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She'ar Avot haTum'ah - Chapter 16

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She'ar Avot haTum'ah - Chapter 16

1

Why did the Sages rule that when there is a question of impurity in the public domain, the person should be considered pure? Because the community offers the Paschal sacrifice in a state of impurity when the majority of the people are impure. Now, if ritual impurity that was definitely established is superseded by the presence of the community, certainly this would apply to a mere question of the presence of impurity. For all stringencies observed because of doubt were instituted by the Sages, as we explained in Hilchot Bi'ot Assurot.

Why did they rule stringently concerning a doubt in a private domain? For in the instance of a sotah who entered into privacy with the person concerning whom she was warned, even though there is only a doubt that she committed adultery, she is considered as impure with regard to her husband until she drinks the sotah waters.

א

מִפְּנֵּי מָה טִהֲרוּ חֲכָמִים סְפֵק טֻמְאָה בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַצִּבּוּר עוֹשִׂין פֶּסַח בְּטֻמְאָה בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַטְּמֵאִים מְרֻבִּין. אִם טֻמְאָה וַדָּאִית נִדְחֵית מִפְּנֵיהֶן קַל וָחֹמֶר לִסְפֵק טֻמְאָה שֶׁאִסּוּר כָּל הַסְּפֵקוֹת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶן כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת בִּיאוֹת אֲסוּרוֹת. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה הֶחְמִירוּ בִּסְפֵק רְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד. שֶׁהֲרֵי סוֹטָה שֶׁנִּסְתְּרָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַדָּבָר סָפֵק הֲרֵי הִיא טְמֵאָה לְבַעְלָהּ עַד שֶׁתִּשְׁתֶּה:

2

Just as a sotah and the person suspected of relations with her are two, so too, when there are questions of impurity that involve two individuals, it is assumed that the person or the article is not pure. If, however, there are three people in a private domain, when there is a question concerning impurity that occurs there, it is assumed that the person or the article is pure, as if the question arose in the public domain.

When does the above apply? When the person who could have contracted impurity has the knowledge to be asked and be examined regarding the details that occurred, as is true with regard to a sotah. When, however, there is a deafmute, an emotionally or intellectually compromised person, or a minor who does not know the details and is unable to respond to questions that are asked involved in a private domain, if a doubtful situation arises, it is assumed that the person or the article is pure.

What is implied? When a deafmute, an emotionally or intellectually compromised person, or a minor who does not know how to respond to questions are found in a courtyard or an alley where there is impurity and there is a question whether or not they came in contact with it, they are considered as pure. Similarly, in all instances where no one has the knowledge to respond to questions, even though the question arises in a private domain, they are considered as pure.

ב

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהַסּוֹטָה וּבוֹעֲלָהּ שְׁנַיִם כָּךְ סְפֵק טֻמְאָה בִּשְׁנַיִם. אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד הֲרֵי סְפֵק טֻמְאָתָן שָׁם טָהוֹר כִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה זֶה שֶׁנִּטְמָא בְּסָפֵק יֵשׁ בּוֹ דַּעַת לְהִשָּׁאֵל וְלִדְרשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ מָה אֵרַע לוֹ כְּסוֹטָה. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה חֵרֵשׁ אוֹ שׁוֹטֶה אוֹ קָטָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְהָשִׁיב עַל הָעִנְיָן כְּשֶׁשּׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתוֹ הֲרֵי סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר. כֵּיצַד. חֵרֵשׁ אוֹ שׁוֹטֶה אוֹ קָטָן שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ דַּעַת לְהִשָּׁאֵל שֶׁנִּמְצְאוּ בְּחָצֵר אוֹ בְּמָבוֹי שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם טֻמְאָה וְסָפֵק נָגְעוּ וְסָפֵק לֹא נָגְעוּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ טְהוֹרִין. וְכֵן כָּל שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ דַּעַת לְהִשָּׁאֵל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנּוֹלַד לוֹ הַסָּפֵק בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר:

3

When a person is blind, sleeping, or walking at night, if there is a question whether or not they contracted impurity in a private domain, they are impure, because they have the knowledge to respond to questions.

When do we apply the principle that whenever there is a question involving one who does not have the knowledge to respond to questions, it is assumed that the person or the article is pure? When the possibilities are equally balanced and there is no established presumption regarding its status. If, however, it is known that, in a given situation, one could be assumed to have contracted impurity, he is considered impure.

What is implied? An impure child was standing next to some dough and there was also dough on his hand, the dough is deemed impure, for a child's habit is to pat dough and it can be assumed that he did so. Nevertheless, terumah should not be burnt because of this assumption.

ג

הַסּוּמָא וְהַיָּשֵׁן וְהַמְהַלֵּךְ בַּלַּיְלָה סְפֵקָן בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד טָמֵא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ דַּעַת לְהִשָּׁאֵל. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁכָּל שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ דַּעַת לִשָּׁאֵל סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר בְּשֶׁהָיָה הַדָּבָר שָׁקוּל וְאֵין שָׁם חֲזָקָה. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה הַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ שֶׁחֶזְקָתוֹ שֶׁנִּטְמָא הֲרֵי זֶה טָמֵא. כֵּיצַד. תִּינוֹק טָמֵא שֶׁנִּמְצָא בְּצַד הָעִסָּה וְהַבָּצֵק בְּיָדוֹ הֲרֵי הָעִסָּה טְמֵאָה שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ הַתִּינוֹק לְטַפֵּחַ וּבְכָךְ הִיא חֶזְקָתוֹ. וְאֵין שׂוֹרְפִין עַל חֲזָקָה זוֹ:

4

When impure liquids, a pure dough that is terumah, and domesticated animals, beasts, or fowl were all located in the same place, and teeth marks were found in the dough, it is presumed that the animals drank the liquids and then bit the dough and thus imparted impurity to it. If a cow was there and the distance between the liquids and the dough was sufficient for the cow to wipe its tongue on its lips, the dough is pure. The same principle applies with regard to other animals if there was enough place for the animals to dry their mouths with their tongues. If there is less space than this, the dough is impure. If a dog was there, the dough is pure even if it is located next to the liquids, for it is not the habit of a dog to leave food and go to water.

The following laws apply if there are signs of chickens pecking at the dough. If there is enough space between the liquids and the dough for them to dry their mouths on the ground, the dough is pure. If not, it is not, for it can be assumed that they drank and pecked at the dough while the liquids were still in their mouths.

When does the above apply? When the water is clear enough for a child's shadow to be recognized in them. If, however, the water was murky, the dough is pure, because if the chickens pecked with the liquids, the marks of the liquid would be observable in the dough. If the liquid was clear, although the dough is assumed to be impure, it should not be burnt due to this assumption. Instead, the determination of its status is held in abeyance.

ד

הָיוּ מַשְׁקִין טְמֵאִין וּבָצֵק טָהוֹר וּבְהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה אוֹ עוֹפוֹת בַּבַּיִת וְנִמְצָא בַּבָּצֵק מְקוֹם נְשִׁיכָתָן. חֲזָקָה שֶׁשָּׁתוּ מַשְׁקִין וְנָשְׁכוּ בַּבָּצֵק וְטִמְּאוּהוּ. הָיְתָה שָׁם פָּרָה וּבֵין הַמַּשְׁקִין וְהַבָּצֵק כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּלַחֵךְ אֶת לְשׁוֹנָהּ הֲרֵי הַבָּצֵק טָהוֹר. וּבִשְׁאָר כָּל הַבְּהֵמָה כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּנַגֵּב אֶת פִּיהָ. פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה הַבָּצֵק טָמֵא. וְאִם הָיָה כֶּלֶב אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ מַשְׁקִין בְּצַד הַבָּצֵק הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר. שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ שֶׁל כֶּלֶב לְהַנִּיחַ הַמָּזוֹן וְלֵילֵךְ לוֹ אֶל הַמַּיִם. נִמְצָא בַּבָּצֵק נְקִירַת הַתַּרְנְגוֹלִין אִם יֵשׁ בֵּין הַמַּשְׁקִין וְהַבָּצֵק כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּנַגְּבוּ אֶת פִּיהֶן בָּאָרֶץ הַבָּצֵק טָהוֹר. וְאִם לָאו טָמֵא שֶׁחֶזְקָתָן שֶׁשָּׁתוּ וְנִקְּרוּ בַּבָּצֵק בַּמַּשְׁקִין שֶׁבְּפִיהֶם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיוּ הַמַּשְׁקִין צְלוּלִין שֶׁבָּבוּאָה שֶׁל תִּינוֹק נִכֶּרֶת בָּהֶן. אֲבָל עֲכוּרִים הַבָּצֵק טָהוֹר. שֶׁאִלּוּ נִקְּרוּ בַּמַּשְׁקִין הָיָה מְקוֹם הַמַּשְׁקִין נִכָּר בַּבָּצֵק. אִם הָיוּ צְלוּלִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַבָּצֵק בְּחֶזְקַת טֻמְאָה אֵין שׂוֹרְפִין עַל חֲזָקָה זוֹ אֶלָּא תּוֹלִין:

5

What is an example of a presumption due to which terumah is burnt when a question of impurity arises in a private domain? There is a dough in a house, both creeping animals and frogs are becoming stuck in it, and pieces of their flesh was found in the dough. If most of those becoming stuck in the dough are creeping animals, the dough is deemed impure and should be burnt. If the majority are frogs, it is deemed as pure.

ה

אֵיזוֹ הִיא חֲזָקָה שֶׁשּׂוֹרְפִין עָלֶיהָ בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד. עִסָּה בַּבַּיִת וּשְׁרָצִים וּצְפַרְדְּעִים מְטַפְּלִין שָׁם וְנִמְצְאוּ חֲתִיכוֹת מִבְּשָׂרָן בָּעִסָּה אִם רֹב הַמְטַפְּלִים שְׁרָצִים הָעִסָּה טְמֵאָה וְתִשָּׂרֵף. וְאִם הָרֹב צְפַרְדְּעִים טְהוֹרָה:

6

The following rules apply when there were pure substances next to or above sources of impurity and when a person clothed himself in his garment, a question arose whether it touched the impurity and the pure substances or not. If this took place in a private domain, it is deemed impure because of the doubt, because when there is a question of impurity that arises due to human activity, they can be questioned concerning it. Even if there is a k'li placed on the ground, it is considered as if there is someone to be questioned about it. If the pure substances and the source of impurity were in a public domain and a question arises, the substances are deemed pure. If it is impossible that the garment did not touch both of them, even though there is some doubt, the substances are deemed impure.

ו

הָיוּ טֻמְאוֹת וְטָהֳרוֹת בְּצִדּוֹ אוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ וְנִתְעַטֵּף בְּטַלִּיתוֹ וְסָפֵק נָגְעוּ סָפֵק לֹא נָגְעוּ בְּעֵת שֶׁנִּתְעַטֵּף אִם הָיוּ בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד סְפֵקוֹ טָמֵא. שֶׁסְּפֵק טֻמְאָה הַבָּאָה בִּידֵי אָדָם נִשְׁאָלִין עָלֶיהָ אֲפִלּוּ בִּכְלִי הַמֻּנָּח עַל גַּבֵּי קַרְקַע הֲרֵי הוּא כְּמִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ דַּעַת לִשָּׁאֵל. וְאִם הָיוּ בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר וְאִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא יִגַּע סְפֵקוֹ טָמֵא:

7

When a loaf of bread that is terumah is positioned on a board and a support that contracted impurity from a zav is positioned below it in a manner in which it is impossible for the loaf to fall without touching the support, even though the support is inclined, should one find the loaf in another place, its status of purity remains unchanged, for it is possible to say that another person came, took it, and put it in that place. If one can say: "I am certain that no person came here," it is impure, because it certainly fell and touched the support when it fell.

ז

כִּכָּר שֶׁל תְּרוּמָה שֶׁנָּתוּן עַל גַּבֵּי הַדַּף וּמִדְרָס נָתוּן תַּחְתָּיו וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ כְּשֶׁיִּפּל שֶׁלֹּא יִגַּע בַּמִּדְרָס. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בִּמְקוֹם מִדְרוֹן וּבָא וּמָצָא הַכִּכָּר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר הֲרֵי הוּא בְּטָהֳרָתוֹ שֶׁאֲנִי אוֹמֵר אָדָם בָּא וּנְטָלוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ בְּמָקוֹם זֶה. וְאִם אָמַר בָּרִי לִי שֶׁלֹּא בָּא אָדָם לְכָאן טָמֵא שֶׁוַּדַּאי נָפַל וְנָגַע בַּמִּדְרָס כְּשֶׁנָּפַל:

8

When a child is found standing next to a cemetery holding roses, even when there are roses only in the place of impurity, he is pure because there is a doubt; it is possible that another person gathered them and gave them to him.

