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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Tum'at Met - Chapter 8

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Tum'at Met - Chapter 8

"God, create for me a pure heart and renew within me an upright spirit" (Psalms 51:12).

The Tenth Book


It includes eight halachot. They are:

Hilchot Tum'at Meit - The Laws of the Impurity Imparted by a Human Corpse

Hilchot Parah Adumah - The Laws of the Red Heifer

Hilchot Tum'at Tzara'at - The Laws of the Impurity Imparted by Tzara'at

Hilchot Metamei Mishkav UMoshav - The Laws of the Sources of Impurity

that Impart Impurity to the Places Where One Lies and Sits

Hilchot Sha'ar Avot HaTum'ah - The Laws of Other Primary Categories of Impurity

Hilchot Tum'at Ochalin - The Laws of the Impurity Contracted by Foods

Hilchot Keilim - The Laws of the Impurity Contracted by Keilim

Hilchot Mikveot - The Laws Governing Mikveot


When a grave became lost in a field, its earth imparts ritual impurity when one touches or carries it like the earth of a beit hap'ras, for perhaps the grave that was there was crushed and there are bones the size of a barley-corn in its earth. Similarly, one who stands over any portion of the field contracts ritual impurity. If one builds a structure there, everything inside the structure contracts impurity, for perhaps the structure he constructed in that field is constructed over the grave.


שָׂדֶה שֶׁאָבַד קֶבֶר בְּתוֹכָהּ עֲפָרָהּ מְטַמֵּא בְּמַגָּע וּבְמַשָּׂא כְּבֵית הַפְּרָס שֶׁמָּא נִדּוֹשׁ הַקֶּבֶר בָּהּ וְיִהְיוּ עֲצָמוֹת כִּשְׂעוֹרָה בְּתוֹךְ עֲפָרָהּ. וְכָל הַשָּׂדֶה כֻּלָּהּ הַמַּאֲהִיל עָלֶיהָ נִטְמָא. וְאִם הֶעֱמִיד בְּתוֹכָהּ אֹהֶל נִטְמָא כָּל מַה שֶּׁיֵּשׁ בָּאֹהֶל שֶׁמָּא הָאֹהֶל שֶׁהֶעֱמִיד בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׂדֶה עַל הַקֶּבֶר הוּא מַאֲהִיל:


The following laws apply when a person built a house and a loft on top of it in such a field. If the entrance to the loft was directly above the entrance to the house, the loft is pure. Even if the grave was under the lintel of the house, the loft is pure, for there is one structure on top of another structure, as will be explained. If they were not directly above each other, the loft is also impure, for perhaps the entrance to the loft is above the grave and thus the loft is projecting over the grave.


בָּנָה בַּיִת וַעֲלִיָּה עַל גַּבָּיו אִם הָיָה פִּתְחָהּ שֶׁל עֲלִיָּה כְּנֶגֶד פִּתְחָהּ שֶׁל בַּיִת הָעֲלִיָּה טְהוֹרָה שֶׁאֲפִילוּ [הָיָה] הַקֶּבֶר תַּחַת מַשְׁקוֹף הַבַּיִת הָעֲלִיָּה טְהוֹרָה שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא אֹהֶל עַל גַּבֵּי אֹהֶל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. וְאִם לֹא הָיָה מְכֻוָּן אַף הָעֲלִיָּה טְמֵאָה שֶׁמָּא אַסְקֻפַּת עֲלִיָּה עַל הַקֶּבֶר וַהֲרֵי הָעֲלִיָּה מַאֲהִילָה עַל הַקֶּבֶר:


It is permitted to sow any type of seeds in this field, because the roots of the plants growing from the seeds do not reach the grave. One should not, however, plant any fruit trees inside of it, because their roots will reach the corpse.

We operate under the presumption that low hills that are close to a town and near to a cemetery or to the road leading to the cemetery, whether ancient or new, are impure, because women bury fetuses that they miscarry there and lepers bury their limbs there. Different rules apply to those hills which are distant from a town. The new ones are pure, but the ancient ones are impure. The rationale is that perhaps they were close to a town that was destroyed or a road that was lost.

What is meant by a hill close to a town? Any hill that does not have another one closer than it. What is meant by an ancient one? One that no one remembers whether there was a cemetery there or not.


