(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Nazir, 54


OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that a Nazir is not Megale'ach for the Tum'ah of "Sechachos" or for the Tum'ah of "Pera'os." The Mishnah in Ohalos (8:2) explains that "Sechachos" are branches of trees, and "Pera'os" are stones protruding from a fence. What Tum'ah is involved with these items, and why is a Nazir not Megale'ach for them?
(a) TOSFOS (54b, DH u'Pera'os) and the ROSH explain that the case is when we know that there is a Mes buried underneath one of the protruding branches or stones, but we do not know under which it is located. In such a case, all of the protruding branches or stones are Metamei out of doubt. Since the Tum'ah is only a Safek Tum'ah, the Nazir cannot be Megale'ach.

Why does the Nazir not need to be Megale'ach out of doubt before he can complete his Nezirus Taharah? The answer is that the Rosh here and Tosfos in Nidah (57a, DH Ilan) explain that the branches or stones are in Reshus ha'Rabim. There is a principle that a Safek Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Rabim is Tahor. Consequently, the Tum'ah of Sechachos and Pera'os is only mid'Rabanan. The Rabanan were Machmir, though, in the case of this particular Safek in Reshus ha'Rabim more than in other cases of Safek (perhaps because it is more common). Hence, mid'Oraisa, the Nazir is not Tamei and he does not have to be Megale'ach.

(b) TOSFOS in Nidah (57a) gives a second explanation for the Tum'ah of Sechachos and Pera'os. He says that it is discussing a case of branches or stones that are each less than a Tefach in width. Therefore, even though there is a Mes buried underneath them, they should not transfer the Tum'ah to the other side of the branch to the other items that are underneath the branch. The Rabanan, however, decreed that since the branches or stones are so close together, we should view them as if they are joined and are each a Tefach wide, and thus they are Metamei.

This is also the explanation of Tosfos in our Sugya (DH Ilan). Apparently, these words of Tosfos are words of a Hagahah who argues with the following Tosfos who gives the other explanation of Sechachos and Pera'os (see Arzei ha'Levanon in the name of the Mei Nafto'ach who tries to reconcile the two explanations of Tosfos).

Why, though, did the Rabanan decree that the branches are Metamei in this case if in reality they are separated from each other? Normally, even an extremely thin breach between the two parts of the roof is effective in making the two sides into two separate roofs, completely annulling the Ohel!

1. The RASH (Ohalos 8:2) suggests that since the branches are close enough that they can support a thin layer of cement that is poured upon them to form a platform, the Rabanan decreed that they are Metamei through Ohel, like the Mishnah there says. Other Mishnayos that imply that a split of less than a Tefach breaks the Ohel into two are referring to a split that cannot support even a thin layer of cement.

2. The RAMBAN writes that the Rabanan were Machmir here because all of the branches or stones come from a single source -- they are all connected at one end. Therefore, we view the branches at the unconnected end as if they, too, are connected.

3. TOSFOS in Nidah (57a) and the RASH in his second explanation learn that there is no space between the branches. Why, then, is a Nazir not Megale'ach for the Tum'ah beneath them? Tosfos says that while there is no space between the branches *horizontally*, there is space between them *vertically*; the branches are not on one level -- some are higher and some are lower. Even though we normally say "Chavot Rami" (see Sukah 18a), apparently the branches are arranged in such a way that "Chavot Rami" will not apply (for example, they are more than three Tefachim away from each other, vertically).

The Rash explains that even if all the branches are on the same level, since they blow around in the wind and separate from each other, they are only Metamei mid'Rabanan.


OPINIONS: The Gemara proves that it is not necessary to perform Haza'ah to the Nazir in all of the cases of Tum'ah listed in the Mishnah. It proves this from the part of the Mishnah that mentions "Kelim ha'Nog'im b'Mes," utensils that were in contact with a Mes. The Gemara says that since it is obvious that a Nazir who touches such Kelim does not need Haza'ah, that shows that not all the cases mentioned in the Mishnah need Haza'ah.

Why is it so obvious that a Nazir does *not* need Haza'ah for touching Kelim that were in contact with a Mes? There is a rule that "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal." The Torah teaches that certain objects acquire the same Tum'ah, that of Tum'as Mes, as the object which they touched and which gave them the Tum'ah. Hence, an instrument that touches a Mes is considered like the Mes itself (some say this applies only to metal Kelim, and some say it applies to all Kelim; see Insights to Pesachim 14b). Why, then, should the Nazir who touches the Kli that touched a Mes not need Haza'ah? He should be just like the person who touched the Mes itself! (TOSFOS DH Ta Shema)

In order to answer this question, we must further analyze the Halachah of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal." In what way is the Kli that touches a Mes like a Mes? How far does this comparison extend?

There are a number of different opinions in the Rishonim.

(a) RABEINU TAM, cited by Tosfos here, rules that the Cherev is always like the Mes itself. Not only do we say that someone who touches it becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah and needs Haza'ah, we even go so far as to say that if a Nazir touches it, he must be Megale'ach just like when he touches a Mes. Therefore, when the Mishnah says that a Nazir is not Megale'ach when he touches Kelim that were in contact with a Mes, it must be referring to non-metal Kelim which are not "k'Chalal." When a Nazir touches such Kelim, he becomes only a Rishon l'Tum'ah and does not need Haza'ah (rather, he becomes Tahor at the onset of evening).

This is a big Chidush, because the reason why the Tum'os listed in our Mishnah are not Metamei a Nazir to require him to be Megale'ach is because they are not mentioned explicitly in the verse, but rather they are all learned through Divrei Kabalah, through Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai. The rule is that a Nazir is Megale'ach only for a Tum'ah of a Mes that is written explicitly in the Torah. Since the Tum'ah of "Cherev k'Chalal" is not written explicitly in the Torah, how could the Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai require the Nazir to be Megale'ach? Rabeinu Tam apparently holds that this is part of the Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai -- the Halachah is stating that this Tum'ah should be treated as if it were written explicitly in the verse.

(b) Most Rishonim write that the Nazir is not Megale'ach for the Tum'ah of "Cherev k'Chalal" (see Tosfos here in the name of Rabeinu Chaim Kohen). According to these Rishonim, why does the Gemara assume that Haza'ah is not necessary for such a Tum'ah? The Rishonim explain that the Gemara is not really bringing proof from the case of Kelim that were in contact with a Mes, but rather from the case of Metzora (which is also listed in the Mishnah and which obviously does not need Haza'ah, because Haza'ah is necessary only for Tum'as *Mes*). (The Tosfos Rid actually changes the Girsa in our Gemara to read explicitly that the proof is from the case of Metzora.)

(c) Other Rishonim explain that a Cherev, although it is an Ani Avos ha'Tum'ah like the Mes itself, is only Metamei through Maga and Masa but not through Ohel (RAMBAN, Bava Basra 20b, Bamidbar 19:14; see also TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA 1:476, and TOSFOS Chulin 72a). They explain that even though the verse which teaches that "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" (53b) is discussing Tum'as Ohel, nevertheless there is another verse there (Bamidbar 19:14) that excludes everything except for a Mes from being Metamei through Ohel. That is, only the actual body of a deceased person will be Metamei through Ohel. This answers the famous question of RABEINU CHAIM KOHEN cited by Tosfos here. Rabeinu Chaim Kohen asks that if a Kohen is prohibited from becoming Tamei through a "Cherev k'Chalal" just like through a Mes, then he should not be able to enter any house which once contained a dead person, because all of the metal utensils in the house should become like the Mes itself because of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal," and no Kohen should be able to walk into the house. Consequently, there will be almost no house in the world into which a Kohen may enter!

According to the Ramban, who says that a Cherev is not Metamei through Ohel, there is no problem for a Kohen to enter any house (as long as he does not touch any metal items there). (See following Insight.)

(d) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Tum'as Mes 5:3, 13) writes that a Cherev is only Metamei through *Maga*, but not through Masa and not through Ohel. His reasoning is because the Halachah of Cherev only teaches that a Kli is like a Mes with regard to what the Torah specifically teaches about the way a Mes is Metamei, and the Torah only says explicitly that a Mes is Metamei through Maga (Masa is learned through a Kal v'Chomer, Hilchos Tum'as Mes 1:2). A Cherev is not Metamei through Tum'as Ohel because the verse says "*Adam* Ki Yamus b'Ohel," like we explained earlier.

This is also the opinion of RASHI in Chulin (71b) who gives a different reason for why Cherev is not Metamei through Masa. Rashi writes that the only Tum'ah that is Metamei through Masa is a Tum'ah that comes out of the object itself, and not a Tum'ah that the object acquired from something else.

(e) We have assumed until now that a Cherev is like the Mes at least with regard to being Metamei an item for seven days and requiring Haza'ah on the third and seventh days. However, the RAMBAN (loc. cit.) and the BA'AL HA'ME'OR (as cited by the Gilyon ha'Shas here) write that even though the item that the Mes touches becomes Tamei for seven days, nevertheless its Tum'ah departs without having Haza'ah. This also answers our question: the Gemara is asking that when the Nazir touches the Kelim that were in contact with a Mes, he certainly does not need Haza'ah, because even if they are Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah and are Metamei him for seven days, nevertheless they do not require him to have Haza'ah.

However, the Ramban himself in Bava Basra and the TOSFOS RID here cite a Yerushalmi (Nazir 7:4) that says clearly that one who touches a Kli that touches a Mes *does* need Haza'ah on the third and seventh days because of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal." Nevertheless, the Ramban writes that our Gemara apparently argues with the Yerushalmi.

The RAMBAM (Hilchos Nezirus 7:8) preserves both the ruling of the Yerushalmi and the ruling of our Gemara as explained by the Ramban. The Rambam suggests that although normally touching a "Cherev k'Chalal" does require Haza'ah, if a *Nazir* touches a Cherev, he does *not* need Haza'ah! The Rambam justifies this logically and says that the Torah does not require Haza'ah for the Nazir in order for the days of his Tum'ah to count towards his days of Nezirus (for if the Tum'ah *would* require Haza'ah, then the days of his Tum'ah would *not* towards the days of his Nezirus, because he would then be "Mechusar Ma'aseh" in order to become Tahor). (See RADVAZ on the Rambam there, and the ME'IRI here. See also Insights to 16b in the name of the Rambam in Perush ha'Mishnayos.)

OPINIONS: The Rishonim in our Sugya discuss the applications of the rule that "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" (see previous Insight). Is a Kohen permitted to be Metamei himself to a Cherev (a utensil or instrument that touched a Mes; according to some Rishonim, this applies only to a metal Kli), or is he prohibited to be Metamei to such a Kli just like he is prohibited to be Metamei to a Mes itself?
(a) RABEINU CHAIM KOHEN cited by Tosfos (DH Ta Shema) cites a Beraisa in Maseches Semachos that states that a Kohen is only prohibited to be Metamei himself to the type of Tum'ah that requires a Nazir to be Megale'ach. Since most Rishonim rule that a Nazir is not Megale'ach for the Tum'ah of Cherev (like our Mishnah implies, and not like Rabeinu Tam as mentioned in the first answer of the previous Insight), therefore a Kohen is also not prohibited to be Metamei to a Cherev. This is also the view of many other Rishonim (see TOSFOS in Shabbos 152b, and RA'AVAD in Hilchos Tum'as Mes 12:6).

From Rabeinu Chaim Kohen's words it seems that there is not even an Isur d'Rabanan for a Kohen to be Metamei to a Cherev, since he uses this logic to permit Kohanim to walk into a home that once had a Mes in it that was Metamei the metal Kelim in the home.

The Rishonim (TOSFOS in Berachos 19b and others) question the Beraisa in Maseches Semachos from the Beraisa quoted earlier in Nazir that says that the verse "Al Kol Nafshos Mes Lo Yavo" (Vayikra 21:11) teaches that a Kohen may not be Metamei to a *Revi'is* Lug of Dam, while the Mishnah says that a Nazir is only Megale'ach for becoming Tamei from a *Chatzi* Lug of Dam!

The Rishonim answer that the Beraisa in Semachos only means to permit Kohanim to be Metamei to the *type* of object for which a Nazir is not Megale'ach. Since a Nazir *could* be Megale'ach for Dam if there is a Chatzi Lug of it, therefore a Kohen may not be Metamei to any amount of Dam, even a Revi'is. In contrast, there is *no* type of Kli that touches a Mes which would cause a Nazir to be Megale'ach.

(See, however, TOSFOS RID on 54a who writes that the Tum'ah of Revi'is Dam is only mid'Rabanan, implying that indeed, mid'Oraisa a Kohen is only prohibited to be Metamei to a Chatzi Lug of Dam. When the Beraisa says that he may not become Tamei to a Revi'is Dam, it is just saying "Revi'is" because of the Isur d'Rabanan.)

The RA'AVAD (Hilchos Tum'as Mes 3:3) writes that a Nazir is Megale'ach if he becomes Tamei through *Ohel* with Revi'is Lug Dam. This provides a simple answer to the question of Tosfos. (See Insights to 54b.)

(b) Others rule that even though a Kohen is not prohibited mid'Oraisa from becoming Tamei with a Tum'ah which does not cause a Nazir to be Megale'ach, nevertheless it is prohibited for him to be Metamei for such a Tum'ah *mid'Rabanan* (BEIS YOSEF YD 369). This might also be the intention of the Ramban (Bamidbar 19:14).

(c) RABEINU TAM cited by Tosfos in Berachos (19b) and in Shabbos (152b) rejects the Beraisa in Semachos based on the Beraisa that says that a Kohen is prohibited to be Metamei to a Revi'is Dam even though a Nazir is not Megale'ach for a Revi'is Dam. Rabeinu Tam rules that a Kohen is prohibited mid'Oraisa to be Metamei to a Cherev and other Tum'os for which a Nazir is not Megale'ach (such as a Golel and Dofek).

(See OR SAME'ACH Hilchos Avel 3:2, and RABEINU CHAIM HA'LEVI Hilchos Tum'as Mes 7:4.)

HALACHAH: The TUR (YD 369) rules that a Kohen is prohibited to be Metamei to a Golel and Dofek. The Tur implies that it is an Isur d'Oraisa, like Rabeinu Tam rules ((c) above). Accordingly, it should also be prohibited mid'Oraisa for a Kohen to be Metamei to a Kli that touched a Mes.

However, the BEIS YOSEF writes that a Kohen is only prohibited mid'Rabanan to be Metamei with a Tum'ah for which a Nazir is not Megale'ach. In the Shulchan Aruch, when he quotes the words of the Tur, he presumably means this as well (like (b) above).

The REMA does not comment on the prohibition of a Kohen to be Metamei to a Golel and Dofek, but he writes that whether or not a Kohen may touch a Kli that touched a Mes is a Machlokes Rishonim, and the common practice is to be lenient and to permit it (it is not clear whether the Rema permits the Tum'ah of a Golel and Dofek for this reason as well).

Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,