אֶת הַטֻּמְאָה. מִצְוָה שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַנִּכְנָסִין כֹּהֲנִים תְּמִימִים. לֹא מָצְאוּ תְּמִימִים יִכָּנְסוּ בַּעֲלֵי מוּמִין. וְאִם אֵין שָׁם כֹּהֲנִים יִכָּנְסוּ לְוִיִּם. לֹא מָצְאוּ לְוִיִּם יִכָּנְסוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל. מִצְוָה בִּטְהוֹרִים. לֹא מָצְאוּ טְהוֹרִים יִכָּנְסוּ טְמֵאִים. טָמֵא וּבַעַל מוּם יִכָּנֵס בַּעַל מוּם וְאַל יִכָּנֵס טָמֵא שֶׁהַטֻּמְאָה דְּחוּיָה בְּצִבּוּר. וְכָל הַנִּכְנָסִין לַהֵיכָל לְתַקֵּן יִכָּנְסוּ בְּתֵבוֹת. אִם אֵין שָׁם תֵּבוֹת אוֹ אִי אֶפְשָׁר לָהֶם שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ בְּתֵבוֹת יִכָּנְסוּ דֶּרֶךְ פְּתָחִים:

Test Yourself on This Chapter


Sefer HaMitzvot(Positive Commandment 21) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 254) consider this as one of the 613 mitzvot, incumbent on both men and women.


As explained in Halachot 7-9, the fulfillment of this Mitzvah is not limited to the time when the Temple stood, but is applicable even at present.


This clause is quoted from Yevamot 6a,b. Tosefot explain that such a clarification is necessary, lest the Jewish people worship the Temple per se, bowing down to the physical building or showing it other signs of reverence.


The source for these statements is the Mishnah (Berachot 9:6). The Talmud accepts these as signs of reverence without even questioning the source for these practices.


When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He told him (Exodus 3:5): "Remove your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy." Similarly, on the Temple Mount, shoes had to be removed.

The Minchat Chinuch states that one may wear shoes on the Temple Mount if they are not made of leather.


In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Berachot, loc. cit.), the Rambam defines the word, afundaso, as "a garment which one will wear against his flesh to collect sweat, so that his sweat will not spoil his dress clothing."


Tosafot, in Bava Metzia 26a, explain that only the public display of money is prohibited. One may carry money discreetly in his pockets.


Berachot 62b explains that this concept may be inferred from the prohibition against wearing shoes. If wearing shoes which generally is not considered an act of disrespect is forbidden, then surely spitting is not allowed.


The Har HaMoriah explains that this law was derived from Berachot 24b, which recommended this course of action to someone who has to spit in the midst of the Amidah prayers.


Berachot, loc. cit., also considers this as a lack of respect.


The Kessef Mishneh explains that the latter concept is derived from Megillah 28b, where a similar statement is made in reference to a person's entering a synagogue.


The Rambam's statements are based on Middot 2:2. By quoting that mishnah here, he implies that these practices are also an expression of deference to the Temple (Rambam LeAm).


In his Commentary to the Mishnah, the Rambam writes: "For example, one who enters through the gate of Shushan, [the eastern gate,] should not turn toward the Chuldah gates, [the southern gates,] but rather toward the Tadi gate, [the northern gate]."


Tosafot Yom Tov explains that this does not necessarily mean that one would exit from the gate in the opposite direction. Rather, one would continue circling towards the right, even though it would be shorter to leave by turning towards the left.


Tifferet Yisrael (Middot, loc. cit.) explains that this distinction was made so that all who see him would be aroused to pray for his welfare. See also Shabbat 67a.


Magen Avraham 651:21 states that from these statements, it appears that only a person who suffered one of the fates listed would circle to the left. Generally, a left-handed person must give his left hand prominence, as others do the right. In this instance, however, he would circle to the right even though it is his weaker side.


Under certain circumstances, the court would place a person who did not follow its directives under a ban of ostracism, restricting the business and social relations he could have with other Jews. See Hilchot Talmud Torah, chs. 6-7.


The Mishnah (Middot, loc. cit.) relates that Rabbi Meir maintained that the people would answer: "May the One Who dwells in this House cause them to have a change of heart and accept you." Rabbi Yossi explained that such an expression makes it appear that the court was unfair in its judgment and suggests the phrase quoted by the Rambam.


