Pisqa’ 229

Pisqa’ 2291


“When you build a new house” (Dt.22:8)—

I might infer only that this rule

applies to one who builds a house.

How do I know that it applies as well to

one who buys, one who inherits

or one who receives it as a gift?

The Teaching states:

“A house” (Dt.22:8)—

However [you may have acquired it].2

“Do not pour blood on your house” (Dt.22:8)—

I might infer only that this rule

applies specifically to a residence (bayit).

How do I know that it applies as well to

a storage shed for straw (beit hateven),

a cattle-barn (beit habaqar), a wood-shed (bet ha`eitzim),

or a silo (bet ha‘otzarot)?

The Teaching states:3

“Do not pour blood on your house” (Dt.22:8)—

[on whatever is sturdy enough to be called a “house”].

Well, is it possible to say that

this rule applies as well to one who builds

A gate house (beit sha`ar),

or an open-air portico, or a balcony?

The Teaching states:

House” (Dt.22:8)—

And just as a house is distinctive,

in being a residential space (bet dirah),

all these other structures are excluded,

for they have no residential space.4


“Then you shall build a railing for your roof” (Dt.22:8)—

I might only infer that

this rule applies to the roof.

How do I know that

it includes as well [a requirement] to cordon off

cisterns, pits, cave-springs, crevasses and ditches?

The Teaching states:

“Do not pour blood on your house” (Dt.22:8)—

[or any thing on your property].

If so, why does the verse specify the roof?

To exclude from this requirement

the Altar Ramp [which, at ten cubits in height, had no railing].5

And why does the verse specify a house? —

This is to include the Sanctuary under this rule.6


To exclude the Forecourt [adjacent to the Sanctuary].7


“A new house” (Dt.22:8)—

Rabbi says:

while the house is still new, build a railing for it.

Now, what are the dimensions of the railing?

Where the roofers spread pitch,8

the height is a minimum of three handbreadths,

but along the walkway,

the height is at least ten handbreadths.

“Then you shall build a railing for your roof” (Dt.22:8)—

this is a prescriptive commandment.

Do not pour blood on your house” (Dt.22:8)—

this is a proscriptive commandment.


“When the one prone to falling indeed falls from it” (Dt.22:8)—

this guy must heave deserved a fall!

Actually, they ascribe merit

according to the deeds of the meritorious,

and guilt according to the deeds of the guilty.9

From it” (Dt.22:8)—

[he fell from the roof, downward to the ground,]

but not onto the roof from above it.

For if a public domain was higher

than the roof by ten handbreadths,

and someone fell from there onto the roof—

the householder is exempt

from compensating the victim.

As it is said:

From the roof” (Dt.22:8)—

but not onto it from a space above it.


Another word:

When you build a new house” (Dt.22:8).

R, Ishmael says:

The verse comes to teach you that

A person never knows how he will be judged.

As it is said:

“For a man does not know his allotted time, like a fish trapped in a net” (Ecc.9:12).

“A house” (Dt.22:8)—

On this basis they taught:

A house that is not at least four cubits square

is exempt from the roof-railing,

and from the doorpost amulet,10

and from [participation in] the blending of private domains.11

And they do not use it

[to mark] an expansion of a city’s borders,12

or to impose [upon produce] liability to the Tithe.13

And they don’t consider the four cubits of its entrance

[as part of the contained space of the house].

Finally, one disavowing the comforts of home

is permitted to live within

[a house less than four cubits square].

But it does not contract uncleanness from plague-signs,14

and it does not revert [to ancestral property] at the Jubilee year.15

and warriors may not return to their homes on its account.16

  1. H:238-240; JN2:140-141.
  2. Cf. Pisqa’ 194.1.
  3. Continues Pisqa’ 194.1
  4. Continues to parallel 194.1 as above.
  5. So M. Mid. 3:5.
  6. So M. Mid.4:6. Thus the Sanctuary (heichal) is called the Holy Abode (beit hamiqdash), i.e., a “house.”
  7. So Mid. 4:7.
  8. Cf. M. Mak. 2:1..
  9. //T. YK. 5:12. Cf. Sifre Nu., 114.
  10. Heb: mezuzah. See Dt.6:10.
  11. Heb: ha`eruv; literally, “the mixture of domains” that enables carrying between Jewish households in a shared courtyard on the Sabbath. Cf. M. Eruv.6:1ff.
  12. The process of extending a city’s borders from a house beyond the established border is described in M. Eruv. 5:1-5.
  13. The role of the house or courtyard in establishing obligation to remove the Tithe from produce brought into t hat space is detailed at M. Maas.3:1, 5.
  14. Plague-signs in homes are discussed at Lv.14:33ff. and M. Neg. 13:1-3.
  15. See Lv.25:13-17.
  16. The material at 229.5 is lacking in several mss and editions. See F:262, n.5.