Whenever one touches a primary derivative of impurity with his hands, whether that primary derivative was an impure person, k'li, food, or liquid, his hands - until his joints - alone become impure. Similarly, if a person inserts his hands into the inner space of an earthenware container that contracted impurity from a primary source of impurity or he inserted his hands into a house that is deemed impure due to tzara'at, his hands become impure. The impurity of hands is a Rabbinic decree.


כָּל הַנּוֹגֵעַ בְּיָדָיו בְּרִאשׁוֹן לְטֻמְאָה בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה אוֹתוֹ רִאשׁוֹן אָדָם אוֹ כְּלִי אוֹ אֹכֶל אוֹ מַשְׁקִין טְמֵאִין נִטְמְאוּ יָדָיו בִּלְבַד עַד הַפֶּרֶק. וְכֵן הַמַּכְנִיס יָדָיו לַאֲוִיר כְּלִי חֶרֶס שֶׁנִּטְמָא בְּאַב הַטֻּמְאָה אוֹ שֶׁהִכְנִיס יָדָיו לְבַיִת מְנֻגָּע נִטְמְאוּ יָדָיו. וְטֻמְאַת הַיָּדָיִם מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:


Hands that contracted impurity are always considered as a secondary derivative according to Rabbinic Law. For their impurity is a Rabbinic decree, and when it was decreed that they would be impure, it was decreed that their status would be that of a secondary derivative. Even when one inserts his hands into a house that is deemed impure due to tzara'at or touches with his hands a person who imparts impurity to his garments before that person has separated himself from the source of his impurity, the person's hands are secondary derivatives.


הַיָּדָיִם שְׁנִיּוֹת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים לְעוֹלָם שֶׁאֵין טֻמְאָתָן אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם וּכְשֶׁגָּזְרוּ טֻמְאָה עֲלֵיהֶן גָּזְרוּ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כְּשֵׁנִי לְטֻמְאָה. אֲפִלּוּ הִכְנִיס יָדָיו לְבַיִת הַמְנֻגָּע אוֹ שֶׁנָּגַע בְּיָדָיו בְּאָדָם שֶׁמְּטַמֵּא בְּגָדִים עַד שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרַשׁ מִמְּטַמְּאָיו הֲרֵי יָדָיו שְׁנִיּוֹת:


Piggul, notar, and remnants of flour from the meal offerings are considered as primary derivatives of impurity. Primary and secondary derivatives are counted if other entities come in contact with them. Therefore, an egg-sized portion of them imparts impurity to hands.

Piggul and notar may not be combined to reach an egg-sized measure even though they both share that same measure. The rationale is that the impurity of hands is a Rabbinic safeguard. Other impure foods, by contrast, are combined to reach that measure. For impure foods do not impart impurity unless there is an egg-sized portion present.


הַפִּגּוּל וְהַנּוֹתָר וְצָרִיד שֶׁל מְנָחוֹת הֲרֵי הֵן כְּרִאשׁוֹן לְטֻמְאָה וּמוֹנִין בָּהֶן רִאשׁוֹן וְשֵׁנִי לְפִיכָךְ מְטַמְּאִין אֶת הַיָּדָיִם בִּכְבֵיצָה. וְאֵין הַפִּגּוּל וְהַנּוֹתָר מִצְטָרְפִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשִּׁעוּרָן שָׁוָה בִּכְבֵיצָה הוֹאִיל וְטֻמְאַת הַיָּדַיִם מִדִּבְרֵיהֶן. אֲבָל שְׁאָר הָאֳכָלִין מִצְטָרְפִין שֶׁאֵין אֳכָלִים טְמֵאִין מְטַמְּאִין אֶת הַיָּדַיִם עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כְּבֵיצָה:


Even though the thigh bone of a sacrificial animal that was either piggul or notar is intact, when a person touches it with his hands, his hands contract ritual impurity. For the bones of sacrificial animals that became either piggul or notar impart impurity to hands, because they serve as the base for a forbidden entity.


קוּלִית הַפִּגּוּל אוֹ הַנּוֹתָר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא סְתוּמָה הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּהּ בְּיָדָיו נִטְמְאוּ יָדָיו שֶׁהָעֲצָמוֹת שֶׁל קָדָשִׁים שֶׁשִּׁמְּשׁוּ נוֹתָר אוֹ פִּגּוּל מְטַמְּאִין אֶת הַיָּדַיִם הוֹאִיל וְנַעֲשׂוּ בָּסִיס לְדָבָר הָאָסוּר:


When sacrificial meat is taken outside its appropriate place, there is an unresolved question whether it imparts impurity to hands or not. Therefore, it does not impart impurity, for if there is a doubt with regard to the impurity of hands, they are considered pure, as will be explained. If meat from a Paschal sacrifice was taken outside the home where it is being eaten, it is pure. We assume that the members of the company are vigilant.


בְּשַׂר קֹדֶשׁ שֶׁיָּצָא חוּץ לִמְחִצָּתוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא סָפֵק אִם מְטַמֵּא אֶת הַיָּדַיִם אוֹ לֹא. לְפִיכָךְ אֵינוֹ מְטַמֵּא שֶׁסְּפֵק טֻמְאַת הַיָּדַיִם טָהוֹר כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. וְאִם בְּשַׂר פֶּסַח שֶׁיָּצָא חוּץ לַבַּיִת הוּא הֲרֵי הוּא טָהוֹר, בְּנֵי חֲבוּרָה זְרִיזִין הֵן:

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.


The concept of impurity of hands does not apply in the Temple. At the time that Sages established their decree regarding the impurity of hands, they did not apply it to the Temple. Instead, if a person touches impure foods or the like - whether he touched them in the Temple or outside the Temple - and then touched sacrificial foods in the Temple, he does not impart impurity to them. If he touches sacrificial foods outside the Temple, he imparts impurity to them. Similarly, he disqualifies terumah, as will be explained.


אֵין טֻמְאַת יָדַיִם בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁגָּזְרוּ טֻמְאָה עַל הַיָּדַיִם לֹא גָּזְרוּ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ אֶלָּא הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּאֳכָלִין טְמֵאִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן בֵּין שֶׁנָּגַע בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ בֵּין שֶׁנָּגַע חוּץ לַמִּקְדָּשׁ וְנָגַע בְּקָדָשִׁים בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא טִמְּאָן. וְאִם נָגַע חוּץ לַמִּקְדָּשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה מְטַמֵּא אֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּפוֹסֵל אֶת הַתְּרוּמָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:


When one of a person's hands become impure and he touches the other one, the other remains pure. It is sufficient for him to wash the impure hand.

When does the above apply? With regard to terumah. With regard to sacrificial foods, by contrast, if one of a person's hands become impure and he touches the other one, he imparts impurity to the other. Both of them must be immersed in a mikveh before touching sacrificial foods. For terumah, by contrast, it is sufficient to wash one's hands to purify them.


מִי שֶׁנִּטְמֵאת יָדוֹ אַחַת וְנָגְעָה בַּאֲחֶרֶת הָאַחֶרֶת טְהוֹרָה וְנוֹטֵל אֶת הַטְּמֵאָה וְדַיּוֹ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים לִתְרוּמָה. אֲבָל לְקֹדֶשׁ אִם נִטְמֵאת יָדוֹ אַחַת וְנָגַע בַּשְּׁנִיָּה טִמְּאָהּ. וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן צְרִיכוֹת טְבִילָה לְקֹדֶשׁ אֲבָל לִתְרוּמָה בִּנְטִילַת יָדַיִם בִּלְבַד יִטָּהֲרוּ יָדָיו:


King Solomon and his court decreed that hands are always considered as secondary derivatives of impurity, even if one does not know with certainty that they contracted impurity, for "hands are busy."

Solomon decreed that hands were impure only with regard to sacrificial foods. Afterwards, the later Sages extended the decree also with regard to terumah. Therefore it is necessary to wash one's hands before partaking of terumah. If one touched terumah before he washed his hands, the terumah is disqualified. It is burnt because of this impurity.


שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ גָּזְרוּ עַל כָּל הַיָּדַיִם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁנִיּוֹת וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא יָדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַיָּדַיִם עַסְקָנִיּוֹת. וְלֹא גָּזַר שְׁלֹמֹה עַל הַיָּדַיִם טֻמְאָה אֶלָּא לְקֹדֶשׁ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ גָּזְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁאַחֲרָיו אַף לִתְרוּמָה. וּלְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ נְטִילַת יָדַיִם לִתְרוּמָה וְאִם נָגַע בִּתְרוּמָה קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּטּל יָדָיו פְּסוּלָה וְנִשְׂרֶפֶת עַל טֻמְאָה זוֹ:


A person may wrap his hands in a napkin and partake of terumah without washing his hands. We do not suspect that he will touch the terumah. He should not do this when partaking of ordinary food that is being eaten under the stringencies that apply to the purity of sacrificial food or terumah, lest he touch it, for he is not that careful with regard to it.


לָט אָדָם יָדָיו בְּמַפָּה וְאוֹכֵל תְּרוּמָה בְּלֹא נְטִילַת יָדַיִם וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא יִגַּע אֲבָל לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה כֵּן בְּחֻלִּין שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ עַל טָהֳרַת הַקֹּדֶשׁ אוֹ עַל טָהֳרַת תְּרוּמָה גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יִגַּע לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עֲלֵיהֶן:


Since a person's hands are considered second degree derivatives of impurity, if they touch liquids, they cause them to be considered as primary derivatives. If such liquids touch foods, they cause them to be considered as secondary derivatives. If such liquids touch other liquids, they cause them to be considered as primary derivatives, for liquids are always considered as primary derivatives, as we explained. Such liquids that contracted impurity due to contact with hands do not impart impurity to keilim, for the fundamental impurity of the hands is of Rabbinic origin.

Similarly, our Sages decreed that any person who partook of impure foods - whether the foods were primary or secondary derivatives of impurity - or who drank impure liquids, should be considered as a secondary derivative of impurity until he immerses in a mikveh. If he touches foods, he causes them to be considered as a tertiary derivative. If he touches liquids, even ordinary liquids, he causes them to be considered as a primary derivative and they impart impurity to other foods and liquids. They do not impart impurity to keilim, because the impurity contracted by this person is fundamentally a Rabbinic decree.

Why was it decreed that a person who partakes of impure foods contracts impurity? For perhaps he will partake of food that is a primary or secondary derivative of impurity and, at the same time, drink a liquid that is terumah. The liquid that is terumah will contract impurity from the food in his mouth. Similarly, if a person is drinking impure liquids, there was concern that he might eat food that is terumah with them and impart impurity to it because of the liquids in his mouth. We have already explained in Hilchot Terumah that it is forbidden to partake of impure terumah.


הוֹאִיל וְהַיָּדַיִם שְׁנִיּוֹת אִם נָגְעוּ בְּמַשְׁקֶה עֲשָׂאוּם תְּחִלָּה. וְאִם נָגְעוּ מַשְׁקִין אֵלּוּ בָּאֳכָלִין עוֹשִׂין אוֹתָן שֵׁנִי. וְאִם נָגְעוּ בְּמַשְׁקִין אֲחֵרִים עוֹשִׂין אוֹתָן תְּחִלָּה שֶׁהַמַּשְׁקִין תְּחִלָּה לְעוֹלָם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. אֲבָל אֵין מַשְׁקִין אֵלּוּ שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ מֵחֲמַת הַיָּדַיִם מְטַמְּאִין כֵּלִים שֶׁעִקַּר טֻמְאַת הַיָּדַיִם מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְכֵן גָּזְרוּ חֲכָמִים עַל כָּל אָדָם שֶׁיֹּאכַל אֳכָלִין טְמֵאִין בֵּין שֶׁאָכַל אֹכֶל רִאשׁוֹן אוֹ אֹכֶל שֵׁנִי וְעַל כָּל הַשּׁוֹתֶה מַשְׁקִין טְמֵאִים שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שֵׁנִי לְטֻמְאָה עַד שֶׁיִּטְבּל. וְאִם נָגַע בָּאֳכָלִין עֲשָׂאָן שְׁלִישִׁי. וְאִם נָגַע בְּמַשְׁקִין אֲפִלּוּ מַשְׁקֶה חֻלִּין עֲשָׂאָן תְּחִלָּה לְטַמֵּא אֳכָלִין וּמַשְׁקִין אֲחֵרִים. אֲבָל לֹא לְטַמֵּא כֵּלִים הוֹאִיל וְעִקַּר טֻמְאַת אָדָם זֶה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה גָּזְרוּ טֻמְאָה עַל הָאוֹכֵל אֳכָלִין טְמֵאִים. שֶׁמָּא יֹאכַל אֹכֶל רִאשׁוֹן אוֹ שֵׁנִי וְיִשְׁתֶּה עָלָיו מַשְׁקֶה תְּרוּמָה וְנִמְצָא הַמַּשְׁקֶה תְּרוּמָה טָמֵא בָּאֹכֶל שֶׁבְּפִיו. וְכֵן הַשּׁוֹתֶה מַשְׁקִין טְמֵאִים שֶׁמָּא יֹאכַל עִמָּהֶן אֹכֶל תְּרוּמָה וְנִמְצָא טָמֵא בְּמַשְׁקִין שֶׁבְּפִיו. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בִּתְרוּמוֹת שֶׁאָסוּר לֶאֱכל תְּרוּמָה טְמֵאָה:


A person who contracts impurity because he partook of impure foods does not contract impurity unless he partakes of a quarter of a loaf of bread which is the size of an egg and a half when judged generously. Similarly, one who contracts impurity from drinking does not contract impurity unless he drinks a revi'it of impure liquids. All types of foods can be combined to comprise the sum of a quarter of a loaf that disqualifies the body of a person who partakes of them. And all liquids can be combined to comprise the sum of a revi'it. If one eats or drinks less than these measures, he is pure.

The following rule applies if one ate a small amount, then waited, and then ate some more. If he ate the required measure within the time it usually takes to eat half a loaf, the quantities are combined. If not, they are not combined. Similarly, if he drank a small amount, then waited, and then drank some more, if he drank the required measure] within the time it usually takes to eat half a loaf, the quantities are combined. If not, they are not combined.

The following rule applies if one ate less than the minimum measure, immersed in a mikveh, ascended, and immediately ate more. If he did not wait between eating and there is less time than it usually takes to eat half a loaf between the eating that preceded the immersion and the eating that followed it, they can be combined.


אֵינוֹ מִתְטַמֵּא עַד שֶׁיֹּאכַל מַאֲכָלִים טְמֵאִים כַּחֲצִי פְּרָס שֶׁהוּא כְּבֵיצָה וּמֶחֱצָה שׂוֹחֶקֶת. וְכֵן הַשּׁוֹתֶה אֵינוֹ מִתְטַמֵּא עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁתֶּה מִמַּשְׁקִין טְמֵאִין רְבִיעִית. וְכָל הָאֳכָלִין מִצְטָרְפִין לְכַחֲצִי פְּרָס לִפְסל אֶת הַגְּוִיָּה. וְכָל הַמַּשְׁקִין מִצְטָרְפִין לִרְבִיעִית. וְאִם אָכַל אוֹ שָׁתָה פָּחוֹת מִשִּׁעוּר זֶה טָהוֹר. אָכַל מְעַט וְשָׁהָה וְאָכַל מְעַט אִם יֵשׁ מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף כְּדֵי אֲכִילַת פְּרָס מִצְטָרְפִין וְאִם לָאו אֵין מִצְטָרְפִין. וְכֵן אִם שָׁתָה מְעַט וְשָׁהָה וְשָׁתָה מְעַט אִם יֵשׁ מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף כְּדֵי אֲכִילַת פְּרָס מִצְטָרְפִין וְאִם לָאו אֵין מִצְטָרְפִין. אָכַל פָּחוֹת מִכְּשִׁעוּר וְטָבַל וְעָלָה וְאָכַל מְעַט מִיָּד אִם לֹא שָׁהָה בֵּינֵיהֶן וַהֲרֵי בֵּין אֲכִילָה שֶׁלִּפְנֵי טְבִילָה וְשֶׁלְּאַחַר טְבִילָה בִּכְדֵי אֲכִילַת פְּרָס הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מִצְטָרְפִין:


When a woman who is a primary derivative of impurity nurses her son, her son is pure. The Sages did not decree that he would be impure. Even if one would say that the infant nursed a revi'it of milk, it is possible that from the beginning to the end, doing so took more time than it usually takes to eat half a loaf, for he does not nurse all at once.


אִשָּׁה שֶׁהִיא רִאשׁוֹן לְטֻמְאָה וּמֵינִיקָה אֶת בְּנָהּ הֲרֵי הַבֵּן טָהוֹר וְלֹא גָּזְרוּ עָלָיו טֻמְאָה שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ תֹּאמַר שֶׁיָּנַק רְבִיעִית אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיֵּשׁ מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף יֶתֶר מִכְּדֵי אֲכִילַת פְּרָס שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ יוֹנֵק בְּבַת אַחַת:


Because of the danger, our Sages granted a pregnant woman license to partake of less than the minimum measure, even though ultimately, she will partake of a larger amount. She does not need to immerse herself. Instead, she is pure.


הַמְעֻבֶּרֶת הִתִּירוּ לָהּ לֶאֱכל אֳכָלִין טְמֵאִין פָּחוֹת מִכְּשִׁעוּר. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא אוֹכֶלֶת הַרְבֵּה מִפְּנֵי הַסַּכָּנָה. וְאֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה טְבִילָה אֶלָּא הֲרֵי הִיא טְהוֹרָה: