The Mishnah (Makkos 2:1) teaches that someone who kills inadvertently is sent to exile, if and only if they killed in a downward motion. If it was in an upward motion, there is no exile. Is this because they were more negligent, so exile isn't enough? Or because they were less at fault, so exile isn't necessary?

Tosafos (Makkos 9a ד"ה אמר ליה in the answer and Kesubos 38a ד"ה הני מילי) and the Rambam (Hilchos Rotzeach 6:12) are both of the opinion it's the latter: upward is less at fault. The Ritvah (ad. loc. ד"ה א"ל רבא) is of the opinion it's a dispute amongst the Amoraim, between Rava and Rav Chisdah (if so, Tosafos and the Rambam hold like Rava) (Cf. Ramban ad. loc. who explains their dispute differently).

I saw the Korbon HaEidah (Yerushalmi Makkos 2:1), an Acharon, says unequivocally that it's the former: upward is more negligent.

Is there a Rishon who agrees with him? Or is he simply disagreeing with the above Rishonim?

  • 1
    If it’s a dispute amongst the Amoraim, why can’t you say the Karban HaEidah holds like Rav Chisda?
    – DonielF
    Aug 6, 2018 at 21:20
  • 2
    It's interesting how similar his language is to that of the Rambam. It seems as if he copied the Rambam's reason but used it the opposite way
    – b a
    Aug 6, 2018 at 21:54
  • @DonielF assuming he learned like the Ritvah, it is still strange to me that he's explaining like an amora which the other Rishonim didn't pasken like.
    – robev
    Aug 6, 2018 at 22:03
  • @Doniel robev, maybe Rava argues on the Yerushalmi. Is there an internal reason to think the Yerushalmi holds like R Chisda?
    – Double AA
    Aug 7, 2018 at 0:05
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    @DoubleAA I don't know. The Korbon HaEidah is on the Mishnah. I'd link to it but I don't know where it is online (besides hebrewbooks)
    – robev
    Aug 7, 2018 at 0:06

3 Answers 3


I disagree with your presentation of the question, in that as far as I can tell, the Korban Haedah does not seem to be disagreeing with the Rambam, but rather interpreting that same Rambam. H/t to @ba who noted the language similarity.

The Rambam writes:

מִי שֶׁהָיָה דּוֹלֶה אֶת הֶחָבִית לְהַעֲלוֹתָהּ לַגַּג. וְנִפְסַק הַחֶבֶל וְנָפְלָה עַל חֲבֵרוֹ וַהֲרָגַתְהוּ. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה עוֹלֶה בַּסֻּלָּם וְנָפַל עַל חֲבֵרוֹ וַהֲרָגוֹ. פָּטוּר מִן הַגָּלוּת. שֶׁזֶּה כְּמוֹ אָנוּס הוּא. שֶׁאֵין זֶה דָּבָר הַקָּרוֹב לִהְיוֹת בְּרֹב הָעִתִּים אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ פֶּלֶא הוּא. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה מְשַׁלְשֵׁל אֶת הֶחָבִית וְנָפְלָה עַל חֲבֵרוֹ וַהֲרָגַתְהוּ. הָיָה יוֹרֵד בַּסֻּלָּם וְנָפַל עַל חֲבֵרוֹ. הָיָה מְעַגֵּל בְּמַעְגֵּלָה וְנָפְלָה עַל חֲבֵרוֹ וַהֲרָגַתְהוּ. גּוֹלֶה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה כג) "וַיַּפֵּל עָלָיו וַיָּמֹת" שֶׁיִּפּל דֶּרֶךְ נְפִילָה. שֶׁהֲרֵי דֶּרֶךְ נְפִילָה מָצוּי בְּרֹב הָעִתִּים לְהַזִּיק וְדָבָר קָרוֹב הוּא לִהְיוֹת. שֶׁהֲרֵי טֶבַע הַכָּבֵד לֵירֵד לְמַטָּה בִּמְהֵרָה. וְהוֹאִיל וְלֹא זֵרֵז עַצְמוֹ וְתִקֵּן מַעֲשָׂיו יָפֶה בִּשְׁעַת יְרִידָה יִגְלֶה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

I have bolded two sections of this Ramabm. The first section is the "reason" (see Penei Yehoshua here) given for why Derech Aliyah (going upwards) is exempt from Galus. The Rambam says that it is because this is not something that happens regularly, rather, it is highly unlikely to happen. The second section writes that a downward fall is more likely to happen, and therefore, if that happens, it is a case of negligence.

