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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Mamrim - Chapter 5

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Mamrim - Chapter 5


A person who curses his father and mother should be executed by stoning, as Leviticus 20:9 states: "He cursed his father and his mother; he is responsible for his death." He is stoned to death whether he curses them while alive or after they died. It is necessary that his act be observed by witnesses and they warn him as is required with regard to other individuals executed by the court.

The above applies to both a man and woman, and also to a tumtum and an androgynus, provided they reached majority, the age when they can be subjected to punishment.


הַמְקַלֵל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ נִסְקָל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כ ט) "אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ קִלֵּל דָּמָיו בּוֹ". וְאֶחָד הַמְקַלֵּל בְּחַיֵּיהֶן אוֹ לְאַחַר מִיתָתָן הֲרֵי זֶה נִסְקָל. וְצָרִיךְ עֵדִים וְהַתְרָאָה כִּשְׁאָר כָּל מְחֻיָּבֵי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין. וְאֶחָד הָאִישׁ וְאֶחָד הָאִשָּׁה וְכֵן הַטֻּמְטוּם וְהָאַנְדְּרוֹגִינוּס. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ גְּדוֹלִים שֶׁהִגִּיעוּ לִכְלַל הָעֳנָשִׁין:


A person is not liable for execution by stoning unless he curses his parents with one of God's unique names. If he cursed them with another term used to refer to Him, he is not liable for execution by stoning. He should, however, be lashed, as he would be lashed for cursing any other proper Jew.


אֵינוֹ חַיָּב סְקִילָה עַד שֶׁיְּקַלְּלֵם בְּשֵׁם מִן הַשֵּׁמוֹת הַמְּיֻחָדִין. אֲבָל אִם קִלְּלָם בְּכִנּוּי פָּטוּר מִן הַסְּקִילָה. וְלוֹקֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁלּוֹקֶה עַל קִלְלַת כָּל אָדָם כָּשֵׁר מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל:


Similarly, a person who curses his paternal and maternal grandfather is considered as if he cursed any other person.


וְכֵן הַמְקַלֵּל אֲבִי אָבִיו וַאֲבִי אִמּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כִּמְקַלֵּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁאָר הַקָּהָל:


What is the source which serves as a warning against cursing one's father and one's mother? We have heard the punishment explicitly stated, the warning, however, is not stated explicitly. Instead, it can be inferred from Leviticus 19:14: "Do not curse a deaf-mute." Since a person is warned not to curse any Jew, his father is also included, for he is also Jewish.


אַזְהָרָה שֶׁל מְקַלֵּל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מִנַּיִן. עֹנֶשׁ שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּפֵרוּשׁ אֲבָל הָאַזְהָרָה הֲרֵי הִיא בִּכְלַל לֹא תְקַלֵּל חֵרֵשׁ. הוֹאִיל וְהוּא מֻזְהָר שֶׁלֹּא לְקַלֵּל אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי אָבִיו בִּכְלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל:


A person who strikes his father or mother should be executed by strangulation, as Exodus 21:15 states: "One who strikes his father or his mother should certainly die." It is necessary that his act be observed by witnesses and they warn him as is required with regard to other individuals executed by the court.

The above applies to both a man and woman, and also to a tumtum, and an androgynus provided they reached majority, the age when they can be subjected to punishment.

A person is not liable for strangulation until he wounds his parents. If he does not wound them, it is as if he strikes another Jew. If he strikes them after their death, he is not liable.


הַמַּכֶּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מִיתָתוֹ בְּחֶנֶק שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא טו) "מַכֵּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת". וְצָרִיךְ עֵדִים וְהַתְרָאָה כִּשְׁאָר כָּל מְחֻיָּבֵי מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין. וְאֶחָד הָאִישׁ וְאֶחָד הָאִשָּׁה וְכֵן הַטֻּמְטוּם וְאַנְדְּרוֹגִינוּס וְהוּא שֶׁיַּגִּיעוּ לִכְלַל עֳנָשִׁין. אֵינוֹ חַיָּב חֶנֶק עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בָּהֶן חַבּוּרָה אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶן חַבּוּרָה הֲרֵי זֶה כְּמַכֶּה אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. וְהַמַּכֶּה אוֹתָן לְאַחַר מִיתָה פָּטוּר:


When a person strikes his father on his ear and causes him to become deaf, he is liable for execution. The rationale is that it is impossible for him to become deaf without there being an internal wound. Instead, we can be certain that at least a drop of blood was released within the ear and that caused him to become deaf.


מִי שֶׁהִכָּה אֶת אָבִיו עַל אָזְנוֹ וְחֵרְשׁוֹ חַיָּב וְנֶהֱרָג. שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה חֵרֵשׁ בְּלֹא חַבּוּרָה אֶלָּא יָצָאת טִפַּת דָּם בִּפְנִים בָּאֹזֶן וְנִתְחָרֵשׁ:


When a person lets blood for his father, or if he was a doctor and amputated flesh or a limb, he is not liable. Even though he is not liable, the initial and preferred option is for him not to perform the operation. Nor should he remove a thorn from the flesh of his father or mother lest he cause a bruise.

When does the above apply? When there is another person there who is capable of performing these actions. If, however, there is no one else there capable of doing this but him and they are suffering, he may let blood or amputate according to the license that they grant him.


הַמַּקִּיז דָּם לְאָבִיו אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה רוֹפֵא וְחָתַךְ לוֹ בָּשָׂר אוֹ אֵבָר פָּטוּר. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא פָּטוּר לְכַתְּחִלָּה לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה. אוֹ לְהוֹצִיא סִלּוֹן מִבְּשַׂר אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ לֹא יוֹצִיא שֶׁמָּא יַעֲשֶׂה חַבּוּרָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם אַחֵר לַעֲשׂוֹת. אֲבָל אִם אֵין שָׁם מִי שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה אֶלָּא הוּא וַהֲרֵי הֵן מִצְטַעֲרִין הֲרֵי זֶה מַקִּיז וְחוֹתֵךְ כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיַּרְשֵׁהוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת:


What is the source which serves as a warning against striking one's father and one's mother? We have heard the punishment explicitly stated, the warning, however, is not stated explicitly. Since a person is warned not to strike any Jew, his father and mother are also included.


אַזְהָרָה שֶׁל מַכֵּה אָבִיו מִנַּיִן. עֹנֶשׁ שָׁמַעְנוּ אַזְהָרָה לֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ. הוֹאִיל וְהוּא מֻזְהָר שֶׁלֹּא לְהַכּוֹת אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ בִּכְלָל:


A shituki is liable for cursing or striking his mother, but not his father. Although his mother is questioned and she says: "He is the son of so-and-so," he should not be executed by stoning or strangulation because of her testimony.

A person who is conceived through relations between a Jew and a maid-servant or a gentile woman, by contrast, is not liable for cursing or striking his father or his mother. Similarly, a convert - even if he was conceived outside the faith, but born within the faith - is not liable for cursing or striking his father.


שְׁתוּקִי חַיָּב עַל אִמּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל אָבִיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּבְדְּקָה אִמּוֹ וְאָמְרָה בֶּן פְּלוֹנִי הוּא אֵינוֹ נִסְקָל אוֹ נֶחְנָק עַל פִּיהָ. אֲבָל בְּנוֹ מִן הַשִּׁפְחָה וּמִן הָעַכּוּ''ם אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לֹא עַל אָבִיו וְלֹא עַל אִמּוֹ. וְכֵן גֵּר שֶׁהוֹרָתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בִּקְדֻשָּׁה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֵּדָתוֹ בִּקְדֻשָּׁה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל מַכַּת אָבִיו וְקִלְלָתוֹ:


Just as such a person is not liable for cursing or striking his father, he is not liable for cursing or striking his mother. This is derived from Exodus 21:17: "One who curses his father and mother shall die." Implied is one who is liable for cursing his father is liable for cursing his mother. Since such a person is not liable for his father, he is not liable for his mother.


כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל אָבִיו כָּךְ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל אִמּוֹ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא יז) "וּמְקַלֵּל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ" אֶת שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב עַל אָבִיו חַיָּב עַל אִמּוֹ וְזֶה שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל אָבִיו אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל אִמּוֹ:


A convert is forbidden to curse or to strike his gentile father or to degrade him, so that people will not say: "They came from a more severe level of holiness to a lesser level of holiness, for this person degrades his father."66 Instead, he should offer him certain measures of honor.

A servant, by contrast, has no connection to his natural parents. His natural father is as if he was not his father with regard to all matters. This applies even if they were both freed.


הַגֵּר אָסוּר לְקַלֵּל אָבִיו הָעַכּוּ''ם וּלְהַכּוֹתוֹ. וְלֹא יְבַזֵּהוּ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ בָּאוּ מִקְּדֻשָּׁה חֲמוּרָה לִקְדֻשָּׁה קַלָּה שֶׁהֲרֵי זֶה מְבַזֶּה אָבִיו. אֶלָּא נוֹהֵג בּוֹ מִקְצָת כָּבוֹד. אֲבָל הָעֶבֶד אֵין לוֹ יִחוּס אֶלָּא הֲרֵי אָבִיו כְּמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ אָבִיו לְכָל דָּבָר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּחְרְרוּ:


When a person's father and mother are absolutely wicked and violate transgressions - even if they were sentenced to death and being taken to their execution - it is forbidden for a son to strike them or curse them. If he curses them or wounds them, however, he is not liable. If they repent, even if they are being taken to their execution, he is liable and is executed because of them.

