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She'ar Avot haTum'ah - Chapter 15

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She'ar Avot haTum'ah - Chapter 15

1

What is meant by a doubt concerning a point of Rabbinic Law? For example, if there is a doubt whether or not a person ate impure foods or drank impure liquids, or there is a doubt whether or not a person inserted his head and the majority of his body in drawn water or three lugim of drawn water fell upon him, he is pure. Similarly, if a person ate impure foods or drank impure liquids or inserted his head and the majority of his body in drawn water or had three lugim of drawn water fall upon him and then a question arose whether or not he touched particular pure entities, those pure entities remain pure. Similarly, if he ate foods that are questionably impure or drank liquids that are questionably impure, he is deemed pure. Similarly, one who partakes of terumah whose status is held in abeyance, is pure. Similarly, in all analogous situations where there is a question regarding the status of derivatives of impurity, the person or the object is deemed pure.

If, however, there is a question regarding a source of impurity, even one of Rabbinic origin, the person or the object is deemed impure unless the source of impurity was itself of doubtful status, e.g., a beit hapras or the earth of the Diaspora. Terumah is not burned because of a doubt whether it touched such substances, as was explained.

א

סְפֵק דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים כֵּיצַד. סָפֵק אָכַל אֳכָלִין טְמֵאִין וְשָׁתָה מַשְׁקִין טְמֵאִין סָפֵק שֶׁלֹּא אָכַל וְשֶׁלֹּא שָׁתָה. סָפֵק שֶׁבָּא רֹאשׁוֹ וְרֻבּוֹ בְּמַיִם שְׁאוּבִין אוֹ שֶׁנָּפְלוּ עָלָיו שְׁלֹשָׁה לוֹגִין מַיִם שְׁאוּבִין סָפֵק שֶׁלֹּא בָּא וְשֶׁלֹּא נָפְלוּ הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר. וְכֵן אִם אָכַל אֳכָלִין טְמֵאִין אוֹ שָׁתָה מַשְׁקִין טְמֵאִין אוֹ בָּא בְּמַיִם שְׁאוּבִין אוֹ נָפְלוּ עָלָיו שְׁלֹשָׁה לוֹגִין מַיִם שְׁאוּבִין וְסָפֵק נָגַע בְּטָהֳרוֹת אֵלּוּ סָפֵק לֹא נָגַע הֲרֵי טָהֳרוֹת אֵלּוּ טְהוֹרוֹת. וְכֵן הָאוֹכֵל סְפֵק אֳכָלִין טְמֵאִים וְהַשּׁוֹתֶה מַשְׁקִין שֶׁהֵן טְמֵאִים בְּסָפֵק הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר. וְכֵן הָאוֹכֵל תְּרוּמָה תְּלוּיָה טָהוֹר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ מִוַּלְדֵי טֻמְאוֹת שֶׁהֵן מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים סְפֵקָן טָהוֹר. אֲבָל אַב [הַטֻּמְאָה] שֶׁהוּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים סְפֵקוֹ טָמֵא אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה הָאָב עַצְמוֹ טָמֵא בְּסָפֵק כְּגוֹן בֵּית הַפְּרָס וְאֶרֶץ הָעַמִּים שֶׁאֵין שׂוֹרְפִין עַל סְפֵק מַגָּעָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

2

What is meant by the principle: a doubt that arises regarding ordinary food, i.e., the purity of the food prepared by those who partake of ordinary foods in a state of purity, the people called perushim?

When a question arises regarding the purity of the ordinary food that is treated as pure by people who partake of ordinary foods in a state of purity, the objects are deemed pure. This applies with regard to all questions that arise. Only when impurity is definite is it of consequence in such instances.

ב

סְפֵק הַחֻלִּין הִיא טָהֳרַת אוֹכְלֵי חֻלֵּיהֶן בְּטָהֳרָה וְהֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים פְּרוּשִׁים. כֵּיצַד. אוֹכְלֵי חֻלֵּיהֶן בְּטָהֳרָה שֶׁנּוֹלַד לָהֶן סְפֵק טֻמְאָה בְּטָהֳרוֹתֵיהֶן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ טְהוֹרִים כְּכָל הַסְּפֵקוֹת כֻּלָּן. וְאֵין לָהֶן טֻמְאָה אֶלָּא טֻמְאָה וַדָּאִית:

3

What is meant by the principle: a doubt that arises concerning sacrifices? If a person lacking atonement was in doubt regarding an obligation to bring five sacrifices, e.g., a woman who was in doubt regarding five situations that could have rendered her impure due to zivah or due to childbirth, she may bring only one sacrifice. Afterwards, she is pure with regard to partaking of sacrificial foods. The remainder of the offerings are not considered as obligations that must be fulfilled, as explained in Hilchot Mechusrei Kapparah.

