1) WHAT MAKES A PERSON BECOME AN "AV HA'TUM'AH"
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the process of preparing utensils to be used for the Efer Chatas (the ashes of the Parah Adumah in the purification process of a person who became Tamei with Tum'as Mes). The Gemara says that even if a utensil was completed in a state of Taharah it requires Tevilah. This is consistent with the decree mentioned in the Mishnah (20b) that Kelim completed in Taharah still require Tevilah (for use with Kodesh or Chatas, but not for use with Terumah).
However, the Chachamim were more stringent with a utensil intended for use with Efer Chatas than they were with an ordinary utensil that will be used with Kodesh. Normally, the finished utensil has the status of a Sheni l'Tum'ah. In this case, however, the Chachamim gave the finished utensil the status of a Tamei Mes -- an Av ha'Tum'ah. Hence, the person who cuts the wooden reed and completes its formation becomes Tamei and needs Tevilah as well.
The Gemara asks that if the finished utensil is considered as though it touched a Mes and therefore is an Av ha'Tum'ah, then the person who cut it or handled it should need not only Tevilah but also Haza'ah on the third and seventh days! Why does the Beraisa say that the person who cut the wooden reed or immersed it needs only Tevilah and not Haza'ah? The Gemara answers that the reed is like a Tamei Mes on its seventh day which has already undergone Haza'ah on the third and seventh days. Such a Tamei Mes is still considered an Av ha'Tum'ah but it cannot make a person Tamei to necessitate Haza'ah (but only Tevilah).
The Gemara originally states that if the wooden reed is considered to have touched a Mes, then the person who touches it needs Haza'ah on the third and seventh days. This means that he is also an Av ha'Tum'ah (since a Rishon l'Tum'ah does not need Haza'ah). Why, though, should a person who touches the reed become Tamei with Tum'as Mes? The reed itself is Tamei with Av ha'Tum'ah, and thus it should make the person who touches it only a Rishon l'Tum'ah (which does not require Haza'ah). Why should the person who touches it become an Av ha'Tum'ah such that he needs Haza'ah (according to the Gemara's Havah Amina)? (Acharonim; see HAGAHOS MAHARSHAM.)
The MINCHAS CHINUCH
(263:13:20) cites the Gemara here as proof for the opinion of the RAMBAM
(Hilchos Tum'as Mes 5:3) and RABEINU YITZCHAK
of Simfonte (quoted by TOSFOS
in Nazir 54b and by the RASH
in Ohalos 1:2; see Insights to Pesachim 14:2
). They rule that the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" applies to all utensils and not just metal ones. The principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" states that a sword (or Kli) that touches a Mes acquires the Tum'ah of the Mes itself and becomes an Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah
. Consequently, the sword should make a person into an Av ha'Tum'ah (necessitating Haza'ah on the third and seventh days).
Most Rishonim maintain that this principle applies only to metal utensils, but the Rambam and Rabeinu Yitzchak of Simfonte rule that it also applies to utensils made from other materials (such as wood). The Gemara here supports their opinion because it implies that a wooden utensil which touched (or is considered to have touched) a Mes makes a person into an Av ha'Tum'ah.
However, the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" does not fully explain the Gemara here. If the Gemara's question is that the person who touches the wooden reed should be like a person who touches a Mes because the reed is like a Mes (due to the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal"), it does not need to answer that the Chachamim made the reed only "like a Tamei Mes on its seventh day." The Gemara could have answered that the Chachamim gave the reed the status of a utensil which touched a person or a utensil which touched a Mes, which is only an Av ha'Tum'ah and not an Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah (i.e. it does not have the status of the Mes itself). This would have explained why the reed does not necessitate Haza'ah for the person who touches it.
(b) The OR HA'CHAIM in RISHON L'TZIYON (see also NETZIV in MEROMEI SADEH) explains that the Gemara is not asking that the person who touches the reed should require Haza'ah on the third and seventh days. Rather, the Gemara is asking that if the Chachamim gave the reed the status of a utensil which touched a Mes, the reed itself should require Haza'ah and not just Tevilah.
Proof for the Or ha'Chaim's understanding of the Gemara may be inferred from the Gemara's wording, "Iy Hachi, Tiba'i (as opposed to Liba'i) Haza'ah," which means, "If so, it [as opposed to he] should require Haza'ah."
The Gemara then cites proof from a Beraisa that Haza'ah is not required. The Beraisa says, "Chotchah u'Matbilah Ta'un Tevilah" -- "[The person who] cuts it and immerses it must immerse himself." How does the Beraisa prove that the reed does not require Haza'ah? It seems to prove that the person who handles it does not require Haza'ah, as the Minchas Chinuch understands, but not that the reed itself does not require Haza'ah. (See Netziv.)
It appears that a letter "Vav" is missing from the Beraisa as it is recorded in our text. The Beraisa should read, as cited by Rabeinu Chananel, "Chotchah u'Matbilah v'Ta'un Tevilah" -- "He should cut the reed and immerse it, and then he himself must immerse." According to this reading, the Beraisa is explaining how to prepare the reed for use, and yet it mentions only that it must be immersed. The Gemara infers from the Beraisa that the reed does not require Haza'ah. (M. KORNFELD. This suggested correction of the Girsa is reinforced by the inconsistency of the text of the Beraisa as it appears in our text. The Beraisa should say, "ha'Chotchah," with a "Heh," instead of "Chotchah.")