BURIAL CAVES

(Mishnah): If one sold a place for or accepts to build a burial cave, the interior of the cave must be four Amos by six Amos;

He hollows out eight Kuchin (places for coffins) from the interior, three on each long side, and two on the short side opposite the entrance.

Each Kuch is four Amos long, seven Tefachim high, and six Tefachim wide.

R. Shimon says, the cave must be six Amos by eight Amos;

He hollows out 13 Kuchin, 4 on each long side, three on the short side opposite the entrance, and two by the entrance, one on each side.

He builds a courtyard on top of the cave, six Amos by six Amos, enough for the coffin and the people carrying it.

He builds two caves in opposite directions (the entrance is in the middle);

R. Shimon says, he builds four caves, one in each direction;

R. Shimon ben Gamliel says, he builds according to the hardness of the ground.

(Gemara) Question: According to R. Shimon, how are the two Kuchin near the entrance positioned?

Suggestion: They face out (from the interior).

Objection #1: This is under the courtyard! (The weight of the people carrying the coffin might make it cave in.)

Objection #2 (Mishnah): One who stands in the courtyard on top of a burial cave is Tahor.

If Mesim are buried under the courtyard, one who enters would be Tamei.

Answer #1 (R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): They are vertical

Objection: R. Yochanan taught that proper burial for a donkey (but not for people!) is to drop it in a pit!

Answer #2: According to R. Yochanan, they go out from the corners opposite the entrance (picture 'Aleph' in Rashbam).

Question: (We assume that there is one Amah between Kuchim on each side, and half an Amah free from the last Kuch until the corner.) There is less than an Amah free in the corner (it is the diagonal of a square whose side is a half Amah, which is about seven 10ths of an Amah). The Kuch (its width is an Amah) overlaps other Kuchim!

Answer (Rav Ashi): The corner Kuchim are above or below the ones on the sides.

Support: We must say so according to R. Shimon regarding the Kuchim nearest the entrance in adjacent directions. If not, they overlap (picture 'Beis' in Rashbam)! We can say the same about those in the corners.

Objection (Rav Huna brei d'Rav Yehoshua): No, we can say that the Kuchim on the sides (do not extend straight out, rather,) they extend on a diagonal (picture 'Gimel' in Rashbam), therefore they do not overlap those of the adjacent direction.

Rejection: This is wrong! The diagonal of a square is seven fifths the length of a side. The long side of the cave is eight Amos, so the line between corners of adjacent directions is seven fifths of this, i.e. 11 Amos and a fifth;

This is not enough for eight Kuchim (along the two long sides; each is an Amah wife) and the seven spaces (each is an Amah) between them! (All of these Kuchim and spaces must cross this diagonal! Really, the 'middle' Kuchim near the corner do not reach the diagonal, which is more than four Amos from the corner. However, the calculation is proper, for every Kuch is straight, so if we would extend it, it would cross the diagonal.)

Answer #3: Elsewhere, Rav Shisha brei d'Rav Idi answered 'he found Nefalim (miscarriages)';

Here also, the Kuchin near the entrance are for Nefalim (they are in the free space on the long side. They are very small.)