1) CAN "REKEV" SPREAD "TUM'AH" THROUGH CONTACT?
QUESTION: In the Mishnah (54b), Rebbi Yosi states that although the flesh of a Mes is normally Metamei, a k'Zayis of dried flesh of a Mes which cannot be re-hydrated is not Metamei. The Gemara explains that although Rebbi Yosi maintains that such flesh does not have the status of the flesh of a Mes, it retains the status of spoilage (Rekev) of a Mes, a large spoonful of which is Metamei.
RASHI (DH Tum'as) adds that "a spoonful of it" (Rekev) is Metamei through Maga (contact), Masa (carrying or moving it), and Ohel (being under one roof with it).
REBBI AKIVA EIGER (in Gilyon ha'Shas, and to Ohalos 2:2 and Taharos 4:5) finds this statement of Rashi very difficult to understand. The Mishnah in Ohalos (2:2, and Chulin 126b) states that Rekev spreads Tum'ah only through Masa and Ohel, but not through Maga. Why does Rashi state that Rekev is also Metamei through Maga?
(a) The RASHASH answers that the Gemara in Chulin (125b) clearly states that Rebbi Yosi maintains that Rekev does spread Tum'ah through Maga. Since the Gemara here is discussing the view of Rebbi Yosi, Rashi explains the laws of Rekev according to Rebbi Yosi.
(Apparently, Rebbi Akiva Eiger did not accept this answer because the Gemara in Chulin (125b) explains that Rebbi Yosi does not really mean that by touching Rekev one becomes Tamei. Rather, Rebbi Yosi simply uses the term "Maga" to refer to a person who leans over Rekev, thereby making himself an Ohel over the Rekev. Rebbi Yosi uses the word "Ohel" to refer to a person who is under the same roof as the Rekev. Accordingly, it remains difficult why Rashi states unequivocally that Rekev can make a person Tamei through Maga. -M. KORNFELD.)
(b) The Rashash suggests another answer. He says that Rashi does not mean that Rekev normally is Metamei through Maga. When Rashi says that "it" will be Metamei through Maga, he means that the dried flesh mentioned in the Sugya will be Metamei through Maga. Rekev is not Metamei through Maga simply because it physically is not possible to touch an entire spoonful of it at one time, since the Rekev would have to be spread out in a very thin layer upon the person's skin (see Chulin 125b, and Rashi to Chulin 126b, DH v'Ein Metamei b'Maga). Accordingly, Rekev in the form of a dried block of skin will be an exception to this rule, since it is one solid block and not separate particles. Rekev in such a form certainly is Metamei through Maga according to all opinions.
(Perhaps Rebbi Akiva Eiger was bothered with why the Beraisa in Chulin (126b) states that "Rekev is Metamei through Masa and Ohel but not through Maga," when it is Metamei through Maga under certain circumstances -- when it is in the form of dried flesh. Also, why does the Gemara in Chulin (125b) question why Rebbi Yosi argues with the Beraisa and says that Rekev is Metamei through Maga. What is the Gemara's question, if Rekev certainly is Metamei through Maga under when it is in the form of dried flesh?
The Rashash answers that when the Beraisa uses the word "Rekev," it is referring only to the actual particles of spoilage, and not to dried flesh.)
2) SWEEPING THE HOUSE BEFORE CHECKING FOR CHAMETZ
QUESTON: The Mishnah (56a) states that if a Sheretz was found in a Mavoy (a large courtyard open to smaller courtyards which contain houses), the Mavoy is Tamei retroactively until the time at which someone examined the Mavoy and found it to be free of Sheratzim, or until the time at which the Mavoy was swept. Similarly, if one finds a blood stain on clothing, it is Tamei retroactively until the time at which someone examined the clothing and found it free of Kesamim, or until the time at which it was laundered.
The Gemara asks that when the Mishnah says "until the time at which it was laundered," does this mean that we assume that when the garment was laundered it was also checked for a Kesem, or does it mean that we assume that the laundering itself removed any Kesem? The difference between the two ways of understanding the Mishnah exists in a case in which a person says that he laundered the clothing at a certain time but he did not examine it then. According to the first possibility, laundering does not help make the clothing Tahor, because the person explicitly admit that he did not examine it. According to the second possibility, laundering alone removes the stain and there is no need for him to check it.
The Gemara answers its question by citing a Beraisa. Rebbi Meir states that the reason why the Chachamim decreed that a Sheretz found in a Mavoy makes it Tamei retroactively until the time at which someone examined the Mavoy or until the time at which it was swept is that there is a Chazakah that the Jewish people check their courtyards when they sweep them. Similarly, the reason why the Chachamim decreed that a Kesem found on a garment makes the garment Tamei retroactively until the time at which someone checked the garment or until it was laundered is that there is a Chazakah that Jewish women check their clothing at the time they wash them. The Gemara concludes from the Beraisa that the correct understanding of the Mishnah is that it is only because a person usually examines his garment when he washes it that we may assume that laundering removes the Kesem.
The MORDECHAI (Pesachim #536) derives from the Gemara here a practical Halachah regarding Pesach: one must sweep the house before he searches for Chametz. (The CHIDUSHEI CHASAM SOFER adds that this must be done with a feather.) The Gemara here teaches that a Mavoy is usually not checked properly if it was not first swept clean. However, when one checks for Chametz, it does not suffice to merely sweep the house, because there might be Chametz in holes or cracks, as the Gemara here says (56b).
The Mordechai's proof from the Gemara here that one must sweep the house before he searches for Chametz is unclear. The Mishnah says that a Mavoy in which a Sheretz was found is Tamei retroactively until the time that a person says that he checked the Mavoy and found no Sheretz or until the time it was swept. This suggests that either checking or sweeping suffices, and that one may rely on checking without sweeping. How are we to understand the words of the Mordechai?
ANSWER: The BIGDEI YESHA on the Mordechai in Pesachim (1:32) answers that the Mordechai derives this Halachah from another apparent difficulty in the Gemara here. The Beraisa says that the reason why the Mavoy is Tahor is that there is a Chazakah that the Jews check the Mavoy when they sweep it. Why, then, does the Mishnah say two possibilities -- either that the Jew says he checked it or that it was clean at time it was swept? The Mishnah should have stated simply that the Mavoy is Tamei retroactively until the time it was checked!
It must be that a Mavoy usually cannot be checked properly unless it is also swept. That is why the Mishnah and the Beraisa also mention that it is Tamei until the time it was swept; the only time it is not necessary to sweep is specifically when the owner says, "I checked the Mavoy extremely well." In all other cases it is necessary to sweep. Therefore, when the Tana says, "Until he says, 'I checked,' or until it was swept," he means that we rely on a person's checking alone only when he says that he checked it extremely well. Otherwise, it is necessary for the Mavoy to have been swept as well. From here the Mordechai learns that before Bedikas Chametz, sweeping is necessary. (See also Chidushei Chasam Sofer here, and the REMA OC 433:11, where the Rema cites the ruling of the Mordechai.) (D. BLOOM)