ME'ILAH (Heb. מְעִילָה; "sacrilege"), eighth tractate in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Babylonian Talmud order Kodashim. Me'ilah contains six chapters and deals with the unlawful use and enjoyment of hekdesh (i.e., things consecrated to the Temple, especially sacrifices). The scriptural basis is Leviticus 5:15–16, which lays down that a person inadvertently committing a trespass "in holy things" shall bring a guilt offering, make restitution for the loss caused, and pay an additional fine. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss the various offerings and sacrificial portions to which the law of me'ilah applies, and define the moment from which an offering is considered hekdesh for the purpose of this law. Chapter 3 is concerned with exceptional instances of illicit enjoyment of hekdesh, which are not affected by the law of me'ilah. Chapters 4 and 5 include the problem of determining the minimal value of misappropriation to which the law applies, and especially whether illicit enjoyment that causes no loss to hekdesh constitutes me'ilah. Chapter 6 deals with trespass by proxy. The Tosefta is divided into three chapters. The Babylonian Gemara enlarges on the teaching of the Mishnah but, with the exception of the remarkable *Ben Temalyon story (17b), there are no aggadic digressions. Me'ilah was translated into English in the Soncino edition of the Talmud (1948).
[Arnost Zvi Ehrman]