Even though a sage who is distinguished for his wisdom, the nasi, or the av beit din acts shamefully, they should never be publically placed under a ban of ostracism unless their deeds resemble those of Jeroboam ben Nevat and his colleagues. However, if one [of these individuals] performs other sins, he should be lashed privately, as [implied by Hoshea 4:5]: “You shall stumble during the day and the prophet will stumble with you at night” - i.e., even though he stumbles, cover him like night. He is told: “Preserve your honor and stay at home.”

Similarly, whenever a Torah sage is obligated to be ostracized, it is forbidden for a court to act rashly and pronounce a ban hastily. Instead, they should shun the matter and try to avoid it. The pious among the Sages would be proud of the fact that they never participated in the ostracism of a Torah sage. Nevertheless, they would participate in sentencing him to be lashed. They would even participate in sentencing him to receive “stripes for rebellion.”


חָכָם זָקֵן בְּחָכְמָה וְכֵן נָשִׂיא אוֹ אַב בֵּית דִּין שֶׁסָּרַח אֵין מְנַדִּין אוֹתוֹ בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא לְעוֹלָם. אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן עָשָׂה כְּיָרָבְעָם בֶּן נְבָט וַחֲבֵרָיו. אֲבָל כְּשֶׁחָטָא שְׁאָר חַטָּאוֹת מַלְקִין אוֹתוֹ בְּצִנְעָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע ד ה) "וְכָשַׁלְתָּ הַיּוֹם וְכָשַׁל גַּם נָבִיא עִמְּךָ לָיְלָה" אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכָּשַׁל כַּסֵּהוּ כְּלַיְלָה. וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ הִכָּבֵד וְשֵׁב בְּבֵיתְךָ. וְכֵן כָּל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב נִדּוּי אָסוּר לְבֵית דִּין לִקְפֹּץ וּלְנַדּוֹתוֹ בִּמְהֵרָה אֶלָּא בּוֹרְחִין מִדָּבָר זֶה וְנִשְׁמָטִין מִמֶּנּוּ. וַחֲסִידֵי הַחֲכָמִים הָיוּ מִשְׁתַּבְּחִים שֶׁלֹּא נִמְנוּ מֵעוֹלָם לְנַדּוֹת תַּלְמִיד חָכָם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּמְנִין לְהַלְקוֹתוֹ אִם נִתְחַיֵּב מַלְקוֹת. וַאֲפִלּוּ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת נִמְנִין עָלָיו לְהַכּוֹתוֹ:


How is the ban [issued]? The [court] pronounces: “So and so shall be ostracized. If the ban is issued in his presence, [the court] pronounces: “This [person], so and so, shall be ostracized.”

A ban of excommunication [is issued as follows]: They tell him: “So and so is excommunicated.”

The expression “He is cursed” implies a curse, an oath, and a ban of ostracism.


וְכֵיצַד הוּא הַנִּדּוּי, אוֹמֵר פְּלוֹנִי יְהֵא בְּשַׁמָּתָא. וְאִם נִדּוּהוּ בְּפָנָיו אוֹמֵר לוֹ פְּלוֹנִי זֶה בְּשַׁמָּתָא. וְהַחֵרֶם, אוֹמֵר לוֹ פְּלוֹנִי מֻחְרָם. וְאָרוּר בּוֹ אָלָה בּוֹ שְׁבוּעָה בּוֹ נִדּוּי:


How is a ban of ostracism or excommunication lifted? They tell him: “You are released. You are forgiven.” If the ban is lifted outside his presence, they say: “So and so is released. So and so is forgiven.”


וְכֵיצַד מַתִּירִין הַנִּדּוּי אוֹ הַחֵרֶם. אוֹמֵר לוֹ שָׁרוּי לְךָ וּמָחוּל לְךָ. וְאִם הִתִּירוּהוּ שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו אוֹמֵר לוֹ פְּלוֹנִי שָׁרוּי לוֹ וּמָחוּל לוֹ:


What are the practices that must be observed by the person who is ostracized and those who come into contact with him?

a) he is forbidden to cut his hair or launder his clothes, like a mourner throughout his entire period of ostracism;

b) he is not included in a zimmun, nor in a quorum of ten with regard to any matter that requires ten;

c) no one should sit within four cubits of him.

