God vs The Multiverse

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Lepers and the Dead (Part 2: Questions and Methodology)

We'll start by asking some questions on the first part of Tosafos. What is the sense of differentiating between a house which has walls and a tree which does not? Why should the absence of walls demand stopping in order for the טומאה to be transmitted while the presence of walls avoids this demand? In what way does the presence of walls make it "as if" he stopped?  He didn't!


Now for the second part of Tosafos. If both צרעת and מת are transmitted by an אהל, what is the sense of the two differences Tosfos makes between them?  Specifically:


1) What is the nature of the transfer of טומאה by מת which allows it to transfer under a tree even though there is no stopping, and what is the nature of the טומאה by צרעת which does demands stopping?

2) What is the nature of the transfer of טומאה by מת which allows it to transfer through a window to the next house, and what is the nature of the טומאה by צרעת which limits it to one house?

More importantly, what is the relationship and unification (if any) between these two seemingly unrelated differences?

More generally, if you review the questions above, you will notice that the very notion of  ישב, "stopping", is of critical importance in this Tosfos.  However, on a surface reading of the Tosfos, the significance of stopping is vague and unclear.  We need to arrive at a deeper concept of  ישב if we want to understand the idea Tosfos is trying to convey to us.

One addition problem is that Tosafos' answer to his question seems difficult, even on a surface level understanding.  In order to explain the difficulty, let us review. The problem was that the mishna in כלים says that only מת transmits טומאה via an אהל while our gemara implies that צרעת does as well. Tosafos answers that the transmission by מת is more stringent than by צרעת in two regards, etc. However, this does not really explain the mishna in כלים which says that only מת transmits טומאה via an אהל. The mishna doesn't say that אהל by מת is merely more stringent then by צרעת, as Tosafos is claiming!

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