A Hebrew servant who is sold by the court {and one who sells himself} can be acquired through the transfer of money or articles worth money or the transfer of a deed of sale.

What is implied? The person selling himself writes on a paper or a shard: "I am sold to you," or "I have been acquired by you," and gives him the deed.


עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין [וְהַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ] נִקְנֶה בְּכֶסֶף וּבִשְׁוֵה כֶּסֶף וּבִשְׁטָר. כֵּיצַד בִּשְׁטָר. כּוֹתֵב לוֹ עַל הַנְּיָר אוֹ עַל הַחֶרֶס הֲרֵינִי מָכוּר לְךָ הֲרֵינִי קָנוּי לְךָ וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ הַשְּׁטָר:


A servant sold by the court must serve his master for six years from the day that he was sold. At the beginning of his seventh year, he is released as a free man. If the Sabbatical year falls within his six years of servitude, he must work during it. If, however, the Jubilee year falls during this time, even if he was sold only one year before the Jubilee, he should be granted his freedom, as Leviticus 25:40 states: "Until the Jubilee year, he shall work with you," and ibid.:13 states: "In this Jubilee year, each man shall return to his ancestral heritage."


מְכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין עוֹבֵד שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים מִיּוֹם מְכִירָתוֹ וּבִתְחִלַּת הַשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִית שֶׁלּוֹ יֵצֵא בֶּן חוֹרִין. וְאִם פָּגְעָה בּוֹ שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בִּכְלַל הַשֵּׁשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵד בָּהּ. אֲבָל אִם פָּגְעָה בּוֹ שְׁנַת יוֹבֵל אֲפִלּוּ נִמְכַּר שָׁנָה אַחַת לִפְנֵי הַיּוֹבֵל הֲרֵי זֶה יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל יַעֲבֹד עִמָּךְ" (ויקרא כה יג) "בִּשְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל הַזֹּאת" וְגוֹ':


A person who sells himself into servitude may sell himself for more than six years. Nevertheless - even if he sold himself for ten years or twenty years - if the Jubilee falls a year after he sold himself, he is released in the Jubilee, as it is written: "Until the Jubilee year, he shall work with you."


הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ לִמְכֹּר עַצְמוֹ לְיֶתֶר עַל שֵׁשׁ. הֲרֵי שֶׁמָּכַר עַצְמוֹ לְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים אוֹ לְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וּפָגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר שָׁנָה הֲרֵי זֶה יוֹצֵא בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל יַעֲבֹד עִמָּךְ":


If either a servant who sold himself or who was sold by the court flees his master's domain, he is obligated to complete his six years of servitude. If, however, the Jubilee falls during this time, he is granted his freedom.


אֶחָד הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ אוֹ שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין וּבָרַח חַיָּב לְהַשְׁלִים שֵׁשׁ. וְאִם פָּגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל יוֹצֵא לְחֵרוּת:


Should the servant become sick - whether he is sick year after year, or whether he becomes sick repeatedly for short periods - if the time during which he is sick is less than four years, it should be counted in the period of six years. If, however, he is sick for four years or more, he is required to complete work for all the days of his illness beyond the six years for which he was originally sold. This is implied by Leviticus 25:40: "He shall be like a hired laborer or a resident among you." If the Jubilee falls in the midst of the time he is compensating for the missed years, he should be released.

When do we calculate the days of sickness? When the sickness is severe and the servant is unable to work. If, however, his sickness is not very severe, and he can do needlework, the time is counted, even if he was sick for the entire six years.


חָלָה בֵּין שֶׁחָלָה שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה אוֹ שֶׁחָלָה חֳלָאִים מְקֻטָּעִים אִם הַכּל פָּחוֹת מֵאַרְבַּע שָׁנִים עוֹלִין לְמִנְיַן שֵׁשׁ. אֲבָל אִם חָלָה אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים חַיָּב לְהַשְׁלִים כָּל יְמֵי הַחֹלִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "כְּשָׂכִיר כְּתוֹשָׁב". וְאִם פָּגַע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל יֵצֵא. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁמְּחַשְּׁבִין יְמֵי הַחֹלִי כְּשֶׁהָיָה חָלְיוֹ כָּבֵד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת מְלָאכָה. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הָיָה חָלְיוֹ כָּבֵד אֶלָּא יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲשֵׂה מַחַט אֲפִלּוּ חָלָה כָּל שֵׁשׁ עוֹלִין לוֹ:

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 sells himself to a gentile, if he is not redeemed he is not released except in the Jubilee, as Leviticus 25:54 states: "If he is not redeemed by these, he shall be released in the Jubilee, he and his sons together with him."


הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם אִם לֹא נִפְדָּה אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא אֶלָּא בַּיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נד) "וְאִם לֹא יִגָּאֵל בְּאֵלֶּה וְיָצָא בִּשְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל הוּא וּבָנָיו עִמּוֹ":


When a person is sold to a gentile, if he cannot obtain the funds necessary to redeem himself, his relatives should redeem him. The closer the relatives, the greater the responsibility as implied by Leviticus 25:49: "His uncle or his uncle's son shall redeem him." The court compels the relatives to redeem him, so that he will not become assimilated among the gentiles.

If his relatives do not redeem him, and he does not attain the funds to redeem himself, it is a mitzvah for every Jew to redeem him. Whether he was redeemed by his relative, or by any other person, he is released and obtains his freedom.

The servant may borrow money to redeem himself from a gentile, and he may redeem himself partially. When, by contrast, a person is sold to a Jew, his relatives, may not redeem him, he may not borrow money to redeem himself, and he may not redeem himself partially.

What is the law that applies to him? If he obtains the funds to pay the amount due for the years that remain, he may pay that amount and be released. If he does not obtain the full amount, he is not released.


הַנִּמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם אִם לֹא הִשִּׂיגָה יָדוֹ לִגְאל קְרוֹבָיו פּוֹדִין אוֹתוֹ וְקָרוֹב קָרוֹב קוֹדֵם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מט) "אוֹ דֹדוֹ אוֹ בֶן דֹּדוֹ יִגְאָלֶנּוּ". וּבֵית דִּין כּוֹפִין אֶת קְרוֹבָיו לִפְדּוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִטָּמַע בָּעַכּוּ''ם. לֹא פְּדָאוּהוּ קְרוֹבָיו אוֹ שֶׁאֵין יָדָם מַשֶּׂגֶת מִצְוָה עַל כָּל אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל לִפְדּוֹתוֹ. וּבֵין שֶׁפְּדָאוּהוּ קְרוֹבִים בֵּין שֶׁפְּדָאָהוּ שְׁאָר אָדָם יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לִלְווֹת וְלִגְאל אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם. וְגוֹאֵל לַחֲצָאִין. אֲבָל הַנִּמְכָּר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין הַקְּרוֹבִים פּוֹדִין אוֹתוֹ וְאֵין לוֶֹה וְגוֹאֵל וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹאֵל לַחֲצָאִין. אֶלָּא כֵּיצַד דִּינוֹ. אִם הִשִּׂיגָה יָדוֹ לִתֵּן כְּפִי הַשָּׁנִים הַנּוֹתָרוֹת נוֹתֵן וְיוֹצֵא וְאִם לָאו לֹא יֵצֵא:


Whether a person sells himself to a Jew or a gentile, or whether he is sold by the court, he may deduct money from the price at which he was sold when redeeming himself and obtain his release.

What is implied? A servant was sold by the court for sixty dinarim and worked for four of the six years. He then obtained resources. He should pay 20 dinarim and be granted his freedom. Similarly, if he sold himself for 40 dinarim for ten years, he should deduct four dinarim for every year. He may give the remainder in money or in objects worth money and obtain his freedom.

Similarly, a servant sold to a gentile should calculate the number of years left until the Jubilee, as Leviticus 25:50 states: "And he shall calculate with his master the number of years from the year he was sold until the Jubilee year."

What is implied? If the servant sold himself for 100 dinarim and ten years remained until the Jubilee, he should calculate ten dinarim for each year that he worked, deduct this amount from the money that he was paid, give his owner the remainder in cash and then he is granted his freedom. He may not give his owner produce or utensils. This is implied by the above verse, which mentions: "the money of his purchase" - i.e., he is redeemed with money from a gentile, and not with articles that are worth money.


אֶחָד הַמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ בֵּין לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין לְעַכּוּ''ם וְאֶחָד שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין הֲרֵי זֶה מְגָרֵעַ מִפִּדְיוֹנוֹ וְיוֹצֵא. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בְּשִׁשִּׁים דִּינָרִים וְעָבַד אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים וּמָצְאָה יָדוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹתֵן עֶשְׂרִים דִּינָרִים וְיֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. וְכֵן אִם מָכַר עַצְמוֹ בְּאַרְבָּעִים דִּינָרִין לְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים הֲרֵי זֶה מְגָרֵעַ אַרְבָּעָה דִּינָרִין לְכָל שָׁנָה שֶׁעָבַד וְנוֹתֵן הַנִּשְׁאָר כֶּסֶף אוֹ שְׁוֵה כֶּסֶף וְיוֹצֵא. וְכֵן הַנִּמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם מְחַשֵּׁב הַדָּמִים לְפִי הַשָּׁנִים הַנִּשְׁאָרוֹת עַד שְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נ) "וְחִשַּׁב עִם קֹנֵהוּ מִשְּׁנַת הִמָּכְרוֹ לוֹ עַד שְׁנַת הַיֹּבֵל". כֵּיצַד. מָכַר עַצְמוֹ בְּמֵאָה וְנִשְׁאַר לַיּוֹבֵל מִשְּׁנַת מְכִירָה עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים מְחַשֵּׁב עֲשָׂרָה לְכָל שָׁנָה שֶׁעָבַד וְגוֹרֵעַ הַדָּמִים וּמֵשִׁיב הַשְּׁאָר כֶּסֶף לֹא תְּבוּאָה וְלֹא כֵּלִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נ) "כֶּסֶף מִמְכָּרוֹ" בְּכֶסֶף הוּא נִגְאָל מִיַּד הָעַכּוּ''ם וְאֵינוֹ נִגְאָל בִּשְׁוֵה כֶּסֶף:


Whenever a Hebrew servant or maid-servant is redeemed by deducting from the price of the sale, the calculation is always made in his or her favor - whether his health improves and his value increases, or his health deteriorates and his value decreases.

What is implied? A servant was sold for 100 dinarim, but now he is worth 200. We calculate the value of the remaining years on the basis of 100. If he was sold for 200 and is now worth 100, we calculate the value of the remaining years on the basis of 100.


כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אוֹ עִבְרִיָּה שֶׁיָּצָא בְּגִרְעוֹן כֶּסֶף וְהִבְרִיא וְהוֹסִיפוּ דָּמָיו אוֹ נִשְׁחַף וּפָחֲתוּ דָּמָיו מְחַשְּׁבִין לוֹ לְהָקֵל עָלָיו. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁנִּמְכַּר בְּמֵאָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מָאתַיִם אֵינוֹ מְחַשֵּׁב עִם אֲדוֹנָיו אֶלָּא לְפִי מֵאָה. נִמְכַּר בְּמָאתַיִם וַהֲרֵי הוּא שָׁוֶה מֵאָה מְחַשֵּׁב עִמּוֹ עַל פִּי הַשָּׁנִים הַנּוֹתָרוֹת לְפִי מֵאָה:


When a person is sold to a gentile, he can redeem himself partially, as stated above. Sometimes this will work to his advantage, and sometimes it will work to his disadvantage.

How can it work to his advantage? His master purchased him for 200 zuz. His value decreased and he is now worth 100. The servant gives his master 50, half of his present worth. He then regains his health and is again worth 200. All he is required to pay is 100, the remaining half of his value. He is then released.

How can it work to his disadvantage? His master purchased him for 200 zuz. The servant gave his master half of his worth, 100 zuz. His value then decreased and he is now worth 100. To redeem himself, he must pay his master 50 zuz, half the remaining amount. Thus, he paid 150 zuz to redeem himself even though he is now worth only 100.


הַנִּמְכָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ לִגְאל עַצְמוֹ לַחֲצָאִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ פְּעָמִים יִהְיֶה לְהָקֵל וּפְעָמִים לְהַחְמִיר. כֵּיצַד לְהָקֵל. קָנָה אוֹתוֹ בְּמָאתַיִם וְנִשְׁחַף וַהֲרֵי הוּא עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מֵאָה וְנָתַן לוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים חֲצִי דָּמָיו וְהִבְרִיא וַהֲרֵי הוּא שָׁוֶה מָאתַיִם נוֹתֵן לוֹ מֵאָה שֶׁהֵן חֲצִי דָּמָיו הַנִּשְׁאָר וְיָצָא. כֵּיצַד לְהַחְמִיר. קָנָה אוֹתוֹ בְּמָאתַיִם וְנָתַן לוֹ חֲצִי דָּמָיו שֶׁהֵן מֵאָה וְנִשְׁחַף וַהֲרֵי עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מֵאָה נוֹתֵן לוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים שֶׁהֵן דְּמֵי חֶצְיוֹ הַנִּשְׁאָר וְנִמְצָא שֶׁנָּתַן מֵאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עַתָּה שָׁוֶה מֵאָה:


Although a master forgoes the remaining amount of money for which a servant is obligated to work, this obligation is not considered to be waived until the master writes a bill of release for the servant.

What is implied? His master purchased him for 60 zuz. The servant worked for a year or two and then his master told him: "I am willing to waive the work due for the remainder of the money. Go on your way." The servant is not released from his servitude until his master has a legal document composed.


הָרַב שֶׁמָּחַל לָעֶבֶד עַל הַכֶּסֶף שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר לוֹ לַעֲבֹד כְּנֶגְדּוֹ אֵינוֹ מָחוּל לוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב לוֹ שְׁטַר שִׁחְרוּר. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁקָּנָהוּ בְּשִׁשִּׁים וְעָבַד שָׁנָה אוֹ שְׁנָתַיִם וְאָמַר לוֹ שְׁאָר הַדָּמִים מְחוּלִין לְךָ לֵךְ לְדַרְכְּךָ לֹא נִפְטַר מִשִּׁעְבּוּדוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב לוֹ שְׁטָר:


The following rules apply when a servant's master dies. If the master is survived by a son, the servant must serve the son until the conclusion of the six years, until the conclusion of the years for which he sold himself, until the Jubilee year, or until he deducts the money for the years he worked and pays the remainder.

If, however, the master is not survived by a son, the servant is granted his freedom. He need not serve a surviving daughter or the deceased's brother. Needless to say, he need not serve other heirs. When a servant is sold to a convert or a gentile, he is not required to serve even his master's son. Instead, when his master dies, he attains his freedom.

Thus, a Hebrew servant can be acquired through the transfer of money or a bill of sale, and can acquire his freedom through one of five means:

a) the conclusion of his years of servitude,

b) the advent of the Jubilee year,

c) by paying money, an amount reduced in consideration of the years he worked,

d) through being given a bill of release, and

e) through the death of the master without a son, or if the master is a gentile or a convert, even if he is survived by a son.

It is a mitzvah to tell a servant: "Go out," at the time of his release. Nevertheless, even if his master does not tell him this, the servant attains his freedom without any cost. Nor is a bill of release required. Even if he had been sick and his master spent much on his medical expenses, the servant has no obligations to the master, as implied by Exodus 21:2: "He shall go free at no charge."


אָדוֹן שֶׁמֵּת אִם הִנִּיחַ בֶּן זָכָר הֲרֵי הָעֶבֶד עוֹבֵד הַבֵּן עַד סוֹף הַשֵּׁשׁ אוֹ עַד סוֹף הַשָּׁנִים שֶׁמָּכַר עַצְמוֹ לָהֶן אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּפְגַּע בּוֹ יוֹבֵל אוֹ עַד שֶׁיְּגַרֵעַ פִּדְיוֹנוֹ וְיִתֵּן הַשְּׁאָר. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הִנִּיחַ בֶּן זָכָר הֲרֵי זֶה יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת וְאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד לֹא אֶת הַבַּת וְלֹא אֶת הָאָח וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד שְׁאָר הַיּוֹרְשִׁין. וְהַנִּמְכָּר לְגֵר צֶדֶק אוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם אֲפִלּוּ הַבֵּן אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁמֵּת הָאָדוֹן יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר שֶׁעֶבֶד עִבְרִי נִקְנֶה בְּכֶסֶף אוֹ בִּשְׁטָר וְקוֹנֶה אֶת עַצְמוֹ בַּחֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים. בְּשָׁנִים אוֹ בְּיוֹבֵל אוֹ בְּגִרְעוֹן כֶּסֶף אוֹ בִּשְׁטַר שִׁחְרוּר אוֹ בְּמִיתַת אָדוֹן בְּלֹא בֵּן וּבְעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ בְּגֵר אֲפִלּוּ הִנִּיחַ בֵּן. מִצְוָה לוֹמַר לוֹ צֵא בִּשְׁעַת יְצִיאָתוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא יוֹצֵא בְּחִנָּם. וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ שְׁטָר. אֲפִלּוּ חָלָה וְהוֹצִיא רַבּוֹ עָלָיו הוֹצָאוֹת הַרְבֵּה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לוֹ כְּלוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ב) "יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי חִנָּם":