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Moed Katan, 5

MOED KATAN 5 - Dedicated by Gerald (Gedalia) Ziering in honor of Rabbi Elimelech Kohn, leader of the Daf Yomi shiur at Telshe Yeshiva Alumni of Riverdale, NY.


QUESTION: The Gemara discusses doing Chatitah in a private water pit (Bor Shel Yachid) and in a public water pit (Bor Shel Rabim) on Chol ha'Mo'ed. Chatitah involves removing rocks and other debris from inside the pit. The Gemara quotes and explains several Beraisos. It concludes that if one "needs the water," then it is permitted to do Chatitah in a Bor Shel Yachid (see Chart #1, footnote #2). The last Beraisa quoted by the Gemara concludes that "one may do Chatitah to them (Chotetin *Osan*)... but one may not do Chatitah into them (v'Lo Chotetin *l'Sochan*)."

What is the difference between "Chotetin Osan," which is permitted, and "Chotetin l'Sochan," which is not permitted?


(a) The LECHEM MISHNAH (Hilchos Yom Tov 8:4) says that "Chotetin l'Sochan" must be referring to some act that is similar to *digging*. (Perhaps he means increasing the depth of the pit.) In contrast "Chotetin Osan" means cleaning out the part of the pit which is already dug out.

(b) The MIRKEVES HA'MISHNAH explains that when the Beraisa says "Chotetin l'Sochan," the phrase "l'Sochan" ("into them") refers back to the "cracks" in the walls of the pit mentioned in the previous statement of the Beraisa, "v'Lo Shafin Es Sidkehen" -- "it is not permitted to smooth the cracks." The Beraisa is saying that it is not permitted to clean out the cracks in the walls of the pit in order to do a proper plastering job of the walls. (See however Chart #1 footnote #1)

(c) The DIKDUKEI SOFRIM omits the words, "v'Ein Chotetin l'Sochan," altogether. Indeed, none of the Rishonim cite them or explain the difference between the two types of Chatitah. It is logical to assume that they did not have these words in their Gemara.


OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which lists the different circumstances in which a grave-marker is placed above an area where a corpse or part thereof is located. Based on the Beraisa, the Gemara concludes that since a "Beis ha'Pras" in which a grave was plowed over ("Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever") does not make a person Tamei through Tum'as Ohel (but only through Tum'as Heset), it needs no marker. A different type of Beis ha'Pras, a field in which a grave was *lost* ("Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever"), but not plowed over, is Metamei b'Ohel and therefore it does require a marker.

The Gemara then quotes a Beraisa which implies that a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever *does* require a marker. The Beraisa states that if one finds a field that is marked as Tamei, but it is not known what type of field it is (is it Metamei b'Ohel or only b'Heset), then one determines the status of the field based on the presence of *trees*. If it has trees, then it is a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever and it is *not* Metamei b'Ohel. If it has no trees, then it is a Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever and it *is* Metamei b'Ohel. The Gemara asks that if a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever does not need a marker, then why is there any doubt about what type of field this one that is marked is?

The Gemara answers that it is true that a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever is not marked as Tamei since it is not Metamei b'Ohel. The Beraisa, though is referring to a field in which a Kever *was once lost*. Now, if we see that there are trees in the field, we may assume that the field was plowed over and it is no longer a Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever, but it is now a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever, and it is not Metamei b'Ohel.

How do trees in a field show that the field was plowed over and that there is no longer a corpse buried in it (which would be Metamei b'Ohel)? What does the presence of trees have anything to do with whether the field was plowed or not?

(a) TOSFOS (DH Yesh Bah) explains the Beraisa based on a Tosefta (which is also a Mishnah in Ohalos 18:2-3) which states the following rule: It is prohibited to plant trees in a Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever; it is permitted to plant only vegetables and grains. In contrast, it is permitted to plant trees in a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever, but it is not permitted to plant vegetables. (The reason trees may not be planted in a Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever is either because trees bear fruit which attract people, and we do not want people loitering in a field that has a grave (RASH in Ohalos 18:3), or because since it is Metamei b'Ohel, we do not want trees there which will spread the Tum'ah via Ohel with their branches (VILNA GA'ON ibid.).)

If so, trees in the field may be used as a Siman -- an external sign -- that identifies the field. When there are trees in the field, that is a sure sign that no grave was lost in the field.

The SEFAS EMES and others question the explanation of Tosfos. The Gemara concludes that the Beraisa is discussing a field in which a grave was certainly lost at one point, and nevertheless if it now has trees then we know that it is only a field in which a grave was plowed over and it is not Metamei b'Ohel. If, originally, a grave was lost in the field, how can trees be a sign indicating that it is not a Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever? We know for sure that there *is* a grave in the field, and that trees were planted there unlawfully!

The RASH (end of Ohalos 18:5) explains that if trees were later planted in the field, we assume that since people know the Halachah that trees may not be planted in a field in which a grave was lost, the grave must have been found and the bones removed before the trees were planted. If that is true, though, then why do we consider it a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever? It should not be Metamei at all, since the marking was only made because of the grave that was lost there, and not the grave was removed from the field! The Rash explains that if indeed the people had removed all traces of the corpse, then they would have erased the mark indicating that the field is Tamei. Since they left the mark, it must be that the grave was plowed over before it was removed, and they were not able to make sure that all remnants of the corpse had been removed. Trees may nevertheless be planted in such a field. Thus, when there are trees in the field, the marking of the field indicates the Tum'ah of a plowed-over grave.

Alternatively, he suggests that if we see trees planted there, it shows that they decided that when they first marked the field as Tamei, they simply made a mistake. There really was no grave that was lost there; it was only plowed over, and they mistakenly did not plant there in the past.

(b) RASHI here (and in Rashi Kesav Yad) explains that if there are trees in the field, it is not a *sign* that no grave was lost in the field; rather, it is a *cause* to be Metaher the field from Tum'as Ohel. In what way do trees actually *cause* the field to be Tahor from Tum'as Ohel?

Trees cannot be planted in a field without first plowing the field. Thus, if there are trees in the field, then that means that the field was plowed over and any grave that was there would have been destroyed by the plow. Therefore, the trees make the field into a Sadeh sh'Necherash Bah Kever.

REBBI AKIVA EIGER (Chidushim), the NACHALAS DAVID, and the SEFAS EMES ask that this does not make sense. How can it be that if a field was plowed, we assume that the bones of the grave were completely ground up? There is only a slight possibility that no flesh will be left on the corpse, nor will there be "Rov Minyan" or "Rov Binyan" or "Rova ha'Kav" of bones left together after having been plowed. The likelihood is that at least a k'Zayis of flesh will remain, or a Rova Kav of bones, or a spine or skull will remain, which are Metamei b'Ohel! How can Rashi say that we are certain that there is no Tum'as Ohel when the field was plowed over, and be lenient?

The answer to this question might be gleaned from the words of TOSFOS in Kesuvos (28b, DH Beis ha'Pras), who also learns like Rashi in our Sugya. Tosfos there explains that even a Sadeh sh'Ne'evad Bah Kever is only Metamei b'Ohel *mid'Rabanan*, because this field is considered a Reshus ha'Rabim and the rule is that "a Safek Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Rabim is Tahor" mid'Oraisa. If so, why in this case did the Rabanan decree that the field is Tamei, if it is Tahor mid'Oraisa? The Rabanan never make a Safek Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Rabim be Tamei? Tosfos answers that since the field will always be in existence and the Safek Tum'ah will always remain, the Rabanan decreed it Tamei. Only when there is a temporary problem of a Safek Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Rabim does it remain Tahor, even mid'Rabanan. For a permanent situation of a Safek Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Rabim, the Rabanan did decree that it is Tamei. (The RASH in Ohalos 18:3 proposes a similar distinction.)

If the entire Tum'ah of the field in which the grave was lost is mid'Rabanan, perhaps the Rabanan were Metaher a person who walks into such a field after it was plowed due to a Safek Safeka; First, maybe the lost grave is not in this spot in which the person walked. Second, even if it was, the plow might possibly have crushed so much of the bones (and the flesh might have decomposed already) such that it no longer is Metamei b'Ohel. This, then, is how Rashi would answer the question of the Acharonim on his approach.

However, according to this explanation, a novel Chidush emerges according to Rashi. If a field has trees in it (that is, the field is one which had a grave which was plowed over) and one walks the entire length and width of the field, covering all parts of the field, then it will no longer be a Sfek Sfeika! Since the person has walked over every spot in the field, there will be only a single Safek. He definitely walked over the grave; the only question is whether it was sufficiently intact to be Metamei b'Ohel. In such a case, with only one Safek, perhaps he would be Tamei. Similarly, if one walked into a field over which there was an awning covering the entire field, that awning joins the entire field together as an Ohel and spreads Tum'ah, and the only Safek left is whether the corpse is intact enough to be Metamei b'Ohel. Perhaps since no such Tum'ah is mentioned in the Gemara, Beraisa, or by Rashi, Rebbi Akiva Eiger did not accept such an answer.

Another possible objection to this answer is that it explains well the conclusion of the Gemara, that the field which was plowed once had a lost grave. But it does not explain the Gemara's original assertion, that a plowed field is Tahor even if there was *no* lost grave in the field. If the site of the grave is known, why should it not be Metamei after being plowed over?

However, this may be answered very simply. The Beraisa discussed a person who came to a marked field and was not sure which kind of Beis ha'Peras it was. Why was he not sure? Just look for a grave inside the field! If there is a grave, then the rest of the field is Tamei because the grave was plowed. If there is no grave, then the rest of the field must be Tamei because a grave was *lost* in the field, and it is Metamei b'Ohel. It could not be Tamei just because a grave was plowed in the field, and not be Metamei b'Ohel -- since there is no grave in the field to plow! (That is,, there is no reason to assume that there once was a grave and it was disinterred.) The answer to this question is that even when there is no marked grave in the field, it might be that the field is one in which a grave was plowed. It might have had a *lost* grave in the field which was plowed, thereby removing its Tum'as Ohel.

If so, even before the Gemara's conclusion it was known that the field originally had a lost grave, which was later plowed over, created a Safek- Sfeika (as described above). The Gemara's conclusion only introduced the possibility that the field was already *marked* as a Beis ha'Pras (due to the lost grave) before the grave was plowed over. Originally, the Gemara thought that it was only marked after the grave had been plowed over. (M. Kornfeld)

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