QUESTION: The Gemara says that if one places a porous mat (such as a screen)
in a Mikvah separating it into two parts, the Tevilah performed in each side
is invalid if there are less than forty Se'ah of water in that side. Even
though the water flows freely through the mat, it is considered to be two
separate Mikva'os, since the holes in the mat are not large enough to make
the two Mikva'os attached to each other. The Gemara proves this from the fact
that the ground itself is porous, and yet a small Mikvah (with less than
forty Se'ah) is not considered attached to any larger water source, even
though there is movement of water (terrestrial seepage) through the porous
earth between the two bodies of water. Rashi explains a pool of water
springing forth in one place must contain forty Se'ah in order to be Tovel in
it. Even though the water's source is a large river somewhere else, we do not
view the water in the spring to be connected to the river (because the holes
of the porous earth are too small).
Rashi implies that the Gemara is referring to water that springs forth from
the ground. Why, then, does Rashi say that such a body of water requires
forty Se'ah? We know that Tevilah in a spring ("Ma'ayan") is valid in any
amount of water!
ANSWER: The RASHBA (Toras ha'Bayis, Hilchos Mikva'os) and the ROSH (Hilchos
Mikva'os 1:6) prove from our Gemara that when we say that Tevilah in a spring
is valid with any amount of water, that is true only for Tevilah of *Kelim*.
For Tevilah of a *person*, though, the spring must contain forty Se'ah of
water. They infer this since the Gemara is discussing spring-water which is
seeping through the earth and coming out of the ground, and nevertheless the
Gemara implies that there must be forty Se'ah of water in the spring in order
for the Tevilah to be valid. That might be what Rashi means to say here as
(See MEROMEI SADEH for further discussion of this Halachah and its
ramifications in our Gemara.)
QUESTION: The Gemara says that if a person immerses a small Kli, like a
needle, inside of another Kli, and the opening in the outer Kli is smaller
than "Shefoferes ha'Nod," the Tevilah is invalid and the inner Kli does not
become Tahor. However, the Gemara adds that if the outer Kli is also Tamei
and thus also needs Tevilah, then just like the outer Kli becomes Tahor
through Tevilah, the inner Kli also becomes Tahor.
According to Rava, when the Mishnah (20b) states that we may not immerse a
Kli inside of another Kli for Kodesh, it was because of a Gezeirah lest one
use an outer Kli that has a very small opening. The Mishnah, therefore, must
be referring to when the outer Kli is *Tahor*, for otherwise the size of the
opening will not prevent the inner Kli from becoming Tahor. Why, then, does
the first Rashi in the Mishnah say that we may not immerse a Kli inside of
another Kli for Kodesh "when *both* Kelim are Tamei?" (TOSFOS DH Mai)
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA and the TUREI EVEN answer that the answer to this
question is evident from Rashi's own words in the Gemara. Rashi, in our
Sugya, says that if the outer Kli is also Tamei "then the inner Kli becomes
Tahor for *Terumah*" -- but not for Kodesh! As far as Kodesh is concerned,
even when the outer Kli is Tamei and becomes Tahor through this Tevilah, the
inner Kli remains Tamei. Therefore, when the Mishnah says that one may not
immerse a Kli inside of another Kli for Kodesh, that applies even when the
outer Kli is also Tamei, as Rashi there says.
How did Rashi know that this leniency (for immersing a Kli inside of another
Kli with a very small opening) applies only for Terumah? The TUREI EVEN
answers that it is logical to assume that the Chachamim make a Gezeirah for
Kodesh, invalidating the Tevilah for the inner Kli even if the outer Kli
becomes Tahor through this Tevilah. If the Chachamim made a Gezeirah for
Kodesh, stating that even when the outer Kli's opening is large the inner Kli
is still Tamei (lest people immerse in a Kli which has a very small opening),
then certainly they also made a Gezeirah not to be Tovel in a narrow-mouthed
Kli that is *Tamei*, so that one should not be Tovel inside a narrow-mouthed
Kli that is *Tahor*.
Second, adds the Turei Even, if such a Tevilah (in a narrow-mouthed outer Kli
that is Tamei) would work to make the inner Kli Tahor for Kodesh, then why
does the Gemara not mention this as a difference between Rav Ila and Rava?
The Gemara, when it asked what the difference is between Rav Ila and Rava,
should have answered that Rava would be lenient if the outer Kli is Tamei
whereas Rav Ila would be stringent (because there is still a problem of
Chatzitzah)! (Tosfos, ibid., is bothered by this question.) It must be as
Rashi says, that both Rav Ila and Rava agree that the inner Kli remains Tamei
for Kodesh when immersed in a Kli that is Tamei.
The question still remains, though, why Rashi on the Mishnah says that the
Halachah of not immersing a Kli inside of another Kli applies *specifically*
when both Kelim are Tamei. The Mishnah's stringency should certainly apply
when the outer Kli is *Tahor*!
The RASHASH (20b) answers that Rashi understood the Mishnah, when it says
that we may not immerse Kelim inside of other Kelim for Kodesh but one may
immerse them for Terumah, to be referring to *any* outer Kli, whether it has
a small opening or a large one. If the Kli has a small opening, why then are
we lenient for Terumah and consider the water inside the Kli to be connected
to the Mikvah? It must be that the outer Kli is Tamei and that is why we are
lenient for Terumah, and nevertheless we are stringent for Kodesh.