1) ONE KORBAN FOR SEVERAL BIRTHS
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses the case of a woman who has five "doubtful births" or five "doubtful Zivos." That is, she had five miscarriages, but it is not known whether those miscarriages constituted fetuses whose births require that she bring a Korban. Similarly, in the case of five doubtful Zivos, she saw five separate flows of Zav (each one lasted for three consecutive days), but she does not know whether they occurred in the seven days of her Nidah cycle (in which case she would not be a Zavah) or during the eleven days following the seven days of Nidah (in which case she would be a Zavah Gedolah). The Halachah is that she must bring one Korban in order to be permitted to eat Kodshim. RASHI (DH v'Ocheles) compares this case to the case of one who immerses in a Mikvah after becoming Tamei from several sources of Tum'ah; just as one immersion makes her Tahor, bringing one Korban enables her to eat Kodshim.
The Gemara cites a Beraisa (according to the text of our edition, which is also the text of Rashi) that discusses a case in which a woman had five definite births and five doubtful births. She must bring two sets of bird offerings, one for the definite births and one for the doubtful ones. This is also the ruling of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Mechusrei Kaparah 1:10).
Why, though, should she be required to bring two Korbanos, one for the definite births and one for the doubtful births? Even if the doubtful births indeed were actual births, one Korban should suffice for all of them! (See MINCHAS CHINUCH 168:5, DH v'Hineh and DH Ach; GILYON HA'SHAS and RASHASH here.)
ANSWER: The CHAZON ISH (Kerisus 36:4) answers that there is a printing error in the Beraisa. When the Beraisa mentions a case of "a woman who had five definite births and five doubtful births," it should read instead, "a woman who had five definite Zivos and five doubtful births." In such a case, she must bring two Korbanos for the two distinct events -- one for being a Zavah, and a separate Korban for the births. In a case of definite births and doubtful births, one Korban indeed suffices. The Chazon Ish states that this emendation is the intention of the correction in the lower marginal note (#5), but the notation was printed in the wrong place and should have been marked instead on the second part of the Beraisa, to point out that the words "Vadai Leidos" should read instead "Vadai Zivos."
The Chazon Ish adds that, according to this approach, the text of the Rambam must be corrected as well. The Rambam's words should read, "If she had five definite Zivos and five doubtful births, she must bring two Korbanos." (See RASHASH, who also makes these emendations, and who explains the source for the Halachah that a birth and a Zivah are not covered by one Korban.)
Moreover, the Chazon Ish asserts that this is the intention of Rebbi Yochanan ben Nuri's statement here that if there is a definite obligation among them, the Korban brought for that obligation also covers the doubtful obligations. Rashi (DH Im Yesh) writes that the definite obligation must be in the same category of Halachah as the doubtful one in order for the Safek to be covered. (See also CHIDUSHEI HA'GRIZ to the Rambam, Hilchos Mechusrei Kaparah 1:5, DH v'Hineh, who quotes his father, RAV CHAIM SOLOVEITCHIK, who gives a different explanation for the Gemara here, according to which it is not necessary to emend the texts.) (D. BLOOM)
2) THE KORBAN OF A "NAZIR TAMEI"
QUESTION: The Rabanan (Tana Kama) in the Mishnah state that there are four types of people in the category of Mechusrei Kaparah, who must bring a Korban Chatas in order to be permitted to eat Kodshim (and not because of a sin). Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov includes a Ger in the category of Mechusrei Kaparah, as well as a Nazir at the end of his period of Nezirus (who may not drink wine, cut his hair, or become Tamei until he offers his Korban).
The Gemara explains that the reason why the Rabanan do not mention a Ger and a Nazir is that they are listing only people who must bring a Korban in order to become permitted to eat Kodshim. A Ger must bring a Korban in order to make himself fit to join the Jewish people (see following Insight). A Nazir must bring a Korban in order to permit him to drink wine of Chulin.
The Gemara asks that since Rebbi Eliezer includes a Nazir in the list even though his Korban permits him to do more than just eat Kodshim, why does Rebbi Eliezer mention only a Nazir who completed his Nezirus? He should also mention a Nazir who become Tamei with Tum'as Mes, who also must bring a Korban! The Gemara answers that when a Nazir Tamei brings his Korban, the purpose of the Korban is to enable him to restart his Nezirus b'Taharah. Therefore, Rebbi Eliezer does not mention this case, because the Korban that the Nazir brings does not permit him to do anything that was previously forbidden, not even to drink wine of Chulin.
The Gemara's question on Rebbi Eliezer is difficult to understand. Why does the Gemara assume that Rebbi Eliezer argues with Rebbi Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah, who maintains (9b) that a Nazir who became Tamei and then waited seven days automatically begins recounting his new Nezirus on the seventh day, even before he brings his Korban? According to this view, the Korban does not effect any change, because the Nazir restarts his Nezirus automatically, even without a Korban, while the Mishnah is listing only cases in which the Korban has some positive effect.
Even if the Gemara is assuming that Rebbi Eliezer does not agree with Rebbi Yosi, perhaps he agrees with Rebbi, cited in Nazir (18b), who maintains that the Nezirus restarts automatically on the eighth day of Taharah, even if the Nazir did not bring a Korban!
