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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 4

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Biat Hamikdash - Chapter 4


When an impure person serves in the Temple,1 he desecrates his service and is liable for death at the hand of heaven for [performing] this service even if he did not tarry there,2 as [indicated by Leviticus 22:2]: "so that they draw back for the sanctified objects of the children of Israel and not desecrate My holy name." This is a warning for a person who serves while ritually impure.3

Further on,4 [ibid.:9] states: "They will die because of it, because they desecrated it." Just as in the latter instance, desecration makes one liable for death at the hands of heaven, so too, with regard to [offering sacrifices while impure, desecration] makes one liable for death at the hand of heaven. Lashes are given for [the violation of] all negative commandments punishable by death at the hand of heaven.5


טָמֵא שֶׁעָבַד בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ חִלֵּל עֲבוֹדָתוֹ וְחַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם עַל עֲבוֹדָתוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא שָׁהָה שָׁם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כב ב) "וְיִנָּזְרוּ מִקָּדְשֵׁי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא יְחַלְּלוּ אֶת שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי" הֲרֵי זוֹ אַזְהָרָה לְעוֹבֵד בְּטֻמְאָה. וּלְהַלָּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ויקרא כב ט) "וּמֵתוּ בוֹ כִּי יְחַלְּלֻהוּ". מָה חִלּוּל הָאָמוּר [שָׁם] חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם אַף כָּאן מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם. וְכָל לָאו שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלָיו מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם לוֹקִין עָלָיו:


Although one who serves in a state of impurity is liable only for lashes in court, his priestly brethren6 would not bring him to the court. Instead, they would take him outside7 [the Temple]8 and split open his brain. They would not be rebuked for this.9


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאִם עָבַד בְּטֻמְאָה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב בְּבֵית דִּין אֶלָּא מַלְקוֹת אֶחָיו הַכֹּהֲנִים לֹא הָיוּ מְבִיאִין אוֹתוֹ לְבֵית דִּין אֶלָּא מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתוֹ לַחוּץ וּפוֹצְעִין אֶת מֹחוֹ וְאֵין מְמַחִין עֲלֵיהֶן בְּכָךְ:


How is it possible for a priest to perform service without tarrying so that he will be liable only for death at the hand of heaven and not karet? For example, he contracted impurity in the Temple Courtyard10 and departed in the shortest way possible,11 but as he was leaving, he used a cylinder in his hand to turn over a limb [from a sacrifice] on the fire of the altar and thus hasten its consumption by the flames.12 [The rationale is that] any contribution to the Temple service13 is considered as equivalent to that service.


וְהֵיאַךְ אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲבֹד וְלֹא יִשְׁהֶה עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִתְחַיֵּב כָּרֵת אֶלָּא מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם בִּלְבַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּטְמָא בָּעֲזָרָה וְיָצָא בִּקְצָרָה וּבִיצִיאָתוֹ הָיָה צִנּוֹר בְּיָדוֹ וְהָפַךְ בּוֹ אֵיבָר עַל הָאֵשׁ בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ וְקֵרֵב שְׂרֵפָתוֹ שֶׁכָּל קֵרוּב עֲבוֹדָה הֲרֵי הוּא כַּעֲבוֹדָה:


Similarly, if one who was impure immersed in the mikveh and then performed service before nightfall of that day,14 his service is invalid and he is liable for death at the hand of heaven, as [ibid 21:6] states: "They shall not desecrate the name of their God."15 According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this is a warning to a person who [was impure, but] immersed himself that day who performs service [in the Temple], for he is still impure. [This is derived from ibid. 22:7]: "And the sun sets and he will become pure." Implied is that until then, he was not pure.16 A person whose atonement process was not completed17 who performs service [in the Temple] is exempt [from punishment]18 even though his service is invalid and it desecrates [the sacrifice].


