Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 14, v. 4: "Shtei tziporim chayos t'horos" - Rashi (gemara Chulin 140a) says that we derive from the word "chayos" that the birds may not be "treifos," birdS that have an injury that will be fatal, as this contravenes "chayos," alive. From the word "t'horos" we derive that the bird may not be of a non-kosher species. Why does Rashi say BIRDS, plural, in the ruling of not "treifos," and BIRD, singular, in the ruling of not non-kosher.

2) Ch. 14, v. 4: "V'eitz erez ushni solaas v'eizove" - And cedar wood and a crimson thread and hyssop grass - Rashi (gemara Arochin 16a) says that skin afflictions are the result of being haughty (tall as a cedar tree). The remedy is (Medrash Tanchuma #3) to lower one's self esteem and bring a crimson thread and hyssop grass (lowly items). If so, why is there a need to bring the same items in the purifying ritual of an afflicted house (verse 49)? The purpose of afflicting houses with a "nega" is so that they would be razed and the hidden treasures of the Amoriim would be found (Rashi on verse 34 and M.R. Vayikra 17:6), and has nothing to do with being haughty.

3) Ch. 14, v. 9: "Y'galach es kol s'oro es rosho v'es z'kono v'es gabose einov" - Since the Torah requires the "metzora" to shave all over his flesh, why does it single out these three places?

4) Ch. 14, v. 21: "V'im dal hu v'ein yodo ma'se'ges" - And if he is destitute and his hand does not attain - By the "oleh v'yoreid," sliding scale offering, of the woman who gave birth, the Torah says "V'im lo simtzo yodoh" (Vayikra 12:8), - and if her hand will not find. Why here is it described as "does not attain," and there "will not find?"

5) Ch. 14, v. 36: "V'lo yitmo kol asher baboyis" - So that he not defile all that is in the house - Rashi (N'go'im 12:5) says that the Torah tells us to first empty the house to avoid earthenware vessels from being defiled and thus becoming unusable, as all other items are not seriously affected and the Torah would not bother with advising us about them. Vessels made of other materials may be immersed in a purifying ritualarium, a "mikveh," and defiled food may be eaten by a defiled person. We can similarly say that defiled earthenware vessels may be used by a defiled person, so why bother removing them?



1) Indeed, the L'vush says that the text in Rashi is not accurate and should be plural in both cases. He brings a proof for this from the text of the Sifra (1:12), which mentions both rulings in the plural. (The GR"A edits the text differently and totally leaves out the ruling of exclusion of non-kosher birds being derived from "t'horos," as per the gemara Chulin 140a.)

2) Rabbi Shlomo haKohein of Vilna explains both the text of the Sifra and Rashi without the change suggested by the L'vush. As mentioned in verse 5, one of the two birds is slaughtered, while the other bird is let loose to fly away, as mentioned in verse 7. Since the Torah requires slaughtering of one of the birds it is self evident that that bird must be of a kosher species, as "shechitoh," proper ritual slaughtering, can only take place on a kosher species of bird (gemara Chulin 80b). Thus the exclusion of a non-kosher bird only is needed for the bird that will be left alive, and that is why Rashi uses the singular form.

This is true according to the opinion that birds require ritual slaughtering to be kosher for consumption. However, Rabbi Yehudoh in the gemara Chulin 27b posits that the Torah does not require ritual slaughtering for birds, and it is only a Rabbinical decree. Although the Torah requires one of the birds to be slaughtered, this must be understood as a unique requirement for the purifying process of the "metzoroh." We can therefore assume that the Torah may use the word form "shechitoh" even for a non-kosher bird species. The exclusion therefore applies to both birds, even the slaughtered one. The Sifra uses the plural BIRDS because the author of Sifra is Rabbi Yehudoh as per the gemara Sanhedrin 86a. The halacha is not like Rabbi Yehudoh, and birds require proper ritual slaughtering by Torah law. Rashi explains the exclusion according to halacha, thus the bird that is to be slaughtered is obviously of a kosher species, and the exclusion is needed for only one BIRD.


The Biu'rei Mahara"i answers that this is precisely the reason that they are needed. When one finds the treasure it is likely that he will become inflated, as per the verses, "V'chesef v'zohov yarbeh loch, V'rom l'vo'vecho" (Dvorim 8:13,14).


1) The gemara Sotoh 16b derives from the mentioning of these three areas that it is only an area where hair is readily visible and is also an area of considerable hair collection that requires shaving.

2) Even though the Torah states that he should shave all his hair, the Torah singles out these three areas because they symbolize the causes of the "tzoraas" coming upon the "metzoro" in the first place. "Rosho" refers to haughtiness, as the verses in Yeshayohu 3:16,17 say, "Yaan ki govhu bnos Zion, KODKODE bnos Zion." "Zkono," the hairs of his beard, which surrounds his mouth, refers to his improper speech. "Gabose einov" symbolizes "tzoras ayin," stinginess. (Kli Yokor)


The metzora of our verse brings his offering from his own personal funds. If he is too poor to afford the regular offering his "hand does not attain" it. The woman who gave birth does not bring the offering from her own funds. Her husband is responsible to supply it. If he cannot afford it, his wife's hand has "not found it." (Beis Av, Rabbi Elyokim Shlesinger shlit"a)

This also explains why in our verse we give the metzora the title DAL, a poor man, while by the lady who gave birth we only say that her hand has not found the ability to bring the regular offering, but she is not given the status of DALOH. (Nirreh li)


Biu'rei Mahara"i answers that with foodstuffs we allow a person to store them until he is impure because they have a short shelf life. There is no fear that one will accidentally eat them when he is pure. Vessels are very durable, so there is a fear that vessels that are permanently impure will be accidentally used by a person when in a pure state. This answer is also offered by Devek Tov and Tiferes Yisroel in his commentary on N'goim 12:5 #41.

The Mishnoh Acharonoh asks that the fear of this possible mistake is of Rabbinic level so the verse cannot be forewarning it. A footnote on the Biu'rei Mahara"i offers that we have a Rabbinic level of prohibition when an item has already become defiled, but our verse advises how to avoid becoming defiled in the first place. (Since there is a great possibility that one would accidentally use an impure vessel when he is otherwise pure, not preventing impurity of an earthenware vessel might be akin to "ein m'vatlin issur l'chatchiloh," which the Ritv"a on the gemara Chulin posits is a Torah level prohibition.)



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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