THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) THE "TUM'OS" OF "SECHACHOS" AND "PERA'OS"
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
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
2) A NAZIR WHO BECOMES "TAMEI" WITH "CHEREV K'CHALAL"
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.
3) HALACHAH: "TUM'AS KOHANIM" FOR "CHEREV HAREI HU K'CHALAL"
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
(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
(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
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.
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
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).