INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
THE MIREL BAS YAKOV MORDECHAI KORNFELD
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rava's question about a convert who was "Meharher" and then immersed in the Mikvah in order to convert. RASHI (DH Oved, DH v'Yarad) explains that when he was "Meharher," his Shichvas Zera left its place in the body ("Akirah") but did not leave the body, and after he immersed in the Mikvah the Shichvas Zera left his body. Is he Tamei or not?
Rava explains that even if we follow the time of Akirah of the Shichvas Zera from its place inside the body, perhaps we only follow the Akirah in order to be stringent (such as in the case of the previous question of Rava, in which the person felt the Akirah of the Shichvas Zera but did not feel it leave his body, in which case he is Tamei out of doubt). In this case, following the Akirah will be a leniency, because the Akirah occurred while the convert was still a Nochri. Accordingly, it is not Metamei him, since the Keri of a Nochri is Tahor (34a). Rava's question is, do we follow Akirah only to be stringent, or even to be lenient? The Gemara leaves the question unanswered ("Teiku").
It seems that the Gemara could have answered Rava's question from the words of the Gemara earlier (end of 42a). The Gemara there discusses the case of a Yoledes who saw blood before she went to the Mikvah at the end of her fourteen days of Tum'ah after giving birth to a girl (see Rashi DH mi'Tum'ah). The Gemara there quotes Rav who says that she is Tamei even if the blood left her womb, but not her body, before she immersed. It is evident from there that even if the blood had not yet left the body, since it left its place of origin inside the body it is considered Tamei. Similarly, even though the convert's Shichvas Zera had not left the body, since it left its place of origin it should be considered Tamei. Why does the Gemara not answer Rava's question from Rav's ruling? (See CHIDUSHEI HA'RAMBAN.)
(a) The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN answers that this question is not difficult according to RASHI (42a, DH v'Ne'ekar). Rashi explains that in the case of the Gemara earlier, the Yoledes had an Akirah of blood from the womb to the Beis ha'Chitzon, which is near the surface of her body. The Ran writes that the blood reaching the Beis ha'Chitzon is considered equivalent to leaving the body entirely. That is why the Gemara there says that a Nidah is Tamei even when the blood is still inside the body. Accordingly, the case of the Gemara there is not comparable to the case of Rava's question here, in which the Shichvas Zera is not considered to have left the body at all.
(b) The Ran gives another answer to explain why the Gemara does not answer Rava's question, even according to the view of the RAMBAN (42a) who disagrees with Rashi and maintains that in the case earlier, the blood that left the womb did not reach the Beis ha'Chitzon but was still in the inner part of the body adjacent to the womb (see also Tosfos to 42a, DH Amai). Even according to the Ramban, there is a significant difference between the Gemara here and the Gemara earlier. In the Gemara earlier, the woman is not Tamei because of "Re'iyah" -- seeing blood, but rather because of the presence of blood that is Metamei her even before it exits the body. In contrast, in the case of the Gemara here the question is whether the convert saw Keri (experienced a "Re'iyah"). The mere presence of Keri is not sufficient to be Metamei him. Rather, the Keri must be in the process of leaving the body. Rava's question is whether Akirah from its place of origin in the body suffices, or whether it is necessary for it to exit the body entirely. (D. BLOOM)
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the question of whether a person becomes Tamei by touching any amount of Shichvas Zera (just as one becomes Tamei by discharging any amount of Shichvas Zera), or whether a person becomes Tamei only by touching an amount of a k'Adashah of Shichvas Zera.
The Gemara explains that it is clear that the words "O Ish" in the Torah teach that one becomes Tamei by touching Shichvas Zera. The argument is whether this Halachah is derived from the words "O Ish" that are written in the passage that discusses the Tum'ah of one who touches a k'Adashah of a Sheretz (Vayikra 22:5), or from the words "O Ish" that are written in the passage that discusses the Tum'ah of one who discharges any amount of Shichvas Zera (Vayikra 22:4).
Why would one think that the words "O Ish" written with regard to Tum'as Sheretz should teach the laws of one who touches Shichvas Zera? It should be logical that laws that involve the Tum'ah of Shichvas Zera are derived from the words written with regard to the Tum'ah of Shichvas Zera! (TOSFOS DH Minayin)
ANSWER: TOSFOS answers that according to the opinion that the Tum'ah of one who touches Shichvas Zera is derived from the verse that discusses Tum'as Sheretz, it is preferable to learn a law regarding touching Tum'ah (such as Shichvas Zera) from a verse that discusses other laws of touching Tum'ah (such as a Sheretz), and not to learn a law regarding touching Tum'ah from a verse that discusses a discharge of Tum'ah.
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that says that in one respect the Tum'ah of Shichvas Zera is more severe than the Tum'ah of Sheretz, while in another respect the Tum'ah of Sheretz is more severe than that of Shichvas Zera. The Tum'ah of Sheretz is more severe than Shichvas Zera because Tum'as Sheretz is not "Chalukah Tum'aso"; all Sheratzim are Metamei equally, unlike Shichvas Zera. RASHI (DH Ein Lo) explains that this means that a small or young Sheretz makes other things Tamei in exactly the same way as a large Sheretz does. In contrast, a boy under nine years old does not possess Keri, and therefore at that age his Keri is not Metamei.
What is the Halachah with regard to the age at which a boy's Shichvas Zera is Metamei?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos She'ar Avos ha'Tum'os 5:2) rules in accordance with the straightforward understanding of the Gemara and writes that "the Shichvas Zera of a minor is not Metamei until he reaches the age of nine years and one day."
Support for this ruling may be found in the Gemara earlier (32b) which states that even a one-day-old baby is Metamei with Zivah (see Rambam, Hilchos Metamei Mishkav u'Moshav 1:4, who records this as the Halachah). This implies that only with regard to Zivah is there no minimum age, but with regard to Shichvas Zera there is a minimum age.
In addition, the Gemara (34b) states that the Shichvas Zera of a baby is not Metamei. Rav Yosef there quotes Reish Lakish who asked whether the first flow of Zivah that a minor experiences is Metamei through Maga (contact). Reish Lakish suggested that the first Re'iyah of a Zav is Metamei only if the Shichvas Zera of that person is also Metamei. Since the Shichvas Zera of a baby is not Metamei, perhaps his Zivah is also not Metamei. Rashi there (DH Mahu) is consistent with his opinion and writes that the Tum'ah of Keri applies only to an adult; a minor does not have Keri.
(b) However, the REMA (OC 457:2) rules that when one separates Chalah from Matzah dough (of Chutz la'Aretz; see Mishnah Berurah 457:20), one may give it to the minor son of a Kohen because he is Tahor, since he has never seen Keri in his life. The MAGEN AVRAHAM (#7) cites Poskim who explain that this means that one may give the Chalah to a minor under the age of nine. The Magen Avraham adds, however, that this is because we assume that a boy under the age of nine has never seen Keri, but if we know for a fact that he has seen Keri, then even if he is one day old, he is Tamei and one may not give him Chalah.
The DAGUL MEREVAVAH writes that he does not know the Magen Avraham's source or reason for saying that the Keri of a minor under nine is Metamei. Moreover, the words of the Gemara and the Rambam contradict the Magen Avraham.
Moreover, the SHEVUS YAKOV (1:22, DH Teshuvah) cites the Gemara (and Rashi) here that a boy under nine does not possess Keri. Why, then, does the Magen Avraham say that even a one-day-old child can be Tamei from Keri?
The ELIYAH RABAH (OC 457:9) cites the RA'AVAN who rules that a baby can become Tamei with both Keri and Zivah, which supports the statement of the Magen Avraham.
The son of the SHA'AR EFRAYIM (who is the questioner in the Teshuvah of the Shevus Yakov) argues that the Rambam (in Hilchos She'ar Avos ha'Tum'os 5:2, as cited above) refers only to a minor making others Tamei with his Keri. The minor himself, though, certainly becomes Tamei from his own Keri, even at one day of age. He also cites the Rambam in Hilchos Terumos (7:9) who writes that a boy who has never seen Keri may eat Terumah of Chutz la'Aretz (which is only Terumah mid'Rabanan) without having to check, because it is assumed that he has never become Tamei with Keri. The Rambam's words imply that if it was known for certain that the boy had seen Keri, he indeed would be Tamei and would not be permitted to eat the Terumah. This supports the opinion of the Magen Avraham.
According to this understanding, the Rambam must learn that the Gemara here, which states that Shichvas Zera is "Chalukah Tum'aso," is referring only to someone who touches the Keri of the minor under nine, which is not Metamei others. However, for "Ro'eh" -- for the minor himself who sees Keri -- every minor becomes Tamei from Keri, regardless of his age. (See also PISCHEI NIDAH of the CHOCHMAS BETZALEL, DH v'Ra'isi, who explains the Gemara here according to the Magen Avraham's view.)
Even though Rashi seems to maintain that there is no Tum'ah at all for a minor under nine, the Rambam distinguishes between making others Tamei and becoming Tamei himself.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (457:20, and in SHA'AR HA'TZIYUN 457:31) writes that the Acharonim disagree with the Magen Avraham. Therefore, one may give Chalah to any boy (Kohen) under nine. (See the Mishnah Berurah there (457:22) with regard to the custom nowadays with regard to giving Chalah to a Kohen, and why such a practice is discussed only with regard to giving Chalah on Pesach.) (D. BLOOM)