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Sechirut - Chapter 4

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Sechirut - Chapter 4

"I will thankfully acknowledge You with an upright heart, as I study Your righteous judgments" (Psalms 119:7).

The Thirteenth Book


The Book of Judgments

It consists of five halachot. They are, in order:

Hilchot Sechirut - The Laws of Rentals and Employer-Employee Relations; Hilchot She'ilah UFikadon - The Laws Governing Borrowing and Governing Entrusted Objects;

Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh - The Laws Pertaining to Lenders and Borrowers; Hilchot To'en VNit'an - The Laws Governing Disputes between Plaintiffs and Defendants; and Hilchot Nachalot - The Laws Pertaining to Inheritances


When a person rents a donkey to lead it through the mountains, and instead leads it through a valley, he is not liable if it slips, even though he went against the intentions of the owners. If it is harmed due to heat, the renter is liable. If he rented it to lead it through a valley, and instead leads it through a mountain, he is liable if it slips, because one is more likely to slip in a mountain than in a valley. If it is harmed due to heat, the renter is not liable, since valleys are warmer than mountains, because there is wind blowing in the mountains. If, however, it becomes overheated due to the effort in climbing to the heights, he is liable. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Similarly, if a person rents a cow to plow on a mountain and plows with it in a valley, the renter is not liable should the cylinder of the plow break. The owner of the cow may sue the workers who did the plowing. Similarly, if the renter did not go against the owner's instructions and the cylinder of the plow broke, the owner of the cow may sue the workers. If he rented it to plow in a valley, and instead plowed on a mountain, and the cylinder of the plow breaks, the renter is liable. The renter may sue the workers.


הַשׂוֹכֵר אֶת הַחֲמוֹר לְהוֹלִיכָהּ בָּהָר וְהוֹלִיכָהּ בַּבִּקְעָה אִם הֻחְלְקָה פָּטוּר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָבַר עַל דַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים. וְאִם הוּחַמָּה חַיָּב. שְׂכָרָהּ לְהוֹלִיכָהּ בַּבִּקְעָה וְהוֹלִיכָהּ בָּהָר אִם הֻחְלְקָה חַיָּב שֶׁהַחֲלָקוּת יֶתֶר בָּהָר מִן הַבִּקְעָה. וְאִם הוּחַמָּה פָּטוּר שֶׁחֲמִימוּת בַּבִּקְעָה יֶתֶר מִן הָהָר מִפְּנֵי הָרוּחַ שֶׁמְּנַשֶּׁבֶת בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים. וְאִם הוּחַמָּה מֵחֲמַת הַמַּעֲלָה חַיָּב וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְכֵן הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֶת הַפָּרָה לַחְרשׁ בָּהָר וְחָרַשׁ בַּבִּקְעָה וְנִשְׁבַּר הַקַּנְקַן וְהוּא הַכְּלִי שֶׁחוֹרֵשׁ בּוֹ הֲרֵי הַשּׂוֹכֵר פָּטוּר וְדִין בַּעַל הַפָּרָה עִם הָאֻמָּנִין שֶׁחָרְשׁוּ. וְכֵן אִם לֹא שִׁנָּה עַל דַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים וְנִשְׁבַּר הַקַּנְקַן דִּין בַּעַל הַפָּרָה עִם הָאֻמָּנִין. שְׂכָרָהּ לַחְרשׁ בַּבִּקְעָה וְחָרַשׁ בָּהָר וְנִשְׁבַּר הַקַּנְקַן הַשּׂוֹכֵר חַיָּב וְדִינוֹ שֶׁל שׂוֹכֵר עִם הָאֻמָּנִים:


What is the ruling regarding the workers who break a plow while plowing? They must pay.

Who must pay? The one who holds the utensil while plowing." If, however, the field has several plateaus, they share the liability for the cost of the cylinder - both the person holding the guiding pole and the person holding the utensil.


וּמַהוּ דִּין הָאֻמָּנִין שֶׁשָּׁבְרוּ בְּעֵת חֲרִישָׁה שֶׁמְּשַׁלְּמִין. מִי מְשַׁלֵּם זֶה הָאוֹחֵז אֶת הַכְּלִי בְּעֵת הַחֲרִישָׁה. וְאִם הָיְתָה הַשָּׂדֶה מַעֲלוֹת מַעֲלוֹת שְׁנֵיהֶם חַיָּבִים בִּדְמֵי הַקַּנְקַן. הַמַּנְהִיג אוֹתָהּ בְּמַלְמַד וְהָאוֹחֵז אֶת הַכְּלִי:


If a person rented a cow to thresh beans and he used it to thresh grain, he is not liable if it slips. If he rented it for grain and used it to thresh beans, he is liable, for beans cause slippage.