וְשָׂדֶה זוֹ מֻתָּר לִזְרֹעַ בְּתוֹכָהּ כָּל זֶרַע לְפִי שֶׁאֵין שָׁרְשֵׁי זְרָעִים מַגִּיעִים עַד לַקֶּבֶר. אֲבָל אֵין נוֹטְעִין בְּתוֹכָהּ אִילָנֵי מַאֲכָל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַשָּׁרָשִׁים מַגִּיעִין עַד לַמֵּת. הַתְּלוּלִיּוֹת הַקְּרוֹבוֹת לָעִיר הַסְּמוּכָה לְבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת אוֹ לְדֶרֶךְ בֵּית הַקְּבָרוֹת אֶחָד חֲדָשׁוֹת וְאֶחָד יְשָׁנוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ בְּחֶזְקַת טֻמְאָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנָּשִׁים קוֹבְרוֹת שָׁם אֶת הַנְּפָלִים וּמֻכֵּי שְׁחִין קוֹבְרִין שָׁם אֵיבְרֵיהֶן. אֲבָל הָרְחוֹקוֹת הַחֲדָשׁוֹת טְהוֹרוֹת וְהַיְשָׁנוֹת טְמֵאוֹת שֶׁמָּא הָיוּ קְרוֹבוֹת מֵעִיר שֶׁחָרְבָה אוֹ מִדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁאָבְדָה. וְאֵי זֶהוּ תֵּל קָרוֹב כָּל שֶׁאֵין שָׁם תֵּל אַחֵר קָרוֹב יוֹתֵר מִמֶּנּוּ. וְיָשָׁן שֶׁאֵין אָדָם זוֹכְרוֹ:


The following laws apply to a field for weeping, i.e., a place near a cemetery where women sit and weep over the departed: Even though its earth is pure, because it has not been established that a corpse is buried there, trees should not be planted there, nor should crops be sown there, so as not to have people frequent it, for perhaps a corpse was buried there. Our Sages had this suspicion, because its owner will have despaired of its use, because it is close to the cemetery. Therefore it is possible that a person will come and bury a corpse there.

One may use the earth of such a place to make ovens to cook sacrificial meat, because it has not been established that impurity was there.


שְׂדֵה בּוֹכִים וְהוּא הַמָּקוֹם הַקָּרוֹב לְבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת שֶׁהַנָּשִׁים יוֹשְׁבוֹת שָׁם וּבוֹכוֹת. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲפָרָהּ טָהוֹר שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא הֻחְזְקָה שָׁם טֻמְאָה אֵין נוֹטְעִין אוֹתוֹ וְאֵין זוֹרְעִין אוֹתוֹ. שֶׁלֹּא לְהַרְגִּיל רֶגֶל אָדָם לְשָׁם שֶׁמָּא יֵשׁ שָׁם טֻמְאָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא קָרוֹב לְבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת כְּבָר נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ בְּעָלָיו מִמֶּנּוּ לְפִיכָךְ אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיָּבוֹא אָדָם וְיִקְבֹּר בּוֹ מִפְּנֵי זֶה חָשְׁשׁוּ לוֹ. וְעוֹשִׂין מֵעֲפַר מָקוֹם זֶה תַּנּוּרִים לַקֹּדֶשׁ שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא הֻחְזְקָה שָׁם טֻמְאָה:


When a grave is discovered on one's property, it is permitted to disinter the corpse and rebury it elsewhere. If it was reburied, the place around the first grave is impure and it is forbidden to benefit from it until it is checked, as will be explained. When it is known that a grave is located in a field, it is forbidden to disinter the corpse and rebury it elsewhere. If it was reburied, the place around the first grave is pure and it is permitted to benefit from it.


קֶבֶר הַנִּמְצָא מֻתָּר לְפַנּוֹתוֹ וְאִם פִּנָּהוּ מְקוֹמוֹ טָמֵא וְאָסוּר בַּהֲנָיָה עַד שֶׁיִּבָּדֵק כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. וְקֶבֶר הַיָּדוּעַ אָסוּר לְפַנּוֹתוֹ וְאִם פִּנָּהוּ מְקוֹמוֹ טָהוֹר וּמֻתָּר בַּהֲנָיָה:


When a grave causes harm to people at large, the corpse should be disinterred. Its place is impure and it is forbidden to benefit from it.


קֶבֶר שֶׁהוּא מַזִּיק אֶת הָרַבִּים מְפַנִּין אוֹתוֹ וּמְקוֹמוֹ טָמֵא וְאָסוּר בַּהֲנָיָה:


The following laws apply when a person encounter a meit mitzvah. If he finds it within the city's Sabbath limits, he should bring it to the cemetery. If he found it outside the Sabbath limits, even in a field of saffron, it acquires its place and should be buried where it is found.

If he found it in the public thoroughfare, he should move it to the side. If an uncultivated field was on one side and a plowed field was on the other side, he should bury it in the uncultivated field. If there was a plowed field on one side and a field that had been sown on the other side, he should bury it in the plowed field. If a field that had been sown was on one side and a vineyard on the other side, it should be buried in the field that had been sown. If there was an orchard on one side and a vineyard on the other, he should bury it in the vineyard, because of the impurity of ohel. If both fields were of equal value, he may bury it wherever he chooses.


הַפּוֹגֵעַ בְּמֵת מִצְוָה אִם מְצָאוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הַתְּחוּם מְבִיאוֹ לְבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת. מְצָאוֹ חוּץ לַתְּחוּם אֲפִלּוּ בְּתוֹךְ שְׂדֵה כַּרְכּוֹם קָנָה מְקוֹמוֹ וְיִקָּבֵר בַּמָּקוֹם שֶׁנִּמְצָא. מְצָאוֹ עַל הַמֵּצַר מְסַלְּקוֹ לַצְּדָדִין. שְׂדֵה בּוּר מִצַּד זֶה וּשְׂדֵה נִיר מִצַּד זֶה קוֹבְרוֹ בִּשְׂדֵה בּוּר. שְׂדֵה נִיר וּשְׂדֵה זֶרַע קוֹבְרוֹ בִּשְׂדֵה נִיר. שְׂדֵה זֶרַע וּשְׂדֵה כֶּרֶם קוֹבְרוֹ בִּשְׂדֵה זֶרַע. שְׂדֵה אִילָן וּשְׂדֵה כֶּרֶם קוֹבְרוֹ בִּשְׂדֵה כֶּרֶם מִפְּנֵי אֹהֶל הַטֻּמְאָה. הָיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶן שָׁוִין קוֹבְרוֹ לְאֵי זֶה צַד שֶׁיִּרְצֶה:


When a grave is discovered, it imparts impurity retroactively. If someone comes and says: "it is definitely clear to me that there was not a grave here," even if he is speaking about a period twenty years earlier, the grave does not impart impurity except from the time of its discovery onward.


קֶבֶר הַנִּמְצָא מְטַמֵּא לְמַפְרֵעַ. וְאִם בָּא אַחֵר וְאָמַר בָּרִי לִי שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה כָּאן קֶבֶר אֲפִלּוּ קֹדֶם לְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה אֵינוֹ מְטַמֵּא אֶלָּא מִשְּׁעַת מְצִיאָה וְאֵילָךְ:


Whenever a person discovers a grave, a corpse, or a portion of a corpse that would impart impurity through ohel, he should designate it, so that it will not create an obstacle for others.

During Chol HaMoed, agents of the court go out to designate the graves. A designation is not made over a portion of a corpse that is exactly the size of an olive, because ultimately, its size will be reduced in the earth.

With what is the designation made? With lime. It should be mixed and poured over the place of the impurity. The designation should not be placed on the exact perimeters of the impurity, but instead, should extend somewhat on either side so as not to ruin pure articles. The designation should not be extended much beyond the place of the impurity so as not to spoil Eretz Yisrael. A designation is not made on places that are definitely known to be used for burial, for their identity is universally known, only on the places that are doubtful, e.g., a field in which a grave was lost, the low-hanging branches of trees, or rocks jutting out from a wall.


