Introduction to Hilchot Biat Hamikdash

They contain fifteen mitzvot: two positive commandments and thirteen negative commandments. They are:

1) That an intoxicated person shall not enter the Sanctuary;
2) That no one, whose hair is dishevelled, shall enter the Sanctuary;
3) That one whose garment is torn, shall not enter it;
4) That a priest shall not go in to the Sanctuary at all times;
5) That a priest shall not go forth from the Sanctuary during service;
6) To send the ritually unclean out of the Sanctuary;
7) That one who is unclean shall not enter the Sanctuary;
8) That one who is unclean shall not enter the area of the Temple-Mount;
9) That one who is unclean shall not take part in the service;
10) That one who has been cleansed by immersion shall not take part in the service on the day (when he has been cleansed);
11) That one who serves in the Sanctuary shall sanctify his hands and feet (by washing at the laver);
12) That a person with a physical blemish shall not enter the Sanctuary nor approach at the altar;
13) That a person with a physical blemish shall not take part in the service;
14) That a person with a temporary physical blemish shall not take part in the service;
15) That a stranger (not descended from Aaron) shall not take part in the service.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות ביאת מקדש

יש בכללן חמש עשרה מצוות: שתי מצוות עשה, ושלוש עשרה מצות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן:
(א) שלא יכנס כהן שיכור למקדש.
(ב) שלא יכנס בו כהן פרוע ראש.
(ג) שלא יכנס בו כהן קרוע בגדים.
(ד) שלא יכנס כהן בכל עת אל ההיכל.
(ה) שלא יצא כהן מן המקדש בשעת העבודה.
(ו) לשלח טמאים מן המקדש.
(ז) שלא יכנס טמא למקדש.
(ח) שלא יכנס טמא להר הבית.
(ט) שלא ישמש טמא.
(י) שלא ישמש טבול יום.
(יא) לקדש העובד ידיו ורגליו.
(יב) שלא יכנס בעל מום להיכל ולמזבח.
(יג) שלא לעבוד בעל מום.
(יד) שלא יעבוד בעל מום עובר.
(טו) שלא יעבוד זר.
וביאור מצוות אלו בפרקים אלו:


Whenever a priest who is fit to perform Temple service1 drinks wine, he is forbidden2 to enter the area of the Altar or [proceed] beyond there.3 If he entered [that area]4 and performed service,5 his service is invalid and he is liable for death at the hand of heaven, as [Leviticus 10:9] states: "[Do not drink intoxicating wine...] so that you do not die."6

The above applies provided one drinks a revi'it7 of undiluted wine at one time, provided the wine is over 40 days old.8 If, however, one drank less than a revi'it of wine, one drank a revi'it intermittently,9 one mixed it with water,10 or one drank even more than a revi'it of wine from the vat, i.e., within 40 days of its being brought into being,11 he is exempt and his service is not profaned. If he drank more than a revi'it of wine, even though it was diluted and even though he drank it intermittently, he is liable for death and his service is invalidated.12


כָּל כֹּהֵן הַכָּשֵׁר לַעֲבוֹדָה אִם שָׁתָה יַיִן אָסוּר לוֹ לְהִכָּנֵס מִן הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וּלְפָנִים. וְאִם נִכְנַס וְעָבַד עֲבוֹדָתוֹ פְּסוּלָה וְחַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא י ט) "וְלֹא תָמֻתוּ". וְהוּא שֶׁשָּׁתָה רְבִיעִית יַיִן חַי בְּבַת אַחַת מִיַּיִן שֶׁעָבְרוּ עָלָיו אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם. אֲבָל אִם שָׁתָה פָּחוֹת מֵרְבִיעִית יַיִן. אוֹ שָׁתָה רְבִיעִית וְהִפְסִיק בָּהּ. אוֹ מְזָגָהּ בְּמַיִם. אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁתָה יַיִן מִגִּתּוֹ בְּתוֹךְ אַרְבָּעִים אֲפִלּוּ יֶתֶר מֵרְבִיעִית. פָּטוּר וְאֵינוֹ מְחַלֵּל עֲבוֹדָה. שָׁתָה יֶתֶר מֵרְבִיעִית מִן הַיַּיִן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה מָזוּג וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִפְסִיק וְשָׁהָה מְעַט מְעַט חַיָּב מִיתָה וּפוֹסֵל הָעֲבוֹדָה:


If a person is intoxicated from beverages other than wine, he is forbidden to enter the Temple.13 If he enters and performs service while intoxicated from other beverages - even if he is intoxicated from milk or figs - he is liable for lashes, but his service is valid, for one is liable for death only when drinking wine at the time of service and one does not invalidate service unless he is intoxicated from wine.