Yoma 53a explains that one must leave the Temple service facing in the same direction as when he entered.


One need not walk backwards the entire way. However, it is also improper to turn one's back to the Temple.


At which point he may walk in an ordinary manner.


In order to allow the priests to serve in the Temple throughout the year in an organized manner, the prophets organized a rotation system, dividing the entire priestly family into 24 watches. Each watch would serve for a week and perform all the sacrificial functions required. The following week they would be replaced by a new watch according to the order of rotation. See Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash, Chapter 4, Halachah 3.


This refers to the Anshei Ma'amaad, who represented the entire Jewish people. In Hilchot Klei HaMikdash, Chapter 6, Halachah 1, the Rambam describes their function as follows:

It is impossible for a person's offering to be sacrificed unless he is present. The communal offerings are the sacrifices of the entire Jewish people, [and hence, their presence should be required. Nevertheless,] since it is impossible for the entire Jewish people to be present in the Temple Courtyard while sacrifices are being offered, the first prophets established a practice of choosing worthy and God-fearing serve as the representatives of all of Israel, and to be present at the sacrifices...They were divided into 24 watches.

See also Ta'anit 4:2.


After accompanying the sacrifices with songs and music.


After the conclusion of the Amidah prayer, one retreats backwards three steps as "a servant departs from his master's presence." (Yoma 53b. See also Hilchot Tefillah 5:10.

The commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 123:1) explain that since the prayers were instituted to replace the sacrifices, one should conclude his prayers in the same manner as the priests departed from their service.


Rashi, commenting on Berachot 54a, explains that this also applies to someone standing outside the Temple Mount. See also Halachah 8.


On this statement, the Ra'avad comments: "And not as common people conduct themselves."


As explained in Chapter 1, Halachah 7, and in Chapter 5, Halachah 12, there were divisions in the Temple Courtyard for the priests and for the Israelites.


The Targum Yonatan renders Leviticus 19:30: "And you shall revere My Sanctuary" as "Walk to My Sanctuary with fear." See also Ecclesiastics 4:17: "Guard your feet when you walk to the House of God."


See Rashi, Avot 6:3.


The Mishneh LiMelech states that this prohibition appears to have its source in the Torah itself.

Sefer HaMitzvot, positive commandment 21, the Rambam includes this prohibition as one expression of reverence for the Temple.


Rashi (Yoma 25a) explains that this prohibition is derived from Deuteronomy 18:5: "For the Lord has chosen stand and to serve in the name of the Lord."

Tosafot (Yoma, ibid.) question whether the priests are permitted to sit in the courtyard when they partake of the sacrifices of the most holy order. From the Rambam's statements, it appears that he does not permit such leniency.


The narrative in II Samuel relates that after sitting, David stated: "Who am I, O Lord, God, and what is my house that You have brought me this far." At the moment when he was granted this great honor, he displayed humility.


Who sat.


See Chapter 5, Halachah 17, and Chapter 6, Halachah 7.


The Rambam uses the expressions "our sins," rather than "the sins of our ancestors," for all Israel, in every generation and every place, is one communal body.

The usage of the term "our" also implies a deeper concept. Our Sages declared: "Whoever does not witness the rebuilding of the Temple in his days must consider as if it was destroyed in his days."

The exile and the Temple's destruction were caused by the sins of the Jewish people. As soon as sin, the cause for the exile, is eradicated, the effect, the exile, will cease. Similarly, our Sages declared: "If Israel repents, she will immediately be redeemed."


Midrash Tanchuma, Vayikra 6.


As stated above, even when the Temple is destroyed, one may not act frivolously directly opposite the gate to the Courtyard. However, when the Temple was standing, that prohibition was extended, and included any place within sight of Jerusalem. (Meiri, Berachot 61b.)


Berachot, loc. cit., explains that Mt. Scopus is the most distant point from which one can see the Temple site.


I.e., even at present, when the Temple is destroyed. It must be noted that with slight emendations, the following laws are all quoted as Halachah by the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 3.


Most of the Rabbis explain that there is no prohibition if the toilet is surrounded by a wall. However, the Rambam's phraseology does not imply such license. Therefore, some authorities recommend that, if possible, one should construct his home with the toilet facing the north or south.