כָּל הַמּוֹצֵא קֶבֶר אוֹ מֵת אוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁמְּטַמֵּא בְּאֹהֶל מִן הַמֵּת. חַיָּב לְצַיֵּן עָלָיו כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה תַּקָּלָה לַאֲחֵרִים. וּבְחֻלּוֹ שֶׁל מוֹעֵד הָיוּ יוֹצְאִין מִבֵּית דִּין לְצַיֵּן עַל הַקְּבָרוֹת. אֵין מְצַיְּנִין עַל כְּזַיִת מְצֻמְצָם מִן הַמֵּת לְפִי שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ יֶחְסַר בָּאָרֶץ. וּבַמֶּה מְצַיְּנִין, בְּסִיד. מְמַחֶה וְשׁוֹפֵךְ עַל מְקוֹם הַטֻּמְאָה. אֵין מַעֲמִידִין אֶת הַצִּיּוּן עַל גַּבֵּי הַטֻּמְאָה אֶלָּא יְהִי עוֹדֵף מִכָּאן וּמִכָּאן בְּצִדֵּי הַטֻּמְאָה שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְסִיד אֶת הַטָּהֳרוֹת. וְאֵין מַרְחִיקִין אֶת הַצִּיּוּן מִמְּקוֹם הַטֻּמְאָה שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְסִיד אֶת אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְאֵין מְצַיְּנִין עַל הַוַּדָּאוֹת שֶׁהֲרֵי הֵן יְדוּעִין לַכּל אֶלָּא עַל הַסְּפֵקוֹת. כְּגוֹן שָׂדֶה שֶׁאָבַד בָּהּ קֶבֶר וְהַסְּכָכוֹת וְהַפְּרָעוֹת:


When a person discovers a field that has been designated and does not know what the nature of the problem is, he should follow these guidelines. If it does not have trees, he should assume that a grave was lost in it. If it has trees in it, he should assume that a grave was plowed over in it, as will be explained.


מָצָא שָׂדֶה מְצֻיֶּנֶת וְאֵין יָדוּעַ מַה טִּיבָהּ. אִם אֵין בָּהּ אִילָנוֹת בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁאָבַד בָּהּ קֶבֶר. יֵשׁ בָּהּ אִילָנוֹת בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁנֶּחְרַשׁ בָּהּ קֶבֶר כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:


When a person finds a stone that is designated, the area under it is impure. Should there be two such stones, if there is lime between them, the area between them is impure. If there is no lime between them, only on top of them, the following laws apply: If there is a shard between them, they are pure, because they are the remnants of a building. If there is no shard between them, and a light layer of lime was smoothed out over their heads on either side, we assume that this is a designation and they are impure.

If one boundary line of a field is designated, it is impure and the remainder of the field is pure. This applies also if a second or a third boundary line is designated. If all four boundary lines are designated, they are pure and the entire field is impure, for the sign should not be placed far from the place of the impurity.


מָצָא אֶבֶן מְצֻיֶּנֶת תַּחְתֶּיהָ טָמֵא. הָיוּ שְׁתַּיִם אִם יֵשׁ סִיד בֵּינֵיהֶם בֵּינֵיהֶם טָמֵא. וְאִם אֵין סִיד בֵּינֵיהֶן אֶלָּא עַל רָאשֵׁיהֶן אִם יֵשׁ חֶרֶשׂ בֵּינֵיהֶן טָהוֹר שֶׁאֵין זֶה אֶלָּא בִּנְיָן. וְאִם אֵין חֶרֶשׂ בֵּינֵיהֶן וְהָיָה הַסִּיד מְרֻדָּד עַל רָאשֵׁיהֶן מִכָּאן וּמִכָּאן הֲרֵי זֶה צִיּוּן וְטָמֵא. מָצָא מֵצָר אֶחָד מְצֻיָּן. הוּא טָמֵא וְכָל הַשָּׂדֶה טְהוֹרָה. וְכֵן שְׁנִיָּה וְכֵן שְׁלִישִׁית. מָצָא אַרְבָּעָה מְצָרֶיהָ מְצֻיָּנִין. הֵן טְהוֹרִין וְכָל הַשָּׂדֶה כֻּלָּהּ טְמֵאָה שֶׁאֵין מַרְחִיקִין הַצִּיּוּן מִמְּקוֹם הַטֻּמְאָה:

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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