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Someone told me that it was obvious to him (and he got someone else to agree with them) that all men today are a safek zav. Meaning, a zav is someone who had an unusual emission from their body (Leviticus Chapter 15). Since we today don't know what that entailed exactly, who knows if they never had one. They were saying everyone has the stringencies of a full zav, who needs seven clean days and offerings (similar to how women accepted upon themselves safek zava status). Since we don't know what to check for, people are stuck in this state.

Do any poskim or seforim say such a thing? I find it incredibly hard to believe. I feel the emission was very abnormal, and much easier to notice, and is nothing like a zava at all.

This conversation came up with regards to going to har habayis, which is forbidden for a zav (Kelim 1:8). My understanding is the poskim who discuss going up there just say to be careful where to go and to go to the mikveh (presumably for tumas keri). If men were safek zav, a mikveh alone wouldn't help...

  • If that were the only issue (in the machmirim's opinion) with going to har habayis, then you could just go to mayim chayim and fix it. You'd still be a mechusar kippurim, but then you're only forbidden from the azarah. – Heshy Sep 24 at 20:25
  • I'm not sure if this is relevant to the conversation you mentioned, but I really don't like when people start discussions with "IT'S ASSUR!!!!" followed by a long list of reasons, most of which are easy to get around. Include the ones that make sense and leave out the ones that don't. – Heshy Sep 24 at 20:26
  • @Heshy re: your first comment. You would also need 7 nekiyim. In addition, Tzitz Eliezer is concerned for the opinion that mechusar kippurim dezav kezav dami, which would leave you with no options nowadays – Joel K Sep 25 at 8:48
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Tzitz Eliezer X:1 and Minchat Yitzchak V:1 both quote the opinion of Chazon Nachum Kelim 1:6 that nowadays one needs to treat himself as a zav, and use this as part of their arguments to prohibit ascending har habayit.

Those poskim who permit ascending har habayit (without requiring shiv'ah nekiyyim and tevilah bemayim chayyim) presumably are not concerned for this opinion.

  • Fascinating! This is a game-changer. @robev - I think this is the answer you were looking for. – Danny Schoemann Sep 25 at 9:10
  • @robev The closest he gets to offering a reason is a few lines later when he quotes Tosafot in Shabbat, who say that Chazal made a decree to treat all amei ha'aretz as zavim. He argues that our own lack of care and expertise in the matter means that we also fall into this category. – Joel K Sep 25 at 12:53
  • Is the Chazon Nachum saying we're zavin because of what Tosafos says about chazal's decree against amei Haaretz? It sounds more to me like a justification for what he's saying, but not the actual reason – robev Sep 25 at 12:53
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    Saying we're all arbitrary zavim derabanan is different from saying we're all safek zavim Deorayta because of lack of knowledge. Which is it? – Double AA Sep 25 at 13:01
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    @DoubleAA I'm not sure. He seems to go backwards and forwards on the subject. He brings in the gezeira on amei haa'retz, but then at the end he concludes that יש ספק איסור דאורייתא – Joel K Sep 25 at 13:08
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May I suggest you learn Masechet Zavim so as to become knowledgeable in the topic.

Some Halachot you'll learn:

  • A person needs to see an unusual emission from their body thrice before he is a full-blown Zav who needs to bring a Korban.

    • These 3 times have to be on the same day or on consecutive days.
  • Seeing an unusual emission from their body only once - unless it's a very long emission - makes you a בַּעַל קֶרִי. Long is defined in the Mishna, but it's long enough that you would have noticed something very unusual.

  • After seeing קֶרִי - and I assume after normal marital relations - you cannot become a Zav for 24 hours.

  • There are 7 examinations a person who has an unusual emission from their body needs to pass, else he cannot become a Zav

    • Food he ate recently: he didn't overeat, or eat foods that are conducive to causing an unusual emission from their body like fatty meat, milk, cheese, eggs, old wine, and some others.
    • Over drinking - probably alcoholic beverages - until he sobers up.
    • Carrying heavy objects recently enough that he's still in pain
    • Jumping - as long as he still feels the after-effects.
    • Not feeling well
    • For 24 hours after seeing women that attract his attention
    • For 24 hours after thinking inappropriate thoughts

While it's obviously possible to comply with the above conditions, it's unlikely you're a Zav by accident.

The statement you quote "Since we today don't know what that entailed exactly, who knows if they never had one" is nonsense; just learn the Mishnayot or the 2nd chapter of the Rambam in הלכות מחוסרי כפרה which begins with this definition of what we're discussing.

הַזָב הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה הוּא שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע הַבָּא מֵחֳלָיֵי הַחֲלָלִים שֶׁהִיא מִתְקַבֶּצֶת בָּהֶן. וּכְשֶׁיּוֹצֵא הַזּוֹב אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא בְּקֹשִׁי כְּשִׁכְבַת זֶרַע וְאֵין בִּיצִיאָתוֹ תַּאֲוָה וְלֹא הֲנָאָה אֶלָּא נִגְרָר וְיוֹצֵא כְּמוֹ בָּצֵק שֶׁל שְׂעוֹרִים כֵּהֶה כְּלֹבֶן בֵּיצָה הַמּוּזֶרֶת. אֲבָל שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע לְבָנָה קְשׁוּרָה כְּלֹבֶן בֵּיצָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ מוּזֶרֶת:‏

Feel free to edit in a translation.


That said, there are Poskim who do consider everybody as Safek Zav as far as the Torah prohibition of a Zav entering the Bet HaMikdash, as Joel K answered.

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    −1. The question was "Do any poskim or seforim say such a thing?" and you answer it, but only in brief in your final paragraph, and your only reference is a preexisting answer to this same question. – msh210 Sep 25 at 12:41
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At some point during the period of the 2nd Bet HaMikdash (IIRC) Chazal instituted that an Am Ha'Aretz - a regular unlearned fellow - is to be treated as Tameh - impure.

Which impurity? The impurity of somebody who touched a Zava; we assume they due to ignorance his wife may be a Zava and she probably touched him.

However, the Am Ha'Aretz is not assumed to be a Safek Zav.

It seems to me that Zav is rather rare else Chazal would have worried about it.

It's not that they didn't consider the possibility; but they decided that if every Am Ha'Aretz would be a Safek Zav then one would find it impossible to hire workers, as everything they carry would become Tameh. Clearly it was a remote possibility if they decided to ignore the possibility.


That said, there are Poskim who do consider everybody as Safek Zav as far as the Torah prohibition of a Zav entering the Bet HaMikdash, as Joel K answered.

Also see the comments, that not everybody agrees with this; specifically Tosafos in Shabbos 15b

  • Can you source this? Tosafot Shabbat 15b seems to assume that they are considered safek zav (with some exceptions) – Joel K Sep 25 at 8:34
  • @JoelK - I don't know what you see in Tos, but Rashi there is the source of what I said: ועל ספיקו של בגדי עם הארץ - דכולהו מספקא לן שמא ישבה עליהם אשתו נדה כדתנן (חגיגה דף יח:) בגדי ע"ה מדרס לפרושים - thanks, I didn't have time to hunt for that. – Danny Schoemann Sep 25 at 8:42
  • @JoelK- OK - you mean the Tos 2 after that - sefaria.org.il/… - which clearly mentions that he disagrees with Rashi. – Danny Schoemann Sep 25 at 8:43
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    −1. The question was "Do any poskim or seforim say such a thing?" and you answer it, but only in brief in your final paragraph, and your only reference is a preexisting answer to this same question. – msh210 Sep 25 at 12:41
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    @msh I think he's saying none do or none are likely to, which is an answer. Proving negatives is hard – Double AA Sep 26 at 12:15

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