THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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CHULIN 123-125 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
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1) MARROW INSIDE A BONE THAT CAN BE "METAMEI"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that one who touches the "Kulis" (femur) of a
dead person becomes Tamei. The Gemara infers that the Kulis is Metamei
only through Maga (touch) and not through Ohel from the fact that the
Mishnah says only that one becomes Tamei by *touching* it.
2) HALACHAH: TRANSPLANTING A LIMB FOR A KOHEN
The Gemara asks that if there is marrow inside the bone, then the Tum'ah
should exude and be Metamei b'Ohel. The Gemara answers that there is not a
k'Zayis of marrow inside the bone. The Gemara then asks that even if there
is less than a k'Zayis of marrow inside, if marrow inside of a bone can be
"Ma'aleh Aruchah," then it should still be Metamei b'Ohel.
What is the meaning of marrow that can be "Ma'aleh Aruchah"?
(a) RASHI (DH v'Iy) explains that even when there is no marrow inside the
bone, the marrow is able to rejuvenate itself and then nourish the outside
of the bone, causing (in a living person) skin to grow on the flesh of the
limb. Accordingly, we should consider the bone to be like a proper limb
which is Metamei b'Ohel. The Gemara answers that the Tana of the Mishnah
maintains that marrow inside a bone does not nourish the flesh on the
outside of the bone to cause skin to grow (in a live person).
TOSFOS (DH v'Iy) writes that the reason why Rashi explains that there is
no marrow in the bone at all is because if it is necessary for a small
amount of marrow to be present in order to regenerate the skin, then the
Gemara should have answered simply that the Mishnah is discussing a case
of a bone with absolutely no marrow. It must be that even when there is no
marrow in the bone, the marrow is still able to rejuvenate and then cause
skin to grow.
(b) TOSFOS, however, disagrees with Rashi's explanation. When there is no
marrow at all in the bone, the marrow cannot rejuvenate. The reason why
the Gemara does not answer that the Mishnah is discussing a Kulis with no
marrow is because every Kulis has at least a small amount of marrow in it.
Later, however, when explaining Rebbi Yochanan's opinion regarding a Kulis
with *dry* marrow, Rashi (DH Neveilah) writes that when there is some
marrow in the Kulis, it causes the skin to grow. Why does Rashi say that
the skin regenerates only when there is some marrow in the bone, if he
maintains that even when there is no marrow in the bone, the marrow itself
rejuvenates itself and causes skin to grow?
Rashi's words can be understood based on a question asked by the RAN. The
RAN asks that if flesh regenerates even when there is no marrow in the
bone, then how can Rebbi Yochanan assert that a Kulis that contains dry
marrow is Tahor? Dry marrow should be no worse than *no* marrow, and it
should rejuvenate itself and cause skin to grow! The LEV ARYEH explains
that it is apparent that the Amora'im about this point. When the Gemara
initially suggests that marrow causes skin to regenerate, it means that
even when there is no marrow in the bone at all (for, otherwise, the
Gemara would have suggested that the Mishnah is discussing a case of a
Kulis that contains no marrow, as Tosfos says). Rebbi Yochanan, however,
who says that a bone with dry marrow is Tahor, argues with the Gemara's
assumption and maintains that there must be at least a small amount of
moist marrow in order for the skin to regenerate. Accordingly, when Rashi
explains the words of Rebbi Yochanan, he writes that there must be a small
amount of marrow in order for the skin to regenerate. (M. Kornfeld)
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the circumstances in which a human Kulis is
considered to be an Ever (limb) of a Mes, which can be Metamei b'Ohel (see
previous Insight). An Ever is defined as an entire bone on which there is
enough flesh (or marrow) to cause its skin to regenerate in a live person
(see Kelim 1:5). The Gemara answers that marrow does not cause skin to
According to the Gemara, it seems that it should be forbidden to attach
the limb of a dead person to the body of a living Kohen. Since the Kohen
will always be touching the limb, and be in the same room as the limb, he
will be causing himself to be Tamei, which a Kohen is not allowed to do.
