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Shekalim 21


OPINIONS: The Mishnah mentions an instrument called a "Meritzah" and says that if one finds such an instrument, it is assumed to be Tamei because it is used for burying the dead. What is this "Meritzah?"
(a) The Gemara (21b) explains that it is a tool used for crushing stones when digging a grave.

(b) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos, cited by the TIKLIN CHADETIN) apparently had another Girsa in the Gemara which said that a Meritzah is used for crushing *bones* in order to facilitate transporting them to the graveyard. When transporting bones, they sometimes have to be placed into a smaller sack than that in which they fit, so they are crushed.

QUESTION: How can the Meritzah be used to crush bones of the dead? The Halachah (SHULCHAN ARUCH YD 403:6) states clearly than when burying the dead, it is forbidden to break or dismember the bones or the body in any way! (TIFERES YISRAEL, HAGAHOS RADAL)

ANSWER: The PEIROS TE'ENAH cites the RADVAZ (Teshuvah #611) who was asked whether one may dismember the body of the dead or break bones in order to transport the body to Eretz Yisrael. He adduces proof that it is permitted from this explanation of the Rambam cited above. He explains that in the Rambam's case, the dead person is being transported in order to be buried near his family, which is a way of honoring the dead, and thus the bones may be broken in order to enable the body to be transported, since this is part of honoring him. Similarly, bringing the body to Eretz Yisrael is a form of honoring the dead, and therefore, says the Radvas, the bones may be broken in order to enable the body to be transported.

OPINIONS: The Mishnah says that if the Kupitz was found tied to a knife, it has the same status as the knife. The Gemara cites a Beraisa which states that "the knife tied to it has the same status as it has." What is the Beraisa teaching? To what is the knife tied?

(a) The TIKLIN CHADETIN explains that the Beraisa is referring to a knife tied to a Kupitz, and it is ruling that a knife tied to a Kupitz is judged stringently and is considered like the *Kupitz*, and thus it has to be immersed before it may be used. Our Mishnah, though, says that if it (referring to a Kupitz) is tied to a knife, the Kupitz is judged like the *knife*! The Tiklin Chadetin explains that this Beraisa argues with the Mishnah.

(b) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos) rules that the end of the Mishnah which says "if it was found tied to a knife, it has the status of the knife," is not referring to Erev Pesach. Rather, it refers to any time of the year, and it is teaching that if one has a particular knife which he knows is Tahor or Tamei, and later he finds a *second knife* tied to it, he may assume that the second knife has the same status as the first (and that is why someone tied the two of them together). Accordingly, this is the meaning of the Beraisa cited in the Gemara. It is not discussing a knife tied to a Kupitz, but a knife tied to another knife (Korban ha'Edah).

QUESTION: The Mishnah states that it took 300 Kohanim to immerse the Paroches. The Gemara tells us that the Mishnah's statement is only an exaggeration. We find similar Gemaras in Tamid (29a) and Chulin (90a).

Chazal always take great care to show that every word of the Mishnah is carefully chosen. Why, in this instance, should Chazal choose a random number as an exaggeration?

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu, Parshas Terumah, see also Tiferes Yisrael on our Mishnah) offers an ingenious explanation to show that the number *300*, representing the number of Kohanim who immersed the Paroches, is not a random number at all.

As the Vilna Ga'on explains, the dimensions of the Paroches were forty Amos by twenty Amos. The Amos used in the Temple measurements consisted of five handbreadths each (Kelim 17:10). Thus, the perimeter of the Paroches was 2 x (40+20) = 120 Amos, or 600 handbreadths. Thus, if as many Kohanim as physically possible would participate in the Mitzvah of immersing the Paroches, there would be room for exactly *300* Kohanim to grasp it, each one of them taking up two handbreadths of the perimeter with their two hands!

Why, then, did the Gemara say that the number 300 was an exaggeration? Although it was *theoretically* possible for 300 Kohanim to grasp the Paroches, it was never *actually* handled by this number of people. It would be very unusual for the Kohanim's hands to be so closely spaced as to allow them to cover every centimeter of the perimeter of the Paroches. However, the Mishnah did not choose the number 300 as its "exaggerated" figure randomly. This number was chosen because it represents the theoretical maximum number of Kohanim who could participate in this Mitzvah.

The Yefeh Enayim (beginning of Massechet Tamid), however, raises a serious objection to the calculation of the Gaon. According to the Mishnah (Kelim 17:10) and the Gemara (Menachot 97b), the special five-handbreadth Amah measurement which was used in the Temple was only used for building the *movable* articles of the Temple, such as the Aron, the Shulchan, and the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav, etc. When it came to the buildings and the Temple *structures*, however, the regular, six-handbreadth Amah measurement was employed. (This is the opinion of Rebbi Yehuda. Rebbi Meir maintained that the six handbreadth Amah was used in an even *more limited* fashion.) The Paroches, whose twenty-by-forty-Amah dimensions were for the purpose of filling the entire breadth of the Hechal in order to enclose the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim (or to shield the entrance to the Ulam), would then have to be measured with the same Amah that was used for measuring the sanctuary itself, or a 6 handbreadth Amah! The perimeter of the Paroches would then measure 720 -- not 600 -- handbreadths!

In defense of the Gaon, it may be suggested that when grasping the Paroches for the purpose of immersing it, the Kohanim would not hold it on all four sides. One side had to be left free, in order to lower the Paroches into the Mikveh. If the Kohanim held it on the three sides that measured 40, 40 and 20 Amos, and left the other 20-Amos side free, they would have covered 100 Amos, or 600 handbreadths, of the perimeter. This is probably what the Gaon said, and *not* as recorded in the Kol Eliyahu. (M. Kornfeld)

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