web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Why Were The Men Tamei?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

In this week’s parshah we read about the individuals who were tamei and thus could not bring the korban Pesach. They approached Moshe Rabbeinu and asked him whether there was anything they could do to bring the korban. Ultimately, Hashem told Moshe that they should bring a korban a month after Pesach, on the 14th of Iyar.

The wording of the pasuk that describes when they first came before Moshe is: “Vayomeru ha’anashim ha’heimah – and these men spoke.” The Sifri says that we derive from the word “ha’heimah – these” that only the one with the question should ask the question. Seemingly, the Sifri is requiring that one ask a question himself; one should not send the question through another person. However, this explanation is very difficult to understand. Is one not allowed to send a question through another person?

The Panim Yafos explains the Sifri with the following different approach: these men were tamei because, according to one opinion, they were carrying Yosef’s aron. The Gemara in Shabbos 93a says that when several people carry a zav only the one who is holding the majority of the zav becomes tamei. The others remain tahor. This is because they are merely aiding him in the act of carrying, which does not render one tamei. But in this case it was not clear who was carrying the majority of the aron. Therefore it was a safek as to which one of the men was tamei.

Generally, when there is a safek as to which one of several men (more than three) became tamei the halacha states that they should all be tahor. This is based on the halacha of safek tumah, b’rishus ha’rabim tahor. If a safek regarding tumah occurs in a place where there are three or more people, we render the safek tahor. Therefore these men should have been tahor, since the safek occurred in a place where there were more than three people. However, since these men all came together to ask about their status, Moshe Rabbeinu had to rule that they were tamei. The reason for this: had each person come individually to ask about his status, all would have been deemed tahor; when all of the men ask about their status together, they must all be rendered tamei. This is due to the fact that since one of them is surely tamei, we cannot render each one as tahor when they ask together. Thus, they must all be rendered as tamei misafek.

This halacha is drawn from the halacha of shnei sheveilim (two paths), in which one has tumah and the other does not. If two people walk the other down one path, they will both be portrayed as tahor. However, if both come to ask at the same time, they will be tamei. This is because they cannot both be tahor. Thus, they are both deemed tamei misafek.

However, Tosfos in Pesachim 10a says that the halacha that we render them tamei when they come to ask at the same time is only mi’de’rabbanan. Mi’de’oraisa, they would both be classified as tahor. Hence, the explanation of the Panim Yafos is difficult to understand since we are discussing a time period before the rabbanan decreed this halacha. So in Moshe Rabbeinu’s time, the halacha should have been that they were all tahor since they only had de’oraisa-level halachos.

I would like to suggest that although the time period that we are discussing is prior to the time that the rabbanan issued their decree, perhaps Moshe Rabbeinu was aware that one day this would become a rabbinic decree and thus Moshe adhered to it. We find a similar concept in Tosafos (Kiddushin 38a) whereby Tosfos quotes the Yerushalmi that asks why, when the bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael, they could not eat matzah made from chadash and apply the halacha of assei, doche lo sa’assei. Tosfos answers that there is a rabbinic decree prohibiting this because if one will eat one k’zayis, he may come to eat a second k’zayis. We cannot, therefore, apply the halacha of assei, doche lo sa’assei.

This time period was also before the rabbanan decreed their halachos; yet Tosfos seems to say that the bnei Yisrael nonetheless adhered to their decrees. This can be explained due to the belief that all of the decrees that the rabbanan made were given at Har Sinai – except that they were given as de’rabbanan halachos, and not to be treated the same as de’oraisa halachos. For example, in the case of a safek, a de’oraisa is treated stringently and a de’rabbanan is treated leniently.

Perhaps Moshe Rabbeinu took into consideration the fact that one day there would be a decree mi’de’rabbanan regarding when all the people come to ask about their tumah status, and thus he ruled that they were all tamei.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Were The Men Tamei?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Peace partners for hate: Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (R) and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.
PA Chief Negotiator Compares Netanyahu with ISIS
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

They ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/why-were-the-men-tamei/2013/05/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: