God vs The Multiverse

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lepers and the Dead (Part 1: Facts)

This is a foreign area for most people, and as such, presents some initial difficulty in grasping the facts and questions.  We hope that the svara will be simple, and will serve to clarify the issues.

The gemara in Yevamos 103b implies that when a garment with צרעת (leprosy) enters and exits a house, even without stopping in the house (presumably, a person is moving the garment), all the contents of the house become טמא.  Tosafos asks a question from another gemara which says that the thing with צרעת does need to stop in order to transmit טומאה.
כיון שנכנס רובו לבית טהור טמאתו. אמר ר"י אע"פ שלא ישב שם אלא שהכניסה והוציאה טמא ואע"ג דתנן  בדקידושין (דף לג:) טמא עובר תחת האילן וטהור יושב טהור היינו דוקא גבי אילן שאין שם מחיצות בעינן שיהא יושב כדכתיב בדד ישב אבל בבית דאיכא מחיצות כאילו יושב תחתיו הטמא ומטמא הבית
Tosafos answers by distinguishing between the two cases.  One case is where the צרעת is passing under a tree with no walls around.  In that case, the צרעת must come to a stop in order to transmit טומאה.  This is because the Torah says בדד ישב, "he shall sit alone."  However, when צרעת enters into a house with walls, it does not need to actually stop.  Because of the walls, it is as if it was sitting there.

The second part of the Tosfos seeks to contrast how טומאה is transmitted via an אהל (a covering such as a tree or a roof) when the source of the טומאה is צרעת, with the case when the source is a מת (a dead body).  Tosafos starts with a question on our gemara from a mishna in כלים, which seems to say that a מת is the most stringent source of טומאה because it alone transmits טומאה via an אהל. This is seemingly against our gemara which clearly implies that צרעת is also transmitted via an אהל.
ואם תאמר דהכא משמע דמצורע מטמא באוהל ובריש מסכת כלים (פ"א מ"ד) אמר למעלה מהן מת שמטמא באהל מה שאין כולן מטמאין והתם לעיל חשיב מצורע בהדייהו ואמר רבינו יהודה דמ"מ מת חמור דאפילו עובר תחת האילן מטמא באהל כל מה שתחת האילן ועוד דמת חמור שמטמא אפי' מה שבבית אחר אם יש בו חלון פותח טפח מה שאין כן במצורע דאין מטמא אלא בבית שנכנס בו דכתיב והבא אל הבית
Tosafos answers that there are two stringencies that מת has above צרעת in terms of אהל.

1) A מת transmits טומאה to things under a tree without stopping, even though there are no walls.  צרעת, as explained in the first part of Tosfos, will only transmit if it stopped under the tree.

2) מת transmits טומאה to things under the same roof as it, even to things in adjacent houses separated by walls, so long as the houses are connected by an open window.  In contrast, צרעת only transmits to things in the same room as it, even if there is an open window connecting an adjacent room.

What do we need to understand and define in this Tosfos?


  1. Possibile Questions:

    a) Why is it like the metzorah sits when he enters into a walled house?

    b) Why doesn't a metzorah transmit tuma to another room in a enclosed house when there is an open window, unlike the meis which does? If the room is in a walled house, then it would seem like it should be one big walled off entity?

    c) Based off the last question, why would a meis even need a window to transmit tuma, if we say enclosed areas transmit tuma; let the whole house function as an enclosed area?

    d) What's the drasha of "he shall sit alone." It seems from that drasha that he is the only person under the tree, if that is the case who is being metamei.

    e) This is based off an assumption that by metzorah if there is an open window connecting rooms, then the M is metamei the other rooms. Here it is: the Meis is Metamei when he merely passes under the tree-a kula, yet has a chumra that he needs a window to be metamei others in adjacent rooms. It should seem that the Meis should not need a window based on the fact that a metzorah does need a window to metamei the other rooms. Meaning a Metzorah is not metamei when he passes under a tree- a chumra, and corrispondigly needs a chumra of an open window to transmit tuma. So too by the meis it should only need to be in the room and not need a window-a kula, just like it has a kula that it is metamei merely by passing.

    It seems like it is easy for a meis to be metamei therefore it should not need windows. So too by a metzorah it is hard to be metamei, as the M needs to sit under the tree, corrispondigly the M should also need a window which (I'm assuming) it does need to metamei other rooms.

    1. Mio-
      a) is a good q.
      Regarding the rest, a point of clarification. There's no idea of the entire walled off entity. In theory, the walls between the two rooms should stop the tumaah. However, by meis, if there's an open window between them then the tumaah goes through. Tosafos' point is that this does not happen by metzorah.

    2. we clarified these changes in the post itself

      d) its a good point. while the torah does say "he shall sit alone.", nevertheless, if someone does come under the tree with him, they become tameh. whether or not it is assur or not, is a different question about whether he transmits tumah to the other person

    3. Right. I was making that assumption(which I didn't even realize I was doing when I wrote the post), and it didn't have any basis in the Tosfos. Thanks for the clarification.

    4. (e) also is based of an assumption, which tosfos explicitly says is not the case.(I'm not sure why that slipped my mind when I posed the question.)

  2. DR,
    I don't know if this is a question that can be addressed now, but I find tosfos's drasha of "yashav badad" strange. The context in the psukim is that if one is found to be a metzora he should sit "badad" out side the camp. What does this have to do the idea that an ilan is only metamei if the metzora stops?

  3. thats the critical point that has to be made clear...what is the significance of stopping and what does it have to do with badad yeshave

    1. Dr,

      Right, it seems you have to say (bc of the mishna in keilim) that there is no tumas ohel by metzora and that tosfos is illustrating how this is the case by the nafka minas between "real tumas ohel" and the "imitation tumas ohel" found by metzora. The question is then if there is no tumas ohel by metzora, how is the tahor guy metamei even if the metzora stopped? In other words the issue of unserstanding the relevancy of stopping (and by extention how mechitzos can simulate this condition) is really asking how tuma in these cases is being transmitted AT ALL if there is no tumas ohel by metzora?


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