1) A CLOTH THAT IS NOT FIT TO BE "MEKABEL TUM'AH" BUT IS FIT TO BECOME FIT TO BE "MEKABEL TUM'AH"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara (end of 93b) quotes a Beraisa in which Rebbi Elazar and Rebbi Yehudah argue about whether Dam Chatas, the blood of a Korban Chatas, must be washed from a garment only when the garment is presently able to be Mekabel Tum'ah, or even when the garment is fit to become able to be Mekabel Tum'ah (but is not able to be Mekabel Tum'ah at present), such as through the owner's intention to use it in a certain way which makes it fit for use in its present state. One situation in which they argue is the one mentioned in the Mishnah, in which a hide was removed from an animal but has not yet been processed. According to Rebbi Yehudah, the Dam Chatas that becomes absorbed in such a skin must be cleaned out, because even though the skin is not fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah now, it is able to become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah if the owner decides to use it in its present state. Rebbi Elazar maintains that as long as the owner has not made such a conscious decision, the hide does not become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah and the Dam Chatas does not have to be washed from it.
The Gemara asks that the wording of the Beraisa implies that Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Elazar argue not only with regard to hide, but also with regard to a cloth material. What is a case of a cloth that cannot be Mekabel Tum'ah at present, but could become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah through a conscious decision of the owner? (This is the way RASHI (DH Mai) explains the Gemara.)
The Gemara gives three cases as answers to this question. The first case is that of a scrap of cloth three by three Etzba'os in size. Such a cloth is not fit for use in its present state and thus cannot be Mekabel Tum'ah, but if the owner decides to use it as a patch for fixing a garment, then it becomes fit for use and can be Mekabel Tum'ah. The second case is that of a cloth which a person decided to embroider and make into a decorative cloth. Since he decided to embroider it, it is not fit for use in its present state, until it is embroidered. The third case is a cloth rug that a person intends to trim. It is not considered usable in its present state until it is trimmed.
There seems to be a difficulty with each one of the Gemara's answers.
(a) The first answer, that if one decides to use a cloth of less than three by three Etzba'os as a patch, it will become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah, is problematic for the following reason. RASHI later (95a, DH Ein Bahem) writes that the reason why a scrap of cloth which is three by three Etzba'os is Mekabel Tum'ah is that it probably will be saved to be used as a patch. Rashi's source seems to be the Gemara in Bava Basra (20a; see Rashi there, DH Chazi). The MIKDASH DAVID (Taharos 53:1) asks why this should be considered a cloth that is fit to be used in its present state. If a rug that a person merely intends to trim is not Mekabel Tum'ah, then certainly a patch which a person intends to sew onto a garment, but which is not yet sewn on, should not be Mekabel Tum'ah in its present state, since it is unusable in its present state. Why should a patch be considered more complete than an entire rug that simply needs trimming, or a cloth that simply lacks embroidering?
(b) The second two answers are also problematic. The Gemara says that a garment is not Mekabel Tum'ah if its owner intends to embroider it or trim it. This seems to contradict Rashi's statement (in DH d'Iy Ba'i) that once the Kli is Tamei, a Machshavah cannot make it Tahor. It can become Tahor only by an actual, physical change. Why should a person's intention be able to make a cloth Tahor when he has in mind that it is not yet finished (because he wants to embroider or trim it)? It should be Mekabel Tum'ah until he performs an action to change the garment in a way that shows that he wants to embroider it or trim it! (BIRKAS HA'ZEVACH, citing GILYON TOSFOS)
(a) Perhaps a patch can be considered a finished Kli even though it is not sewn onto the garment, because the common practice is to save scraps to use them as patches by matching a patch to a fitting garment. Since the person saves the patch in the form of a patch until he finds a garment for which he wants to use it, a patch can be considered a Kli in its present form, even before it is sewn onto a garment. Anything which is saved in its present form without being altered for extended periods is considered a Kli even if, only later, one will sew it onto a garment.
Furthermore, even after it is sewn onto a garment the patch retains its individual identity, and it is occasionally transferred from one garment to another; it is not annulled entirely to the garment. Therefore, the patch itself is considered a Kli even when it has not been sewn onto the garment.
Another answer to this question may be deduced from the words of the RAMBAM. The Rambam (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 8:5) writes that if the Dam Chatas spills on a hide that was just removed from an animal, the hide must be washed. The Rambam's reasoning is as follows. Even though the hide is not Mekabel Tum'ah in its present state, since it will become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah after it is processed the blood must be washed from it even in its present, unprocessed state. The Rambam's words imply that even when a person decides to use the hide in its present state, it is not Mekabel Tum'ah until it is processed.
The LECHEM MISHNEH points out that this answers the question of TOSFOS (DH Minayin) who proves from the Gemara in Shabbos that a hide cannot become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah through Machshavah, through merely planning to use it. However, the Lechem Mishneh asks that the Rambam's words seem to contradict the rest of the Gemara. As Rashi and Tosfos explain, the Gemara seems to take the approach that only an object that is fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah through Machshavah requires cleaning when Dam Chatas spills on it. If an action is necessary to make it fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah, then everyone agrees that the blood does not have to be washed out from it in its present state. This is implied by the Gemara when it says that a rag (Matlis) less than three by three must have Dam Chatas washed from it "because, if one wants, he can decide to use it." Similarly, the Gemara says that if a person designates a cloth to embroider into a decorative cloth, or if he decides to trim a rug, Dam Chatas must be washed from it only because it is within the person's ability to annul his Machshavah and use the cloth in its present state. This implies that if it would become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah only after an action of embroidery is completed, then all of the Tana'im would agree that it is not necessary to wash out Dam Chatas from the cloth in its present state. This implies that if a hide requires an action to make it fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah, then all of the Tana'im agree that Dam Chatas does not need to be washed from it.
The EVEN HA'AZEL explains that the Rambam has a different understanding of the Gemara's case of a "cloth that was designated for Tzurah." The Mishnah in Kelim (24:13) states that when a person designates a cloth for drawing pictures on it, it is not considered a Kli, since a picture or decoration is not considered a Kli; it is merely looked at and is not used. The Even ha'Azel points out that the ARUCH cited by the RASH in Kelim apparently understands that the Gemara here refers to such a cloth, a cloth used as a picture, and not a cloth that one intends to embroider. This is also the understanding of the MISHNEH L'MELECH (end of Hilchos Kelim 2:1). According to this interpretation, a cloth that one intends to use "for Tzurah" does not refer to a cloth that is not yet finished and that requires an action (i.e. embroidering) to change it so that it will be Mekabel Tum'ah. Rather, it refers to a cloth that will never be Mekabel Tum'ah, and that is why Dam Chatas does not need to be washed from it. However, an item which will be altered so that it will eventually be fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah must have Dam Chatas washed from it even if it has not yet been altered, such as a hide which has not yet been processed.
In the case of the rug which has not yet been trimmed, the Gemara does not actually say that the Dam Chatas must be washed out because it might be used in its present state. Rather, the Gemara says that it must be washed because the rug "is fit" to be Mekabel Tum'ah. The Gemara means that the rug eventually will become fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah -- after it is trimmed and completed.
With regard to the patch which is three by three (the Girsa of our text is three by three Etzba'os, but the Girsa of the Rambam (in Hilchos Kelim 22:21) is three by three Tefachim; see KEREN ORAH), the Gemara states that it is fit because the person can plan to use it (as a patch). How does the Rambam understand this statement? In light of what the Even ha'Azel explains, it seems that the Gemara does not mean that if the person plans to use it as a patch, then the cloth will be fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah. Rather, the Gemara means that if he plans to use it and he alters it to make it fit for use, then it will be fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah, and, therefore, even before he alters the cloth he is required to wash out the Dam Chatas from it. This is evident from the words of the Rambam there, who writes that the cloth that is three by three is Mekabel Tum'ah only "if he thought to use it, and he prepared it."
This also answers the question of the Mikdash David. Indeed, a cloth which is designated for use as a patch will not be Mekabel Tum'ah unless some action is done to it to make it fit for use in its present state. However, with regard to washing Dam Chatas, even before the person prepares the cloth the Dam Chatas must be washed from it.
(b) The MISHNEH L'MELECH (end of Hilchos Kelim 2:1) and the GILYON TOSFOS answer that the Gemara does not mean that a cloth becomes Tahor when a person has in mind to embroider or trim it, if it had previously become Tamei. Rather, the Gemara means that the person planned to embroider or trim the cloth from the time that he began to make it, and it was never Mekabel Tum'ah. It will not be fit to be Mekabel Tum'ah until he finishes embroidering or trimming it.
2) IS LEATHER WASHABLE?
QUESTION: The Gemara cites contradictory Mishnayos regarding whether or not leather is considered a washable material. The Mishnah here (93b) implies that leather is washable. The Mishnah states that when blood of a Korban Chatas falls onto leather, one is required to wash it out. If leather would not be washable, then it would not be necessary to wash it, just as wood does not have to be washed when Dam Chatas falls onto it. On the other hand, the Mishnah in Shabbos (142b) teaches that if one pours water on leather to clean it, his act is not considered an act of washing and it is permitted on Shabbos. It is prohibited only to vigorously scrub leather.
Abaye answers that the Mishnayos indeed disagree, and they represent the views of two different Tana'im regarding whether or not leather is considered washable. The Tana of the Mishnah here maintains that leather is washable, while the Tana of the Mishnah in Shabbos maintains that leather is not washable and one may pour water on it on Shabbos. (Abaye agrees that one is permitted to rub leather briskly on Shabbos, as Rashi writes in DH Haisah.)
According to Abaye, why does the Mishnah in Shabbos prohibit rubbing leather vigorously with water? If leather is non-washable, then regardless of how vigorously one rubs it, it should be permitted to wash! On the other hand, if vigorously rubbing leather with water is prohibited on Shabbos because such an act does wash leather, then leather on which Dam Chatas falls should need to be washed in that way! Why does Abaye say that the Mishnah in Shabbos disagrees with the Mishnah here and maintains that leather is not washable? (PANIM ME'IROS)
(a) The PANIM ME'IROS answers that perhaps rubbing leather briskly, and not vigorously, with water is prohibited mid'Rabanan, not because of the Melachah of Kibus (washing) but because of the Melachah of Sechitah -- one might squeeze out the water. (See, however, TOSFOS to Kesuvos 6a, DH Hai, who writes that Sechitah itself is prohibited only because of the Melachah of washing.)
(b) The KODSHEI DAVID suggests that rubbing leather briskly is prohibited (at least according to Abaye) because of the Melachah of Memachek, which prohibits rubbing hide to make it smooth.
(c) Perhaps another approach to the Sugya may be suggested. Abaye is differentiating between the laws of Shabbos and the laws of washing out the blood of a Korban Chatas. Abaye agrees that when one scrubs leather it removes the stain, and therefore it is prohibited on Shabbos because of Kibus, because Kibus prohibits any manner of removing a stain with water. However, with regard to the blood of a Chatas, only something which is easily washable with water, similar to the "Beged" mentioned in the verse (Vayikra 6:20), requires that the blood be washed from it. However, if vigorous rubbing is required to remove the blood from the material, then it is not considered washable enough to require that the blood of the Chatas be washed from it. According to this approach, the Tana of the Mishnah here, who maintains that Dam Chatas must be washed from leather, must maintain that a stain can be removed from leather even by merely pouring water on it, and even without rubbing it. That is why the Tana of the Mishnah here cannot agree with the Tana of the Mishnah in Shabbos. The Tana there maintains that pouring water on leather is not considered Kibus unless one rubs the leather vigorously. However, with regard to Dam Chatas, one is not required to rub the blood out, since any garment that is not washable through merely pouring water on it is not subject to the requirement that Dam Chatas be washed out.
Rava, who disagrees with Abaye, equates the Halachah of Dam Chatas with the Halachos of Shabbos and says that even if vigorous rubbing is necessary to remove a stain from leather, it is considered washable with regard to Dam Chatas, and the blood must be rubbed out of the leather. (M. KORNFELD)
3) WASHING LEATHER ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: The Gemara cites the opinion of Rava, who says that only vigorous rubbing can clean leather, and even that form of washing cleans only soft leather, according to the Tana Kama of the Beraisa. According to the opinion of Acherim in the Beraisa, vigorous rubbing can clean blood out of even hard leather. The Gemara then relates that Rava publicly taught that one is permitted to wash ("l'Chabed") a shoe on Shabbos. Rav Papa objected that Rebbi Chiya bar Ashi said that he often saw that Rav permitted only lightly brushing shoes to remove dirt, but not Kibus. Rava then publicly announced that his previous ruling was a mistake, and that one is permitted only to lightly rub shoes with water on Shabbos, but not to do Kibus. (Although a marginal note suggests that the Girsa might be that Rava prohibited "Kiskus," from the Rishonim it is clear that the word in the Gemara indeed is "Kibus.")
What type of cleansing constitutes "Kibus?" If Kibus refers to Kiskus, vigorous rubbing, then why did Rava originally think that it was permitted on Shabbos? He himself taught (at the beginning of the Amud) that Kiskus of leather objects is prohibited! If Kibus refers to a type of washing that is less vigorous than Kiskus, then why indeed is it prohibited? Rava said (at the beginning of the Amud) that Kibus that does not include vigorous rubbing is not considered Kibus with regard to leather on Shabbos! (CHOK NASAN)
(a) The PANIM ME'IROS and the CHOK NASAN explain that Kibus entails vigorous rubbing. Rava originally thought that one is permitted to rub shoes made of hard leather, because he ruled like the Tana Kama of the Beraisa. He retracted his ruling because he heard that Rav did not permit rubbing even hard leather shoes, implying that Rav ruled like Acherim, who say that even hard leather is considered washable and may not be rubbed vigorously on Shabbos. The ZEVACH TODAH points out that this might be why the SHE'ILTOS rules, like Acherim, that one is prohibited to wash hard leather on Shabbos.
However, this answer does not suffice to explain the ruling of the RAMBAM. The Rambam (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 8:2) rules that Dam Chatas must be washed only from soft leather but not from hard leather, like the Tana Kama of the Beraisa. However, in Hilchos Shabbos (22:18), the Rambam records the ruling of Rava, who says that one is permitted only to lightly rub a shoe with water, but not to do Kibus. If Rava originally permitted one to wash only hard leather, then the Rambam seems to rule that one is prohibited even from washing hard leather. Indeed, he does not distinguish between soft leather and hard leather, implying that Kibus with both types of leather is prohibited. How is this ruling to be reconciled with the Rambam's other ruling that blood does not need to be washed out of hard leather garments, which implies that hard leather is not washable? (KEREN ORAH, CHOK NASAN, LECHEM MISHNEH)
(b) The BI'UR HALACHAH (OC 302:9) explains that the Rambam understands the Gemara as explained above (that Rava is discussing hard leather). However, he learns that when Rava was informed about Rav's practice, he retracted his earlier statement (at the beginning of the Amud) that anything less than Kiskus is not considered washing on Shabbos. Instead, he ruled that although, mid'Oraisa, anything less than Kiskus is not considered washing, it still is prohibited mid'Rabanan. The Rambam understands that Kibus is a less vigorous form of washing than Kiskus, and Rava prohibited it mid'Rabanan.
Rava's prohibition extends even to hard leather, which is not washable at all mid'Oraisa, and he prohibited Kibus for both soft and hard leather in order to prevent people from performing Kiskus on soft leather.
(c) The BI'UR HALACHAH suggests further that perhaps Rava retracted his ruling in order to prohibit not only Kibus mid'Rabanan, but also to prohibit Kibus of soft leather mid'Oraisa. Now it is clear why he prohibits Kibus of hard leather mid'Rabanan; since there is a form of Kibus of leather that is prohibited mid'Oraisa, there are grounds to prohibit Kibus of hard leather mid'Rabanan.