In summary, if it is Derech Yeridah, extra care should have been taken, and therefore, one is negligent if it happened to them. If it was going upwards, there is no negligence at all, since that very rarely happens.

The issue with this is that if so, it seems unfair that in this case, the person should have no place to run; he is theoretically even more innocent than the negligent person! In this case, he has no protection from the Goel Hadam!

The Korban Haedah here writes:

כל שבדרך ירידתו גולה. דכתיב ויפול עליו עד שיהא דרך נפילה והטעם שקרוב הדבר שבשגגה נעשה שטבע הכבד לירד למטה במהרה ודרך עלייה אין רגילות ליפול וקרוב הדבר שהוא מזיד לכך אינו גולה ואם ימצאנו גואל הדם רשאי להרגו וכל דנקט התנא לאתויי אפילו ירידה שהיא לצורך עלייה מיקרי ירידה:

The bolded section is where he writes that it is highly unlikely that that it will fall downwards when one is going up. Because it is so unlikely, the odds are that if this happened, it was a case of Meizid, because it is so unlikely to take place as an Ones. This is an interpretation of the Rambam, that answers the question asked above, of how can we not afford this person any protection.

In fact, in his "Tosfos-equivalent Peirush" (Shayarei Korban), he claims that this is the opinion of the Rambam!

כל שבדרך ירידה כו'. עיין בקונטרס כ"כ הרמב"ם.

Note that there he goes on to disagree with the Rambam personally in the Shayarei Korban.

Note: I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, simply noting that this was how the Korban Haedah felt.

  • "The issue with this is that if so, it seems unfair" I don't understand this question. The Rambam says it's like an ones, so there's no galus. What this implies is the Goel hadam is not allowed to kill him. The Ohr Sameach ad. loc. says this explicitly. I don't see this then being the motivation for the Korbon HaEidah. Especially since he finishes off in the Shirei Korbon saying if going up is more lenient, the Goel hadam can't kill the guy.
    – robev
    Aug 7, 2018 at 15:01
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    However, I see it pretty explicit that he feels the Rambam holds its worse to go up. I have zero comprehension how he read that into the Rambam, who explicitly says it's like an ones. The Shirei Korbon in his own explanation also says going up is an ones. How can he say the Rambam holds its a meizid? How do you understand it?
    – robev
    Aug 7, 2018 at 15:03
  • @robev Re: your first comment, often times, the Goel Hadam being not allowed to kill someone doesn't mean they will. Re: second comment, yes, in Peshat in the Rambam, it is a lot harder to follow than the approach of the Or Sameach. My guess (as I sort of noted, but not clearly), is that the Korban Haedah is being medayek in the continuation of the Rambam "שֶׁאֵין זֶה דָּבָר הַקָּרוֹב לִהְיוֹת בְּרֹב הָעִתִּים אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ פֶּלֶא הוּא" - if this was some clear-cut case of Ones, there would be no need to continue in this way. Aug 7, 2018 at 15:17
  • Re your first point: it doesn't matter what the Goel hadam will or will not do. If he eats pig on Yom Kippur that's his problem. What does that have anything to do if killing upward is better or worse? You are presenting the killers lack of protection as a motivation for your answer. I don't see it as having any bearing...re your second point, I don't know what's wrong with the Rambam explaining why it's an ones (ie: it's because it's very unlikely).
    – robev
    Aug 7, 2018 at 15:24
  • @robev first-point - as outlined in many places (e.g. this answer), a relative's murder can sometimes prompt people to kill even wrongly, I think that may warrant extra protection, but you are correct that it is a dochak Aug 7, 2018 at 15:28

The Shitta mekubetzes Kesubos 37b says that this is a machlokes between Rashi and tosfos.

אפשר לומר דס"ל לתוס' דגלות לא מקרי כפרה דאדרבה חומרא הוא שהחמירה תורה עליו דלא תסגי ליה בקרבן וכדכתבינן ודרך עליה משום דקיל טפי דהוי אנוס ביותר להכי לא ניתן לשגגתו גלות וכדבעינן למכתב קמן בס"ד
According to Tosfos exile is a very strict punishment which the Torah imposed on him for an undisclosed time period and did not absolve him with the mere payment of a Korban. Therefore killing upwards which is less strict and is less purposeful does not need the severe punishment of galus.

ולשיטת רש"י ז"ל ניחא דה"ק אצטריך סד"א ה"מ היכא דהרגו דרך עליה פירוש דמלא תקחו כופר לא שמעינן אלא דרך עליה ותנא דברייתא נקט מיתות קלות שניתן שגגתן לכפרה
According to Rashi the passuk "Velo tikchu kofer" that forbids payment of money as replacement for punishment would only apply if one killed upwards which is stricter, but the braisa brings an extra passuk to inform us even killing downwards which is more lenient and has an atonement when done by mistake is also not absolved through money rather requires galus.(see Rashi and Tosfos on Kesubos 37b where this is more clear)

The Rosh quoted in the Shita Mekubetzes and Rambam (rotzeach 6,12) agree with Tosfos that killing upwards is more lenient.

והרא"ש ז"ל פירש כפירוש התוספות

The Shitta Mekubetzes Rav Betzalel Ashkenazi (16th century contempory of the Beis Yosef) agrees with Rashi that killing upwards is more severe:

ולשיטת רש"י ז"ל ניחא טפי הא לישנא דנקט תלמודא הכי משמע דלא תקחו כופר היכא דהרגו דרך עליה שלא נתנה שגגתן לכפרה לא בממון ולא בגלות אבל הרגו דרך ירידה דנתנה שגגתן לכפרה אימא נשקול ממונא ונפטריה


Although @רבות מחשבות pointed out the premise of my question seems mistaken, the question still stands: does any Rishon hold killing upward is more negligent than downward. @user15464 pointed out that the Shita Mekubetzes to Kesubos 37b understands Rashi there to be hold thusly.

For completeness I'll add my findings. Footnote 14 in the Mossad HaRav Kook edition of Chiddushei HaRashba (by Rav Yaakov Dovid Ilan) ad. loc. understands that the Ramban, Ra'ah, Ritvah and Rabbeinu Keraskas ad. loc. all hold upward is more negligent. I looked at all those sources, and found no indication how they felt in either direction (pun unintended). The footnote also posits Rashi to 35a holds its a gezeiras hakasuv, decree of the writ, that inadvertent upward killings don't have exile. This doesn't follow the Shita's understanding of Rashi. I also (humbly so) disagree with the footnote's understanding of that Rashi.

One potentially explicit source is the Maharsha's understanding of Tosafos to Sanhedrin 79b ד"ה בין. The Maharsha writes:

ר"ל דלא ליפטור המזיד עצמו ממיתה בממון אפילו בדרך ירידה דסלקא דעתך אמינא הא דכתיב ולא תקחו כופר לנפש רוצח דלא ליפטור עצמו בממון היינו בדרך עלייה שהוא חמור שלא נתנה שגגתו לכפרה אבל דרך ירידה שהוא קל שניתן שגגתו לכפרה על ידי שהוא גולה אימא דבמזיד נמי מקילינן ביה דשקלינן מיניה ממונא וניפטריה ממיתה

[Tosafos] mean to say, an intentional killer cannot absolve themselves with money, even by killing downwards. Because I would have said, the verse which says "don't take a redemption for the soul of the killer", that he can't absolve himself with money, is talking about where he killed in an upward fashion, which is more severe since if done unintentionally there would be no atonement (with exile). However, killing in a downward fashion, which is less severe, since killing inadvertently this way has atonement through exile, I'd say killing intentionally should also have a leniency. That is, we'd take money from him to absolve him from the death penalty.

One could perhaps argue that the Maharsha really means that killing intentionally upward is more severe, since its correlating case when unintentional has no atonement. However, Keser HaTorah to Rambam Rotzeach 6:12 understands the Maharsha to be saying killing upwards is more negligent, unlike the Rambam. The above-mentioned footnote also understands the Maharsha this way.

Although, to be honest, I don't understand what in Tosafos' words compelled the Maharsha to explain it this way.

  • You know the Maharsha is an Acharon, right?
    – DonielF
    Aug 8, 2018 at 2:52
  • @DonielF the Maharsha is explaining Tosafos' opinion. I wasn't clear about that?
    – robev
    Aug 8, 2018 at 3:13

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