If Rebbi Eliezer rules like either Rebbi Yosi or Rebbi, the Nezirus would restart even without a Korban. Why, then, should the Mishnah -- which mentions only people who must bring Korbanos to effect a change in their status -- mention the Korbanos of a Tamei Nazir? (See REBBI AKIVA EIGER.)
ANSWER: The RASHASH suggests that the Gemara does not want to say that Rebbi Eliezer agrees with Rebbi Yosi or Rebbi, because the Halachah in fact does not follow either of those opinions. The Gemara wants to establish that Rebbi Eliezer's opinion is consistent with the Halachah, which follows the view of the Chachamim in Nazir (18b; see Tosfos there, DH v'Chachamim Omrim) who state that the Nezirus of a Nazir who became Tamei does not begin automatically after the days of Taharah are completed, but rather it begins only when the Nazir brings his Korban Chatas, as the RAMBAM rules (Hilchos Nezirus 6:12).
There seems to be support for the Rashash in the words of the SHITAH MEKUBETZES (Hashmatos, #16), who says in the name of the ROSH that the new Nezirus does not begin until the eighth day, and it cannot start until he brings his Korbanos. This implies that the Halachah does not follow Rebbi Yosi, and that the Gemara here wants to explain the view of Rebbi Eliezer in a way that is consistent with the Halachic conclusion. (D. BLOOM)
3) THE STATUS OF A CONVERT BEFORE HE BRINGS HIS KORBAN
OPINIONS: In the Mishnah, Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov includes a Ger in the category of Mechusrei Kaparah, because a Ger is required to bring a Korban.
How do the Rabanan, who disagree with Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, classify a Ger who has not yet brought his Korban? (See Chart.)
(a) TOSFOS (2b, DH la'Afukei) and the SHITAH MEKUBETZES (#3) explain that both the Rabanan and Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov agree that a Ger who has not yet brought his Korban is not able to marry into the Jewish people and is Mechusar Kaparah and may not eat Kodshim. Why, then, do the Rabanan not include a Ger in the list of Mechusrei Kaparah? They do not include a Ger because his status of Mechusar Kaparah is different from the status of the others who are listed; his status affects him in additional ways, besides the eating of Kodshim.
(b) RABEINU GERSHOM implies that the Rabanan agree with Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov that a Ger who has not yet brought his Korban is not fully part of the Jewish people with regard to marrying a Jew. They argue only with regard to the right to eat Kodshim: the Rabanan allow him to eat Kodshim, while Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov does not allow him to eat Kodshim and, therefore, considers him to be a Mechusar Kaparah. Since the Rabanan allow him to eat Kodshim, they do not list him in the Mishnah among the other Mechusrei Kaparah. The Beraisa that states that a Ger may not eat Kodshim follows the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov.
(c) The RAMBAM (in Perush ha'Mishnayos) explains that according to the Rabanan, a Ger who has not brought his Korban may eat Kodshim and may also marry into the Jewish people. What, then, does his Korban accomplish? The Rambam understands that the Korban of a Ger is only a Mitzvah, and it is not a condition in his conversion. Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov argues and prohibits a Ger who has not brought his Korban from eating Kodshim. The Beraisa that states that a Ger may not eat Kodshim follows the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, as explained above.
(d) However, the RAMBAM in Yad ha'Chazakah (Hilchos Mechusrei Kaparah 1:2) explains that a Ger who has not yet brought a Korban is not considered a Mechusar Kaparah, like the opinion of the Rabanan in the Mishnah. The Rambam adds that the Ger may not eat Kodshim before he brings his Korban, but not because he is Mechusar Kaparah. Rather, until he brings his Korban, he lacks the sanctity of a Jew (Kedushas Yisrael) with regard to eating Kodshim.
The Gemara here, however, poses a difficulty to the explanation of the Rambam, both in Perush ha'Mishnayos and in Yad ha'Chazakah. The Gemara says explicitly that according to the Rabanan, a Ger needs to bring a Korban in order "to make himself fit to enter the Kahal [of Yisrael]." How does the Rambam explain these words?
Moreover, the Gemara (9a) derives from the word, "l'Doroseichem" (Bamidbar 15:14), that a Ger may convert today even though he cannot bring a Korban in the absence of the Beis ha'Mikdash. If a Korban is relevant only with regard to the Ger's ability to eat Kodshim, why is a source needed to teach that he can convert nowadays, even though he cannot bring a Korban? The Korban is merely to permit him to eat Kodshim, but there are no Kodshim to eat nowadays!
The answer to the first question is that, according to the Rambam, when the Gemara says that a Korban enables a Ger to enter Kahal Yisrael it means that it makes him part of the Kahal with regard to Korbanos (but not with regard to marriage). However, even before he brings a Korban he is a member of the Jewish people with regard to all other matters.
A similar answer may be given to the second question. The word "l'Doroseichem" teaches, according to the Rambam, that a Korban is not an integral part of the conversion process with regard to a Ger's obligation in Mitzvos. It is this verse that teaches that a Ger's conversion is complete, and makes him eligible to marry a Jewish woman, even before he brings his Korban.