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Sanhedrin, 83


QUESTION: The Gemara (82b-83a) quotes a Beraisa that states that a Kohen is not punished with death for entering the Heichal with unwashed hands and feet when he enters for the purpose of organizing the Shulchan or cleaning and setting up the Menorah.

TOSFOS asks that the Gemara later (83b) implies that he should receive the death penalty for such an act. The Gemara there quotes the verse, "When they enter the Ohel Moed, they shall wash with water in order that they not die" (Shemos 30:21). Tosfos understands that this verse requires one to wash for merely entering the Heichal (the Ohel Moed), even without doing Avodah there, because the second part of the verse gives a separate command to wash before doing the Avodah in the Azarah -- "or when they approach the Mizbe'ach in order to perform the service, to burn a fire-offering to Hashem." Thus, a Kohen *may* enter the *Azarah* without washing his hands when he is not doing the Avodah, but he may *not* enter the *Heichal* (which is holier than the Azarah) without washing his hands, even when he is not doing the Avodah. Since the Menorah and Shulchan were in the Heichal, how could the Kohen not be deserving of death for entering there without washing?

ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH v'Lo) answers that the first half of the verse that the Gemara quotes, "When they enter the Ohel Moed," is actually connected to the condition in the second half of the verse, of "in order to perform the service." The verse is saying that only when the Kohen is entering the Heichal in order to do Avodah must he make sure to wash his hands and feet. Even though the Mishnah in Kelim (1:9) states that one may not enter the Heichal unless he washed his hands and feet, this is only an extra measure of holiness and it is not the letter of the law. However, Tosfos admits, the Tosefta in Kelim does seem to argue that entering the Heichal without washing is punishable by death. The Tosefta states that Rebbi Eliezer told Shimon ha'Tzanu'a -- after he had entered without washing -- that even the Kohen Gadol would be put to death for doing such a thing. It is clear that the Tosefta argues with the Mishnah in Kelim (according to Tosfos' interpretation of it) and with our Gemara.

The MINCHAS CHINUCH (Mitzvah 106:1) explains that the RAMBAM rules like Tosfos. The Rambam (Hilchos Bi'as ha'Mikdash 5:1) states that someone who performs Avodah must wash. Elsewhere (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 7:21), the Rambam quotes the Mishnah in Kelim. This indicates that he holds that it is an extra measure of holiness to wash before entering the Heichal, and it is not a Torah commandment.

However, there are dissenting views as to what the Rambam maintains. According to one edition of the Rambam's SEFER HA'MITZVOS, the Rambam maintains that it is indeed a Torah prohibition to enter the Heichal without washing even when not for the sake of performing the Avodah, but that it is not punishable with death (see footnotes to the Machon Yerushalayim edition of Minchas Chinuch). This also seems to be the opinion of RASHI in his commentary on Chumash (Shemos 30:20). Rashi there states that the verse is referring to a Kohen who enters in order to burn Ketores or in order to sprinkle the blood of certain Korbanos. This qualifying statement indicates that the prohibition applies only to a Kohen who performs the Avodah.

However, the SEFER HA'CHINUCH says that the Mitzvah is for the Kohen to wash his hands and feet anytime he enters the Heichal, as well as when he enters to perform the Avodah. The Minchas Chinuch infers that he holds that a Kohen must always wash his hands if he wants to enter the Heichal, without exception. Tosfos in Yoma (5b) quotes the RITZBA who is of a similar opinion. (Y. Montrose)


QUESTION: Rav states that a Zar (a non-Kohen) who eats Terumah receives Malkus. Rav Kahana and Rav Asi ask that Rav should say that he is punished with death, because the Torah states, "And they (the Kohanim) shall guard My charge and not be guilty of sin and die because of it.... And no non-Kohen shall eat Kodesh" (Vayikra 22:9-10). RASHI explains that since the first verse (verse 9) is discussing Kohanim who eat Terumah while Tamei who are punished with death, it is logical to assume that the next verse (verse 10) is also referring to the punishment of death when it mentions a Zar who eats Terumah. Rav replies that because the first verse (verse 9) ends, "I am Hashem Who makes them holy," it is making a break between the punishment of death and a Zar who eats Terumah.

The question of Rav Kahana and Rav Asi is not clear. If they are arguing with Rav, then why did they ask that "the master (Rav) should say?" This implies that they are not arguing with him, but rather they are just questioning his wording.


(a) The MITZPEH EISAN explains that Rav Kahana and Rav Asi did not want to persuade Rav to retract his ruling that a Zar should receive Malkus, but rather they wanted him to add an additional punishment -- Misah bi'Ydei Shamayim, death at the hands of Hashem. If Rav would have said that a Zar who eats Terumah is Chayav Misah bi'Ydei Shamayim, then we would know that if he was warned by witnesses he would receive Malkus, because there is a principle that any sin which is punishable with Misah bi'Ydei Shamayim is automatically punishable with Malkus (TOSFOS, Makos 13a).

(b) RAV YOSEF ENGEL (ASVUN D'ORAISA #2) explains that Rav Kahana and Rav Asi are arguing with Rav. There are two ways of understanding the prohibition of a Zar who eats Terumah. We know that before Terumah is separated from grain, the grain is considered Tevel, and one who eats it is punishable with death. Is the prohibition of a Zar eating Terumah the same prohibition of eating Tevel, or is the prohibition a new prohibition against eating Terumah? Rav Yosef Engel suggests that Rav maintains that it is a new prohibition, and thus it is punishable with Malkus. Rav Kahana and Rav Asi maintain that it is the same prohibition of eating Tevel, and, therefore, the person who eats Terumah deserves death just as the person who eats Tevel is punished with death. (Y. Montrose)

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