Similarly, when a donkey is standing in a cemetery, the keilim on him are pure. We do not say that he pressed himself against them when lying on the ground and touched a grave while doing so. The rationale for both instances is that the child and the donkey do not have the knowledge to respond to questions. Hence, we follow the principle that all questions of impurity are judged according to the circumstances at the time that they were discovered.

ח

תִּינוֹק שֶׁנִּמְצָא בְּצַד בֵּית הַקְּבָרוֹת וְהַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים בְּיָדוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם שׁוֹשַׁנִּים אֶלָּא בִּמְקוֹם הַטֻּמְאָה סְפֵקוֹ טָהוֹר שֶׁמָּא אַחֵר לִקְּטָן וּנְתָנָם לוֹ. וְכֵן חֲמוֹר הָעוֹמֵד בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת כֵּלָיו טְהוֹרִין וְאֵין אוֹמְרִין שֶׁמָּא נִתְמַעֵךְ בָּהֶן וְנָגְעוּ בַּקֶּבֶר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ דַּעַת לִשָּׁאֵל וּכְשֶׁנִּמְצְאוּ לֹא נִמְצְאוּ נוֹגְעִין וְכָל הַטֻּמְאוֹת כִּשְׁעַת מְצִיאָתָן:

9

When a child was holding his father's hand or was riding on his father's shoulders, he is deemed impure with regard to any question concerning ritual impurity that arises in a private domain, for his father could be asked with regard to his status.

ט

תִּינוֹק שֶׁהָיָה תּוֹפֵשׂ בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁל אָבִיו אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה רוֹכֵב עַל גַּבֵּי כְּתֵפוֹ שֶׁל אָבִיו סְפֵקוֹ בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד טָמֵא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאָבִיו נִשְׁאָל עָלָיו:

10

There are four questionable situations that our Sages discussed with regard to a child:

a) When a child cannot walk and his mother placed him down in one place and found him as he was in that place, he is pure. We do not say that perhaps an impure woman came and kissed him and hugged him.

b) When the child matured to the extent that he began to leave one domain and enter others on his own, his clothes are pure. They are not considered as a midras as are the clothes of unlearned people. Nevertheless, as an initial preference, they should not be brought into contact with pure entities.

c) If he matured to the extent that he has the knowledge to answer questions, in a private domain, whenever there is a doubt whether he contracted impurity, he is considered as impure.

d) If he matured to the extent that he has the knowledge to guard his body from contracting impurity, one may partake of pure foods that touched his body. If he has the knowledge to guard his hands, pure foods that touched them may be eaten.

How do we check him? He is immersed and given ordinary food which he is told to treat as terumah. If he has the knowledge to guard his body, one may partake of pure foods that touched his body. If he has the knowledge to guard his hands, pure foods that touched them may be eaten.

י

וְאַרְבָּעָה סְפֵקוֹת אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים בְּתִינוֹק. תִּינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַלֵּךְ שֶׁהִנִּיחַתּוּ אִמּוֹ וּבָאָה וּמְצָאַתּוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא בִּמְקוֹמוֹ טָהוֹר וְאֵין אוֹמְרִין שֶׁמָּא טֻמְאָה בָּאָה וּנְשָׁקַתּוּ וְגִפַּפְתּוֹ. הִתְחִיל הַתִּינוֹק לָצֵאת וּלְהַכְנִיס בְּגָדָיו טְהוֹרִין וְאֵינָן מִדְרָס כִּשְׁאָר בִּגְדֵי עַם הָאָרֶץ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן טְהוֹרִין אֵין עוֹשִׂין עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן טָהֳרוֹת. הִגְדִּיל עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ דַּעַת לִשָּׁאֵל סְפֵקוֹ טָמֵא בִּרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד. הִגְדִּיל עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ דַּעַת לִשְׁמֹר אֶת גּוּפוֹ אוֹכְלִין עַל גּוּפוֹ טָהֳרוֹת. יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת יָדָיו אוֹכְלִין עַל גַּבָּן טָהֳרוֹת. כֵּיצַד בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ. מַטְבִּילִין אוֹתוֹ וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ חֻלִּין לְשֵׁם תְּרוּמָה אִם יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת גּוּפוֹ אוֹכְלִין אַגַּב גּוּפוֹ טָהֳרוֹת וְאִם יוֹדֵעַ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת יָדָיו אוֹכְלִים אַגַּב יָדוֹ טָהֳרוֹת:

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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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