1) TRAPPING A SNAKE ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: The Gemara establishes that the opinion of Shmuel is that of Rebbi Shimon, who maintains that a "Davar she'Eino Miskaven" is permitted. A Davar she'Eino Miskaven is an act that is done for a certain permitted purpose, but which may result in an inadvertent act of transgression. The Gemara asks that this assertion is not consistent with the position of Shmuel in the case of a "Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah," a Melachah that one performs on Shabbos but not for the purpose for which the Melachah is normally done. (For the various definitions of "Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah," see Insights to Shabbos 93:3 and Chagigah 10:2.) Shmuel rules like Rebbi Yehudah, who says that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is Asur mid'Oraisa, and not like Rebbi Shimon, who says that it is Asur mid'Rabanan. (See TOSFOS DH Aval, who asks why the Gemara assumes that the two concepts are interdependent.) The Gemara answers that Shmuel rules like Rebbi Shimon in the case of a Davar she'Eino Miskaven and like Rebbi Yehudah in the case of a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah.
TOSFOS (DH b'Melachah) quotes the BEHAG who asks that in Shabbos (3a), Shmuel says that whenever the word "Patur" ("exempt") is used with regard to the laws of Shabbos it means "Patur Aval Asur," one is exempt from punishment, but the act is still prohibited -- except in three cases. The first exception is in the Mishnah in Shabbos (106b) which states that a person is "Patur" when he sits directly behind another person whose body blocks the doorway of a house in which a deer is confined, and then the first person leaves. Not only is he exempt from punishment, but he is permitted to stay in his position even l'Chatchilah.
The second and third exceptions are in the Mishnah in Eduyos (2:5) which states that a person who traps a snake on Shabbos so that it not bite him is "Patur," and one who opens a blister on Shabbos in order to let out the puss is "Patur." Not only is he exempt from punishment in those cases, but he is permitted to trap the snake and open the blister even l'Chatchilah.
The Behag explains that in the last two cases, the reason why the person is exempt is that the Melachah is not done in order to achieve the normal result of the Melachah. (For example, the person who traps the snake is not interested in having the snake itself, but rather his objective is to prevent the snake from harming him.) Since his intention renders his act of trapping into an Isur d'Rabanan according to Rebbi Shimon, it is permitted l'Chatchilah in a situation where the snake might cause serious harm to the person. Similarly, releasing puss from a blister is permitted l'Chatchilah because it is a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah, which is permitted when it prevents or takes away serious pain.
However, this logic is not applicable according to the Gemara here, which says that Shmuel maintains that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is a Torah prohibition, and not only an Isur d'Rabanan. How can Shmuel maintain that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is Asur mid'Oraisa, and at the same time maintain that one is permitted to trap a snake and to release puss from a blister?
(a) TOSFOS quotes RABEINU TAM who answers that Shmuel indeed maintains that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is a Torah prohibition. When Shmuel in Shabbos says that one is permitted to trap a snake and to open a blister, he does not mean that he permits doing so. Rather, he simply is explaining the intention of the author of the Mishnah in these three cases. According to Tosfos, Shmuel himself rules that one may not trap a snake even to ensure that it does not bite him (unless, of course it is a matter of Piku'ach Nefesh), and one may not open a painful growth of puss.
(b) TOSFOS mentions that the Behag gives a forced answer. He explains that Shmuel does agree that these three acts are permitted l'Chatchilah. Even though in most cases he rules like Rebbi Yehudah that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is a Torah prohibition, he maintains that when serious pain or the welfare of the public is involved, even a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is permitted. When there is no threat to public welfare, Shmuel rules that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is forbidden mid'Oraisa. Shmuel permits one to extinguish a burning piece of metal, because a burning piece of metal is not easily discernible as being hot, and thus it poses a significant threat to the public welfare. In contrast, he does not permit one to extinguish a burning piece of wood, because people easily avoid such a public hazard. Similarly, Shmuel permits one to trap a snake to prevent it from biting, and to open a painful blister to alleviate the pain. However, without the extenuating factors of danger and pain, he would rule that such acts are forbidden mid'Oraisa because they are a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah.
Tosfos does not accept the answer of the Behag, apparently because there is no source to suspend a Torah law, in the laws of Shabbos, for the sole reason of avoiding possible pain, when there is no question of Piku'ach Nefesh.
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 10:25) rules like Rebbi Yehudah, that a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is forbidden mid'Oraisa. However, he also rules that one is permitted to trap a snake if his intention is to prevent it from biting him. The Rambam's rulings seem contradictory. Many commentators (see ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN OC 316:19) explain that the Rambam maintains that even Rebbi Yehudah agrees that one is permitted to trap a snake to prevent it from causing harm, and the act is not in the category of a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah. In order for an act to be classified as a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah, the nature of the act must be the same as when it is done l'Gufah, but it is merely being done for a different purpose. In the case of trapping, the nature of the Melachah is to perform an act to confine the animal in order to use it. That is, intrinsic to the act of the Melachah of trapping is the purpose of acquiring the animal for use. Accordingly, an act of trapping which one does because he does not want to keep the animal, but rather he wants the animal to go away, certainly is not included in the Melachah of trapping. Although the method used for getting the snake away from oneself is an act of trapping, since it is done for the opposite purpose of the Melachah it is not considered an act of trapping at all, and it permitted even mid'Rabanan. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) BLOOD THAT SPLASHED FROM ONE GARMENT ONTO ANOTHER
QUESTION: The Mishnah (92a) teaches that if the blood of a Chatas Behemah splashes onto a garment, it must be washed. The Gemara quotes Levi who asks whether this requirement also applies when the blood splashes onto one article of clothing and continues from there onto a second article of clothing. Does the second garment need to be washed? Rebbi answers that the second garment certainly needs to be washed. His reasoning is that if the law is that blood that spills may be gathered up and used for Zerikah, then this blood, when it splashes onto the second garment, is still valid for Zerikah, and thus it is subject to the requirement of washing. Even if the law is that blood that spills is disqualified from Zerikah, the Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Akiva who says that blood that, at one point, was valid for Zerikah and then became Pasul still necessitates washing a garment upon which it splashes. This is the only opinion the Gemara offers on this subject.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 8:9) rules that in such a case, the second garment does not require cleaning. What is the source for the Rambam's ruling?
(a) The MAHARI KURKUS explains that the Rambam maintains that the Halachah does not follow the opinion of Rebbi Akiva. Rather, the Rambam rules that blood that is Pasul does not necessitate the washing of a garment, even if the blood at one time was valid. Indeed, this is the position of many Amora'im in the Gemara later (93a). Even though the Gemara here mentions the possibility that perhaps the blood that spills remains valid for Zerikah and, therefore, the blood that splashes from one garment to another should require the second garment to be cleaned even according to the opinion that argues with Rebbi Akiva, the Rambam must maintain that any blood which is splashed onto a garment from a Kli Shares may not be used for Zerikah. The reasoning for this ruling is that since the blood now needs to be cleaned from the garment, it no longer retains its status of blood fit to be spilled onto the Mizbe'ach to attain atonement. Accordingly, once it reaches the first garment, it no longer can make another garment require cleaning, since it has become Pasul blood. Even though Levi was uncertain about this, once the Halachah does not follow the view of Rebbi Akiva, and there is a doubt about whether the blood is still valid once it reaches the first garment, we must be stringent and rule that the blood is Pasul. Although this ruling (that the blood that spills onto the first garment becomes Pasul) results in the Korban having less valid blood for Zerikah, it also results in the Rambam's leniency that the second garment does not need to be washed. (See also LECHEM MISHNEH.)
(b) Similarly, the KESEF MISHNEH answers that the Rambam does not rule like Rebbi Akiva because the Gemara's next statement implies that the Halachah does not follow his view. However, the Kesef Mishneh still is bothered by the fact that if there is a doubt about whether or not the blood is valid for Zerikah when it spills on the garment, then why does the Rambam not rule stringently and require that the garment be washed? He answers that the verse states that the garment must be washed "b'Makom Kadosh" -- "in a holy place" (Vayikra 7:20, see 93b). Washing clothes is something which is not normally done in a holy place, and thus it is degrading to that place for one to wash clothes which might not need to be washed in such a holy place.
(c) The KEHILOS YAKOV (#37) also mentions that the Rambam does not rule like Rebbi Akiva, but he is bothered by the fact that the blood still might be valid, requiring that the garment be cleaned even according to the Rabanan who argue with Rebbi Akiva. He thus gives a different answer for this question.
He bases his explanation on the Gemara earlier (34b), which quotes the Mishnah in which Rebbi Yehudah says that on Erev Pesach, a Kohen fills a cup with blood from the spilled blood of all of the Korbenos Pesachim that were offered, and he performs one Zerikah. The Gemara explains that this shows that even though the blood was spilled on the floor and should be disqualified from being used for Zerikah, since the Kohen is able to pick up the blood and do Zerikah with it, the blood does not become disqualified from being used for the Zerikah ("Kol sheb'Yado, Lo Havei Dichuy"). TOSFOS (34b, DH Kol) has difficulty with the Gemara there. The Torah requires that the blood of slaughtered birds and undomesticated animals be slaughtered; this is the Mitzvah of Kisuy ha'Dam. The Gemara (Chulin 87a, Avodah Zarah 47a) says that if the wind blew sand on top of the blood, one is not required to cover the blood more; the Mitzvah is considered to have been pushed off and it no longer can be done. Why in the case is the Mitzvah considered to have been pushed off? Since the person can uncover the blood, the Mitzvah has not really been pushed off! Tosfos answers that only when another Mitzvah dictates that the object of the first Mitzvah be made fit for the Mitzvah, is the first Mitzvah considered not to have been pushed off. In the case of the blood of the Korban Pesach, the fact that the blood of someone's Korban Pesach might have spilled and was not placed on the Mizbe'ach dictates that there is a Mitzvah to gather up the blood, and thus the blood is not considered to have been pushed off from the Mitzvah. There is no Mitzvah, however, that requires one to pick up the dirt which has fallen onto the blood in the case of Kisuy ha'Dam, and, therefore, the Mitzvah is considered pushed off.
The Kehilos Yakov explains that the Rambam's ruling is based on the reasoning of Tosfos there. If blood that falls on a garment would not be considered pushed off from the Mitzvah of Zerikah, it would be due to the same reasoning that says that blood that falls on the floor is not pushed off from its Mitzvah (i.e., there is a Mitzvah mandating that the blood be picked up). However, in the case of blood that falls on a garment, there is a Mitzvah that mandates the opposite: the Mitzvah mandates that the blood not be gathered up and placed on the Mizbe'ach, but that it be washed out of the garment. Hence, the blood definitely is considered pushed off from being valid for the Mitzvah of Zerikah. Levi, who asks the question, apparently does not agree with the Gemara in Chulin that says that when the wind blows dirt on top of the blood, Kisuy ha'Dam no longer can be done. However, the Rambam rules like the Gemara in Chulin, and thus he also rules that the blood that spills on a garment is Pasul and no longer can be used for Zerikah. (See Kehilos Yakov there, where he proposes that there is a possible alternative understanding of Tosfos.) (Y. MONTROSE)