THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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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?"
3) ONE KNIFE TIED TO ANOTHER
(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)
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?
4) "GUZMA" -- EXAGGERATIONS
(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
(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
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)