1

It is a positive commandment to give a priest the first shearings [of an animal],1 as [Deuteronomy 18:4] states: 'Give him the first shearings of your flock.' Levites are considered like Israelites with regard to this mitzvah.2 There is no minimum measure for these shearings according to Scriptural law. According to Rabbinical Law, one should not give less than a sixtieth. It applies only in Eretz [Yisrael],3 whether the Temple is standing or not like the first of the grain.4 It applies to ordinary animals, but not to consecrated ones.

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לִתֵּן לַכֹּהֵן רֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח ד) "וְרֵאשִׁית גֵּז צֹאנְךָ תִּתֶּן לּוֹ". וּלְוִיִּם בִּכְלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ. וְאֵין לְרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז זוֹ שִׁעוּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וּמִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים שֶׁלֹּא יִפְחֹת מֵאֶחָד מִשִּׁשִּׁים. וְאֵינָהּ נוֹהֶגֶת אֶלָּא בָּאָרֶץ בֵּין בִּפְנֵי הַבַּיִת בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא בִּפְנֵי הַבַּיִת כְּרֵאשִׁית הַדָּגָן. וְנוֹהֵג בְּחֻלִּין אֲבָל לֹא בְּמֻקְדָּשִׁין:

2

What is implied? A person consecrated animals for the Temple treasury5and then sheared them. Is he obligated to redeem them and give [the first shearings] to the priests? Or if one consecrated an animal with the exception of its shearings, is he obligated in the first shearings? It is written [ibid.]: "your sheep,' [i.e., the obligation applies only to "your sheep.'

ב

כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁהִקְדִּישׁ בְּהֵמוֹת לְבֶדֶק הַבַּיִת וּגְזָזָן יָכוֹל יִהְיֶה חַיָּב לִפְדּוֹת וְלִתֵּן לַכֹּהֵן. אוֹ הִקְדִּישׁ בְּהֵמָה חוּץ מִגִּזָּתָהּ יָכוֹל יִהְיֶה חַיָּב בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (דברים יח ד) "צֹאנְךָ". אֵין אֵלּוּ צֹאנוֹ:

3

There is an obligation [to give a priest] the first shearing of any consecrated animals6 that possessed a permanent blemish before they were consecrated and were [then] redeemed.7 If, however, they were consecrated before they were blemished or it had a temporary blemish before it was consecrated,8 and afterwards, it received a permanent blemish and it was redeemed, it is exempt from the first shearing.9

ג

כָּל הַקֳדָשִׁים שֶׁקָּדַם מוּם קָבוּעַ לְהֶקְדֵּשָׁן וְנִפְדּוּ חַיָּבִין בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. אֲבָל אִם קָדַם הֶקְדֵּשָׁן אֶת מוּמָן אוֹ שֶׁקָּדַם מוּם עוֹבֵר לְהֶקְדֵּשָׁן וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹלַד לָהֶן מוּם קָבוּעַ וְנִפְדּוּ פְּטוּרִים מֵרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז:

4

The only animals whose first shearings we are obligated [to give a priest] are sheep, both male and female, for their wool is fit [to make] garments. If their wool was stiff and not fit for [making] garments, they are exempt from the first shearings, for this present is given to the priest for the sole purpose of providing him with garments.10

ד

אֵין חַיָּבִין בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז אֶלָּא הַכְּבָשִׂים בִּלְבַד. זְכָרִים כִּנְקֵבוֹת שֶׁהַצֶּמֶר שֶׁלָּהֶן הוּא הָרָאוּי לִבְגָדִים. הָיָה צִמְרָן קָשֶׁה וְאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לִלְבִישָׁה פְּטוּרִין מֵרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. שֶׁאֵין מַתָּנָה זוֹ לַכֹּהֵן אֶלָּא כְּדֵי לִלְבּשׁ מִמֶּנָּה:

5

Since the Holy One, blessed be He, granted [a priest] the terumot which provide him with bread and wine11 and He granted him the presents of meat12and the sacrificial meat of the Temple for meat,13 He provided them with the first shearings for their garments and [restitution for property] stolen from a [childless] convert,14 devotion offerings,15 ancestral fields [that were consecrated and not redeemed],16 and the redemption of the firstborn,17for their expenses and for their other needs. [These are granted to the priests,] because they are not granted an ancestral portion of the land, nor a share in the spoils of war.18

ה

כֵּיוָן שֶׁזִּכָּה לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּתְרוּמוֹת שֶׁהֵן לַחְמוֹ וְיֵינוֹ. וְזִכָּה לוֹ בְּמַתְּנוֹת בְּהֵמָה וְקָדְשֵׁי מִקְדָּשׁ שֶׁהַבָּשָׂר שֶׁלּוֹ. זִכָּה לוֹ בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז לִלְבוּשׁוֹ. וּבְגֵזֶל הַגֵּר וְהַחֲרָמִים וּשְׂדֵה אֲחֻזָּה וּפִדְיוֹן בְּכוֹרוֹת לְהוֹצָאוֹתָיו וּשְׁאָר צְרָכָיו. שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק בְּנַחֲלָה וּבַבִּזָּה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

6

If [a sheep's] wool was [naturally] red, black, or brown, there is an obligation [to give the priest] the first shearings. If, however, the wool was shorn and dyed, before it was given [to a priest], he is exempt from the first shearings.19 If one bleached it before he gave it [to the priests], he is obligated to set [the wool] aside after he bleaches it.20 When a person pulls out the wool of ewes by hand instead of shearing it, he is obligated in the first shearings.

ו

הָיָה הַצֶּמֶר שֶׁלָּהֶן אָדֹם אוֹ שָׁחֹר אוֹ שָׁחוּם חַיָּבוֹת בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. אֲבָל אִם גָּזַז הַצֶּמֶר וּצְבָעוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתֵּן נִפְטָר מֵרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. הִלְבִּינוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתֵּן חַיָּב לְהַפְרִישׁ אַחַר שֶׁלִּבְּנוֹ. הַתּוֹלֵשׁ צֶמֶר רְחֵלִים בְּיָדוֹ וְלֹא גָּזַז חַיָּב בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז:

7

There is an obligation [to separate] the first shearings from hybrids [of sheep],21 a ko'i,22 and a sheep that is mortally il1.23 If, however, one shears a dead sheep, he is exempt.24

ז

רֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז נוֹהֵג בְּכִלְאַיִם וּבִכְוִי וּבִטְרֵפָה. אֲבָל הַגּוֹזֵז אֶת הַמֵּתָה פָּטוּר:

8

When a person sets aside the first shearings and they are lost, he is responsible to make restitution until he gives them to the priest.25

When a person says: 'Let all of my shearings be considered as the first shearings,' his words are of consequence.26

ח

הַמַּפְרִישׁ רֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז וְאָבַד חַיָּב בְּאַחֲרָיוּתָן עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן לַכֹּהֵן. הָאוֹמֵר כָּל גִּזּוֹתַי רֵאשִׁית דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין:

9

A person who purchases the shearings of a gentile's sheep after the gentile has shorn them is exempt from the first shearings.27 When he purchases [the gentile's] sheep for their shearing,28 he is obligated even though the wool grew in the gentile's domain and the sheep are returned to the gentile after the shearing. Since the shearer is Jewish and the shearings belong to him, he is obligated. For the obligation takes effect only at the time of shearing.

ט

הַלּוֹקֵחַ גֵּז צֹאנוֹ שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם אַחַר שֶׁגְּזָזָן הָעַכּוּ''ם פָּטוּר מֵרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. לָקַח הַצֹּאן לְגִזָּתָן חַיָּב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁגָּדְלָה הַגִּזָּה בִּרְשׁוּת הָעַכּוּ''ם. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחוֹזְרִין הַצֹּאן לְעַכּוּ''ם אַחַר גְּזִיזָה. הוֹאִיל וְהַגּוֹזֵז יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַגְּזִיזוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ חַיָּב שֶׁאֵין הַחִיּוּב אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת הַגִּזָּה:

10

[The following laws apply when] a person purchases the shearings of a fellow Jew. If the seller left a portion of his sheep to shear,29 the seller is obligated to separate from [the shearing of] the remainder [the appropriate amount] for the entire [flock. This applies] even if the seller has not begun to shear [his sheep.30 The rationale is that we operate under] the assumption that a person will not sell the presents to be given the priests.31 If [the seller] did not leave any [sheep to shear], the purchaser is obligated to separate [the first shearings].32

י

הַלּוֹקֵחַ גֵּז צֹאנוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ אִם שִׁיֵּר הַמּוֹכֵר מְעַט מִצֹּאנוֹ לְהִגָּזֵז הַמּוֹכֵר חַיָּב לְהַפְרִישׁ מִן הַמְּשֹׁאָר עַל הַכּל. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִתְחִיל הַמּוֹכֵר לִגְזֹז. חֲזָקָה אֵין אָדָם מוֹכֵר מַתְּנוֹת כְּהֻנָּה. וְאִם לֹא שִׁיֵּר כְּלוּם הַלּוֹקֵחַ חַיָּב לְהַפְרִישׁ:

11

[A different rule applies it] there are two types of shearings, e.g., white wool and brown wool, or wool from males and wool from females, and one sold one and retained possession of the other. Both [the purchaser and the seller] should give the first shearings, [the purchaser] on what he purchased and the seller on what he retained.33

יא

הָיוּ שְׁנֵי מִינֵי גִּזָּה כְּגוֹן גִּזָּה לְבָנָה וְגִזָּה שְׁחוּמָה אוֹ גִּזַּת זְכָרִים וְגִזַּת נְקֵבוֹת. וּמָכַר מִין זֶה וְהִנִּיחַ הַמִּין הָאַחֵר. זֶה נוֹתֵן לְעַצְמוֹ וְזֶה נוֹתֵן לְעַצְמוֹ. [זֶה נוֹתֵן לְעַצְמוֹ] עַל מַה שֶּׁלָּקַח וְזֶה נוֹתֵן לְעַצְמוֹ עַל מַה שֶּׁשִּׁיֵּר:

12

When a convert converts and he possesses sheep that are being shorn and it is not known whether they were shorn before he converted or after he converted, he is exempt. [The rationale is when] one desires to expropriate property from a colleague,34 the burden of proof is upon him.

יב

גֵּר שֶׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר וְהָיוּ לוֹ גִּזּוֹת וְאֵין יָדוּעַ אִם עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִתְגַּיֵּר נִגְזְזוּ אוֹ מִשֶּׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְהַמּוֹצִיא מֵחֲבֵרוֹ עָלָיו הָרְאָיָה:

13

How many sheep must there be for [a flock] to be obligated for the first shearings? No less than five,35 provided their shearings is not less than the weight of 60 sela36 and the shearings of each one will not be less than the weight of 12 sela. If the shearings of one of them is less than the weight of twelve sela, [the flock] is exempt from the first shearing, even if [the wool of] the five of them weighs 60 selaim or more.

יג

כַּמָּה צֹאן יִהְיֶה לוֹ וְיִהְיוּ חַיָּבוֹת בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. אֵין פָּחוֹת מֵחָמֵשׁ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בַּגִּזָּה שֶׁלָּהֶן אֵין פָּחוֹת מִמִּשְׁקַל שִׁשִּׁים סֶלַע. וְתִהְיֶה גִּזַּת כָּל אַחַת מֵחֲמִשְּׁתָּן אֵין פָּחוֹת מִמִּשְׁקַל י''ב סֶלַע. הָיְתָה אַחַת מֵהֶם גּוֹזֶזֶת פָּחוֹת מִי''ב סֶלַע אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחֲמִשְּׁתָּן גּוֹזְזוֹת שִׁשִּׁים סֶלַע אוֹ יֶתֶר הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּטוּרִין מֵרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז:

14

Partners are obligated in [the mitzvah of] the first shearings, provided each one's share is equal to the minimum measure [mentioned above]. It: however, there are only five sheep belonging to two partners, they are exempt.37

יד

הַשֻּׁתָּפִין חַיָּבִין בְּרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּחֵלֶק כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן כַּשִּׁעוּר. אֲבָל חָמֵשׁ צֹאן בִּלְבַד שֶׁל שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין פְּטוּרִין:

15

The mitzvah is to set aside the first shearing at the outset.38 If, however, one set it aside in the middle or at the end, he fulfilled his obligation.

When a person owns five sheep, but [did not shear them together, i.e.,] he had one shorn alone and sold its wool, and then had another shorn alone and sold its wool, and then a third, etc., all of these are combined [to obligate him in the mitzvah of] the first shearing,39 even if this takes place over the course of several years. He may separate from the new shearings for the old shearings and from [the shearings of] one type of sheep for another.40 If, however, he had one sheep, he sheared it and set aside its shearings, purchased a second sheep and set aside its shearings, [and continued doing so until he sheared five sheep], their shearings are not combined.41

טו

רֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז מִצְוָתָהּ בַּתְּחִלָּה וְאִם הִפְרִישׁ בֵּין בָּאֶמְצַע בֵּין בַּסּוֹף יָצָא. הָיוּ לוֹ חָמֵשׁ צֹאן וְגָזַז אַחַת מֵהֶן בִּלְבַד וּמָכַר גִּזָּתָהּ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ גּוֹזֵז שְׁנִיָּה וּמָכַר גִּזָּתָהּ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ גּוֹזֵז שְׁלִישִׁית וּמָכַר גִּזָּתָהּ. הַכּל מִצְטָרְפוֹת לְרֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז. וְחַיָּב אֲפִלּוּ לְאַחַר כַּמָּה שָׁנִים. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לְהַפְרִישׁ מִן הֶחָדָשׁ עַל הַיָּשָׁן וּמִזֶּה עַל זֶה. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה רָחֵל אַחַת וּגְזָזָהּ וְהִנִּיחַ גִּזָּתָהּ וְאַחַר כָּךְ קָנָה שְׁנִיָּה וּגְזָזָהּ וְהִנִּיחַ גִּזָּתָהּ אֵינָן מִצְטָרְפוֹת:

16

When a person has several shearings from the first shearings that he desired to divide among the priests, he should not give any priest less than the weight of five selaim of white wool, enough to make a small garment.

The intent is not that he should whiten it and give it to them. Instead, he should give each of them [at least enough] unrefined wool to produce five selaim42 or more of wool after it has been whitened. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 18:14:] 'Give it to him,' i.e., give him a significant present.

טז

מִי שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ גִּזּוֹת רַבּוֹת שֶׁל רֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז וְרוֹצֶה לְחַלֵּק לַכֹּהֲנִים. לֹא יִתֵּן לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד פָּחוֹת מִמִּשְׁקַל חָמֵשׁ סְלָעִים מְלֻבָּן כְּדֵי בֶּגֶד קָטָן. לֹא שֶׁיְּלַבְּנוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתֵּן לוֹ אֶלָּא יִתֵּן לוֹ מִצֶּמֶר הַגִּזָּה כְּשֶׁהוּא צוֹאִי. כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ אַחַר הַלִּבּוּן חָמֵשׁ סְלָעִים אוֹ יֶתֶר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח ד) "תִּתֵּן לוֹ" שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ כְּדֵי מַתָּנָה הַמּוֹעֶלֶת:

17

The first shearings are ordinary property in every regard. Therefore, I maintain that they may be given to a woman of the priestly family even if she is married to an Israelite like the presents of meat.43 It appears to me that they are governed by the same laws.

יז

רֵאשִׁית הַגֵּז חֻלִּין לְכָל דָּבָר. לְפִיכָךְ אֲנִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁנּוֹתְנִים אוֹתוֹ לְכֹהֶנֶת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא נְשׂוּאָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמַתְּנוֹת בְּהֵמָה. וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁדִּין שְׁנֵיהֶן אֶחָד הוּא: