THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) CASES OF "SAFEK SAFEIKA" WITH "TUM'AH" IN "RESHUS HA'YACHID"
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
(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.
2) THE OBLIGATION TO PERFORM BEDIKAH WHEN THERE IS A "SAFEK SAFEIKA"
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).
3) REPEATING A "BEDIKAS CHAMETZ" WHEN IN DOUBT
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
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
(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.)