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The Gemara (Bechoros 9b) says that according to the Chachamim, foods which their benefit is forbidden is still considered food with regards to the laws of purity, including Orlah and Kilei Hakerem, which must be burned.

The question is: in Yevamos 103b the Gemara asks how a garment that has Tzara’at - which must be burned - can cause impurity, being that Halachicly, something that is to be burned is considered as if it was already burned, and should therefore be missing the size required in order to bring impurity, and The Gemara answers that the Torah explicitly refers to it as a garment - even when saying that it must be burned!

The Gemara then says in the name of Rava that the Halacha is that if Chalitzah was done with a shoe that has Tzara’at, the Chalitzah is still valid, even though in general, one cannot fulfill a Mitzvah with something that must be burned, nevertheless by Tzara’at it’s different, for the reason mentioned above.

So from this Gemara it seems that in general, just as when it comes to fulfilling a Mitzvah, one cannot use an item that is to be burned, being that we consider it “burned”, so too when it comes to the laws of purity.

So the question is: why does the Gemara in Bechoros say that Orlah and the like can bring impurity, if they are to be burned, and cannot be used for a Mitzvah (see Mishnah Sukkah 3:5)?

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Tosfos Sotah 25B asks this question:

וצריך עיון כלאי הכרם אמאי מטמאין טומאת אוכלים ולא אמר כתותי מכתת שיעוריה הלכך ליכא לדמויי להדדי

The Maharsham and others in the back of the Gemara propose answers. The Maharsham says that the idea of being considered less than the shiur is only by mitzvohs not by tumah. Alternatively, tumah of food doesn’t need a shiur according to some Rishonim. The Mitzpeh Aison also offers an answer there.

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