He may, however, teach others and others may teach him. He may be hired and may hire others. If he dies while under ban, the court sends [an emissary who] places a stone on his coffin, as if to say that they are stoning him because he was separated from the community. Needless to say, eulogies are not recited for him, nor is his bier accompanied.


מַהוּ הַמִּנְהָג שֶׁיִּנְהֹג הַמְנֻדֶּה בְּעַצְמוֹ וְשֶׁנּוֹהֲגִין עִמּוֹ. מְנֻדֶּה אָסוּר לְסַפֵּר וּלְכַבֵּס כְּאָבֵל כָּל יְמֵי נִדּוּיוֹ. וְאֵין מְזַמְּנִין עָלָיו. וְלֹא כּוֹלְלִין אוֹתוֹ בַּעֲשָׂרָה לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ עֲשָׂרָה. וְלֹא יוֹשְׁבִין עִמּוֹ בְּאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. אֲבָל שׁוֹנֶה הוּא לַאֲחֵרִים וְשׁוֹנִין לוֹ וְנִשְׂכָּר וְשׂוֹכֵר. וְאִם מֵת בְּנִדּוּי בֵּית דִּין שׁוֹלְחִין וּמַנִּיחִין אֶבֶן עַל אֲרוֹנוֹ כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁהֵן רוֹגְמִין אוֹתוֹ לְפִי שֶׁהוּא מֻבְדָּל מִן הַצִּבּוּר. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵין מַסְפִּידִין אוֹתוֹ וְאֵין מְלַוִּין אֶת מִטָּתוֹ:


A person who is excommunicated has even more [severe restrictions]. He may not teach others and others may not teach him. Nevertheless, he may study himself, so that he does not forget what he has learned.

He may not be hired, nor is he allowed to hire others. We should not engage in trade with him. [Indeed,] we should not have any business dealings with him except the bare minimum necessary for his livelihood.


יוֹתֵר עָלָיו הַמֻּחְרָם שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוֹנֶה לַאֲחֵרִים וְאֵין שׁוֹנִין לוֹ אֲבָל שׁוֹנֶה הוּא לְעַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁכַּח תַּלְמוּדוֹ. וְאֵינוֹ נִשְׂכָּר וְאֵין נִשְׂכָּרִין לוֹ. וְאֵין נוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין עִמּוֹ. וְאֵין מִתְעַסְּקִין עִמּוֹ אֶלָּא מְעַט עֵסֶק כְּדֵי פַּרְנָסָתוֹ:

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 was ostracized for thirty days and did not seek to be released from the ban, he is placed under a second ban. If he was ostracized for a second thirty days without seeking release, he is excommunicated.


מִי שֶׁיָּשַׁב בְּנִדּוּי שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְלֹא בִּקֵּשׁ לְהַתִּירוֹ מְנַדִּין אוֹתוֹ שְׁנִיָּה. יָשַׁב שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם אֲחֵרִים וְלֹא בִּקֵּשׁ לְהַתִּירוֹ מַחְרִימִין אוֹתוֹ:


How many [people] are necessary to release [a person from a] ban of ostracism or excommunication? Three. They may even be commoners. A single judge with unique expertise may release [a person from a] ban of ostracism or excommunication alone. A student may release [a person from a] ban of ostracism or excommunication even in the place of his teacher.


בְּכַמָּה מַתִּירִין הַנִּדּוּי אוֹ הַחֵרֶם. בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה אֲפִלּוּ הֶדְיוֹטוֹת. וְיָחִיד מֻמְחֶה מַתִּיר הַנִּדּוּי אוֹ הַחֵרֶם לְבַדּוֹ. וְיֵשׁ לְתַלְמִיד לְהַתִּיר הַנִּדּוּי אוֹ הַחֵרֶם וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּמְקוֹם הָרַב:

Editor's Note: Our text follows the practice of most printed copies of the Mishneh Torah, which skip the number 8 entirely1, and proceed from Halachah 7 to Halachah 9.


When three individuals issue a ban of ostracism, and then depart, if the person who was ostracized improves his behavior with regard to the matter for which he was ostracized, three others may come and release him [from that ban].


שְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁנִּדּוּ וְהָלְכוּ לָהֶן וְחָזַר זֶה מִדָּבָר שֶׁנִּדּוּהוּ בִּגְלָלוֹ בָּאִין שְׁלֹשָׁה אֲחֵרִים וּמַתִּירִין לוֹ:


A person who does not know who placed him under a ban of ostracism should approach the nasi who may release him from that ban.


מִי שֶׁלֹּא יָדַע מִי שֶׁנִּדָּהוּ יֵלֵךְ לוֹ אֵצֶל הַנָּשִׂיא וְיַתִּיר לוֹ נִדּוּיוֹ:


If a ban was issued conditionally, even if one imposed that [conditional ban] on himself, it must be nullified [before ordinary interaction with the person is permitted]. If a Torah sage issued a ban of ostracism against himself, even if he made that ban conditional on the consent of another person and even if he issued it because of a matter which requires ostracism, he may nullify the ban himself.


נִדּוּי עַל תְּנַאי אֲפִלּוּ עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ צָרִיךְ הֲפָרָה. תַּלְמִיד חָכָם שֶׁנִּדָּה עַצְמוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ נִדָּה עַצְמוֹ עַל דַּעַת פְּלוֹנִי וַאֲפִלּוּ עַל דָּבָר שֶׁחַיָּב עָלָיו נִדּוּי הֲרֵי זֶה מֵפֵר לְעַצְמוֹ:


Whenever a person dreams that he was placed under a ban of ostracism, even if he knows who issued that ban, ten people who are proficient in Torah Law are required to release him from that ban. If he cannot find such people [in his immediate surroundings], he must journey a parsah in search of them.

If he cannot find [these people within that distance], the ban can be released even by ten people who study Mishnah. If he cannot find [such people], the ban can be released even by ten people who know how to read the Torah. If he cannot find ten people in his place, the ban can be released by three ordinary people.


מִי שֶׁנִּדּוּהוּ בַּחֲלוֹם אֲפִלּוּ יָדַע מִי נִדָּהוּ צָרִיךְ עֲשָׂרָה בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁשּׁוֹנִין הֲלָכוֹת לְהַתִּירוֹ מִנִּדּוּיוֹ. וְאִם לֹא מָצָא טוֹרֵחַ אַחֲרֵיהֶם עַד פַּרְסָא. לֹא מָצָא מַתִּירִים לוֹ אֲפִלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה שֶׁשּׁוֹנִים מִשְׁנָה. לֹא מָצָא מַתִּירִין לוֹ עֲשָׂרָה שֶׁיּוֹדְעִים לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה. לֹא מָצָא מַתִּירִין לוֹ אֲפִלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה שֵׁאֵינָן יוֹדִעִין לִקִרוֹת. לֹא מָצָא בִּמְקוֹמוֹ עֲשָׂרָה מַתִּירִין לוֹ אֲפִלּוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה:


Whenever a ban of ostracism is imposed in a person's presence, it should only be lifted in his presence. If it was issued outside his presence, it may be lifted in his presence or outside his presence. There is no [fixed amount of time] between the issuance of a ban and its release. Instead, one may issue a ban and lift it immediately if the person placed under ban improves his behavior.

However, [if the court sees fit for this individual to remain under ban for a number of years, they may extend [the ban] according to his wickedness. Similarly, if it sees fit, the court is entitled to excommunicate a person at the outset or to excommunicate anyone who eats, drinks, or stands within four cubits of a person who has been ostracized. [This power is granted] to cause [the banned person] hardship and [thus,] create a fence around the Torah, so that it will not be violated by the sinners. Even though a Torah sage may place a person under a ban of ostracism [to preserve] his honor, it is not praiseworthy for a sage to accustom himself to this practice. Instead, he should turn his ears from the words of the common people and not pay attention to them, as Solomon said in his wisdom [Ecclesiastes 7:21]: “Also, do not pay heed to all the words that are spoken.”

This was the practice of the pious of the early generations. They would hear their shame and not answer. Furthermore, they would pardon and forgive the person who insulted them. The great sages would take pride in their pleasant deeds, relating that they never issued a ban of ostracism or excommunication [to protect] their honor. This is the path of the sages which is worthy of being followed.

When does the above apply? When [the person] spurned or embarrassed [the sage] in private. However, if one spurns or embarrasses a sage in public, it is forbidden for the sage to forgo his honor. Indeed, if he does so, he is punished, because the disrespect of the Torah is involved. Instead, he should seek vengeance and carry enmity over the matter like a snake until the offender requests to be pardoned. Then, he should forgive him.


מִי שֶׁנִּדּוּהוּ בְּפָנָיו אֵין מַתִּירִין לוֹ אֶלָּא בְּפָנָיו. נִדּוּהוּ שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו מַתִּירִין לוֹ בְּפָנָיו וְשֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו. וְאֵין בֵּין נִדּוּי לַהֲפָרָה כְּלוּם אֶלָּא מְנַדִּין וּמַתִּירִין בְּרֶגַע אֶחָד כְּשֶׁיַּחֲזֹר הַמְנֻדֶּה לַמּוּטָב. וְאִם רָאוּ בֵּית דִּין לְהַנִּיחַ זֶה בְּנִדּוּי כַּמָּה שָׁנִים מַנִּיחִין כְּפִי רִשְׁעוֹ. וְכֵן אִם רָאוּ בֵּית דִּין לְהַחֲרִים לָזֶה לְכַתְּחִלָּה וּלְהַחֲרִים מִי שֶׁיֹּאכַל עִמּוֹ וְשׁוֹתֶה עִמּוֹ אוֹ מִי שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד עִמּוֹ בְּאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת מַחְרִימִין כְּדֵי לְיַסְּרוֹ וּכְדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִפְרְצוּ הַחוֹטְאִים. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ רְשׁוּת לֶחָכָם לְנַדּוֹת לִכְבוֹדוֹ אֵינוֹ שֶׁבַח לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם לְהַנְהִיג עַצְמוֹ בְּדָבָר זֶה אֶלָּא מַעֲלִים אָזְנָיו מִדִּבְרֵי עַם הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא יָשִׁית לִבּוֹ לָהֶן כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁאָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה בְּחָכְמָתוֹ (קהלת ז כא) "גַּם לְכָל הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר יְדַבְּרוּ אַל תִּתֵּן לִבְּךָ". וְכֵן הָיָה דֶּרֶךְ חֲסִידִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שׁוֹמְעִים חֶרְפָּתָם וְאֵינָן מְשִׁיבִין וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁמּוֹחֲלִים לַמְחָרֵף וְסוֹלְחִים לוֹ. וַחֲכָמִים גְּדוֹלִים הָיוּ מִשְׁתַּבְּחִים בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם הַנָּאִים וְאוֹמְרִים שֶׁמֵּעוֹלָם לֹא נִדּוּ אָדָם וְלֹא הֶחְרִימוּהוּ לִכְבוֹדָן. וְזוֹ הִיא דַּרְכָּם שֶׁל תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים שֶׁרָאוּי לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁבִּזָּהוּ אוֹ חֵרְפָהוּ בַּסֵּתֶר. אֲבָל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם שֶׁבִּזָּהוּ אוֹ חֵרְפוֹ אָדָם בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא אָסוּר לוֹ לִמְחל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ וְאִם מָחַל נֶעֱנָשׁ שֶׁזֶּה בִּזְיוֹן תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא נוֹקֵם וְנוֹטֵר הַדָּבָר כְּנָחָשׁ עַד שֶׁיְּבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ מְחִילָה וְיִסְלַח לוֹ:

Blessed be God who grants assistance.

בְּרִיךְ רַחֲמָנָא דְּסַיְּעָן