A mishna on Meila 11a talks about money that a nazarite set aside for his offerings; if he died before completing the term and had set money aside specifically for the sin-offering, those coins are dropped into the Dead Sea. (I know that this is a specific case of a more-general rule.) This led me to wonder how that was done: were the coins dropped in individually, for each person as the case came up, or collected and dumped en masse (after some amount of time perhaps, or when there are "enough" to be worth the effort, like when we collect papers for burial)? I then found two possibly-contradictory ideas: on the one hand, some speculate that a large collection found by archaeologists was from this kind of disposal, but on the other hand, I'm told that Rashi on Pesachim 28a says there was a concern that people would collect them. (According to the latter view, the Dead Sea was chosen because ships didn't go there, not necessarily for its corrosive properties.)

If there is a concern that people will go diving for them, it would make sense to dump them individually, as the cases come up, not in large volumes, to reduce the profitability of that. On the other hand, that's more of a hassle to manage, and raises the risk of the money being used instead of destroyed.

How was this done? Was each payment dumped individually, or was money collected until there was "enough"?

  • I seem to have a tendency for thinking of questions that I struggle to tag. I'm really sorry about that. (I wasn't sure whether to go ahead and create a meila tag, for example.) Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 1:32
  • According to Rambam, it's possible that indeed you don't have to throw them into the Dead Sea specifically. In Hil. Erchin 8:8 he speaks of throwing something forbidden for use (an item declared hekdesh in the absence of the Temple) לים המלח או לים הגדול, "into the Dead Sea or the Mediterranean Sea." [For that matter, there seem to be places where he uses ים המלח to mean the Mediterranean - he thus speaks of the chilazon as living there (Hil. Tzitzis 2:2), and of some kind of threadlike moss growing on rocks there (Hil. Kilayim 10:1).]
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 2:42
  • In relation to maaser sheni if one throws something into a river it has to be turned into dust so it could never be used(Shulchan Aruch 331:133)
    – sam
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 5:47
  • @sam Indeed, but the river may be different than the sea, as rivers flow through inhabited areas.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 6:08

2 Answers 2


Israeli archeologists found a treasure of 300,000 (!) bronze coins near the Dead Sea, several years ago and Chanan Eshel z"l, a ben-Torah archeologist from Ofrah wrote about how he believes that they are coins from hekdesh and charamot that were actually שמג ךןאקרשךךט thrown in Yam HaMelach! See https://daf-yomi.com/DYItemDetails.aspx?itemId=8318

  • 2
    Welcome to MiYodeya Ari. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 13:54
  • 3
    Is "שמג ךןאקרשךךט" a broken copy-paste?
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 14:32

The Be'er Heitev in Yoreh De'ah 146:14 - סימן קמו - איזו עבודת כוכבים יש לה בטול ואיזו אין לה בטול - brings a dispute as to whether items thrown into the dead sea had to be pulverized first.

באר היטב (יד) לים. היינו לשאר נהרות (הוא דבעי שחיקה שספינות עוברות שם ושמא תפגע בו ותטלנו) אבל לים המלח לא בעי שחיקה ב''י וד''מ וכן הוא לקמן סי' רצ''ד ס''ו והב''ח כ' דאף לים המלח בעי שחיקה ועיין בא''ח סי' תמ''ה עכ''ל הש''ך:‏

The Beis Yosef and Darkei Moshe say that they can be thrown in "as is".

The Bach argues and says that even if they are thrown into the dead sea they first have to be pulverized.

  • I don't see how this answers the question of whether they were dumped all at once or individually.
    – Scimonster
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 13:40
  • Does the Bach say that they were pulverized immediately (so they couldn't be misappropriated), or only at the time of dumping (in which case the concern that prompts the question remains)? Commented May 1, 2017 at 14:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .