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Pesachim 19


OPINIONS: According to the opinion that maintains that liquids cannot be Metamei foods, is there a d'Oraisa level of Revi'i for Kodshim, or is the Tum'ah of Revi'i only mid'Rabanan?
(a) RASHI (DH Amar Lei) explains that it must be that Revi'i b'Kodesh is mid'Rabanan according to the opinion that liquids cannot be Metamei foods mid'Oraisa. The logic is because a liquid must be the end of the chain of Tum'ah, for this opinion asserts that it cannot be Metamei anything after it. A utensil, on the other hand, cannot be lower than a Rishon. Thus, if a utensil (Rishon) touches a liquid, the liquid becomes a Sheni and is the end of the chain of Tum'ah. If the utensil touches a food, then the food becomes a Sheni and can only be Metamei a liquid (to make it into a Shelishi), since food cannot be Metamei a like item (i.e. another food). How, then, is it possible for there to be a level of Revi'i? It must be that Revi'i is only mid'Rabanan.

(b) TOSFOS (15a, end of DH Vlad) explains that there can be a case of a Revi'i mid'Oraisa, for we find that other items besides food and drink can become Tamei as a Rishon or Sheni. The Gemara (later on this Daf) tells us that "Chibas ha'Kodesh" makes it possible for even non-edible objects to become Tamei if they are Kodesh. Consequently, one more level of Tum'ah d'Oraisa can be added: A utensil (Rishon) touches Etzim or Levonah (24b; the wood and incense used in the Beis ha'Mikdash, which are Tamei because of "Chibas ha'Kodesh"), making them a Sheni, and the Etzim or Levonah then touch food (Shelishi), and the food then touches a liquid (Revi'i).

It should be noted that RASHI, who disagrees with Tosfos on this matter, is consistent with his opinion later on the Daf (DH Alma) that Chibas ha'Kodesh does not make anything Tamei mid'Oraisa; Etzim or Levonah can only become Tamei mid'Rabanan. Therefore Rashi says that there cannot be a Revi'i mid'Oraisa since the chain of Tum'ah must include liquids.


QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Mishnah (Eduyos 2:3) that states that if a Kohen finds a [Tamei] needle while cutting the flesh of an animal being offered as a Korban, his hands and the knife that he held are Tahor and we are not afraid that they became Tamei by touching the needle.

The Gemara tries to determine what type of Tum'ah this needle had, that we might have thought that the Kohen's hands and the knife are Tamei. Two answers are given: (1) Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav says that the needle is one that was *known* to be Tamei with Tum'as Mes (Av ha'Tum'ah) (2) An unidentified needle was found, but it is assumed to be Tamei because the animal was muzzled upon entering Yerushalayim, and thus it must have swallowed the needle outside of the city. There is rabbinical decree which states that all utensils found outside of Yerushalayim are Tamei out of doubt.

From the Gemara at the top of this Amud it is clear that according to the second answer, the needle is only a Rishon l'Tum'ah out of doubt (RASHI, DH Ela Amar Rava), and such a Tum'ah cannot be Metamei the knife, because a utensil cannot become a Sheni. In the first answer, then, why does Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav have to say that the needle was an Av ha'Tum'ah? Why did Rav say that one lost a needle that was Tamei Mes, when the needle that was lost could have also been a Rishon l'Tum'ah?

ANSWER: If the needle that was found could be identified and proven to be a Rishon, why would the Mishnah need to tell us that the knife that cut the meat is Tahor? Why should it be Tamei? Even if it touched the neeldle, a Rishon cannot make the knife Tamei! It must be that the needle is an Av ha'Tum'ah, and the only reason the knife is Tahor is because we were not *certain* that it touched the needle, and the rule is that when a question arises in Reshus ha'Rabim concerning the Tum'ah of an item (Safek Tum'ah b'Reshus ha'Rabim), it is Tahor.

However, according to the second answer of the Gemara, that one found an unknown needle in the animal, the Mishnah is teaching an important point, even if the needle is considered a Rishon. It is teaching that if one finds a utensil (such as a needle), the level of Tum'ah that we afford it is that of a Rishon, and not an Av. Therefore it is not Metamei the knife. That itself is the Chidush -- that the needle is only a Rishon and not an Av when in doubt.

3) PROVING THAT THE "AZARAH" IS CONSIDERED A RESHUS HA'RABIM According to Rav, if a Kohen is cutting an animal and finds a needle that is known to be an Av ha'Tum'ah, the Kohen's hands and the knife are Tahor. The Gemara asks why are they Tahor -- perhaps the knife or the person's hands touched the needle, and since the needle is an Av ha'Tum'ah, it can be Metamei them! Rav Ashi answers that it can be proven from here that the Azarah of the Beis ha'Mikdash, where the animal is being slaughtered and cut, is considered a Reshus ha'Rabim. When a doubt arises concerning Tum'ah in Reshus ha'Rabim (Safek Tum'ah b'Reshus ha'Rabim) we rule "Tahor."

The Gemara then asks that even if the Azarah is considered a Reshus ha'Yachid (in which a Safek Tum'ah will be *Tamei*), the knife will not be Tamei because it is an inanimate object, an "Ein Bo Da'as liSha'el," and out of doubt it cannot be made Tamei! How, then, can Rav Ashi prove that the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Rabim?

What is the Gemara's objection to Rav Ashi's proof? Rav Ashi had to say that the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Rabim to explain why the *person* is Tahor, even though he may have touched the needle, and not in order to explain why the *knife* is Tahor! The person would certainly be Tamei mi'Safek in Reshus ha'Yachid, and therefore it can be proven that the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Rabim! (TOSFOS DH Ha)


(a) TOSFOS HA'ROSH answers that Rav Ashi's wording implies that he is giving a reason why *both* the knife and the person are Tahor. The Gemara is asking why that reason had to be given to explain why the knife is Tahor. It still can be proven, though, that the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Rabim from the fact that the person himself is Tahor.

(b) Perhaps there is no question at all whether the person touched the needle or not -- he knows that he definitely did *not* touch the needle. The only question was whether the *knife* touched the needle. If so, it cannot be proven from here that the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Rabim, since both the knife and the person would be Tahor even if the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Yachid, as the Gemara asks.

However, if no question arose whether the person touched the needle, why does the Mishnah have to say that he is Tahor? Of course he is Tahor, what could have made him Tamei!

The answer is that we might have thought that the person's hands are Tamei because they touched a Rishon -- the flesh that is being cut, since normally the Rabanan decreed Tum'ah on hands that touched a Rishon. The reason why the hands are indeed not Tamei even though they touched the flesh is because in the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Rabanan suspended their decree that when hands touch a Rishon they become Tamei, as the Rebbi Akiva explains in the Mishnah. Although the hands *definitely* touched the meat, the Rabanan did not decree that they should be Tamei in the Beis ha'Mikdash. (Rebbi Akiva makes this assertion in the Mishnah, so all interpretations of the Mishnah must agree to this point -- TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ here.)

According to this, when the Gemara asks that if the Azarah is a Reshus ha'Yachid then the person and knife should be Tamei, it really meant to ask *only* with regard to the knife, and it just mentioned the person because the Mishnah mentions the person. (M. Kornfeld)

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