וְכֵן טָמֵא שֶׁטָּבַל וְעָבַד קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּעֲרִיב שִׁמְשׁוֹ עֲבוֹדָתוֹ פְּסוּלָה וְחַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא ו) "וְלֹא יְחַלְּלוּ שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵיהֶם". מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁזּוֹ אַזְהָרָה לִטְבוּל יוֹם שֶׁעָבַד שֶׁעֲדַיִן טָמֵא הוּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כב ז) "וּבָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְטָהֵר" מִכְּלַל שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא טָהֵר. אֲבָל מְחֻסַּר כִּפּוּרִים שֶׁעָבַד אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲבוֹדָתוֹ פְּסוּלָה וְחִלֵּל הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר:


What is the source that teaches that such service is impure? [With regard to a woman impure due to childbirth, Leviticus 12:8] states: "And the priest shall atone for her and she shall become pure." Implied is that until now, she was not pure. The same applies to all others whose atonement process is not complete.19


וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁעֲבוֹדָתוֹ פְּסוּלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יב ח) "וְכִפֶּר עָלֶיהָ הַכֹּהֵן וְטָהֵרָה". מִכְּלַל שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא נִגְמְרָה טָהֳרָתָהּ. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכָל מְחֻסְּרֵי כִּפּוּרִים:


[The following laws apply if] a priest performed service and afterwards, it became known that he was impure. If the source of impurity was known,20 all of the sacrifices that he offered are invalid, for his work is defiled. If, however, he became impure due to the impurity [likened to] the depths,21 the forehead plate brings about appeasement and all the sacrifices he offered are accepted.22 Even if he became aware of the fact that he was impure before the blood was sprinkled on the altar and then he sprinkled the blood, it brings about appeasement. For the forehead plate brings about appeasement for the impurity [likened to] the depths even though he [transgresses] intentionally.23 We have already explained the impurity [likened to] the depths in Hilchot Nizirut.


כֹּהֵן שֶׁעָבַד וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹדַע שֶׁהָיָה טָמֵא. אִם הִיא טֻמְאָה יְדוּעָה כָּל הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת שֶׁהִקְרִיב פְּסוּלִין שֶׁהֲרֵי עֲבוֹדָתוֹ חֻלִּין. וְאִם הִיא טֻמְאַת הַתְּהוֹם הַצִּיץ מְרַצֶּה. וְכָל הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת שֶׁהִקְרִיב נִרְצוּ. וַאֲפִלּוּ נוֹדַע לוֹ שֶׁהוּא טָמֵא קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּזְרֹק הַדָּם וְזָרַק הֻרְצָה. שֶׁהַצִּיץ מְרַצֶּה עַל טֻמְאַת הַתְּהוֹם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מֵזִיד. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ טֻמְאַת הַתְּהוֹם בִּנְזִירוּת:


Similarly, the forehead plate brings atonement if the objects being sacrificed are impure,24 as [Exodus 28:38] states: "And it shall be on the forehead of Aaron and Aaron will bear the sins of the sacred objects." It does not, however, bring about appeasement if the portions of the sacrifices that are eaten are impure or if the one [offering the sacrifice] is impure when he became impure because of a known source of impurity unless the impurity was superseded by a communal obligation,25 in which instance the forehead plate generates appeasement for it.


וְכֵן הַצִּיץ מְרַצֶּה עַל טֻמְאַת דְּבָרִים הַקְּרֵבִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כח לח) "וְהָיָה עַל מֵצַח אַהֲרֹן וְנָשָׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת עֲוֹן הַקֳדָשִׁים". אֲבָל אֵינוֹ מְרַצֶּה עַל טֻמְאַת הַנֶּאֱכָלִין. וְלֹא עַל טֻמְאַת הָאָדָם שֶׁנִּטְמָא בְּטֻמְאָה יְדוּעָה. אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיְתָה הַטֻּמְאָה הַדְּחוּיָה בַּצִּבּוּר שֶׁהַצִּיץ מְרַצֶּה עָלֶיהָ:


The forehead plate does not bring about appeasement unless it is on the High Priest's forehead,26 as [the above verse] continues: "It will be on his forehead at all times, for appeasement before God."


וְאֵין הַצִּיץ מְרַצֶּה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁהוּא עַל מִצְחוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כח לח) "וְהָיָה עַל מִצְחוֹ תָּמִיד לְרָצוֹן לָהֶם לִפְנֵי ה'":


[The offering of] any sacrifice that does not have a set time does not supersede [the observance of] the Sabbath27 or [the laws of] ritual impurity. [The rationale is that] if it is not sacrificed today, it will be sacrificed tomorrow or afterwards. [The offering of] any sacrifice that does have a set time, whether it be a communal offering or an individual offering,28 supersedes [the observance of] the Sabbath and [the laws of] ritual impurity. It does not supersede all types of ritual impurity, however, only those stemming from contact with a human corpse.29


כָּל קָרְבָּן שֶׁאֵין קָבוּעַ לוֹ זְמַן אֵינוֹ דּוֹחֶה לֹא אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְלֹא אֶת הַטֻּמְאָה. שֶׁאִם לֹא יַקְרִיב הַיּוֹם יִקָּרֵב לְמָחָר וּלְמָחֳרַת מָחָר. וְכָל קָרְבָּן שֶׁקָּבוּעַ לוֹ זְמַן בֵּין קָרְבַּן צִבּוּר בֵּין קָרְבַּן יָחִיד דּוֹחֶה אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְדוֹחֶה אֶת הַטֻּמְאָה. וְלֹא כָּל הַטֻּמְאוֹת הוּא דּוֹחֶה אֶלָּא טֻמְאַת הַמֵּת לְבַדָּהּ:


All30 of the communal sacrifices have a fixed time when they must be offered.31 Hence [offering them] supersedes [the observance of] the Sabbath and [the laws of] ritual impurity stemming from contact with a human corpse.


כָּל קָרְבְּנוֹת הַצִּבּוּר קָבוּעַ זְמַנָּם. לְפִיכָךְ כֻּלָּן דּוֹחִין אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְאֶת טֻמְאַת הַמֵּת:


All of the sacrifices that were brought in a state of ritual impurity are not eaten.32 Instead, the elements of the sacrifice that are fit to be consumed by fire are offered on the fire [of the altar].33 The remaining portions that would [ordinarily] be eaten34 are burnt in the same manner35 as are other sacrifices that became impure.36


וְכָל קָרְבָּן מֵהֶן שֶׁקָּרֵב בְּטֻמְאָה אֵינוֹ נֶאֱכָל. אֶלָּא מַקְטִירִין מִמֶּנּוּ דְּבָרִים הָרְאוּיִין לְהַקְטָרָה וְהַשְּׁאָר הָרָאוּי לַאֲכִילָה נִשְׂרָף כִּשְׁאָר קָדָשִׁים שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ:


What is meant by saying it supersedes [the laws of] ritual impurity? If the time when that sacrifice is to be offered arrives and the majority37 of the people offering it were impure due to contact with a human corpse,38 or the people at large were pure, but the priests offering it were impure39 due to contact with a human corpse, or both of these were pure, but the Temple utensils were impure due to contact with a human corpse, [the sacrifice] should be offered in a state of impurity. Both the impure and the pure should be involved in its offering together40 and enter the Temple Courtyard.41

Those who are impure because of other reasons, zavim, zavot, women in their menstrual state, those after childbirth, those who came in contact with the corpse of a teeming animal or large animal, or the like should not be involved [in the sacrifice] and should not enter the Temple Courtyard even though sacrifices are being offered in a state of impurity. If they transgressed and took part [in the sacrifice] or entered the Temple Courtyard, they are liable for karet for entering [the Courtyard]42 or death [at the hand of Heaven]43 for [carrying out] the service.44 For only the impurity stemming from contact with a human corpse was superseded [by the obligation to offer these sacrifices].


כֵּיצַד דּוֹחֶה אֶת הַטֻּמְאָה. הִגִּיעַ זְמַנּוֹ שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ קָרְבָּן וְהָיוּ רֹב הַקָּהָל שֶׁמַּקְרִיבִין אוֹתוֹ טְמֵאִין לְמֵת. אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ הַקָּהָל טְהוֹרִים וְהָיוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים הַמַּקְרִיבִין טְמֵאִים לְמֵת. אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ אֵלּוּ וְאֵלּוּ טְהוֹרִין וְהָיוּ כְּלֵי הַשָּׁרֵת טְמֵאִים לְמֵת. הֲרֵי זֶה יֵעָשֶׂה בְּטֻמְאָה וְיִתְעַסְּקוּ בּוֹ הַטְּמֵאִים וְהַטְּהוֹרִים כְּאֶחָד וְיִכָּנְסוּ כֻּלָּן לָעֲזָרָה. אֲבָל הַטְּמֵאִים בְּטֻמְאָה אַחֶרֶת כְּגוֹן זָבִין וְזָבוֹת וְנִדּוֹת [וְיוֹלְדוֹת] וּטְמֵאֵי שֶׁרֶץ וּנְבֵלָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. לֹא יִתְעַסְּקוּ וְלֹא יִכָּנְסוּ לָעֲזָרָה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בְּטֻמְאָה. וְאִם עָבְרוּ וְעָשׂוּ אוֹ נִכְנְסוּ לָעֲזָרָה חַיָּבִין כָּרֵת עַל הַבִּיאָה וּמִיתָה עַל הָעֲבוֹדָה. שֶׁלֹּא נִדְחֵית אֶלָּא טֻמְאַת הַמֵּת בִּלְבַד:


When a Paschal sacrifice45 is offered in a state of impurity and those who were impure due to contact with a human corpse pressed on and entered the Sanctuary, they are exempt even though they were only permitted to enter the Temple Courtyard.46 Since the charge [Numbers 5:3]: "Send them beyond the camp" does not apply to them, they are exempt.47


וּפֶסַח שֶׁבָּא בְּטֻמְאָה וְדָחֲקוּ טְמֵאֵי מֵת וְנִכְנְסוּ לַהֵיכָל פְּטוּרִין. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הֻתְּרוּ אֶלָּא לָעֲזָרָה. הוֹאִיל וְאֵין אֲנִי קוֹרֵא בָּהֶם (במדבר ה ג) "אֶל מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה תְּשַׁלְּחוּם" הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּטוּרִין:


If a portion of the priests of the clan scheduled to serve in the Temple that day48 were impure and a portion were pure, even if the majority were impure due to contact with a human corpse, only those who are pure should offer the sacrifices.49 If all the priests of that clan were impure, the priests of another clan should be brought [to serve].50 If all the priests of that watch were impure due to contact with a human corpse, we look for [those of] another watch. If most of the priests who entered Jerusalem at a given time were impure, [the appropriate sacrifice] should be offered in a state of impurity.


הָיוּ מִקְצָת בֵּית אָב טְמֵאִים וּמִקְצָתָם טְהוֹרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֻבָּן טְמֵאֵי מֵת לֹא יַקְרִיבוּ אֶלָּא הַטְּהוֹרִים. הָיָה כָּל בֵּית הָאָב טְמֵאֵי מֵת יָבִיאוּ בֵּית אָב אַחֵר. הָיְתָה כָּל הַמִּשְׁמָרָה טְמֵאֵי מֵת מַחֲזִירִין עַל מִשְׁמָרָה אַחֶרֶת. אִם הָיוּ רֹב הַכֹּהֲנִים הַנִּכְנָסִין שָׁם בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם בַּזְּמַן הַקָּבוּעַ טְמֵאִין יַעֲשׂוּ בְּטֻמְאָה:


Why do we search for a priest who is pure from another clan?51 Because [the prohibition against serving while] impure was not released entirely [in order to offer] the communal [sacrifices]. Instead, the prohibition is still standing, it is merely superseded temporarily, because of the pressing situation.52 We do not override any prohibitions that may be superseded except in a situation where there is no alternative. For this reason, the forehead plate is required to bring about appeasement.53


וּמִפְּנֵי מָה מַחֲזִירִין עַל הַטָּהוֹר מִבֵּית אָב אַחֵר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַטֻּמְאָה לֹא הֻתְּרָה בַּצִּבּוּר אֶלָּא בְּאִסּוּרָהּ עוֹמֶדֶת וּדְחוּיָה הִיא עַתָּה מִפְּנֵי הַדְּחָק. וְאֵין דּוֹחִין כָּל דָּבָר הַנִּדְחֶה אֶלָּא בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה צְרִיכָה צִיץ לְרַצּוֹת עָלֶיהָ:


What is the source that teaches that [the prohibitions against] ritual impurity are superseded [to bring] communal [offerings]? [Numbers 9:6] speaks of: "Men who were impure because a [deceased] human soul."54 According to the Oral Tradition, it was taught: Particular individuals are deferred to Pesach Sheni if they were impure. If, however, the community at large is impure due to contact with a human corpse, it is not deferred.55 Instead, [the prohibition against] ritual impurity is superseded and the Paschal sacrifice should be offered in a state of impurity. The same applies to every sacrifice that has a fixed time like the Paschal sacrifice:56 [the obligation to offer it] supersedes [the prohibition against] ritual impurity.


וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁטֻּמְאַת מֵת דְּחוּיָה בַּצִּבּוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ט ו) "וַיְהִי אֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ טְמֵאִים לְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם". כָּךְ לָמְדוּ מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה שֶׁאֲנָשִׁים יְחִידִים הֵם שֶׁיִּדָּחוּ לְפֶסַח שֵׁנִי אִם הָיוּ טְמֵאִים. אֲבָל צִבּוּר שֶׁהָיוּ טְמֵאֵי מֵת אֵינָן נִדְחִין אֶלָּא הַטֻּמְאָה תִּדָּחֶה וְיַעֲשׂוּ פֶּסַח בְּטֻמְאָה. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכָל קָרְבָּן שֶׁקָּבוּעַ לוֹ זְמַן כְּפֶסַח שֶׁהוּא דּוֹחֶה אֶת הַטֻּמְאָה:


This concept is explicitly stated in Scripture [II Chronicles 30:17-18]: "For a multitude of the congregation had not sanctified themselves and the Levites presided over the slaughter of the Paschal sacrifice for all who were not pure....57 For many of the people, may from Ephraim, Menasheh, Issachar, and Zevulon had not purified themselves."

What then is meant by the statement (ibid.): "They partook of the Paschal sacrifice not in accordance with what was written"?58 Because they made that year a leap year because of ritual impurity, as [ibid.:2-3] states: "And the king, his officers, and all the congregation in Jerusalem had conferred [and decided] to offer the Pesach... in the second month,59 because they were not able to offer it at its time because there were not enough priests who had sanctified themselves."60 As we explained already in Hilchot Kiddush HaChodeh,61 as an initial preference, we do not declare a leap year because of ritual impurity.62


וַהֲרֵי הַדָּבָר מְפֹרָשׁ בַּכְּתוּבִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר שָׁם (דברי הימים ב ל יז) "כִּי רַבַּת בַּקָּהָל אֲשֶׁר לֹא הִתְקַדָּשׁוּ וְהַלְוִיִּם עַל שְׁחִיטַת הַפְּסָחִים לְכל לֹא טָהוֹר" [לְהַקְדִּישׁ לַה'] (דברי הימים ב ל יח) "כִּי מַרְבִּית הָעָם רַבַּת מֵאֶפְרַיִם וּמְנַשֶּׁה יִשָּׂשכָר וּזְבֻלוּן לֹא הִטֶּהָרוּ". וּמַהוּ זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים ב ל יח) "כִּי אָכְלוּ אֶת הַפֶּסַח בְּלֹא כַכָּתוּב" מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעִבְּרוּ אוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁנָה מִפְּנֵי הַטֻּמְאָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים ב ל ב) "וַיִּוָּעַץ הַמֶּלֶךְ וְשָׂרָיו וְכָל הַקָּהָל בִּירוּשָׁלָםִ לַעֲשׂוֹת הַפֶּסַח בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי" (דברי הימים ב ל ג) "כִּי לֹא יָכְלוּ לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ בָּעֵת הַהִיא כִּי הַכֹּהֲנִים לֹא הִתְקַדְּשׁוּ לְמַדַּי". וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בְּקִדּוּשׁ הַחֹדֶשׁ שֶׁאֵין מְעַבְּרִין אֶת הַשָּׁנָה לְכַתְּחִלָּה מִפְּנֵי הַטֻּמְאָה:


There was another [difficulty] that year. King Chizkiya made the year a leap year on the thirtieth day of Adar which was fit to be Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Instead, he made it the thirtieth of Adar. The Sages did not agree with him, for a leap year should not be declared on this day, as we explained in [Hilchot] Kiddush HaChodesh.63

Because of these two matters which were not done as prescribed by Jewish Law, it was said: "They partook of the Paschal sacrifice not in accordance with what was written."[ Chizkiya] entreated for mercy for himself and for the Sages who concurred with his actions,64 as [ibid.:18] states: "For Yichezkiyahu prayed for them, saying: 'May God Who is good atone for those....' [ibid.:20] states: 'God heeded Yichezkiyahu and healed the people.'[ Implied is that] their sacrifice was accepted.


וְעוֹד אַחֶרֶת הָיְתָה שָׁם בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁנָה. שֶׁעִבֵּר חִזְקִיָּה הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת הַשָּׁנָה בְּיוֹם שְׁלֹשִׁים שֶׁל אֲדָר שֶׁרָאוּי לִהְיוֹת רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ נִיסָן וְעָשָׂה אוֹתוֹ הַחֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר שֵׁנִי וְלֹא הוֹדוּ לוֹ חֲכָמִים שֶׁאֵין מְעַבְּרִין בְּיוֹם זֶה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּקִדּוּשׁ הַחֹדֶשׁ. וּמִפְּנֵי דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ שֶׁעָשָׂה שֶׁלֹּא כַּהֲלָכָה נֶאֱמַר (דברי הימים ב ל יח) "כִּי אָכְלוּ אֶת הַפֶּסַח בְּלֹא כַכָּתוּב". וּבִקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים עַל עַצְמוֹ וְעַל הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁהִסְכִּימוּ עַל מַעֲשָׂיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים ב ל יח) "כִּי הִתְפַּלֵּל יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ עֲלֵיהֶם לֵאמֹר ה' הַטּוֹב יְכַפֵּר בְּעַד" וְנֶאֱמַר (דברי הימים ב ל כ) "וַיִּשְׁמַע ה' אֶל יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיִּרְפָּא אֶת הָעָם" שֶׁנִּרְצָה קָרְבָּנָם:

Test Yourself on This Chapter


The Radbaz states that the words "in the Temple" are not an exclusion. Instead, in the era when offerings were brought on private altars, this law also applied to a priest bringing an offering on such an altar.


As stated in the conclusion of the last chapter, one is liable for karet for tarrying in the Temple Courtyard even if he does not perform service. Halachah 3 describes how it is possible to perform service without tarrying in the Temple Courtyard.


Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 75) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 278) include this charge as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.


In reference to terumah.


See Hilchot Sanhedrin 18:1. If he receives lashes from an earthly court, he is absolved of the punishment from above.


In Hilchot Sanhedrin 18:6, the Rambam quotes the wording of Sanhedrin 81b: "The young priests would take him out...."


The Radbaz relates that if the priests did not interrupt him in the middle of his service and seize him, but instead, allowed him to complete his service and leave the Temple on his own initiative, they are not allowed to administer this punishment to him. All they can do is bring him to the court.


I.e., beyond the Women's Courtyard and the surrounding rampart, because a corpse is not allowed in these areas according to Rabbinic Law. Alternatively, because it is only a Rabbinic stricture, it was not imposed in such an instance.


The Radbaz elaborates in explaining why this punishment can be given. He explains that although there is no legal license for it, there are instances (see Hilchot Sanhedrin 24:4), where he states that at times punishments are given with no legal basis. By serving in the Temple, the priests offer their tacit acquiescence to such action being taken.


For if he contracted impurity outside the Temple Courtyard, he is liable for karet as soon as he enters, as stated in Chapter 3, Halachah 12.


In which instance, he is not liable for karet, as explained at the conclusion of the previous chapter.


See Chapter 9, Halachah 4, for more particulars concerning this act.


And offering the limbs on the fire of the altar is part of the Temple service.


As explained in the notes to the previous chapter, until nightfall he is still considered as impure.

The Ra'avad questions the Rambam's ruling, noting that according to the Rambam, a person who entered the Temple on the day he immersed is liable for karet for the entry alone. Thus why is it necessary to speak of a second obligation for karet. He explains that it could be speaking about a person who was standing outside the Temple Courtyard and moved limbs on the Altar using a long pole. The Kessef Mishneh resolves the difficulty by distinguishing between karet and death at the hand of heaven, for karet is a more severe punishment.


See Sanhedrin 83b for an explanation for how this prohibition is derived from this prooftext. Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 76) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 265) include this prohibition as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.


The Rambam adds this explanation to differentiate between a person who immersed in the mikveh, but must wait until sunset and one who has not completed his atonement process. The latter individuals are considered as pure, even though they may not enter the Temple.


