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Monday, April 30, 2012

Lepers and the Dead (Part 4: More Svara)

To explain the second part of Tosafos, we suggest that although both צרעת and מת are transmitted by an אהל, this transmission is fundamentally different.

By a מת, the אהל itself is the מצרף (that which relates the מת to that which is becoming טמא). Namely, something which shares the same roof as a מת becomes טמא. This is a true טומאת אהל which the mishna in כלים says only exists by מת. 

By צרעת, the role of the אהל is different. Without a roof, a place can not be defined as a dwelling place.  It is simply an outdoors, exposed area.  The אהל is a necessary component of a מושב, and that which is in the מושב of the צרעת becomes טמא - the מצרף is the מושב, not the אהל. 

With this difference in mind, we can explain the two differences Tosfos mentions. 

1) When dealing with a מושב, the mere presence of the צרעת under the אהל does not suffice. He needs some sort of permanent relationship to the place under the אהל (a קביעות), as opposed to merely passing through, in order for the place to be defined as his dwelling place. Therefore you need him to stop, or to be in a house with walls (as in the last post).  However, the מת is equally related to its אהל, its roof, whether it is stationary or moving. Thus, the טומאת מת will be transferred without stopping, even under a tree.

2) If two houses are separated by a wall but have a window between them, they share the same roof and airspace, but are certainly not one מושב - the walls divide them into two separate dwelling places. Thus, by טומאת מת, the shared אהל itself will be מצרף the contents of the two houses, and the טומאה will be transmitted.  However, by צרעת, since they are not one מושב, the טומאה does not transfer.  


  1. According to this svora why is tumas meis NOT transmitted to the other room when the window is closed? After all they still share the same roof.

    1. when the window is closed, they are functionally 2 separate roofs as the airspace is no longer contiguous. to go from under one to the other would require you to walk outside


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