In addition, the Mishnah in Ohalos (1:1) says that even an Ever Min
ha'Chai (a limb removed from a living person) is Metamei just like a limb
of a Mes. This is the Halachah as recorded by the RAMBAM (Hilchos Tum'as
Mes 3:1) and SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 369:1).
Accordingly, it should be prohibited for a Kohen, who has lost a limb, to
either have his own limb reattached, or to receive a limb from a dead
body. It is obvious that in a case of mortal danger, it is permitted to
reattach the limb of a Kohen in order to save his life, even though he
will transgress the Isur of becoming Tamei both through Tum'as Ohel and
through Tum'as Maga. What, though, is the Halachah in a case where there
is no Piku'ach Nefesh involved, such as when a Kohen suffers the severing
of a finger, and his life is not in danger as a result? Is it be
permissible to reattach the finger?
(a) RAV AVRAHAM-SOFER AVRAHAM suggests that because the finger is supposed
to be attached to the Kohen's body, it should not have a status of Tum'ah.
The TZITZ ELIEZER (13:90) rejects this logic. The Gemara in Nidah (70b)
asks whether the son of the Shunamis woman whom Elisha revived from the
dead (Melachim II 4) would be Metamei people who come in contact with him.
The Gemara answers that only a dead person is Metamei with Tum'as Mes, and
not someone who is now living. This implies that while he was dead, he
indeed would have been Metamei even though he was going to be revived.
Moreover, the TESHUVOS CHASAM SOFER (YD 337) explicitly states that the
Gemara does not ask whether or not he needed to be sprinkled with the
ashes of the Parah Adumah to become Tahor after he was revived, because it
is obvious to the Gemara that he required Taharah, since he touched
*himself* while he was dead.
(b) However, the Tzitz Eliezer concludes that it a limb transplant is
permitted for a Kohen, based on a statement of the SHACH (YD 157:3). The
Shach discusses the Halachah that one is required to sacrifice all of his
money in order not to transgress a negative commandment (Lo Sa'aseh). The
Shach is in doubt whether or not losing a limb (apparently where there is
no question of Piku'ach Nefesh involved) is the same as losing all of
one's money. Must one give up a limb in order to avoid transgressing a Lo
Sa'aseh? One of the sources for this doubt is the fact that in the laws of
Shabbos, the loss of a limb without Piku'ach Nefesh is *not* a reason to
permit desecrating Shabbos by performing a Torah prohibition (in contrast
to a case of Piku'ach Nefesh). Even though he considers this possibility,
the Shach concludes that one may be lenient and does not have to give up a
limb in order to avoid transgress a Lo Sa'aseh.
The PRI MEGADIM (in Mishbetzos Zahav OC 328:7) quotes the words of the
Shach and gives a reason for why the Shach was able to rule leniently. It
is possible that because Shabbos is a strict Mitzvah, one is forbidden to
transgress a Torah prohibition even to prevent the loss of a limb (again,
when there is no Piku'ach Nefesh involved). However, other Mitzvos do not
have the same stringency as Shabbos. Therefore, one is permitted to
transgress a Lo Sa'aseh in order to prevent the loss of a limb. The Tzitz
Eliezer cites other reasons to be lenient, but he concludes that the only
reliable reason is that the Shach and Pri Megadim rule this way.