I.e., a zav, zavah, or the like who must bring a sacrifice before becoming ritually pure.


The Kessef Mishneh questions this ruling, noting that in Hilchot Sanhedrin 19:2, the Rambam mentions one who serves despite the fact that his atonement process is not completed as among those who are liable for death at the hand of heaven and whose offence is punishable by lashes. This is also evident from Chapter 9, Halachah 11. The Ra'avad also quotes Talmudic sources that indicate that such a person is liable. The Kessef Mishneh explains that the questions raised by the Ra'avad can be resolved, but the apparent contradiction in the Rambam's own rulings remains difficult.


I.e., a zav, zavah, and one afflicted with tzara'at.


To even one person.


In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Pesachim 7:7), the Rambam explains that this term is used to refer to "a corpse that is hidden and not known about at all, to the extent that it is in the very depths." See also the gloss of Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura (Parah 3:2) which explains the term as follows: Just like mortal wisdom cannot fathom the extent of the depths, so, too, the existence of this corpse is not known to any mortal.

Hilchot Nizirut 6:18 describes this impurity as stemming from contact with a human corpse, about which "no one, not even one at the end of the world, knows about."


The Mishnah (Pesachim 80b) states this concept with regard to the Paschal sacrifice (see Hilchot Korban Pesach 4:2). The Rambam extrapolates that the law applies to all sacrifices.


The Kessef Mishneh notes that the Rambam's words imply that as an initial preference, such a priest should not sprinkle the blood. Only after the fact, it is acceptable. In Hilchot Korban Pesach 6:11, however, the Rambam rules that a person who becomes impure due to impurity [likened to] the depths may offer a sacrifice as an initial preference. The Kessef Mishneh explains that a distinction can be made between the two instances, because the Paschal sacrifice is an immediate obligation, while other sacrifices may be offered by other people at other times. Moreover, failure to offer the Paschal sacrifice is more severe, as indicated by the fact that it is punishable by karet.


I.e., the blood and the other portions of the sacrifices offered on the altar. See Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashim 1:34.


I.e., communal sacrifices that are offered at a fixed time should be offered even if there is impurity involved, as explained in the following halachot.


There is a difference of opinion concerning this matter in Yoma 7b and the Rambam accepts the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah. The commentaries have noted that this could be understood as a contradiction to his ruling in Halachah 15. Nevertheless, there are other approaches to that passage which allow the two rulings to coexist.


I.e., offering a sacrifice involves the violation of certain Sabbath prohibitions. As the Rambam proceeds to state, sacrifices that must be brought at a set time may nevertheless be offered, but not those which do not have a set time.


I.e., the chavitin offering of the High Priest, the bull he brings on Yom Kippur, or the Paschal sacrifices.


For the fundamental concept was derived from the Biblical story (Numbers, ch. 9) concerning the people who approached Moses to offer the Paschal sacrifice and they were impure because of contact with a human corpse.


I.e., all of the communal sacrifices that are brought from the money collected for the communal sacrifices. There are certain atonement offerings, the bull offered when the people at large err with regard to a Scriptural prohibition, and the goat offered when they err with regard to the prohibition against idolatry. These, unlike the other communal sacrifices, are not offered at a specific time.


And if they are not offered at this time, they may not be offered afterwards (Kessef Mishneh).


With the exception of the Paschal offering, as explained in Hilchot Korban Pesach 7:8. For the Pesach sacrifice was ordained primarily for the purpose of the people partaking of it (Pesachim 7:5).


For the primary purpose of these sacrifices is for them to be offered on the altar.


Pesachim 76a mentions five communal sacrifices that are ordinarily eaten: the omer offering of barley, the two breads offered on Shavuot, the showbread, the communal peace offerings, and the goat offered on Rosh Chodesh.


Rabbi Akiva Eiger asks why a communal sacrifice would not be eaten if it was offered by an impure priest who did not touch it and did not cause it to become impure. He notes, however, that the Rambam's wording implies that such a sacrifice should not be eaten.


See Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashim, ch. 19.


Half is not sufficient (Pesachim 79a).


This applies only with regard to the Paschal sacrifice, for it must be eaten by the people at large. With regard to the other communal sacrifices, it does not make any difference whether or not the people at large are impure.


As indicated by Halachah 14, this refers to the priests who were present in Jerusalem at the time the sacrifices had to be offered. If there were a majority of priests who were ritually pure, but they were not present in Jerusalem at the time when the sacrifice was to be offered, they are not counted in the reckoning.


I.e., with regard to the Paschal sacrifice, a person who is pure should not say: "Since I am pure, I should not share my sacrifice with those who are impure." Instead, the sacrifices should be offered and eaten together (see Radbaz; Kessef Mishneh).


I.e., if their entry would in some way contribute to the sacrifice being offered properly (Radbaz).


See Chapter 3, Halachah 12.


As stated in Halachah 1 of this chapter.


They are, however, exempt from punishment if they partake of the Paschal sacrifice in this state of impurity if the majority of the people are ritually impure because of contact with a human corpse (Pesachim 95b).


Although this law also applies with regard to other communal sacrifices, the Paschal sacrifice is mentioned, because it is the only instance when there would be a large throng of people in the Temple Courtyard.


Needless to say, they are forbidden to do so (Radbaz), for the activities involved in the offering of the Paschal sacrifice are carried out only in the Temple Courtyard and not in the Sanctuary itself.


There is a question concerning this issue in Pesachim 95b. Hence, an earthly court may not punish them with lashes. The question of whether they would be liable for death at the hand of Heaven is also not resolved on this plane. Since the judgments of the heavenly court are dependent on the judgments of the earthly courts, it is possible to say that the judgment is held in abeyance there as well.


See Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 4:11 for a definition of this term.


As long as it is possible to offer the sacrifices in a state of purity, we do not offer them while impure.


For the reason stated in the following halachah.


And even from another watch (Kessef Mishneh).


The Rambam is explaining a difference of opinion between the Sages in Yoma 6b. One Sage maintains that the prohibition against ritual impurity is hutra, released entirely, with regard to communal sacrifices. The other opinion is that the prohibition is dichuya, i.e., as the Rambam explains, the prohibition continues to exist and must be respected to the fullest degree possible. Similar concepts also apply with regard to the Sabbath prohibitions being overridden by questions of life and death. See the Kessef Mishneh to Hilchot Shabbat 2:1.


As stated in Halachah 7.


The passage relates that after Moses communicated the command to offer the Paschal sacrifice, several individuals who were impure because of contact with a corpse came to him and asked for an opportunity to offer the Paschal sacrifice. Moses relayed their question to God Who answered that they - and all other individuals who are impure at the time the Paschal sacrifice must be offered may bring such a sacrifice a month later on Pesach Sheni. Implicit in that command is, as the Rambam proceeds to explain, that the license to offer a sacrifice on Pesach Sheni was granted only to individuals. If the majority of the Jewish people become impure, they must offer the Paschal sacrifice on the first Pesach in a state of impurity.


See Hilchot Korban Pesach 7:12.


Pesachim 77a explains the derivation of this concept as follows: With regard to the Pesach sacrifice, Numbers 9:2 states that it should be offered "at its appointed time," which our Sages interpret as meaning its appointed time,' even on the Sabbath, even in a state of ritual impurity." Now since Numbers 29:39 uses the term "in their appointed time" in reference to other communal sacrifices, we understand that the same concepts apply to them as well.


King Chizkiya assumed the throne after the rule of Achaz, an idolatrous sinner. After years when the people had been led astray, Chizkiya inspired them to repent. He invited all the people to offer the Paschal sacrifice. Unfortunately, a sufficient number of priests had not purified themselves and also, the people were somewhat slow in responding. To enable the Paschal sacrifice to be offered by as many people as possible, he had a leap year declared, so as to give them an extra month.


I.e., one should not infer that the error was that they partook of the sacrifice while ritually impure (Kessef Mishneh).


I.e., they delayed its offering by a month, by declaring a leap year.


Despite the addition of this month, the majority of the people who came to Jerusalem were ritually impure. Hence, the prohibitions against impurity had to be overridden (see Rav Yosef Corcus).


Chapter 4, Halachah 6.


For the preference is to offer the sacrifices in a state of ritual impurity.


Chapter 4, Halachah 14. Instead, the leap year should be declared earlier, indeed, preferably months before.


I.e., the minority who did, for the majority did not, as stated above (Kessef Mishneh).

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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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