To whom does the above apply? To the convicted person's son. If, however, an unrelated individual struck or cursed a person after he was sentenced to death, even though he repents, he is not liable, for that person will be executed. If, however, he embarrasses him, he is liable to pay a fine for embarrassing him.


מִי שֶׁהָיוּ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ רְשָׁעִים גְּמוּרִים וְעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרוֹת. אֲפִלּוּ נִגְמַר דִּינָן לַהֲרִיגָה וְהֵם יוֹצְאִים לֵהָרֵג אָסוּר לְהַכּוֹתָן וּלְקַלְּלָם. וְאִם קִלֵּל אוֹ חָבַל בָּהֶן פָּטוּר. וְאִם עָשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב וְנֶהֱרָג עֲלֵיהֶן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֲרֵי הֵן יוֹצְאִין לְמִיתָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּבְנוֹ. אֲבָל אַחֵר שֶׁבָּא וְהִכָּהוּ וְקִלֵּל אַחַר שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר הוֹאִיל וְהוּא הוֹלֵךְ לְמִיתָה. וְאִם בִּיְּשׁוֹ חַיָּב בִּקְנַס הַמְבַיֵּשׁ:


If a person's father or mother committed a transgression punishable by lashes and the son is a court attendant, he should not lash them. Similarly, if they were obligated to be placed under a ban of ostracism, he should not be the agent to apply this ban. Nor should he push them or degrade them while acting as the emissary of the court even though it is fit to do this to them and they have not repented.


עָבַר אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ עַל עֲבֵרָה שֶׁלּוֹקִין עָלֶיהָ וְהָיָה הוּא חַזָּן לִפְנֵי הַדַּיָּנִים לֹא יַכֶּה אוֹתָם. וְכֵן אִם נִתְחַיֵּב נִדּוּי לֹא יִהְיֶה שָׁלִיחַ לְנַדּוֹתָם. וְלֹא יִדְחֹף אוֹתָם וְלֹא יְבַזֶּה אוֹתָם בִּשְׁלִיחוּת בֵּית דִּין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן רְאוּיִין לְכָךְ וְלֹא עָשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה:


A son should not serve as an agent to strike or curse his parents except if they entice others to worship idols. For concerning such a person, the Torah Deuteronomy 13:9 states: "Do not have pity and do not cover up for him."


לַכּל אֵין הַבֵּן נַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלִיחַ לְהַכּוֹתוֹ וּלְקַלְּלוֹ חוּץ מִמֵּסִית וּמַדִּיחַ. שֶׁהֲרֵי אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה (דברים יג ט) "לֹא תַחְמל וְלֹא תְכַסֶּה עָלָיו":


In any situation where a person is obligated to take an oath to his son, we always saw that he never obligated him to take an oath that involves a curse. Instead, he should have him take an oath that does not involve a curse.

We already explained, that when a father kills his son, none of the slain person's brothers becomes "the redeemer of the blood."

The Torah showed concern not only for striking or cursing one's parents, but also for shaming them. Anyone who shames his parents, even with words alone or merely with an insinuation, is cursed by the Almighty, as Deuteronomy 27:16 states: "Cursed be he who degrades his father and his mother." And Proverbs 30:17 states: "The eye that mocks a father and scorns the training of a mother, the ravens... will gouge it out." The court has the right to administer stripes for rebellious conduct because of this and to punish in the manner they see fit.


מִי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב שְׁבוּעָה לִבְנוֹ כָּךְ רָאִינוּ בּוֹ תָּמִיד שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַשְׁבִּיעוֹ בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָאָלָה. שֶׁהֲרֵי זֶה בָּא לְקִלְלַת אָבִיו. אֶלָּא מַשְׁבִּיעוֹ שְׁבוּעָה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ אָלָה. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁהָאָב שֶׁהָרַג אֶת בְּנוֹ אֵין אֶחָד מֵאֶחָיו שֶׁל נֶהֱרָג נַעֲשֶׂה גּוֹאֵל הַדָּם. וְלֹא עַל הַכָּאָה וְלֹא עַל הַקְּלָלָה בִּלְבַד הִקְפִּידָה תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא אַף עַל הַבִּזָּיוֹן. שֶׁכָּל הַמְבַזֶּה אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בִּדְבָרִים וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּרְמִיזָה הֲרֵי זֶה אָרוּר מִפִּי הַגְּבוּרָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כז טז) "אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ". וַהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (משלי ל יז) "עַיִן תִּלְעַג לְאָב וְתָבֻז לִיקְּהַת אֵם" וְגוֹ'. וְיֵשׁ לְבֵית דִּין לְהַכּוֹת עַל זֶה מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת וְלַעֲנשׁ כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאוּ:

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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