Accordingly, a Kohen is permitted to transgress the Lo Sa'aseh of making
himself Tamei in order not to lose a limb. (Y. Montrose)
3) "TUM'AH RETZUTZAH" BETWEEN TWO BOXES
OPINIONS: The Gemara teaches that there is a type of Tum'as Ohel that is
Metamei with Tum'as Maga. The normal type of Tum'as Ohel is an independent
form of Tum'ah that spreads through being sheltered by an Ohel, and it
does not combine with any other form of Tum'ah. A second type of Tum'as
Ohel is considered to be in the same category as Tum'as Maga. This form of
Tum'ah occurs when a person touches half of a k'Zayis of a Mes, while he
shelters and makes an Ohel over a second half-k'Zayis. Since he is
touching one half-k'Zayis and making an Ohel over a second half-k'Zayis,
the two half-k'Zeisim make him Tamei with Tum'as *Maga*. This type of
Tum'as Ohel, which is considered to be a form of Tum'as Maga, applies to a
case of "Tum'ah Retzutzah." Tum'ah Retzutzah refers to case in which there
is less than a Tefach between the Mes and the covering above it. In such a
case, the Tum'ah of the Mes penetrates the object and goes out the other
Rebbi Zeira in the Gemara here describes Tum'ah Retzutzah as being Tum'ah
between two chests (between which there is less than a Tefach). What
exactly is the case of Tum'ah Retzutzah here?
(a) RASHI (DH d'Chulah) and TOSFOS (DH Amar) explain that the two chests
are resting next to each other, side by side, with less than a Tefach
between them, and a piece of a Mes is situated in the small space between
the two. The Tum'ah is considered to be Retzutzah (compressed), and
therefore it spreads up and down without limit. (Rashi mentions that the
chests are made of wood. Large wooden vessels (that are not made to be
carried while full) are not Mekabel Tum'ah. Presumably, if the boxes would
be Mekabel Tum'ah, then they could not "lock in" the Tum'ah which lies
According to Rashi's explanation, in what way does the presence of the two
chests change how the Tum'ah spreads in such a situation? Tum'ah left in
the open air also spreads directly up and down without limit (Ohalos
Rashi writes that "it is as if the entire space between the chests is
filled with Tum'ah," and, therefore, if one puts his hand anywhere between
the boxes, even towards the top of the space far away from the Tum'ah, he
becomes Tamei. It seems that even the area between the boxes that is not
directly over the Tum'ah is Tamei, because the Tum'ah is Retzutzah and
spreads throughout the entire space.
However, RAV MOSHE SHAPIRO shlit'a taught that this cannot be the
intention of Rashi. We never find that Tum'ah Retzutzah spreads in any
direction other than straight up and down. What, then, makes this Tum'ah
Retzutzah different from any other form of Tum'ah left in the open air?
It must be that Rashi's intention is as follows. When Tum'ah is resting in
an open area beneath an Ohel, it is Metamei only through Ohel and not
through Maga. In contrast, when an object of Tum'ah is "compressed"
between two chests, one who makes an Ohel (with his body) *between those
chests* and *directly above* the Tum'ah is considered to have *touched*
the Tum'ah and is Tamei through Maga. If, however, he places his hand
higher, above the level of the top of the chest, he is also Tamei, but not
with Maga but with Tum'as Ohel of the rising Tum'ah.
(b) The RAMBAM (in Perush ha'Mishnayos to Ohalos 4:2) explains that the
two chests mentioned here are placed one above the other, and not next to
each other. There is a small space of less than a Tefach between them, and
in that space is a piece of a Mes. This form of Tum'ah Retzutzah
(vertical) is the normal case of Tum'ah Retzutzah, whereby the Tum'ah is
able to penetrate through the upper covering and rise upwards.
According to the Rambam's explanation, why does the Gemara need to mention
*two* chests? For the case to be one of vertical Tum'ah Retzutzah, it
suffices for the Tum'ah to be on the ground (and not on top of one chest)
and for a chest (or other object) to be placed within a Tefach over the
The SIDREI TAHARAH of the RADZINER REBBE explains that the Gemara is
suggesting a case which could fit the words of the Mishnah in Ohalos
(3:1), "That which touches a half-k'Zayis and covers a half-k'Zayis, or a
half-k'Zayis covers it, is Tamei." When two chests -- one above the other
-- both have a half-k'Zayis of Tum'ah clinging to their surfaces, than
they are both touching a half-k'Zayis, and, in addition, the upper one is
covering a half-k'Zayis while the lower one is being covered by a
half-k'Zayis! (M. Kornfeld)