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PESACHIM 14 - has been sponsored through a generous gift from Eli
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1) SUMMARY: INTRODUCTION TO THE SUGYA OF "REBBI CHANINA SEGAN HA'KOHANIM"
[I] THE PRINCIPLES OF TUM'OS AND TAHAROS
Although the details of the laws of Tum'ah mentioned in our Sugya have
already been summarized in Pesachim Chart #2, we present here a concise
survey of the main principles to serve as a tool for convenient review and
(a) LEVELS OF TUM'AH - Chazal learned from the verses in the Torah (in
Parshas Shemini and Parshas Chukas) the various levels of Tum'ah. There are
six levels of Tum'ah: (1) Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah; (2) Av ha'Tum'ah; (3) Rishon
l'Tum'ah; (4) Sheni l'Tum'ah; (5) Shelishi l'Tum'ah; (6) Revi'i l'Tum'ah.
Something that touches a person or object that is at a particular level of
Tum'ah becomes Tamei at one level down from the original Tum'ah. The
exception to this rule is metal utensils that touch an Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah or
an Av ha'Tum'ah, which become Tamei at the same level of Tum'ah as the
object they touched. (However, *they* cannot in turn cause other metal
utensils to become Tamei at their same level of Tum'ah.)
[II] TUM'AS MASHKIN
(b) WHICH TUM'OS APPLY TO WHICH ITEMS
*Metal utensils* can become Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah, Av ha'Tum'ah or Rishon
l'Tum'ah (see Insights to 14b), but not any lower level.
*People and all other utensils except for earthenware utensils* can become
Av ha'Tumah or Rishon l'Tum'ah, but not any lower level - except that Chazal
decreed that *the hands* can sometimes become Sheni l'Tum'ah.
*Earthenware utensils* can only become Rishon l'Tum'ah, and not any other
level of Tum'ah.
*Food and liquids* can become Rishon l'Tum'ah, Sheni, Shelishi and Revi'i,
but not any higher level.
(c) TERUMAH AND KODSHIM PESULIM - Terumah that is Teme'ah at the level of a
Shelishi l'Tum'ah becomes Pesulah and may not be eaten. Similarly, Kodshim
that become Teme'im at the level of a Revi'i l'Tum'ah become Pesulim.
If Terumah receives Tum'ah from a normal Sheni l'Tum'ah, it can in turn
Metamei Kodshim to make them a Revi'i and Pesulim. However, if Terumah
receives Tum'ah from a Tevul Yom (who is also considered a Sheni l'Tum'ah),
it cannot be Metamei Kodshim. For this reason it is called "Terumah
*Pesulah*" and not "Terumah *Teme'ah*." Kodshim that are a Revi'i l'Tum'ah
are called *Pesulim* and not Teme'im because they cannot be Metamei anything
else (except for Mei Chatas, which, by Rabbinic institution, can become a
(d) PASSING TUM'AH TO A LIKE SUBSTANCE - The Gemara here (14a, and in
various other places in the Sugya) mentions an opinion that Tamei foods and
liquids cannot be Metamei similar substances. That is, foods cannot be
Metamei foods and liquids cannot be Metamei liquids. Foods can only be
Metamei liquids and liquids can only be Metamei foods. (There is an opinion,
though, that Kodshim can be Metamei similar substances and another opinion
that even Terumah can be Metamei similar substances.) The Gemara concludes
that these laws are all mid'Oraisa. However, Mid'Rabanan, foods can
certainly be Metamei foods and liquids can Metamei liquids.
A significant portion of our Sugya deals with the topic of Tum'as Mashkin,
the Tum'ah that liquids can acquire and convey. In order to facilitate
understanding the Sugya, we will briefly summarize several fundamental
concepts with regard to Tum'as Mashkin.
(a) THE ABILITY OF LIQUIDS TO BE METAMEI OTHER THINGS MID'ORAISA - There is
an argument among Tana'im (in the Tosefta in Taharos, cited by the ROSH in
Pesachim 16a) whether a liquid which is Tamei is able to be Metamei other
things mid'Oraisa even when the liquid is a Rishon l'Tum'ah. (Even though a
*food* which is a Rishon can be Metamei a liquid to make it a Sheni, liquids
are weaker and may be unable to be Metamei foods to make them into a Sheni.)
The opinions are as follows:
[III] "MASHKIN BEIS MITBECHAYA DACHAN" -- THE LIQUIDS IN THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
(1) Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Eliezer maintain that liquids cannot be Metamei
anything else at all.
(b) THE ABILITY OF LIQUIDS THEMSELVES TO BECOME TAMEI. Regarding the opinion
of Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Eliezer who maintain that liquids cannot be Metamei
foods mid'Oraisa (see (1) above), the Amora'im argue (16a) whether they mean
that liquids themselves cannot become Tamei mid'Oraisa, or only that liquids
cannot be Metamei other things, but they themselves can become Tamei. Shmuel
says that these Tana'im hold that liquids can become Tamei mid'Oraisa; they
just cannot be Metamei something else. Rav says that these Tana'im hold that
liquids themselves do not become Tamei mid'Oraisa (that is, even if the
liquids are Terumah or Kodshim, if it touches something Tamei it will not
become Pasul mid'Oraisa).
(2) Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Shimon maintain that liquids can be Metamei foods,
but not other liquids (since mid'Oraisa, an object cannot be Metamei a like
object, as mentioned in Footnote 5 of Chart #2).
(3) Rebbi Yehudah maintains that mid'Oraisa, liquids can be Metamei even
utensils. (The opinion of Rebbi Yehudah is very novel, for the liquid itself
is a Rishon, and yet it can be Metamei a utensil, which normally can only
become a Rishon. The Gemara concludes (17b) that Rebbi Yehudah rescinded his
opinion in this regard.)
(c) THE TUM'AH OF LIQUIDS MID'RABANAN - The above discussion relates to the
Halachah of liquids on a Torah level. Mid'Rabanan, however, everyone agrees
that liquids can become Tamei and that they can be Metamei other things,
even other liquids (see above, I:(d)). Furthermore, the Rabanan decreed that
liquids have a status of "Rishon" even if they touched only a Sheni (that
is, mid'Rabanan, a liquid becomes *more* Tamei that the item which made it
Tamei). In addition, the Rabanan decreed that liquids can be Metamei
utensils as well (20a), making a utensil into a Sheni l'Tum'ah. (Mid'Oraisa,
of course, a utensil cannot become a Sheni, no matter what touches it, as
mentioned above, I:(b), and only by touching a Tamei liquid can a utensil
become a Sheni mid'Rabanan).
The reason for these rabbinical enactments is twofold:
(1) Liquids become Tamei without Hechsher (that is, other objects, such as
foods, will not become Tamei even when they come into contact with Tum'ah,
until they have become "prepared" to receive Tum'ah by coming into contact
with one of the seven liquids that serve that purpose). Consequently,
liquids are more prone to becoming Tamei and require additional vigilance to
protect them from becoming Tamei (or from becoming Pasul if they are Terumah
or Kodshim). Therefore, the Rabanan decreed that liquids always become a
Rishon (Rashi, Shabbos 14b, DH Gezeirah Mishum Mashkin).
(2) In addition, there is a type of liquid -- the bodily fluids of a Zav and
Zavah -- which is an Av ha'Tum'ah that can be Metamei even utensils
mid'Oraisa. As a safeguard, the Rabanan decreed that all liquids become a
Rishon and can be Metamei utensils the same way an Av ha'Tum'ah can be
Metamei utensils (Shabbos 14b -- According to the opinion that liquids
cannot become Tamei at all mid'Oraisa, this is apparently the only reason
why the Rabanan decreed that liquids become Tamei.)
This topic also comprises a significant part of our Sugya. The following are
the basic points, in brief, of this topic:
(a) REBBI YOSI'S TESTIMONY - "Rebbi Yosi ben Yo'ezer testified that the
liquids in the Beis Mitbechaya are Tahor." The point of this testimony is to
teach that there is a basic difference with regard to Tum'ah between liquids
found in the Beis ha'Mikdash and liquids found in all places outside of the
Beis ha'Mikdash. The Rabanan did not decree that liquids inside the Beis
ha'Mikdash become Tamei. The Amora'im argue, though, whether this means that
the liquids inside the Beis ha'Mikdash become Tamei themselves but are not
Metamei other things, or whether they do not even become Tamei themselves.
This argument, in turn, revolves on the argument mentioned earlier whether
liquids can become Tamei themselves mid'Oraisa or not (see II:(b) above),and
whether they can be Metamei other things mid'Oraisa or not (since the
Rabanan were not lenient with the liquids in the Beis ha'Mikdash when it
comes to Tum'ah d'Oraisa).
(b) WHICH LIQUIDS? - There is an argument among the Tana'im and the Amora'im
(17a) concerning exactly which liquids in the Beis ha'Mikdash do not become
(1) Some say that only those types of liquids that are found in the
slaughterhouse of the Beis ha'Mikdash are Tahor. Thus, only water and blood
are Tahor in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Other liquids, such as oil and wine, are
affected by the rabbinical enactment that liquids can become Tamei in the
Beis ha'Mikdash just as they are outside the Beis ha'Mikdash.
(c) WITH REGARD TO "HECHSHER" - The Rabanan were not only lenient with
regard to Tum'ah of liquids in the Beis ha'Mikdash, but they were also
lenient with regard to "Hechsher." We know that a food item cannot become
Tamei until it has come into contact with one of the seven types of liquids
that enable a food to receive Tum'ah (the four liquids in the Beis
ha'Mikdash -- water, blood, wine, and oil -- are included in these seven).
The Rabanan stated that the liquids of the Beis ha'Mikdash do not serve to
be Machshir a food to receive Tum'ah.
(2) Others say that all liquids that can be brought upon the Mizbe'ach are
Tahor in the Beis ha'Mikdash, that is water, blood, oil, and wine. According
to this opinion, the proper reading of the statement of Rebbi Yosi ben
Yo'ezer is "Beis Mi*d*bechaya," referring to the Mizbe'ach, and not "Beis
Mi*t*bechaya" which refers to the slaughterhouse.
The Amora'im dispute the reason behind this. According to Rav, this leniency
applies only to the blood of Kodshim, which the Torah states is not Machshir
items to receive Tum'ah because the Torah differentiates between blood that
comes from the slaughter of Kodshim and blood from other slaughtered animals
(end of 16a). According to Shmuel, the Rabanan were lenient even with regard
to water in the Beis ha'Mikdash (and also wine and oil, according to those
who read the word "Mi*d*bechaya"), and they enacted that it cannot be
Machshir something to receive Tum'ah. The reason for this is because
mid'Oraisa, water is not Machshir a food unless the food fell into the water
when the water was still attached to the ground (that is, while the water
was collected in a pit in the ground). When the water has been removed from
the ground and is now in a utensil, mid'Oraisa it is *not* Machshir.
Although the Rabanan decreed that all water is Machshir, in the Beis
ha'Mikdash they were lenient and left the Halachah as it is mid'Oraisa, and
thus water in a utensil in the Beis ha'Mikdash is not Mach'shir (TOSFOS 20a,
(d) AFFECTING THE TORAH LAW - Thus far, we have explained that the Rabanan
were only lenient in the Beis ha'Mikdash with regard to rabbinical laws of
Tum'ah, but not with regard to Torah laws. This point, though, is not
unanimous. Rav Papa (17b) holds that even though mid'Oraisa liquids can
become Tamei and can be Metamei other things, nevertheless liquids in the
Beis ha'Mikdash are Tahor, as taught by a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai. (In its
conclusion,the Gemara labels the opinion of Rav Papa as "difficult.")
