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KODASHIM (Heb. קֳדָשִׁים), the fifth of the six orders of the Mishnah. The title Kodashim ("sacred things") is apparently an abbreviation of Sheḥitat Kodashim ("the slaughter of sacred animals") since its main subject is sacrifices. It has been suggested that since *Zevaḥim, the first tractate of the order, had also once been called Sheḥitat Kodashim, the name was applied to the order as a whole, as is the case with the order *Nezikin. However, the subjects dealt with in the order are chiefly the sacrifices of animals, birds, and meal offerings and also the laws of those obligated to bring a sacrifice, such as the sin offering and the guilt offering, and the laws of misappropriation of sacred property. In addition it contains a description of the Second Temple (tractate Middot) and of the morning service in the Temple until the completion of the offering of the daily sacrifice (Tamid). As well as the tractates discussing sacred things, the order includes the tractate Sheḥitat Ḥullin (in short, *Ḥullin) which deals not only with the slaughter of animals for human consumption, but other germane dietary laws applying to meat and animal products. The order contains 11 tractates, arranged, like most of the orders of the Mishnah, in descending sequence according to the number of chapters. They are: (1) Zevaḥim, 14 chapters; (2) Menaḥot, 13; (3) Ḥullin, 12; (4) Bekhorot, 9; (5) Arakhin, 9; (6) Temurah, 7; (7) Keritot, 6; (8) Me'ilah, 6; (9) Tamid, 6 (this was the number originally); (10) Middot, 5; and (11) Kinnim, 3–90 chapters in all. In the *Tosefta, Zevaḥim has 12 chapters, Ḥullin 10, Menaḥot 13, Bekhorot 7, Arakhin 5, Temurah 4, Me'ilah 3, and Keritot 4, while for Tamid, Middot, and Kinnim there is no Tosefta. There is no Jerusalem Talmud on any of Kodashim and in the Babylonian Talmud there is no Gemara to Middot and Kinnim.

The study of the order Kodashim was neglected for many generations, and even talmudic scholars, with a few outstanding exceptions, ignored it. In the time of Maimonides many justified this neglect by claiming that the laws appertaining to the sacrifices were of no practical benefit. Maimonides disagreed and in his commentary on the Mishnah, at the end of tractate Menaḥot, he states: "This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meal offering [Lev. 7:37]… everyone occupying himself with the law is as if he had offered a burnt offering, and a meal offering, and a sin offering. And the sages said: 'Scholars who occupy themselves with the halakhot of the Temple service are regarded by Scripture as if the Temple had been rebuilt in their time.' Consequently it is proper for a person to occupy himself with matters concerning the sacrifices and to discuss them." In recent years, largely under the influence of the Ḥafeẓ Ḥayyim, there has been a considerable revival of interest in the study of this order, and in many *kolelim it is the particular subject of study. This revival is partly connected with the hope that the Temple will be rebuilt.


Epstein, Mishnah, 980ff.; Ḥ. Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, Kodashim (1959), 3–4.

[Abraham Arzi]