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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nazir

Folio 64a

What is the first Tanna's reason?1 R. Isaac b. Abudimi said: Scripture says. [Ye shall not mistake yourselves abominable] with any swarming thing that swarms,2  signifying no matter where it swarms,3  and says further, 'On the earth'.4  How are these verses to be reconciled? Where there is no doubt that he touched it he is [always] unclean, but if there is a doubt he remains clean.5

And what is R. Simeon's reason? — 'Ulla said: Scripture says, Nevertheless a fountain [… shall be clean]6 and continues [But he who toucheth their case] shall be unclean.7  How are we to reconcile these? Whilst floating in a vessel [a doubtful object] is treated as unclean, but on the earth it is treated as clean.

Our Rabbis taught: Where there are doubts concerning any [source of defilement] that is carried8  or dragged along, the objects are regarded as unclean, because it is as though they are at rest,9  but where the doubt concerns things that are thrown,10  they are treated as clean, with the exception of an olive's bulk of a corpse, one who overshadows a source of defilement, and all [other] things that propagate defilement upwards as well as downwards,11  [This last expression] serves to include sufferers from gonorrhoea, male and female.12

Rami b. Hama propounded: What is the law concerning a corpse13  lying in a vessel floating on the surface of the water. Is the vessel the criterion,14  or the corpse?15  Should it be decided that the vessel is the criterion,16  what would be the law if the [fragment of] a corpse was lying on a [dead] reptile?17  Seeing that the latter defiles only until evening and the former for seven days, are we to consider it as though it were lying in a vessel,18  or should it perhaps be considered a compact source of defilement?19  Should it be decided [further] that this is considered as though it were lying in a vessel, and therefore is treated as though defilement were certain, what would be the law if a [dead] reptile were lying on a floating animal carcase? Seeing that both defile only until evening, are they to be regarded as a compact source of defilement, or should we consider rather that of the one an olive's bulk is necessary,20  whilst of the other a lentil's bulk is sufficient? [Further] what would be the law if one reptile lay on the other? Here certainly the measure is the same,21  but perhaps, seeing that they are distinct, we should regard it as lying in a vessel? Again, should it be decided that in the case of one reptile lying on another, it is regarded as though it lay in a vessel because the [two reptiles] are distinct, what would be the law regarding a reptile floating on a liquefied animal carcase?22  Seeing that it has been liquefied is it to be regarded as liquid,23  or do we perhaps say that after all it is [now] a solid?24  [Again], should you decide that it is a solid, what would be the law regarding a reptile [floating] on an effusion of semen? Should you decide that the latter, because it originates by detachment [from the human body] is a solid, what would be the law regarding a reptile floating on Water of Cleansing,25  that was floating on the surface of [ordi nary] water?26  — We do not know. All these problems remain unsolved.

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., what is the source of his opinion?
  2. Lev. XI, 43 continuing Neither shall ye defile yourselves with them.
  3. Even on the surface of water.
  4. Ibid v. 44. Neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moveth upon the earth.
  5. In the case where the reptile was floating.
  6. Lev. XI, 36. This signifies that even if there is a (dead) reptile in the fountain, there would be no defilement.
  7. Ibid. Signifying whatever the circumstances.
  8. Or 'suspended' (Tosef. and Maimonides, Yad Aboth ha-Tumeoth, XIV, 3).
  9. Since they are in contact with the ground or the person carrying them all the time.
  10. The doubt being whether it brushed against the person in transit.
  11. Tosef. Zabim III, 8. In these cases, the defilement being of a more stringent type, even doubts as to projectiles are sufficient to render unclean. The corpse defiles in a tent i.e., upwards.
  12. The gonorrhoeic sufferer defiles anything pressing on him from above even if it is not in direct contact with him.
  13. Maimonides, Aboth ha-Tumeoth XIV, 4 reads 'reptile'.
  14. And the corpse is at rest in the vessel. The doubt is as to whether it was touched, the person concerned being in no doubt that he did not overshadow' it.
  15. Which is floating. Tosaf. read 'Or the water' which is moving. The problem is whether this is a floating source of defilement or not.
  16. So that in cases of doubt, uncleanness is assumed.
  17. Here, and in the other cases below, the second object is to be taken as Boating on the surface of water. Maimonides reads here 'A reptile lying on a corpse. There are many, not particularly important variations, in the readings of questions that follow; v. Marginal notes of the Wilna Gaon.
  18. So that in cases of doubt, uncleanness is assumed.
  19. I.e., as one source floating on water. Then, provided it is certain that there was no overshadowing, cleanness will be assumed.
  20. Of the carcase, an olive's bulk must be present before defilement ensues. This 'measure', and the 'lentil's bulk' for reptiles are Rabbinic traditions.
  21. I.e., for both a lentil's bulk is sufficient to defile.
  22. That had afterwards coagulated.
  23. So that the reptile is really floating on the water.
  24. Lit., 'a food', the generic word for solids.
  25. I.e., the water containing the ashes of the Red Heifer, which also defiled by contact. V. Num. XIX, 1 seq.
  26. Would the Water of Cleansing, thickened by the ashes, count as a solid, and so as a vessel, or not?
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Nazir 64b

R. Hamnuna said: A nazirite or a celebrant of the passover who walks over a grave of the depth on his seventh day [of purification after defilement]1  is clean,2  the reason being that defilement of the depth is not potent enough to render void [the naziriteship or the passover]. Raba objected: IF IT WAS TO PURIFY HIMSELF AFTER DEFILEMENT3  THROUGH CONTACT WITH THE DEAD HE REMAINS UNCLEAN, BECAUSE WHERE THE STATUS QUO IS ONE OF DEFILEMENT THE DEFILEMENT REMAINS, BUT WHERE IT IS ONE OF PURITY HE REMAINS CLEAN?4  — [R. Hamnuna] replied: I admit you are right in the case of a nazirite who needs polling.5  Raba [then] said to him: And I admit you are right in the case of a celebrant of the passover who has completed all preliminaries.6  Abaye said [to Raba]: But has he not still to wait for the sun to set?7  — He replied: The sun sets of its own accord.8

Abaye, too, gave up this opinion, for it has been taught: If it is on the day of fulfilment,9  she must bring [a further sacrifice], but if during fulfilment she need not bring one.10  It might be thought that she is not required to bring [a sacrifice] for a birth occurring during the fulfilment, but must bring one for a birth occurring after the fulfilment,11  and discharge her obligation for both births,12  and so Scripture says, And when the days of her purification are fulfilled,13  which signifies that if it occurs on the day of fulfilment she must bring [a sacrifice] but not if it occurs during the fulfilment. [Whereon] R. Kahana explained that the difference14  was due to the fact that she needed to bring a sacrifice.15  Now, in the other case, has she not still to wait for the sun to set?16  — Abaye replied: the sun sets of its own accord.17


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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. When sunset would make him clean.
  2. Provided that he does not learn of the incident until the naziriteship is done with; v. our Mishnah.
  3. That he entered the cave containing a grave of the depth.
  4. And the Mishnah is speaking of the seventh day of purification after defilement, and so contradicts R. Hamnuna.
  5. The unclean nazirite does not complete his purification until he has polled. That is why the presumption of uncleanness is considered to be still present on the seventh day of purification.
  6. And thus has a presumption of purity.
  7. The purification is not really complete until sunset even in the case of a celebrant of the passover.
  8. He himself has nothing more to do.
  9. The reference is to a miscarriage occurring within the term of purification after childbirth, viz. 41 days for a male child and 81 days for a female child. V. Lev. XII, I ff. The period of purification and all other obligations follow a miscarriage as well as a normal birth.
  10. The reason is explained below.
  11. I.e. after the term of fulfilment, reckoning from the first birth, but before the term of fulfilment reckoning from the subsequent one, for which as we have been told no sacrifice is needed.
  12. I.e., bring two sacrifices, one for the first birth and one for the third.
  13. Lev. XII, 6 continuing, She shall bring a lamb etc.
  14. Between the case where the second birth occurs on the day of fulfilment and she is required to bring a second sacrifice, and that where the third birth occurs after the first fulfilment and she is not required to bring a sacrifice.
  15. In the latter case, she was still unclean at the time of the third birth, owing to the intervention of the second one, and so the first sacrifice was not yet due. She is therefore considered to be within the period of fulfilment. Not so in the former case.
  16. Before she becomes clean, and fit to eat of sacrifices.
  17. Thus we see that Abaye does not regard the necessity of waiting for sunset as interfering with the presumption of cleanness.
  18. Without previously having found a corpse in the same spot, and without knowing that it was there.
  19. Prostrate: the only way Jews were buried.
  20. For reburial elsewhere, v. Gemara.
  21. Which is an indication that he has stumbled on an old burial vault.
  22. The bodies must not be removed, but have to be reburied where found.
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