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Menachos, 31


OPINIONS: The Gemara cites the Mishnah in Taharos (3:2) which mentions the types of liquids that "always" ("l'Olam") become Tamei with Rishon l'Tum'ah. Rebbi Meir says that oil always becomes a Rishon l'Tum'ah. The Chachamim say that even honey always becomes a Rishon, and Rebbi Shimon Shezuri says that even wine always becomes a Rishon.

The Gemara asks that from the wording of Rebbi Shimon Shezuri ("even wine" becomes a Rishon), we can infer that the Chachamim argue and maintain that wine does *not* always become a Rishon. This cannot be, however, because everyone agrees that wine certainly is a type of liquid that becomes Tamei. The Gemara answers that Rebbi Shimon Shezuri did not say "*even* wine," but rather he said that "wine" becomes a Rishon. This implies that it is not the Chachamim who argue with Rebbi Shimon Shezuri, but rather it is Rebbi Shimon Shezuri argues with Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim and holds that only wine becomes a Rishon, and not oil or honey.

When the Mishnah says that these things "always" become Tamei as a Rishon l'Tum'ah, what does it mean?

(a) RASHI (DH Shemen) explains that the Mishnah is teaching that these liquids are considered "Mashkeh" such that they become Tamei with Rishon l'Tum'ah regardless of what level of Tum'ah touched them. They become a Rishon whether they were touched by an Av ha'Tum'ah, Rishon l'Tum'ah, or by a Sheni l'Tum'ah (while an ordinary food item would become a Sheni if touched by a Rishon, or a Shelishi if touched by a Sheni). This is because of a Gezeirah that any level of Tum'ah that causes Terumah to become Tamei (even with Shelishi l'Tum'ah) causes a liquid to become a Rishon l'Tum'ah.

(b) TOSFOS (DH Eima) questions Rashi's explanation. The Gemara concludes that Rebbi Shimon Shezuri argues with Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim and maintains that neither oil nor honey becomes a Rishon l'Tum'ah when touched by another Rishon or a Sheni. According to Rashi's explanation, this means that Rebbi Shimon Shezuri maintains that oil is not considered a Mashkeh. However, there are numerous Mishnayos and Sugyos in the Gemara that clearly state that oil is a Mashkeh!

Tosfos therefore gives a different explanation. Tosfos says that the word "always" ("l'Olam") is teaching that even when the oil congeals, it remains Tamei with Tum'as Mashkin, and it remains a Rishon l'Tum'ah. This is in contrast to the first part of the Mishnah there in Taharos that mentions various other types of liquids and says that "when they are completely liquid, they are a Rishon l'Tum'ah, but when they coagulate, they are only a Sheni l'Tum'ah." That is, when they solidify, they are considered to be a solid food item, and it is as if a Mashkeh touched a solid food, making it only a Sheni. In the next part of the Mishnah (which our Gemara quotes), Rebbi Meir says that oil retains its status as a liquid even when it becomes solid. (The VILNA GA'ON in SHENOS ELIYAHU explains that this is because oil remains moist even when it congeals.)

The RA'AVAD (Hilchos Tum'as Ochlin 1:19, Hasagos ha'Ra'avad) learns like Tosfos and explains that the word "l'Olam" implies that even when the oil solidifies, it is still considered a liquid with regard to Tum'ah. He rejects the ruling of the RAMBAM -- who says that oil that congealed does not become Tamei at all -- based on this Mishnah.

(c) The BIRKAS HA'ZEVACH explains that the RAMBAM has a different understanding of the word "l'Olam" in the Mishnah in Taharos. The Rambam (Hilchos Tum'as Ochlin 1:19) rules, as we mentioned above, that oil that congealed does not become Tamei at all. However, elsewhere (Hilchos Tum'as Ochlin 9:1) the Rambam rules that if oil became Tamei while it was a liquid and then it congealed into a solid, and then it became a liquid again, it returns to its original state of Tum'ah. This is the meaning of the word

"l'Olam" here -- the liquid oil remains a Rishon l'Tum'ah even when it congealed after it had become Tamei and has now become a liquid again. This is in contrast to the liquids mentioned in the first case of the Mishnah, which, once they congeal, their Tum'as Mashkin does not return even when they become liquids again. (Only if, during the melting process, a k'Beitzah of the congealed liquid touches the melted liquid does the melted liquid become Tamei, because it touched the Tum'as Ochlin of the congealed liquid. It does not retain the original Tum'as Mashkin, as oil does.)

According to the Rambam, the reason for the difference between oil and other types of liquids that congeal is, as the Shenos Eliyahu writes, because oil that congeals remains moist. This seems to be the intention of the Rambam himself in Perush ha'Mishnayos in Taharos when he says, "... because the congealed [oil] does not actually become congealed, and it is considered a liquid even when it seems to have solidified."

However, if congealed oil is not considered to be a real solid, then why does congealed oil itself not become Tamei with Tum'as Mashkin? The answer is that congealed oil cannot be eaten or drunk, and thus the Tum'as Mashkin leaves it and returns only when it becomes a liquid again. This is in contrast to the other types of liquid that become solidified, that are considered to be solids in their congealed state, such that their Tum'as Mashkin departs entirely. Those other types become fit to eat when congealed, and thus they have the status of solid food items and can become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin (as a Sheni l'Tum'ah).

(The RASH in Taharos understands that Tosfos agrees with the explanation of the Rambam.) (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)


QUESTION: The Gemara says that if the parchment of a Sefer Torah tears, it must be sewn with "Gidin," strings made of sinews, and not with "Geradin," leftover threads from a cloth garment.

The REMA (YD 280:1) writes, "Some say that we may sew them with silk strings, and this is the practice today. However, the main law is to sew them with Gidin if possible."

The BEIS YOSEF and the VILNA GA'ON question the Rema's statement from our Gemara that says clearly that a tear *must* be sewn with Gidin. How can it be permitted to sew the tear with silk?

ANSWER: The ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN answers that although our Gemara says that a tear must be sewn with Gidin, it also says that a tear must not be sewn with Geradin. If, when the Gemara says that a tear must be sewn with Gidin, it means that *only* Gidin is permitted to be used and nothing else, then why does the Gemara have to continue and say that a tear should not be sewn with Geradin?

It must be that the Gemara does not mean that one must sew a tear *only* with Gidin. Rather, the Gemara means to say that one must sew a tear with a strong material, like Gidin, and not with a weak material, like Geradin, that will tear easily. Silk is very strong, and therefore some authorities, such as the ROSH, permit using it to sew a tear in the parchment of a Sefer Torah.

However, the Rosh's ruling is problematic for a different reason. There is a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai that requires that the separate folios of parchment of a Sefer Torah be tied together only with Gidin, sinews of a Kosher animal. The Gemara in Makos (11a) states clearly that if the folios of a Sefer Torah are sewn with anything other than Gidin, then the Sefer Torah is Pasul! How, then, can the Rosh permit sewing a tear in the Sefer Torah with silk?

1. The ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN answers that the Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai that requires a Sefer Torah to be sewn with Gidin is referring to an absolutely necessary, indispensable stitching. A Sefer Torah cannot be written on a single folio of parchment; it must be comprised of many folios that are attached to each other by sewing. This indispensable sewing must be down with Gidin.

In the case of our Gemara, the stitching under discussion is not part of the regular procedure of making a Sefer Torah. The parchment tore, and we must fix it in order for the Sefer Torah to be whole and usable. The Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai does not give any guidelines for how to sew such a tear.

However, we may ask that according to this answer, it should be permitted to sew two of the original folios of parchment together with silk when making the Sefer Torah, because a single attachment is not absolutely necessary; instead of using two folios, a single, large folio could be used!

The answer to this question can be inferred from the words of the TESHUVOS HA'ROSH (quoted by the Aruch ha'Shulchan). The Rosh there says that when the sewing is being done "to fix the parchment, it may be done in any way." That is, when sewing together two separate pieces of parchment in order to attach them to make a Sefer Torah, the Torah requires that the sewing be done with Gidin. This is because any attachment does not merely make two pieces of parchment into one; rather, the attachment makes the Sefer Torah into a whole Sefer. A whole Sefer must be formed only with Gidin.

In the case of a piece of parchment that tore, on the other hand, the Sefer Torah originally was a whole Sefer. Now that it tore, the parchment it is still *one* piece, but it just needs to be fixed in order for the parchment to be a valid Sefer Torah. The attachment in this case is only for the sake of fixing the parchment, and therefore any strong string is valid. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)

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