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Pesachim 9


The Gemara says that in a house where gentiles live, the gentile residents might have buried a stillborn under the floor of the house. Because of this possibility, the house is Tamei out of doubt (mi'Safek). If, however, there are weasels around, then a weasel might have found the corpse and eaten it. The house is not Tamei, because there is a Safek Safeika: perhaps no corpse was buried in the floor of the house, and even if one was, perhaps a weasel came and removed it.

The Gemara mentions a ruling incident later concerning a Kohen who leaned over a pit to peer into it, and in the pit there might have been the corpse of a stillborn. Since the pit is a place which weasels frequent the Kohen does not become Tamei, because even if a corpse had been discarded into the pit, it was likely eaten or dragged away by a weasel.

Why do we assume that the Tum'ah is gone just because of a Safek Safeika? There is a well-known rule in Maseches Taharos (6:4) that in a Reshus ha'Yachid, all doubts which arise regarding Tum'ah and Taharah are judged Tamei, even there is only the smallest chance that it is actually Tamei (for instance, in a Safek Safeika of a Safek Safeika)! Why, in the cases of our Gemara, were the Rabanan lenient with Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Yachid because of a Safek Safeika?


(a) TOSFOS (DH v'Im) answers that it is so common for the weasel to drag away the corpse that it is almost absolutely certain that the weasel took it away or ate it. The house of the gentile, or the pit over which the Kohen leaned, are Tahor because we consider the Tum'ah to have been *certainly* removed from the premises, and not merely because we have a Safek Safeika.

(b) MAHARAM CHALAVAH explains that here we are not simply faced with a Safek Safeika. Rather, it is uncertain whether there was any Tum'ah to *begin with*. That is, a normal Safek or Safek Safeika involves a situation in which there definitely was Tum'ah, and the only question is whether it was removed or not. In such a case, the Mishnah indeed tells us that we must judge it Tamei, out of doubt. In the case of the house of a gentile, though, we do not know that there was a stillborn buried there at all, and in the case of the Kohen bending over the pit, we do not know that there was a stillborn in the pit ever. In such a case we do not apply the general principle that Safek Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Yachid is Tamei. Only when we know that there was Tum'ah there to begin with and now there is a Sfek Sfeika, will we be Metamei a Safek in Reshus ha'Yachid.


The Gemara presents a number of Halachos concerning cases in which a mouse runs off with Chametz, causing doubts to arise as to whether there is Chametz in one's house (and he has to perform another Bedikas Chametz).

Why do we not simply rule leniently and exempt the owner of the house from Bedikah on the grounds that these is a Safek Safeika if Chametz exists in each of these cases? One Safek is that we do not know if the mouse brought Chametz into the house, and the other Safek is that even if it did bring Chametz in, perhaps it ate the Chametz!


(a) TOSFOS (DH Hayinu) says that the cases in the Gemara are when a rodent disappeared with a very large loaf of bread. It is too large for the rodent to possibly eat before Pesach starts, and thus it is clear that if it was indeed brought into the house, it is still there.

(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR suggests that our Gemara follows the opinion of Rav Zeira (9a), who says that the only thing a weasel eats right away is meat. Bread, though, it always leaves over for later.

(c) The RA'AVAD suggests that when the rodent runs into the house with Chametz, at that exact moment we know that there is bread in the house. Even though the rodent might have eaten it later, since at the moment it enters the house we know for sure that there is Chametz in the house, the owner of the house has already become obligated to perform a Bedikah. Even if a doubt later arises that perhaps the rodent ate the Chametz, the obligation to search the house has already taken effect.

(d) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR cites in the name of "Yesh Mefarshim" that it is only a weasel that eats whatever it finds. A *mouse*, though, always leaves over some food.

QUESTION: The Gemara presents a case in which a doubt exists whether or not there is Chametz in one's home and one must perform another Bedikah: There were nine piles of Matzah and one pile of Chametz, and a mouse took one pile and brought it into the house, but it is not known which pile it took into the house. RASHI explains that if the piles were "Kavu'a," then the principle of "k'Mechtzah Al Mechtzah" applies and it is as if there were equal numbers of piles of Matzah and Chametz, and we require another Bedikah.

Why should we apply the rule of Safek Isur l'Chumra and be stringent when it comes to repeating the Bedikas Chametz? Bedikas Chametz is only a Chiyuv *d'Rabanan*! Once a person has done Bitul Chametz and nullified whatever Chametz might be in his possession, the requirement to do Bedikah is only mid'Rabanan. When there is a Safek d'Rabanan we are normally lenient, if so we should not require the owner of the house to perform another Bedikah!


(a) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR says indeed, when the Gemara here says that this is a Safek Isur and it is l'Chumra, it only means that one has to perform another *Bitul*. (That is, when the piles are not "Kavu'a," and there is a majority of Matzah piles, one does not even have to do Bitul). A second Bedikah never has to be done.

(b) The RA'AVAD (on the Rif) answers that Bedikas Chametz is different from any other Safek d'Rabanan, because the whole enactment of Bedikas Chametz was decreed only to account for a case when there is a *question* as to whether or not there is Chametz in a person's house. Therefore, in this kind of Safek as well, when one knows that the mouse took something into the house but he does not know whether the item in his house is Chametz or Matzah, the Rabanan also decreed that Bedikah be done (this is also the explanation of the RAMBAN in Bava Basra 55b).

Nevertheless, the Gemara gives a number of cases in which we *do* apply the principle of Safek d'Rabanan l'Kula with regard to Bedikas Chametz (for example, in the case of two piles, one of Chametz and one of Matzah, and two houses, and one pile was brought into each house; the case where one did a Bedikah but then found some Chametz and is unsure whether or not there is additional Chametz there (see Rashi, DH Kol Davar); the case of a doubt whether the mouse went into the house with Chametz or not - in all of these cases Rashi says that we are lenient because Safek d'Rabanan l'Kula). Why are we lenient, exempting the owner from Bedikas Chametz, according to the Ra'avad?

The answer is because the requirement to perform a Bedikah when there is a Safek applies only when one definitely had brought Chametz into his house, or it is a place where Chametz is commonly brought, and now it is not known whether there is still Chametz there or where it might be; Bedikah is required because we assume that there is Chametz there. Similarly, when we know that something was brought into the house but we are not sure whether it is Chametz or Matzah, one must perform a Bedikah. In the cases above we rule that Safek d'Rabanan l'Kula, the requirement to do Bedikah does not apply in a Safek, because the Safek is not where the Chametz is or whether it was removed, but whether Chametz was *ever* brought into the house to begin with. In such a case, the normal principle of Safek d'Rabanan l'Kula applies. (In the case of two piles, one of Chametz and one of Matzah, and two houses into which the piles were brought, even though Chametz definitely went into one of the houses, we are still lenient because of the principle of "Talinan" (we assume that the Chametz was brought into the non-checked house), which makes it *certain* that Chametz was not brought into the house that was already checked, and therefore the Rabanan did not enact that Bedikah be done in such a case.)

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