An incident occurred with regard to a person who rented his donkey to a colleague and told him: "Do not go with it on the way of the Pikud Ravine, where there is water, but rather on the way of the Neresh Ravine, where there is no water." The person who hired the donkey went on the way of the Pikud Ravine and the donkey died. There were no witnesses who were able to testify to which way he went, but the person himself admitted: "I went on the way of the Pikud Ravine, but there was no water, and the donkey died due to natural causes."

Our Sages ruled: "Since there are witnesses that there is always water in the Pikud Ravine, he is obligated to pay, for he deviated from the instructions of the owner. And we do not say: "Of what value would it be for him to lie," in a situation where witnesses were present.


שְׂכָרָהּ לָדוּשׁ בְּקִטְנִית וְדָשׁ בִּתְבוּאָה וְהֻחְלְקָה פָּטוּר בִּתְבוּאָה וְדָשׁ בְּקִטְנִית חַיָּב שֶׁהַקִּטְנִית מַחְלֶקֶת. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהִשְׂכִּיר חֲמוֹר לַחֲבֵרוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ לֹא תֵּלֵךְ בּוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ נָהָר פְּקוֹד שֶׁהַמַּיִם מְצוּיִין שָׁם אֶלָּא בְּדֶרֶךְ נֶרֶשׁ שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ מַיִם. הָלַךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ נָהָר פְּקוֹד וּמֵת הַחֲמוֹר וְלֹא הָיוּ שָׁם עֵדִים שֶׁמְּעִידִים בְּאֵי זֶה דֶּרֶךְ הָלַךְ אֶלָּא הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ אָמַר בְּנָהָר פְּקוֹד הָלָכְתִּי וְלֹא הָיוּ שָׁם מַיִם וּמֵחֲמַת עַצְמוֹ מֵת וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ עֵדִים שֶׁהַמַּיִם בְּנָהָר פְּקוֹד מְצוּיִין חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם שֶׁהֲרֵי שִׁנָּה עַל דַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים מַה לִּי לְשַׁקֵּר בִּמְקוֹם עֵדִים:


When a person rents an animal to bring 200 litra of wheat, and instead, brings 200 litra of barley, he is liable if the animal dies. For the additional volume] is more difficult to carry, and barley takes more space than wheat. The same laws apply if he hired an animal to carry grain, and instead used it to carry straw. If, by contrast, he rented an animal to carry barley and instead, brought the same weight of wheat, he is not liable if the animal dies. Similar principles apply in all analogous situations.


הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה לְהָבִיא עָלֶיהָ מָאתַיִם לִיטְרִין שֶׁל חִטִּים וְהֵבִיא מָאתַיִם לִיטְרִין שֶׁל שְׂעוֹרִים וּמֵתָה חַיָּב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנֶּפַח קָשֶׁה לְמַשּׂאוֹי וְהַשְּׂעוֹרִין יֵשׁ לָהֶן נֶפַח. וְכֵן אִם שְׂכָרָהּ לְהָבִיא תְּבוּאָה וְהֵבִיא בְּמִשְׁקָלָהּ תֶּבֶן. אֲבָל אִם שְׂכָרָהּ לְהָבִיא עָלֶיהָ שְׂעוֹרִים וְהֵבִיא בְּמִשְׁקָלָן חִטִּים וּמֵתָה פָּטוּר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


If a person rented an animal for a man to ride upon, he should not have a woman ride upon it. If he rented it for a woman to ride upon, he may have a man ride upon it. And he may have any woman ride upon it, whether she is small or large, even if she is both nursing and pregnant.


שָׂכַר אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה לִרְכֹּב עָלֶיהָ אִישׁ לֹא יַרְכִּיב עָלֶיהָ אִשָּׁה. שְׂכָרָהּ לִרְכֹּב עָלֶיהָ אִשָּׁה מַרְכִּיב עָלֶיהָ אִישׁ. וּמַרְכִּיב עָלֶיהָ כָּל אִשָּׁה בֵּין קְטַנָּה בֵּין גְּדוֹלָה וַאֲפִלּוּ מְעֵבֶּרֶת שֶׁהִיא מֵינִיקָה:


The following rules apply when a person rents an animal with the intent that it carry a burden of a specific weight, and the renter added to that weight. If he added a thirtieth to the weight that he specified, and the animal died, he is liable. If it was a lesser measure, he is not liable. He must, however, pay the fee appropriate for the extra measure.