2) "CHEREV HAREI HU K'CHALAL"
OPINIONS: The Torah teaches that certain objects acquire the same level of
Tum'as Mes as the object which they touched and which gave them the Tum'ah.
This concept is called "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" (literally, "a sword is
like a corpse"). To which objects does this refer?
(a) RASHI here explains that it refers to metal objects, similar to the
"Cherev" mentioned in the verse from which this rule is learned. This rule
does not apply to any type of utensil which is not metal, and thus all other
types of objects descend a level of Tum'ah from the Tum'ah of the object
they touched. This is also the opinion of RABEINU TAM (Nazir 54b, Tosfos DH
Ta Shema) and the RASH (Ohalos 1:3).
(b) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos in Ohalos 1:3; Hilchos Tum'as Mes 5:3)
and RAV YITZCHAK OF SIMPONTI assert that this principle applies to all types
of utensils and therefore non-metal utensils also acquire the same Tum'ah as
the object they touched. Why, then, does our Gemara specifically say that
the lamp which makes the oil inside of it Tamei is a *metal* lamp that
became Tamei through an Av ha'Tum'ah, like the corpse that it touched? The
Gemara's intention is to exclude an earthenware lamp, because earthenware is
the only type of utensil which does not acquire the same level of Tum'ah as
the object which it touches. All other types of material, though, will
become Tamei as Av ha'Tum'ah when they touch an Av ha'Tum'ah. (Lamps are
normally made either from earthenware or of metal, not from other
These Rishonim cite proof to their words from the Toras Kohanim, which
derives the principle that a utensil which touches another utensil which is
an Av ha'Tum'ah also becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah from the clothing upon a person
who touched a corpse. The Torah teaches that the clothing becomes an Av
ha'Tum'ah, just like the person who touched the corpse. We see from there
that even non-metal utensils (clothing) become an Av ha'Tum'ah when they
touch an Av ha'Tum'ah. (Rabeinu Tam (Nazir 54b), who ascribes to the first
opinion, explains that when the Toras Kohanim says that the clothing of the
person becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah, it is referring to metal jewelry that the
person is wearing.)
(c) The GE'ONIM (cited by Rabeinu Chananel here) and RAV YITZCHAK OF
SIMPONTI in his second explanation (as cited by the Rash in Ohalos, loc
cit.) explain that the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" is only
stated with respect to the object which *killed* the person. That object
becomes Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah, but no other object -- even metal -- will become
Tamei with the same degree of Tum'ah as the object it touches. (The Ge'onim
explain, therefore, that the metal candlestick mentioned in our Sugya is one
that was used to kill somebody.)
This opinion appears to differentiate between an object that touched an Avi
Avos ha'Tum'ah when it was used for murder, and something which touched an
Av ha'Tum'ah, which was not used for murder. This principle obviously does
not apply to an Av ha'Tum'ah, since an Av ha'Tum'ah has not been murdered.
However, the Mishnah clearly says that even a utensil that touches an Av
ha'Tum'ah becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah! Why should that be?
From the words of Rabeinu Chananel and the Rash it appears that according to
this opinion, it is not the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" which
makes the utensil an Av ha'Tum'ah when it touches an Av ha'Tum'ah. Rather,
it is a different principle at work here -- the principle of "Chiburin."
While an object is *still touching* an Av ha'Tum'ah (and not after it is
removed from the Av ha'Tum'ah), it is considered an Av ha'Tum'ah to make
whatever touches it a Rishon. This Halachah applies to all utensils except
earthenware (parallel Halachos are to be found with regard to what is
touching a Zav or a Mishkav). This is the Tum'ah which the Toras Kohanim
derives from the clothing a person who touches a corpse; since his clothes
were touching him at the time that he touched the corpse, they become an Av
ha'Tum'ah like him. This also appears to be the opinion of the RA'AVAD
(Hilchos Tum'as Mes 5:3).