Most authorities follow the opinion of the Tosafot (Berachot 5b) who explain that this prohibition only applies when sleeping with one's wife. However, Rav Yosef Caro emphasizes that according to the Rambam, the prohibition applies even when sleeping alone and strongly urges that this ruling be accepted.


The Halachic authorities question whether the Rambam's intention is to stress the directions of east and west or the direction of the Temple itself. The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 9:5) states that, regardless of where one is located, one should not face the west, because "the Shechinah is in the west." On the other hand, certain authorities emphasize that according to the Babylonian Talmud (Berachot 61b), the location of Jerusalem is the determining factor.


The Rabbis explain that although it is preferable to follow the Rambam's view, one may position his bed between the east and the west if there is no other alternative.


Less severe restrictions are placed on urinating than on defecating. However, from the point where one can see the Temple site, Mt. Scopus, one should also control oneself in this regard.


The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 254), explains that this prohibition also stems from the command to revere the Sanctuary. A building or utensil that cannot be copied is obviously unique and special, and emphasis on its uniqueness will lead to reverence.


Based on Avodah Zarah 43a, it would appear that the prohibition forbids constructing a building following the Temple's measurements exactly, but making a model in miniature would be permitted.


The Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 254) analyzes this prohibition in depth and raises a number of issues, including the following:

a) The Talmud (Avodah Zarah 43a) explains that the source for this prohibition is the command against making images, as the Torah commands (Exodus 20:20): "Do not make with Me gods of silver..." If so, on the surface, it would have been more appropriate for the Rambam to mention this concept within the laws of Avodah Zarah (worship of false gods) rather than in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah. Indeed, the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 141:8, discuss these prohibitions in that context.

b) As explained above, the structure of the Second Temple differed from the First and the dimensions of the Third Temple will not resemble those of the Second in their entirety. Thus, we must understand: Which structure are we forbidden to copy, that of the First or the Second Temple? Does the prohibition apply only when the Temple is standing, or does it apply to all three structures?

The Minchat Chinuch himself, tends towards the opinion that at present there is no prohibition to duplicate the previous structures of the Temple. Only in the Third Temple, may it be built speedily in our days, will this prohibition apply.

The text, Ma'asai LiMelech, explains that the Rambam's source for this prohibition is not the abovementioned Talmudic portion, but rather the obligation of awe and reverence referred to previously. It is not respectful to duplicate the Temple or its structures and use them for mundane purposes.


Despite the fact that the Entrance Hall had walls on all four sides. Nevertheless, since its gate was large, 40 cubits high and 20 cubits wide, and open at all times, it resembled a porch.


The Minchat Chinuch (loc. cit.) states that this prohibition does not extend beyond the Temple Courtyard. One may make a copy of the chayl, the rampart surrounding the Courtyard, or another similar structure.


The Minchat Chinuch questions if these two utensils were mentioned only as examples, and the same prohibition applies to the other sacred utensils, or if the Rambam meant them exclusively. He concludes that we may not make a replica of any utensil whose exact dimensions are known to us.

He also emphasizes that the prohibition against making a replica of the Menorah applies even if the goblets, bulbs, and flowers are omitted, since the Menorah is acceptable without them when made from other metals (Chapter 3, Halachah 4).


Indeed, it is customary to make Chanukah lamps in the shape of the Menorah.


As explained in Chapter 1, Halachah 18, the sacred utensils must be made of metal. Hence, there is no prohibition against making a replica from other substances.


With these statements, the Rambam introduces the following twelve Halachot, which discuss various gradations of holiness. These statements are based on the Tosafta, Kelim 1:10 and Zevachim 116b.


See Numbers 2:1-31, which describes the division of the twelve tribes into the camps of Judah, Reuven, Ephraim, and Dan.


The Levites would dwell in a separate encampment, between the camp of Israel and the Courtyard of the Sanctuary. The particular encampment of each Levite family is described in Numbers, Chapter 3.


No one was permitted to dwell in this region. People would enter only to participate in the service of the Sanctuary.


The strictures to be observed because of its sanctity are described in Halachah 14.


The strictures to be observed because of its sanctity are described in Halachah 15.


The strictures to be observed because of its sanctity are described in Halachah 18.


The strictures to be observed because of its sanctity are described in Halachah 16.


The strictures to be observed because of its sanctity are described in Halachah 17.


Parrallels to these divisions did not exist in the encampment in the desert. They were instituted when the First Temple was constructed.


As mentioned in the commentary to Chapter 6, Halachah 4, the physical height of the different regions of the Temple Mount corresponded to the difference in spiritual level. There was a marked distinction between the Temple Courtyard and the preceding regions. Until this point, there was no Scriptural prohibition against entering when ritually impure. Correspondingly, the greatest rise in height between the different levels occurred at this point.


In Hilchot Michusrei Kapporah (1:1), the Rambam writes:

There are four who are considered "lacking in purification:"

a) a zavah,

b) a woman who has just given birth,

c) a zav,

d) one afflicted with tzara'at.

Why are they called "lacking in purification?" Because in each of these cases, even though the individual has:

a) been purified from [the cause of] his impurity,

b) immersed [in a Mikveh,] and

c) waited until the day has passed,

he is still lacking. His purification process is not complete enough to entitle him to partake of the sacrifices until he brings the offering [required of] him.


In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Kelim 1:8), the Rambam writes:

We have prevented a person from entering the Women's Courtyard though he has immersed himself in a mikveh, because he must wait until the sun sets to become ritually pure. However, we need not force away a person who has purified himself, but who has not brought the required sacrifices.

[Why is there a distinction between the two?] Because the former is prohibited from eating Terumah, while the latter is permitted to partake of Terumah. The above is based on the principle mentioned above: "All those whose state of impurity is more severe will be banished in a more severe manner."


Premature death by the hand of God.


To clarify this distinction, the step between the two was a cubit high (See Chapter 6, Halachah 3) and marking posts were placed at either side.


In connection with the peace-offerings, Leviticus 3:2 declares: "He shall lay his hands on the head of his offering." See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 3:6-13.


A person who brings a sacrifice is not required to slaughter it. However, the slaughtering of a sacrifice need not be performed by a priest. See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 5:1.


In Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 3:14-15, the Rambam relates that a person offering a sacrifice is required to confess his sins while laying his hands on his sacrifice.

It must be noted that the source for this Halachah, Kelim 1:8, does not mention these confessional prayers. Note the commentary of the Har HaMoriah.


With regard to the peace offerings, Leviticus 7:30-31 states: "With his own hands, he must bring the choice parts.... He shall wave the chest with the prescribed motions...." The waving of these offerings had to be performed by the person bringing the sacrifice himself. See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 9:6-10.


Leviticus 21:16-23 describes the various physical deformities which disqualify a priest from service in the Temple. The concluding verse of that passage reads: "He shall not come near the Parochet or approach the Altar." In Hilchot Biat HaMikdash (6:1) and in Sefer HaMitzvot (neg. command 69), the Rambam explains that entering this area constitutes a violation of a Torah prohibition.

It must be noted that Nachmanides does not accept the Rambam' opinion and views this prohibition as Rabbinic in origin (Hasagot L'Sefer HaMitzvot).


In Hilchot Biat HaMikdash (1:8), the Rambam writes:

A priest who has grown long hair is forbidden to enter [the area] beyond the Altar. If he transgresses [this command] and enters, he is liable to die by the hand of God, as a drunkard who participates in the Temple service, as it is said (Ezekiel 44:20-21): "All the priests shall not drink wine...nor shall they grow long hair."


In Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 1:14, the Rambam explains that the Torah established an analogy between priests who have long hair and those whose priestly garments are torn, as Leviticus 10:6 states: "Do not let the hair of your heads grow long, nor rend your clothes." Therefore, the same prohibitions apply in both cases.

Kelim 1:9, which is the source for this Halachah, does not mention the prohibition against entering this region with torn garments. Also, it is significant to mention that in Hilchot Biat HaMikdash (1:1), the Rambam explains that a priest who has drunk wine is bound by the same prohibitions.


The priests were obligated to sanctify their hands and feet before taking part in the Temple service. Thus, with this terminology, the Mishnah (Kelim, loc. cit., and the Rambam are referring to a priest involved in the Temple service.

The above statement can be compared with Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 2:2, where the Rambam writes:

All the priests were warned not to enter the Sanctuary or the Holy of Holies except when involved in the Temple service as [Leviticus 16:2] states: "Let him not enter the Sanctuary at all times, [to] the chamber of the Parochet." ["The Sanctuary"] refers to the Holy of Holies, "the chamber of the Parochet," to the entire Temple building.


The above-mentioned verse in Leviticus continues: "In this manner, shall Aaron enter the Holy place" and proceeds to describe the details of the Yom Kippur service.

The High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies four times on Yom Kippur:

a) to bring the incense offering;

b) to sprinkle the blood of the bull offered as atonement for himself;

c) to sprinkle the blood of the goat sacrificed as atonement for the Jewish people;

d) to remove the incense holder.

We recite a description of the High Priest's service on Yom Kippur in the Avodah portion of the Musaf prayers on Yom Kippur. See also Hilchot Avodat Yom HaKippurim.


See Chapter 4, Halachah 13.


The Tosefta (Kelim 1:7) states:

Abba Saul declares: "[The status of] the upper storey of the Holy of Holies is more strict [than that of] the Holy of Holies. In regard to the Holy of Holies, the High Priest enters four times each year, on Yom Kippur...[In contrast,] they would only enter the upper storey of the Holy of Holies once in seven years..."

They replied to him: "That is not considered a distinguishing quality."

Certain commentaries explain that the Rambam placed this Halachah here to indicate his acceptance of Abba Saul's view. Although there are other reasons to support this argument, it would appear that the Rambam subscribes to the other view mentioned in the Tosefta. In Halachah 13, he stated that there are ten levels of holiness and proceeded to enumerate them, concluding with the highest level in Halachah 22.

Furthermore, the opening phrase of each of those halachot, states: "... is holier than it..." and this halachah does not begin in that fashion.


Pesachim 86a mentions three opinions concerning the frequency in which this chamber was entered: twice in seven years, once in fifty years, and once every seven years as quoted above. See Tosafot Yom Tov, Middot 4:5.


Eruvin 104b and 105a explain that this impurity could be either the body of one of the eight crawling species (sheratzim) which convey ritual impurity, or alternatively, sacraments belonging to idol worship that were placed in the Temple. II Chronicles (Chapter 29) explains that the Temple was cleansed of idol worship by King Chezekiah, and that narrative serves as a source from which these laws were derived.


As mentioned in Halachah 20, priests with disqualifying physical deformities were generally forbidden to proceed beyond the Priestly Courtyard.


Eruvin, loc. cit., explains that the prohibition against these priests entering the more sanctified portions of the Temple implies the permission to enter should they be required for their craftmanship.


The Levites are granted precedence, since they are allowed to proceed beyond the Israelites and to stand on the steps within the Priestly Courtyard.


This leniency is allowed because the restrictions stemming from the laws of ritual purity do not apply to cases involving communal offerings for the entire Jewish people.


This statement has stirred much controversy among the commentaries. See the Kessef Mishneh and the Mishneh LiMelech.

Although the Sages all agreed that the restrictions stemming from ritual impurity did not apply to cases involving communal offerings for the entire Jewish people, they debated (Yoma 6b) the nature of the leniency. Rav Nachman maintains that once a need arises, all the restrictions governing ritual impurity are relaxed entirely. Rav Sheshet argues that these restrictions are only "put aside" when there is no alternative, and wherever possible, the restrictions should be maintained. In Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 4:15, the Rambam rules according to Rav Sheshet's opinion.

In our mishnah, both a craftsman who is impure, and a priest with a disqualifying physical deformity, are prohibited from entering the Temple. The prohibition against entering while impure is more severe. Thus, Rav Sheshet's opinion would explain that although the restrictions against entering while impure are "put aside" to repair the Temple, total license is not granted. Hence, in this instance, since an alternative exists, it should be employed, and the priests with the deformities should be allowed to enter.


Middot 4:5 mentions this practice only in regard to the Holy of Holies. However, Eruvin (loc. cit.) and the Tosefta (loc. cit.) apply the concept to the entire Temple building.


Middot 4:5, and Rambam (Chapter 4, Halachah 13) explain that this practice was instituted "so that they would not satiate their eyes, [gazing at] the chamber of the Holy of Holies."

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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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