If the renter rented the animal without specifying a measure, he may load upon it the burden that is the local standard for that animal. If he added more than a thirtieth to that weight - e.g., it usually carried 30 measures and he loads it with 31 - and it dies or becomes injured, he is liable. Similarly, if a person loaded a ship with one thirtieth more than its ordinary cargo and it sank, he is liable to make restitution for its worth.


הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה לָשֵׂאת עָלֶיהָ מִשְׁקָל יָדוּעַ וְהוֹסִיף עַל מַשָּׂאוֹ אִם הוֹסִיף חֵלֶק מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים עַל הַשִּׁעוּר שֶׁפָּסַק עִמּוֹ וּמֵתָה חַיָּב פָּחוֹת מִכָּאן פָּטוּר אֲבָל נוֹתֵן הוּא שְׂכַר הַתּוֹסֶפֶת. שָׂכַר סְתָם אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶלָּא בְּמִשְׁקָל הַיָּדוּעַ בַּמְּדִינָה לְאוֹתָהּ בְּהֵמָה. וְאִם הוֹסִיף חֵלֶק מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים כְּגוֹן שֶׁדַּרְכָּהּ לָשֵׂאת שְׁלֹשִׁים וְטָעַן עָלֶיהָ שְׁלֹשִׁים וְאֶחָד וּמֵתָה אוֹ נִשְׁבְּרָה חַיָּב. וְכֵן סְפִינָה שֶׁהוֹסִיף בָּהּ אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים עַל מַשָּׂאָהּ וְטָבְעָה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם דָּמֶיהָ:


When a person added one kav to the burden of a porter, and the porter was injured because of this burden, the other person is liable for his injury. For although the porter is a conscious being and feels the weight of the extra burden, he might think that it feels heavy because he is ill.


הַכַּתָּף שֶׁהוֹסִיף עַל מַשָּׂאוֹ קַב אֶחָד הֻזַּק בְּמַשָּׂא זֶה חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו. שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בֶּן דַּעַת וַהֲרֵי הוּא מַרְגִּישׁ בְּכֹבֶד הַמַּשָּׂא יַעֲלֶה עַל לִבּוֹ שֶׁמָּא מֵחֲמַת חָלְיוֹ הוּא זֶה הַכֹּבֶד:


When a person rents a donkey with the intent of riding upon it, he may place his garments, his flask, and his food for this journey upon it, for it is not customary for a renter to stop at each inn to purchase food. The owner of the donkey may prevent the renter from carrying with him anything more.

Similarly, the owner of the donkey may place barley and straw for the donkey's food on it for that day. The renter may prevent him from loading anything more, for it is possible for him to purchase these supplies at every inn. Therefore, if there is no place for him to purchase, he may load his food and food for his animal for the entire journey.

All of these guidelines apply when a person hires an animal without making any specifications in a place that has no known custom. If, however, there is an accepted local custom, everything follows that custom.


הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֶת הַחֲמוֹר לִרְכֹּב עָלֶיהָ יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהַנִּיחַ עָלֶיהָ כְּסוּתוֹ וְלָגִינוֹ וּמְזוֹנוֹתָיו שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ הַדֶּרֶךְ לְפִי שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ הַשּׂוֹכֵר לַחְזֹר בְּכָל מָלוֹן וּמָלוֹן לִקְנוֹת מְזוֹנוֹת. יֶתֶר עַל זֶה הֲרֵי מְעַכֵּב עָלָיו בַּעַל הַחֲמוֹר. וְכֵן יֵשׁ לְבַעַל הַחֲמוֹר לְהַנִּיחַ עָלֶיהָ שְׂעוֹרִים וְתֶבֶן וּמְזוֹנוֹת שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם יֶתֶר עַל זֶה הַשּׂוֹכֵר מְעַכֵּב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לִקְנוֹת בְּכָל מָלוֹן וּמָלוֹן. לְפִיכָךְ אִם אֵין שָׁם מֵאַיִן יִקְנֶה מַנִּיחַ עָלָיו מְזוֹנוֹתָיו וּמְזוֹנוֹת בְּהֶמְתּוֹ שֶׁל כָּל אוֹתָהּ הַדֶּרֶךְ. וְכָל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים בְּשׂוֹכֵר סְתָם וּבְמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין מִנְהָג יָדוּעַ. אֲבָל בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ מִנְהָג הַכּל לְפִי הַמִּנְהָג:

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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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