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Shalom Spira asked:

Lichvod Rabbanei Hakollel, Shlita;

The Mishna(28a)establishes the general rule that anyone who moves his bowels must be tovel before reentering the mikdash, and anyone who urinates must perform

kiddush yadayim viraglayim (from the kiyor, as Rashi emphasizes). The gemara (29b-30a) explains that the purpose for the kiddush yadayim viraglayim in the latter case is to wash off any remaining traces of urine from the hands and feet of the kohein who relieved himself. The gemara's treatment of the mishna appears surprising for at least 4 reasons:

(a) If the sole purpose for the washing of the hands and feet is removal of urine, why

must it be done from the kiyor?

(b) This halacha appears to have nothing to do with the mikdash, and consists of a general

"Orach Chayim" piece of advice to always wash one's hands and feet after urinating so as

not to delegitimatize one's children. Why then is it introduced as "zeh haklal haya bamikdash"?

(c) If the purpose of this kiddush yadayim viraglayim is in deed to remove

urine droplets that remain on the kohein's body, then bidavka it should not be done from the kiyor or anywhere else

on the Temple premises. After all, "ein machnisin mei raglayim bamikdash mipnei hakavod"!

(d) Astonishingly, the gemara does not explain the mandatory tevila following a bowel movement!

It is true that gemara discusses the problem of reciting the Shma in the presence of tzo'ah,

but that issue appears to have been raised tangentially and is not a commentary on the mishna's case

of the bowel movement. Or is it?

Thank you very much.

Shalom Spira, Montreal, Canada

The Kollel replies:

(a) Excellent question! (Indeed, the Mishnah does not mention that the Kiyor must be used, but Rashi says that the Kiyor must be used, as he infers from the use of the terim " Kidush Yadayim v'Raglayim.) It must be that because of the Kedushah of the Avodah, the Chachamim enacted that the Kohanim wash only with the water of the Kiyor, so that they would be reminded to focus on the Avodah of Kodesh in which they were involved.

(b) This question can also be answered as above; only in the Beis ha'Mikdash did the Chachamim enact that it is required to wash from the Kiyor, but not outside of the Beis ha'Mikdash. Moreover, it seems that they washed from the Kiyor immediately after brushing themselves off, even when they were not involved at that moment in Kodshim. Outside of the Beis ha'Mikdash, though, there is no requirement to wash one's hands except for Tefilah, Torah, and eating, and the like.

(c) It seems that lone drips are not considered so repulsive, and are not included in the Isur of bringing Mei Raglayim into the Mikdash.

(d) The reason is explained by the Tosfos Yshanim (end of 29b, but with a number of printing errors). "Tzo'ah" is considered much more repulsive than Mei Raglayim and thus the Gemara did not have to mention it (perhaps, because of this, the Gemara cites the Halachah that Keri'as Shema may not be read in front of Tzo'ah, to show that the Chachamim were more Machmir with Tzo'ah because of its abundant repulsiveness).

M. Kornfeld