ג

סְפֵק הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת כֵּיצַד. מְחֻסַּר כִּפּוּרִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ עָלָיו סְפֵק חֲמִשָּׁה קָרְבָּנוֹת. כְּגוֹן הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁיֵּשׁ עָלֶיהָ סְפֵק חָמֵשׁ זִיבוֹת אוֹ סְפֵק חָמֵשׁ לֵידוֹת. מְבִיאִין קָרְבָּן אֶחָד וְטָהוֹר לֶאֱכל בְּקָדָשִׁים וְאֵין הַשְּׁאָר עָלָיו חוֹבָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת מְחֻסְּרֵי כַּפָּרָה:

4

What is meant by a doubt concerning tzara'at blemishes? Until a person is categorized as impure, with regard to all questions concerning his status, he is considered as pure, as explained in Hilchot Negayim, ch. 6.

ד

סְפֵק נְגָעִים כֵּיצַד. עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִזְקַק לְטֻמְאָה סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּפֶרֶק שִׁשִּׁי מֵהִלְכוֹת נְגָעִים:

5

What is meant by a doubt when a person afflicted with tzara'at stood still or passed? When a person afflicted with tzara'at was sitting under a tree, a person who was ritually pure passed by, and there was a question whether or not he passed under the tree, he is pure. This ruling also applies if a person who was ritually pure was sitting under a tree, a person afflicted with tzara'at passed under the tree, and there was a question whether or not he stood still.

ה

סָפֵק עוֹמֵד וְעוֹבֵר כֵּיצַד. מְצֹרָע שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב תַּחַת הָאִילָן וְהַטָּהוֹר עוֹבֵר סָפֵק הֶאֱהִיל עָלָיו הָאִילָן וְטָמֵא סָפֵק לֹא הֶאֱהִיל עָלָיו וְכֵן אִם הָיָה הַטָּהוֹר יוֹשֵׁב תַּחַת הָאִילָן וְהַמְצֹרָע עוֹבֵר תַּחְתָּיו סָפֵק עָמַד הַמְצֹרָע וְנִטְמָא הַטָּהוֹר סָפֵק לֹא עָמַד סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר:

6

What is meant by a doubt concerning the carcass of a creeping animal, i.e., a creeping animal that was thrown? One threw the carcass of a creeping animal or another impure entity among loaves of bread and, in both instances, when there is a question whether or not the pure loaf was touched by impurity, they are considered as pure. The rationale is that the status of all questions of ritual impurity depends on the situation at the time the matter is discovered. We do not say: Maybe it touched the pure or impure object and then fell to its side? Instead, the ruling is given according to its state when it was discovered.

ו

סְפֵק שְׁרָצִים זֶה סְפֵק הַנִּזְרָקִין. כֵּיצַד. זָרַק שֶׁרֶץ אוֹ דָּבָר טָמֵא לְבֵין הַכִּכָּרוֹת אוֹ שֶׁזָּרַק כִּכָּר לְבֵין הַטְּמֵאוֹת וְסָפֵק נָגַע סָפֵק לֹא נָגַע הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר הוֹאִיל וּמָצָא הַכִּכָּר הַטָּהוֹר שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹגֵעַ בַּטֻּמְאָה שֶׁכָּל הַטֻּמְאוֹת כִּשְׁעַת מְצִיאָתָן. וְאֵין אוֹמְרִין שֶׁמָּא נָגַע בּוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָפַל בְּצִדּוֹ אֶלָּא הֲרֵי הֵן כִּשְׁעַת מְצִיאָתָן:

7

When there was a carcass of a creeping animal in the mouth of a mole that was walking over loaves of bread that were terumah and there was a question whether or not the carcass touched the loaves, it is pure, because the impurity did not come to rest. If the mole was walking on the loaves and touching them with the teeming animal, but there was a question whether or not it was alive, the loaves are pure.

When does the above apply? When the mole seized the creeping animal when it was alive and then departed. If, however, the creeping animal was discovered dead in the mole's mouth, the loaves are impure. If, however, it was seen to be alive while it was in the mole's mouth even though it was discovered dead in front of it afterwards, the loaves are pure.

Similarly, when there is a carcass of a creeping animal in the mouth of a mole and the carcass of an animal in the mouth of a dog and they passed between pure substances or pure substances passed between them, the status of the pure substances does not change despite the question. This leniency is granted, because the impurity does not have a fixed place. If they were pecking with them on the ground, they are considered to have been placed in a fixed position and they impart impurity retroactively because of the doubt if they were located in a private domain, as will be explained.

ז

הַשֶּׁרֶץ בְּפִי הַחֻלְדָּה וּמְהַלֶּכֶת עַל גַּבֵּי כִּכָּרוֹת שֶׁל תְּרוּמָה סָפֵק נָגַע סָפֵק לֹא נָגַע סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא נָחָה הַטֻּמְאָה. הָיְתָה מְהַלֶּכֶת בּוֹ וְנוֹגַעַת בְּכִכָּרוֹת סָפֵק חַי סָפֵק מֵת הֲרֵי הֵן טְהוֹרוֹת. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁנְּטָלַתּוּ וְהָלְכָה לָהּ. אֲבָל אִם נִמְצָא מֵת בְּפִיהָ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ טְמֵאוֹת. רָאוּהוּ חַי בְּפִיהָ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּצָאוּהוּ מֵת בְּפִיהָ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ טְהוֹרוֹת. וְכֵן הַשֶּׁרֶץ בְּפִי הַחֻלְדָּה וְהַנְּבֵלָה בְּפִי הַכֶּלֶב וְעָבְרוּ בֵּין הַטְּהוֹרִים אוֹ שֶׁעָבְרוּ טְהוֹרִים בֵּינֵיהֶן סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לַטֻּמְאָה מָקוֹם קָבוּעַ. הָיוּ מְנַקְּרִין בָּהֶן עַל הָאָרֶץ הֲרֵי הֵן כְּמֻנָּחִין וּמְטַמְּאִין לְמַפְרֵעַ מִסָּפֵק אִם הָיוּ בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

8

What is meant by a doubt that arose in the public domain? When impurity was located in the public domain and there is a doubt whether a person or a substance touched it or not, it is considered to be pure. If such a situation arose in a private domain and there is a doubt whether a person or a substance touched it or not, it is considered to be impure.

All of these questionable situations which the Sages ruled as pure are given that status even if the situation occurs in a private domain, because the objects involved do not have the knowledge to inquire regarding their status, as will be explained.

ח

סָפֵק רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים כֵּיצַד. טֻמְאָה שֶׁמֻּנַּחַת בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים סָפֵק נָגַע בָּהּ סָפֵק לֹא נָגַע סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר. הָיְתָה בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד וְסָפֵק נָגַע בָּהּ סָפֵק לֹא נָגַע סְפֵקוֹ טָמֵא. וְכָל אֵלּוּ הַסְּפֵקוֹת שֶׁטִּהֲרוּ חֲכָמִים אֲפִלּוּ בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן דַּעַת לְהִשָּׁאֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

9

What is meant by a doubt involving two domains? An impure entity was located in a private domain and there was a pure entity in a public domain or vice versa and a person touched one of them, but did not know which one he touched, he is pure. The same ruling applies if he moved one of them and did not know which one he moved if the impure entity would impart impurity when carried or one of them would impart impurity when one holds a portion of his body over it and he held a portion of his body over one of them, but does not know which one. Even though this involves a doubt in the public domain, he is considered as pure.

When he inquires about his status, we tell him: "If you immerse, you have not lost anything." If he immerses, it is praiseworthy. If he does not immerse and touches entities that are pure, they remain pure, because when there is a doubt in the public domain, the entity is considered as pure.

