QUESTION: The Mishnah (38b) states that Chavarvar (white spots in the cornea) and an eye that constantly drips water are considered Mumim on a Bechor if they are permanent. Chavarvar is considered permanent if it persists for eighty days. Rebbi Chanina ben Antignos says that one should examine the blemish three times within eighty days to determine that it is permanent. The Gemara here quotes Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak who adds that these examinations must be "Meshulashim."
What is the meaning of "Meshulashim"? The word "Meshulashim" is used in a number of other contexts. The Gemara in Makos (9b) uses the word "Meshulashim" when it describes the three Arei Miklat designated by Moshe Rabeinu and Yehoshua on each side of the Jordan River. The Gemara says that these cities were Meshulashim -- they were equidistant from each other and from the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael. They divided Eretz Yisrael into four sections, from the southern border until the first city, from there until the second, from there until the third city, and finally from the third city until the northern border.
Similarly, the Gemara in Megilah (19a) requires that the sinews used to stitch together the parchment of the Megilas Esther be Meshulashim -- the height of the parchment must be divided by the sinews into four equidistant sections.
In the Gemara here, however, this cannot the meaning of "Meshulashim." The Mishnah specifies that the animal be examined three times during the eighty days, and not four times. What, then, does "Meshulashim" mean in the context of Chavarvar?
(a) RASHI (DH she'Yehu) explains that if one notices that an animal is ill with Chavarvar, then he must examine it again 26 1/2 days later, and then again after 26 1/2 days, and then once more after 27 days. The animal has effectively been examined four times (including the first sighting of the Chavarvar), even though the eighty-day period has been divided into three parts, and not into four.
(b) TOSFOS (DH she'Yehu) explains that one examines the animal at the beginning of the eighty days, in the middle of the eighty days (at day forty), and once more at the end of the eighty days, for a total of three examinations. Similarly, Tosfos explains that the sinews used to stitch together the parchment of a Megilah are to be stitched at the top of the page, at the middle of the page, and at the bottom of the page. In both of these cases -- the sinews of a Megilah and the examinations of a Chavarvar -- Meshulashim means that it is divided into two sections.
2) A PIERCED NOSE
QUESTION: The Beraisa states that a Bechor is considered to have a Mum when its nostrils were perforated between each other externally, but not when they were perforated internally.
How can a perforation between the nostrils be an "external" perforation?
(a) RABEINU GERSHOM and the RAMBAM (in Perush ha'Mishnayos, and Hilchos Bi'as ha'Mikdash 7:6) explain that the Beraisa means that when the perforation of the nostrils is lower down on the nose, it is visible from the outside and therefore is considered a Mum. If the perforation is higher up inside the nose, it cannot be seen from the outside and is not considered a Mum.
(b) RASHI here explains that an external perforation refers to a perforation in the outer skin of the nostril. Since it is visible, it is considered a Mum. An internal perforation is one between the two nostrils, which is not visible.
How, though, does Rashi understand the words of the Beraisa, "Zeh l'Toch Zeh" -- "[if the nostrils are perforated] from one to the other," which clearly implies that the perforation is between the two nostrils and not on an external side? The VILNA GA'ON (in Mishnayos, end of Bechoros) suggests that Rashi's text of the Gemara does not include the words "Zeh l'Toch Zeh" in the Beraisa.
3) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TEETH OF PEOPLE AND THE TEETH OF ANIMALS
The Mishnah states that when the outer teeth ("Chutin"; see Background to the Daf
) of an animal were damaged or leveled, this is considered a Mum because the damaged teeth are visible. In contrast, damage to inner teeth does not constitute a Mum; only when the inner teeth are entirely uprooted is this considered a Mum.
This Mishnah seems to contradict the Mishnah later (44a) that discusses the blemishes which invalidate a Kohen from performing the Avodah. The Mishnah there says that the only Mum associated with the teeth is teeth that are missing entirely, and even this is not an actual Mum d'Oraisa; the Kohen may not perform the Avodah because of "Mar'is ha'Ayin." Since the toothless Kohen is very unsightly, he may not perform the Avodah, but b'Di'eved a Kohen with no teeth who performs the Avodah does not transgress a Mitzvas Aseh and his Avodah is valid (see Rashi to 43b, DH Mishum).
What is the reason for the difference between a Kohen who is missing teeth and a Bechor that is missing teeth? Why does missing teeth constitute a full-fledged Mum for a firstborn animal, but not for a Kohen?
(a) The TIFERES YISRAEL (7:32) cites the TOSFOS YOM TOV (6:4) who quotes the RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Mizbe'ach 2:3) who rules, based on the Gemara earlier (35a), that the reason why damaged teeth constitute a Mum on a Bechor is that when the animal howls, it opens its mouth wide and the Mum of the teeth becomes visible. Only an animal opens its mouth wide to howl; a person usually does not open his mouth so wide, and thus his defective teeth are less discernible. Therefore, damaged teeth in the mouth of a Kohen do not constitute a Mum as they do in the mouth of an animal.
(b) The AVNEI NEZER (1:131:5) suggests an interesting approach to explain the difference between people and animals with regard to the Mum of defective teeth. The Gemara in Chulin (24a) states that although a Mum disqualifies a Kohen from performing the Avodah, old age does not disqualify a Kohen. (Only when a Kohen is so old that he trembles when he stands is he unfit for the Avodah, as the Gemara there (24b) teaches.) In contrast, an animal becomes disqualified from being brought as a Korban when it becomes too old, as the Gemara later (41a) derives from the verse, "From the flock... from the sheep or from the goats" (Vayikra 1:10; see Rashi to 41a, DH Min ha'Tzon). The Gemara teaches that an animal over the age of three years is disqualified from being brought as a Korban. Since teeth fall out with old age, it must be that missing teeth is not considered a Mum in a Kohen! It is only because of "Mar'is ha'Ayin" -- because his appearance is disturbing to people -- that a Kohen without teeth may not perform the Avodah. An animal brought as a Korban, however, must be under the age of three years, when its teeth are generally healthy and intact. This suggests that the Torah considers only animals that have good teeth to be fit for Korbanos. (D. BLOOM)
4) REMOVING A DAMAGED "ZOVEN"
The Mishnah states that a damaged Zoven (see Background to the Daf
) is considered a Mum on a Bechor. In the Gemara, Rebbi Elazar explains that an animal is considered to be a Ba'al Mum only if its Zoven was damaged
, but if it was removed
, the animal is not considered a Ba'al Mum (since it will heal).
What is the status of an animal that had a damaged Zoven that was then removed? Does the removal of the damaged Zoven restore the animal to full health so that it is no longer considered a Ba'al Mum?
(38b, DH v'Simaneich; see Insights to Bechoros 38:3
) discusses whether a Bechor with a permanent blemish (Mum Kavu'a) that can be healed through medical intervention still has the status of a Ba'al Mum. Tosfos attempts to prove from Rebbi Elazar's ruling that a Mum that can be healed still constitutes a Mum, as long as it has not been healed. Rebbi Elazar says that a damaged Zoven is considered a Mum even though that Mum can be healed later by removing the Zoven from the animal.
However, Tosfos dismisses this proof and suggests that once the Zoven is damaged, its removal will not cause the animal's Mum to be healed. The Zoven heals only if it was removed without first being damaged. Accordingly, perhaps a permanent Mum that can be healed through medical intervention is not considered a Mum. Similarly, Tosfos earlier (34a, DH Ileima) suggests that when a Mum can be healed, it is considered a temporary blemish (Mum Over) and not a permanent one.
(Tosfos' discussion is comparable to another discussion in Halachah. The TUR (EH 5) rules that if a man's reproductive glands are missing, he is not considered a Petzu'a Daka and is permitted to marry any Jewish woman. If, however, one testicle is damaged, then he is considered a Petzu'a Daka and he is restricted to whom he may marry. RABEINU TAM rules that a man is not a Petzu'a Daka when his testicles are missing only if they were removed without first being damaged; once they have been damaged, the man's status as a Petzu'a Daka is not eliminated when the damaged testicle is removed. The PISCHEI TESHUVAH cites a number of Poskim who rule that removing even a damaged testicle will remove the status of Petzu'a Daka from the man.) (Z. Wainstein)
5) HALACHAH: THE REQUIREMENT OF "MESHULESHES" FOR TZITZIS
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa in which Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel argue about the size of "Meshuleshes" of Tzitzis. What does "Meshuleshes" mean?
(a) RASHI (DH Meshuleshes) explains that "Meshuleshes" refers to the distance from the edge of the garment, at which the Tzitzis must be attached to the garment. The Tzitzis are not supposed to be placed at the very edge of the garment, but rather at a distance of "Meshuleshes" away from the edge.
(b) Rashi (DH Achas me'Arba'ah) cites another explanation that says that "Meshuleshes" refers to the length of the Gedil (the knotted part of the strings of Tzitzis) aside from the Anaf (the unwound, hanging strings). The Gemara in Menachos (41b) teaches that the length of the Anaf must be double the length of the Gedil (see TOSFOS here, DH Kama). Accordingly, the Gedil is comprised of one-third of the total length of the Tzitzis, and the Anaf is comprised of the other two-thirds.
The Rishonim, however, disagree about how long each of the two parts must be. Rashi explains that Beis Shamai, whose opinion is the Halachah in this case, maintains that the Gedil must be four fingerbreadths long, and the Anaf must be eight fingerbreadths long, for a total of twelve fingerbreadths.
TOSFOS (DH Kama) cites Rashi in Menachos who records another opinion, according to which the Anaf is four fingerbreadths, and the Gedil is two, for a total of six fingerbreadths.
The ROSH (Hilchos Tzitzis #12) writes that the entire length of Anaf and Gedil together must be four fingerbreadths.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 11:4) first quotes the opinion of the Rosh who rules that it suffices for the strings of the Tzitzis to be four fingerbreadths in length. The Shulchan Aruch then quotes the opinion that requires twelve fingerbreadths, and he concludes that this is the prevalent custom.