But even [on entering] a house, as soon as his hands are inside he becomes unclean,1 so that when he has gone right in he is already unclean?2 — As a matter of fact, said R. Eleazar, if he put his hands together and entered there would be [a penalty only] for defilement but none for entering, but if he drew himself up3 and entered, defilement and entering occur at the same moment.
But it is impossible for his nose not to go in first? — As a matter of fact, said Raba, if he introduces his hand4 there would be [a penalty] for defilement and not for entering, but if he introduces his body,5 defilement and entering are simultaneous.
But it is impossible for his toes not to enter first? — R. Papa therefore said: It is supposed that he entered in a box, or a chest, or a turret,6 and his fellow came and broke away the covering,7 so that defilement and entering are simultaneous. Mar b. R. Ashi said: It is supposed that he entered whilst the other lay dying,8 and whilst he was sitting there the spirit departed so that defilement and entering were simultaneous.
Our Rabbis taught: To profane himself9 signifies that until the time that the other dies [he is permitted to remain with him].10 Rabbi said that, When they die11 signifies that he may be in contact with them until they die.
What is the difference between these two [alternative reasons]?12 — R. Johanan said that they differ only as to the texts selected.13 Resh Lakish said: They differ as regards the rule for a dying man. The one who takes the text 'To profane himself' considers a dying man [as profanation],14 whilst the one who takes, 'When they die', says that [there is no prohibition] until he is dead, and so none in the case of one who is dying.
Now, according to the one who derives [the law] from 'to profane himself', is there not the text, 'When they die'?15 — He requires this for [the following inference] of Rabbi. For it has been taught: Rabbi said that 'When they die' he is forbidden to defile himself, but he may defile himself [by association with them] when they are suffering from leprosy16 or an issue.17
But does not the one who derives [the law] from 'when they die' also require it for this inference? — If this is [its sole purpose], the text should read 'When dead'. Because it says 'When they die' we infer both things.
Now according to the one who derives [the law] from 'When they die', is there not the verse, 'to profane himself'?18 — 'To profane himself' signifies the following, viz: — that one who is not profaned [incurs a penalty] but not the one who is already profaned.19
But does not the one who derives [the law] from 'to profane himself' also require it for this inference? — If this were its sole purpose, the text should read 'to profane'. Because it reads, 'to profane himself' we infer both things.
An objection was raised. [We have learnt:] A man does not spread defilement until his life departs. Not even one whose arteries are severed or who is in the throes of death does so.20 Now according to the one who bases the rule on 'to profane himself',21 does it not say here that they do not spread defilement?22 — Defilement is not spread until the life departs, but there is profanation already.23
R. Hisda, citing Rab, said: [A priest] if his father was decapitated, must not defile himself for him, For what reason? The text says for his father,1 meaning when he is whole and not when he is defective.2 R. Hamnuna said to him: In that case, suppose [the father] were travelling through the valley of 'Araboth3 and robbers cut off his head, would you also maintain that [the son] is not to defile himself for him?4 — He replied: You raise the question of a meth mizwah!5 Seeing that we consider it his duty [to defile himself under such circumstances] to strangers,5 how much more so is this true of his father!
But is this considered a meth mizwah? Has it not been taught: A meth mizwah is [a corpse] with none to bury him. Were he able to call and others answer him,6 he is not a meth mizwah;7 and here this man has a son?8 — Because they are travelling on the road, it is as though he had none to bury him.
An objection was raised [from the following]: [It has been taught,] For her may he defile himself9 signifies that he may defile himself for her herself but not for one of her limbs; for he may not defile himself for a limb cut off [even] from his father10 whilst still alive; but he may search for a bone the size of a barleycorn.11 Now what means 'he may search for a bone the size of a barleycorn'? Surely that if there is a small part missing [he may nevertheless defile himself]?12 — No. The author of that statement is R. Judah. For it has been taught.' R. Judah said that he may defile himself for her, but not for her limbs; for he is forbidden to defile himself for limbs severed from his father whilst still alive; but he may defile himself for limbs severed from his father after death.
But R. Kahana taught amongst [the Baraithas of] R. Eliezer b. Jacob [the following one]: 'For her may he defile himself,' but he must not defile himself for limbs, thus excluding an olive's bulk of [the flesh of] a corpse, or an olive's bulk of nezel13 or a spoonful of rakab.13 It might be thought that he is also forbidden to defile himself for the spinal column, or the skull, or the greater part of the bodily frame [of his sister's corpse]14 or the majority [of its bones],14 but since it is written, and say unto them,15 it follows that Scripture has permitted you an additional defilement.
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