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Pesachim 81


QUESTION: The Mishnah states (80b) that if a person discovers that he was Tamei with Tum'as ha'Tehom, his Korban Pesach is nevertheless Kosher and he does not have to bring the Korban Pesach Sheni, because the Tzitz is Meratzeh for Tum'as ha'Tehom. The Gemara asks whether the Tzitz will also be Meratzeh for a Kohen, bringing a Korban Tamid, who discovers that he is Tamei with Tum'as ha'Tehom.

RASHI explains that the Gemara's question applies only when the Kohen finds out about his Tum'ah *before* performing the Zerikah of the blood of the Korban Tamid. The Gemara's question is in accordance with the opinion (81b) that one may perform the Avodah even l'Chatchilah with Tum'as ha'Tehom when he finds out about it before the Zerikah. In addition, the Gemara's question is in accordance with the opinion that says "Tum'ah Dechuyah b'Tzibur" (as opposed to Hutrah).

Why does Rashi say this? Why, according to Rashi, is the Gemara not asking about the status of the Korban *after* it was brought, when the Kohen only found out about his Tum'ah after he had brought the Korban?

ANSWER: TOSFOS in Zevachim (23a, DH Lo) says that if the Korban was already brought and then it was discovered that the Kohen was Tamei, it is obvious that the Korban is valid, because that is the normal application of Tum'ah being disregarded for a Tzibur. If this is true, then what is the Gemara's question? Certainly the Korban Tamid is valid if brought by the Kohen who was Tamei with Tum'as ha'Tehom! Therefore, Rashi and Tosfos explain that the question of Tum'as ha'Tehom must be referring only to the opinion that Tum'ah *Dechuyah* b'Tzibur. That opinion maintains that Tum'ah must be avoided as much as possible, even though it is permitted. The Tum'as ha'Tehom was discovered *before* the Zerikah was performed, at a time when the Korban could still be brought b'Taharah, avoiding being brought b'Tum'ah.


OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which states that if a person walks along a path upon which a corpse was later found, spread lengthwise from one side of the path to the other, which no one had seen or had known about previously (i.e. Tum'as ha'Tehom), then as far as the Korban Pesach is concerned, the person is considered Tahor. As far as Terumah is concerned, though, he is considered Tamei, since we assume that he walked over the corpse and became Tamei.

Under what conditions does it apply, and what is the theory behind this Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai?

(a) RASHI (DH she'Ein) explains that the Halachah of Tum'as ha'Tehom applies post facto, with regard to the Shechitah. If a person discovered that he was Tamei with Tum'as ha'Tehom *after* he slaughtered the Korban Pesach, then even though he was definitely Tamei, since he did not find out until after the Shechitah of the Korban we permit the rest of the Avodah (the Zerikah) to be done on his behalf. The Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai of Tum'as ha'Tehom teaches that he has fulfilled the Mitzvah of bringing the Korban Pesach even though he was Tamei and he does not have to bring the Korban Pesach Sheni.

Although Tum'as ha'Tehom is a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai, the theory behind it is that he was Karov l'Ones -- the circumstances under which he slaughtered the Pesach b'Tum'ah were almost completely beyond his control, since it was impossible for anyone to know about the Tum'ah. Therefore, the Korban is accepted even though the person was Tamei. (This leniency regarding Tum'ah applies only to the Korban Pesach, since the consequences of not bringing the Korban are so severe.)

(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Korban Pesach 6:11) explains that the leniency of Tum'as ha'Tehom applies to a person who has *not yet* slaughtered the Korban Pesach. Before the Shechitah, he discovered that he was Tamei with Tum'as ha'Tehom. Furthermore, the Rambam maintains that the Korban is valid only when the Tum'ah that the person is not certain that he was Tamei; that is, Tum'as ha'Tehom applies where not only was the Tum'ah heretofore unknown, but even now that the Tum'ah was discovered, it is not certain that he became Tamei. Although the Beraisa says that a corpse was stretched across the width of the path, it was spread in such a way that there was still a possibility that he did not walk over it and become Tamei.

According to this understanding, the theory behind the Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai of Tum'as ha'Tehom is that since it is so important to bring the Korban Pesach (because of the punishment of Kares which it carries), the Torah says that if there is any small possibility that he is not Tamei, he is allowed to bring the Korban. For Terumah, though, the doubt is not great enough to permit him to eat Terumah, because refraining from Terumah is not at all as severe as failing to bring the Korban Pesach.

The CHAFETZ CHAIM (in Zevach Todah) points out that there exists a stringency and a leniency according to each opinion. According to Rashi, if one discovers that he is Tamei (even doubtfully so) with Tum'as ha'Tehom *before* the Shechitah, he may not bring the Korban (a stringency), whereas according to the Rambam he may. According to the Rambam, if one discovers that he is *certainly* Tamei with Tum'as ha'Tehom, even *after* Shechitah the Korban that he brought is not valid and he must bring another one (a stringency), whereas according to Rashi the Korban is valid.

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