ט

סָפֵק שְׁתֵּי רְשׁוּיוֹת כֵּיצַד. הָיָה דָּבָר טָמֵא בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד וְדָבָר טָהוֹר בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַדָּבָר לְהֵפֶךְ וְנָגַע בְּאֶחָד מֵהֶם וְאֵין יָדוּעַ בְּאֵי זֶה מֵהֶן נָגַע. אוֹ שֶׁהֵסִיט אֶת אֶחָד מֵהֶן וְאֵין יָדוּעַ אֵי זֶה הֵסִיט. אִם הָיָה הַדָּבָר הַטָּמֵא מְטַמֵּא בְּמַשָּׂא אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן מְטַמֵּא בְּאֹהֶל וְהֶאֱהִיל עַל אֶחָד מֵהֶן וְאֵין יָדוּעַ אֵי זֶה מֵהֶן הֶאֱהִיל הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁסָּפֵק רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים טָהוֹר. כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא לִשָּׁאֵל אוֹמְרִין לוֹ אִם טָבַלְתָּ אֵין בְּכָךְ הֶפְסֵד. אִם טָבַל הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח. וְאִם לֹא טָבַל וְעָשָׂה טָהֳרוֹת הֲרֵי הֵן טְהוֹרוֹת שֶׁסְּפֵק רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים טָהוֹר:

10

When the carcass of a creeping animal that was burnt was found on food, or a garment that was worn out or a needle that was broken or rusty was found among keilim, the keilim are pure. This applies whether they are found in a public domain or a private domain. We do not say, perhaps the carcass was burnt only after it came into contact with the foods or after the keilim contracted ritual impurity because of contact with the garment or the needle, the needle broke or became rusty and the garment became worn out. For we follow the principle: the status of all questions of ritual impurity depends on the situation at the time the matter is discovered.

י

שֶׁרֶץ שֶׁנִּמְצָא שָׂרוּף וּמֻנָּח עַל גַּבֵּי אֳכָלִין וְכֵן טַלִּית שֶׁנִּמְצֵאת בְּלוּיָה וּמַחַט שֶׁנִּמְצֵאת שְׁבוּרָה אוֹ חֲלוּדָה בֵּין הַכֵּלִים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ טְהוֹרִין בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד. וְאֵין אוֹמְרִין שֶׁמָּא אַחַר שֶׁנָּגַע בָּאֳכָלִין נִשְׂרַף וְאַחַר שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ הַכֵּלִים בְּמַגַּע הַטַּלִּית וְהַמַּחַט נִשְׁבְּרָה אוֹ הֶחְלִידָה וּבָלְתָה הַטַּלִּית עַד שֶׁטָּהֲרָה שֶׁכָּל הַטֻּמְאוֹת כִּשְׁעַת מְצִיאָתָן:

11

The following rules apply when two witnesses tell a person: "You contracted impurity," and he says: "I am pure.' His word is accepted with regard to his own status. Nevertheless, we do not tell him to involve himself with pure articles, but if he did involve himself with pure articles, they are pure, but he should take his own precautions.

If one witness says: "He became impure," and two witnesses state: "He did not become impure," whether this occurred in a public domain or a private domain, he is pure. If two witnesses say: "He became impure," and one witness states: "He did not become impure," whether this occurred in a public domain or a private domain, he is impure. When one witness says: "He became impure," and one witness states: "He did not become impure," if this occurred in a private domain, he is impure. If this occurred in a public domain, he is pure.

יא

שְׁנֵי עֵדִים אוֹמְרִין לוֹ נִטְמָא וְהוּא אוֹמֵר טָהוֹר אֲנִי הוּא נֶאֱמָן עַל יְדֵי עַצְמוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין אוֹמְרִין לוֹ עֲסֹק בְּטָהֳרוֹת אֶלָּא אִם עָשָׂה טָהֳרוֹת הֲרֵי הֵן טְהוֹרוֹת וְיָחוּשׁ לְעַצְמוֹ. עֵד אוֹמֵר נִטְמָא וּשְׁנַיִם אוֹמְרִים לֹא נִטְמָא בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד טָהוֹר. שְׁנַיִם אוֹמְרִים נִטְמָא וְעֵד אֶחָד אוֹמֵר לֹא נִטְמָא בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים הֲרֵי זֶה נִטְמָא. עֵד אוֹמֵר נִטְמָא וְעֵד אוֹמֵר לֹא נִטְמָא אִשָּׁה אוֹמֶרֶת נִטְמָא וְאִשָּׁה אוֹמֶרֶת לֹא נִטְמָא בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד טָמֵא בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים טָהוֹר:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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