הָיָה שִׁכּוֹר מִשְּׁאָר מַשְׁקִין הַמְשַׁכְּרִין אָסוּר לְהִכָּנֵס לַמִּקְדָּשׁ וְאִם נִכְנַס וְעָבַד וְהוּא שִׁכּוֹר מִשְּׁאָר מַשְׁקִין הַמְשַׁכְּרִין אֲפִלּוּ מִן הֶחָלָב אוֹ מִן הַדְּבֵלָה הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה. שֶׁאֵין חַיָּבִין מִיתָה אֶלָּא עַל הַיַּיִן בִּשְׁעַת עֲבוֹדָה. וְאֵין מְחַלֵּל עֲבוֹדָה אֶלָּא שִׁכּוֹר מִן הַיַּיִן:


Just as a priest is forbidden to enter the Temple while intoxicated, so too, it is forbidden for any person, whether priest or Israelite, to render a halachic ruling when he is intoxicated.14 Even if he ate dates or drank milk and his mind became somewhat confused, he should not issue a ruling, as [the above passage (ibid.:11)] continues: "And to give instruction to the children of Israel." If he gave a ruling concerning a matter that is explicitly stated in the Torah to the extent that it is known by the Sadducees, he is permitted. For example, he ruled that a sheretz15 is impure and a frog is pure; [he ruled that] blood is forbidden, or the like.


וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁאָסוּר לַכֹּהֵן לְהִכָּנֵס לַמִּקְדָּשׁ מִפְּנֵי הַשִּׁכְרוּת כָּךְ אָסוּר לְכָל אָדָם בֵּין כֹּהֵן בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהוֹרוֹת כְּשֶׁהוּא שָׁתוּי. אֲפִלּוּ אָכַל תְּמָרִים אוֹ שָׁתָה חָלָב וְנִשְׁתַּבְּשָׁה דַּעְתּוֹ מְעַט אַל יוֹרֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא י יא) "וּלְהוֹרֹת אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל". וְאִם הוֹרָה בְּדָבָר שֶׁהוּא מְפֹרָשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה עַד שֶׁיְּדָעוּהוּ הַצְּדוֹקִים מֻתָּר כְּגוֹן שֶׁהוֹרָה שֶׁהַשֶּׁרֶץ טָמֵא וְהַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ טָהוֹר וְהַדָּם אָסוּר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


It is permitted for a person who is intoxicated to teach Torah, even Torah law and the interpretation of verses, provided he does not deliver a ruling.16 If he was a sage who delivers rulings on a regular basis, he should not teach, for his teaching constitutes the delivery of a ruling.17


וּמֻתָּר לְשִׁכּוֹר לְלַמֵּד תּוֹרָה וַאֲפִלּוּ הֲלָכוֹת וּמִדְרָשׁוֹת וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יוֹרֶה. וְאִם הָיָה חָכָם קָבוּעַ לְהוֹרָאָה לֹא יְלַמֵּד שֶׁלִּמּוּדוֹ הוֹרָאָה הִיא:

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.


When a person drank precisely a revi'it and it was diluted with the slightest amount of water, he slept a bit, or he walked a mil,18 the effects of the wine will have worn off and he is permitted to serve [in the Temple]. If, however, he drank more than a revi'it even if it was diluted, sleeping slightly or journeying adds to his drunkenness. Depending on how intoxicated he was, he must wait until there is no trace of his drunkenness whatsoever.


שָׁתָה כְּדֵי רְבִיעִית בִּלְבַד וְהָיָה בָּהּ מַיִם כָּל שֶׁהוּא. אוֹ יָשַׁן מְעַט אוֹ הָלַךְ כְּדֵי מִיל. כְּבָר עָבַר הַיַּיִן וּמֻתָּר לַעֲבֹד. אֲבָל אִם שָׁתָה יוֹתֵר מֵרְבִיעִית אֲפִלּוּ מָזוּג. שֵׁינַת מְעַט אוֹ הַדֶּרֶךְ מוֹסִיפִין בְּשִׁכְרוּתוֹ. אֶלָּא יִשְׁהֵא לְפִי הַשִּׁכְרוּת עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִשָּׁאֵר מִשִּׁכְרוּתוֹ שׁוּם דָּבָר שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם:


The men of the priestly watch19 are permitted to drink wine at night, but not during the day, during the week [they serve in the Temple]. Even the members of the other clans20 who were not scheduled to work on a particular day [are forbidden], lest the Temple service overburden the members of the clan who serve that day and they require other members of the watch to help them.

The members of the clan of a particular day are forbidden to drink both during the day and night of that day, lest they drink at night and arise to their service in the morning without the effects of the wine having worn off.21


אַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמָר מֻתָּרִין לִשְׁתּוֹת יַיִן בַּלֵּילוֹת אֲבָל לֹא בִּימֵי שַׁבָּתָן. וַאֲפִלּוּ שְׁאָר בָּתֵּי אָבוֹת שֶׁל מִשְׁמָר שֶׁאֵין עֲבוֹדָתָן הַיּוֹם. שֶׁמָּא תִּכְבַּד הָעֲבוֹדָה עַל אַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אָב שֶׁל יוֹם וְיִצְטָרְכוּ לַאֲחֵרִים מֵאַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמַרְתָּן לְסַיְּעָן. וְאַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אָב שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם אֲסוּרִים לִשְׁתּוֹת בֵּין בַּיּוֹם בֵּין בַּלַּיְלָה. שֶׁמָּא יִשְׁתֶּה בַּלַּיְלָה וְיַשְׁכִּים לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ וַעֲדַיִן לֹא סָר יֵינוֹ מֵעָלָיו:


Whenever a priest knows the watch from which he descends and the clan from which he descends, and he knows the day on which the members of his clan were scheduled to serve [in the Temple], he is forbidden to drink wine that entire day.22 If one knows from which watch he is descended, but does not know his clan, he is forbidden to drink wine the entire week during which his clan worked.

If [a priest] does not know [the identity of] his watch or his clan, the law would dictate that he should never be allowed to drink wine.23 Nevertheless, his difficulty24 leads to his solution and he is permitted to drink wine at all times, for he is not allowed to serve [in the Temple] until his clan and watch are established.


כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ מֵאֵי זֶה מִשְׁמָר הוּא וּמֵאֵי זֶה בֵּית אָב הוּא וְיוֹדֵעַ שֶׁבָּתֵּי אֲבוֹתָיו קְבוּעִים בַּעֲבוֹדָה [הַיּוֹם] אָסוּר לוֹ לִשְׁתּוֹת יַיִן כָּל אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם. הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ מֵאֵי זֶה מִשְׁמָר הוּא וְאֵינוֹ מַכִּיר בֵּית אָב שֶׁלּוֹ אָסוּר לוֹ לִשְׁתּוֹת כָּל אוֹתָהּ שַׁבָּת שֶׁמִּשְׁמַרְתּוֹ עוֹבְדִין בָּהּ. לֹא הָיָה מַכִּיר מִשְׁמַרְתּוֹ וְלֹא בֵּית אֲבוֹתָיו הַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁאָסוּר לִשְׁתּוֹת יַיִן לְעוֹלָם. אֲבָל תַּקָּנָתוֹ קַלְקָלָתוֹ וַהֲרֵי הוּא מֻתָּר לִשְׁתּוֹת תָּמִיד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲבֹד עַד שֶׁיִּקָּבַע בְּבֵית אָב שֶׁלּוֹ וּבְמִשְׁמַרְתּוֹ:


A priest who lets his hair grow long25 is forbidden to enter the area of the Altar or [proceed] beyond there.26 If he enters this area and performs service,27 he is liable for death at the hand of Heaven like an intoxicated [priest] who serves,28 as [indicated by Ezekiel 44:20-21]: "None of the priests shall drink wine. They shall not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow long."29 Just as [priests who serve] intoxicated from wine are liable to die, so too, those who allow their hair to grow long are liable to die.


כֹּהֵן שֶׁגָּדַל שְׂעָרוֹ אָסוּר לוֹ לְהִכָּנֵס מִן הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְלִפְנִים וְאִם נִכְנַס וְעָבַד חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם כְּשִׁכּוֹר שֶׁעָבַד. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל מד כא) "וְיַיִן לֹא יִשְׁתּוּ כָּל כֹּהֵן" (יחזקאל מד כ) "וְרֹאשָׁם לֹא יְגַלֵּחוּ וּפֶרַע לֹא יְשַׁלֵּחוּ". מַה שְּׁתוּיֵי יַיִן בְּמִיתָה אַף מְגֻדְּלֵי פֶּרַע בְּמִיתָה:


[Priests who] let their hair grow long do not disqualify their service. Even though they are obligated to die, their service is valid.30


וְאֵין פְּרוּעֵי הָרֹאשׁ מְחַלְּלִין עֲבוֹדָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בְּמִיתָה עֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה:


Just as the priests are not warned against drinking wine except at the time they enter the Temple, so too, they are forbidden to grow their hair long only at the time they enter the Temple.31

To whom does the above apply? To an ordinary priest. A High Priest, by contrast, is forbidden to let his hair grow long and rend his garments forever,32 for he should be in the Temple at all times.33 Therefore with regard to him, [Leviticus 21:10] states: "He should not let [the hair of] his head grow long, nor should he rend his garments."


כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים מֻזְהָרִין עַל הַיַּיִן אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת בִּיאָה לַמִּקְדָּשׁ כָּךְ אֵין אֲסוּרִין לְגַדֵּל פֶּרַע אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת בִּיאָה לַמִּקְדָּשׁ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט. אֲבָל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אָסוּר לְגַדֵּל פֶּרַע וְלִקְרֹעַ בְּגָדָיו לְעוֹלָם. שֶׁהֲרֵי תָּמִיד הוּא בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. וּלְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ (ויקרא כא י) "אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ לֹא יִפְרָע וּבְגָדָיו לֹא יִפְרֹם":


What is meant by growing one's hair long? [Leaving it uncut for] 30 days like a Nazirite, concerning whom [Numbers 6:5] states: "He shall let the mane of the hair of his head grow long" and a nazirite vow is not less than 30 days.34 Therefore an ordinary priest who serves [in the Temple] must cut his hair every 30 days.35


כַּמָּה הוּא גִּדּוּל פֶּרַע. שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם כְּנָזִיר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ (במדבר ו ה) "גַּדֵּל פֶּרַע שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ" וְאֵין נְזִירוּת פְּחוּתָה מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. לְפִיכָךְ כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט הָעוֹבֵד מְגַלֵּחַ מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם לִשְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם:


The priests of the watch [serving in the Temple that week] are forbidden to cut their hair and launder their garments during that week,36 so that they will not enter the Temple when they are unkempt.37 Instead, they should cut their hair, wash, and do their laundry before coming [to the Temple].


וְאַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמָר אֲסוּרִין לְסַפֵּר וּלְכַבֵּס בְּשַׁבַּתָּן כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲלוּ לְמִשְׁמַרְתָּן כְּשֶׁהֵן מְנֻוָּלִין אֶלָּא מְגַלְּחִין וְרוֹחֲצִין וּמְכַבְּסִין קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּעֲלוּ:


When a priest's watch is concluded in the midst of a festival, he is permitted to cut his hair in the midst of the festival.38 If, however, his watch concludes on the day preceding a festival, he should cut his hair only on that day.39


מִי שֶׁשָּׁלְמָה מִשְׁמַרְתּוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הָרֶגֶל מֻתָּר לְגַלֵּחַ בָּרֶגֶל. אֲבָל אִם שָׁלְמָה בְּעֶרֶב הָרֶגֶל אֵינוֹ מְגַלֵּחַ אֶלָּא בְּעֶרֶב הָרֶגֶל:


The laws [applying to a priest who enters the Temple with] torn garments are the same as those [applying to one with] long hair, as [Leviticus 10:6] states: "Do not let [the hair on] your heads grow long or rend your garments lest you die."40 Thus if [a priest] served with torn garments, he is liable for death at the hand of Heaven although his service is valid and was not profaned.41


דִּין קְרוּעֵי בְּגָדִים וְדִין פְּרוּעֵי רֹאשׁ אֶחָד הוּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא י ו) "רָאשֵׁיכֶם לֹא תִּפְרָעוּ וּבִגְדֵיכֶם לֹא תִפְרֹמוּ וְלֹא תָמֻתוּ" הָא אִם עָבַד וְהוּא קְרוּעַ בְּגָדִים חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה וְלֹא חִלְּלָהּ:


It appears to me42 that any priest who is fit to serve who enters the area of the altar or [proceeds] beyond there43 while intoxicated due to wine, drunk due to other alcoholic beverages, with long hair, or with torn garments as one tears because of a person's death, he is liable for lashes, even if he did not perform service. [The rationale is that] he is fit for service and entered [the Temple] at the time of service in such an unkept manner although he was warned not to enter.


יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁכָּל כֹּהֵן הַכָּשֵׁר לַעֲבוֹדָה אִם נִכְנַס מִן הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְלִפְנִים וְהוּא שְׁתוּי יַיִן אוֹ שִׁכּוֹר מִשְּׁאָר הַמְשַׁכְּרִין אוֹ פְּרוּעַ רֹאשׁ אוֹ קְרוּעַ בְּגָדִים כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁקּוֹרְעִין עַל הַמֵּתִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא עָבַד עֲבוֹדָה הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה. הוֹאִיל וְהוּא רָאוּי לַעֲבוֹדָה וְנִכְנָס בִּשְׁעַת הָעֲבוֹדָה מְנֻוָּל כָּכָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא מֻזְהָר שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּנֵס:


The laws that apply to someone who enters beyond the altar and the laws that apply to ones who depart from there are the same. What is implied? One drank44 a revi'it of wine between the Ulam and the altar or tore his garments there and departed, he is liable for lashes.45 Similarly, if he performed service as he departed, he is liable for death.


וְדִין הַנִּכְנָס כָּכָה מִן הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְלִפְנִים וְדִין הַיּוֹצֵא מִשָּׁם אֶחָד הוּא. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁשָּׁתָה רְבִיעִית יַיִן בֵּין הָאוּלָם וְלַמִּזְבֵּחַ אוֹ קָרַע בְּגָדָיו שָׁם וְיָצָא לוֹקֶה. וְכֵן אִם עָבַד בִּיצִיאָתוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה:


Similarly, it is forbidden for any person, whether a priest or an Israelite, to enter the entire Temple area, from the Courtyard of the Israelites and onward46 when he is intoxicated from wine, drunk [from other beverages], with unkept long hair or with torn garments. Although there is no explicit warning [against this in the Torah], it is not a sign of honor or reverence47 to the great and holy house to enter it unkept. If, however, an Israelite48 lets his hair grow until it is formed into a weave and it was not unkept, he is permitted to enter the Courtyard of the Israelites.49


וְכֵן אָסוּר לְכָל אָדָם בֵּין כֹּהֵן בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהִכָּנֵס לַמִּקְדָּשׁ כֻּלּוֹ מִתְּחִלַּת עֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלִפְנִים כְּשֶׁהוּא שְׁתוּי יַיִן אוֹ שִׁכּוֹר אוֹ פְּרוּעַ רֹאשׁ דֶּרֶךְ נִוּוּל אוֹ קְרוּעַ בְּגָדִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בְּאַזְהָרָה. שֶׁאֵין זֶה כָּבוֹד וּמוֹרָא לַבַּיִת הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ שֶׁיִּכָּנֵס בּוֹ מְנֻוָּל. אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁגִּדֵּל שְׂעָרוֹ עַד שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה מַחְלֶפֶת וְלֹא הָיָה דֶּרֶךְ נִוּוּל הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְהִכָּנֵס לְעֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל: