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Nodov and Avihu died in the mishkan. This should have caused the mishkan to have become tomei. I heard that the Tur explained that the mishkan had a status of “kovua” and therefore did not become tomei.

Nevertheless, the contents of the mishkan would have become tomei. There are certain contents of the mishkan, most noticeably the Shulchan, which cannot be purified by immersion in a mikvah. (see the Bartenura on Mishna Chagiga 3 (8)).

What was done about the Shulchan which became tomei??

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We take extra precautions to prevent the shulchan from becoming tamei, because if it becomes tamei we'll have to interrupt the continuous presence of the lechem hapanim (not to mention disqualifying the current lechem hapanim). But it's still theoretically possible for the shulchan to become tamei, as it did this time, and in that case you'd take it to the mikveh (after sprinkling with mei chatas on the 3rd and 7th days, as had to be done here).

The Tiferes Yisrael to that mishnah makes this point.

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  • It seems incongruous that on day one of the opening of the Mishkan everything became impure. Yet perhaps they had spare kalim to take over immediately. – Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 22 at 8:34
  • Of course everything became impure. It was in an ohel with dead people. What alternative is there? – Heshy Apr 22 at 14:56
  • I just found forum.otzar.org/viewtopic.php?t=4262 but have not yet read it all. – Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 22 at 17:27

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