This is a question I heard in yeshiva: if sleep is a sixtieth of death:

שינה אחד מששים למיתה (Brochot 57b)

... then is a Cohen, who may not be in a room with a cadaver, allowed into a room where 60+ people are sleeping?

This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

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    Even worse - tumat met permeates the area under a single roof- may a Kohain remain in an apartment building in Israel overnight? Commented Mar 9 at 21:00
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    Assuming the Kohen does become tamei, when they wake up does he become automatically Tahor?
    – Moishe
    Commented Mar 9 at 23:46
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    @Moishe Tosafos asks how Eliyahu could resurrect the child - the answer would be relevant here
    – AKA
    Commented Mar 10 at 2:13
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    Please don't edit or otherwise bump old Purim Torah posts except during the PTIJ period, see the policy
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 3 at 12:09
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    @DoubleAA sorry didn't realise.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jun 3 at 12:11

5 Answers 5


The real question is if the 60th person is allowed to go to sleep, since he's effectively committing murder.

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    They have to carry him to a city of refuge - very careful to not wake him up (otherwise he is patur and the sleep avengers may no longer pursue him with their gragers). He has to stay there until the Cohen Gadol goes to sleep. Rabbi Yehuda says it must be a fixed sleep, but the Rabbis say 60 winks is ok, and that's halacha
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 11 at 10:35
  • Depends, what are the rounding rules for murder? Is the 31st person the one who commits the murder?
    – shim
    Commented Mar 13 at 3:21

The sleep of so many people was clearly brought on by the Purim Seudah, so it has the same laws as food does.

Because the people in the room are alive and sleep is only 1/60th of death, it is Batel B'shishim. So there is no death in the room and the Cohen may enter.

  • According to SA YD 98, we should ask a non-Jew to also sleep in the room (we must not tell him why), and if he starts having Jewish dreams, we know that the sleep is mitztarfin be'noten cholem. If not, then the Cohen may enter so long as the dream isn't sofo l'hashbiach
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 11 at 10:05
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    But bitul b'shishim requires 60 parts corresponding to the small part (i.e. it has to be ≤1/61 of the whole) so lich'ora shouldn't work here.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 11 at 12:53
  • Does the deeper sleep sometimes resulting from the beverages of Purim change the calculations here?
    – arp
    Commented Mar 12 at 0:00
  • @arp, why would that add more “death” it’s not a different matter, just deeper sleep!?
    – user34750
    Commented Mar 13 at 1:19
  • @msh210 That depends on how the 1/60 works. Is it that a sleeping person is now 59/60 alive and 1/60 dead, or that the person is completely alive but is also experiencing 1/60 of death. I am assuming the latter case. Commented Mar 13 at 14:17

In each person, the sixtieth of death is batel. Therefore this depends on the status of something that is batel: is it like it no longer exists or is it still there, ready to be reawakened (חוזר וניעור). If we say that something that is batel is considered to no longer exist, then a kohen would be allowed to enter a room even with sixty sleeping people. However, if we say that the thing that is batel can be reawakened, it would seem that the sixty sixtieths add up to one person. On the third hand, however, the sixty sixtieths would be reawakened, in which case they add up not to sixty sixtieths of a dead person, but to one awake person, so it is still permitted for the kohen to enter.

  • 1
    This is incorrect. Even at 1/60 death has taste he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 11 at 21:35
  • @DoubleAA are you suggesting that death is עבידא לטעמא?
    – wfb
    Commented Mar 12 at 3:34

Per ChatGPT.


If a Jewish priest were to enter a room where 60 people were asleep, would that constitute the same prohibition as a Jewish priest entering a room wherein was a dead person, seeing as the Talmudic rabbis are of the opinion that sleep is one sixtieth of death, so 60 x 1/60 = 1. Answer this question by reference to the General Theory of Relativity.


To address the request using the formulae from the General Theory of Relativity (GTR) to explore a metaphorical question about Jewish law and the nature of sleep as a fraction of death, we must emphasize that this approach is purely speculative and abstract. The General Theory of Relativity is a physical theory describing gravity as the curvature of spacetime caused by the distribution of mass and energy, fundamentally expressed through Einstein's field equations:

G_{μν} + Λg_{μν} = (8πG / c^4) T_{μν}

To metaphorically apply GTR to the concept of a Cohen entering a room with sleeping individuals versus the presence of a dead body, one might consider the stress-energy tensor T_{μν} as analogous to the presence of life or consciousness. In the presence of a living being, even one asleep, the "energy" part of the tensor remains non-zero, indicating active biological processes and the presence of life, albeit in a reduced or altered state compared to wakefulness.

If we stretch this analogy to its limits, we might say that while sleep reduces the "energy" component of a living being in our metaphorical stress-energy tensor, it does not reduce it to zero as would be the case in actual death. Thus, even with 60 people asleep, each contributing a "one-sixtieth" reduction metaphorically, the collective "energy" or life force in the room remains non-zero. In contrast, a dead body represents a state where the biological "energy" component is absent, corresponding to a different state in our speculative analogy to the stress-energy tensor.

Moreover, from a relativistic perspective, the notion of simultaneity and the observer's frame of reference play crucial roles. Just as the perception of time and space can vary significantly for observers in different gravitational fields or velocities according to GTR, one might argue that the spiritual or halachic "state" of a room (in terms of purity or impurity) is subject to the "observational frame" of Jewish law, which does not equate sleep with death in any literal or halachic sense.


It’ll still be only a sixtieth death altogether, since this stuff doesn’t add up. As in the case of Yosef visiting Yaakov by his death bed, the mephorshim say that he took a sixtieth of Yaakov’s sickness, but if sixty people had come in and taken a sixtieth, they wouldn’t have been fully healed.

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    Isn't that because each removal of 1/60th is on the previous total - so 0.9833^60 is still 0.36?
    – AKA
    Commented Mar 10 at 2:11
  • Yes, that’s a good point.
    – user34750
    Commented Mar 10 at 2:30
  • @AKA which is an explicit Gemara in Nedarim, by the way.
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 11 at 1:45
  • @Shalom, yeah, felt like I had seen it somewhere
    – AKA
    Commented Mar 12 at 7:14

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