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The Gemara says that we make the Kohen burning the Para Aduma (the red heifer) impure and then dip him in the Mikva.

The reason given is that there is an argument between the Rabbis and the Sadducees whether one may burn the Para Aduma in a state of Tvul Yom (after going to the Mikva but before nightfall). The Rabbis said that one may, while the Sadducees said one may not. Therefore, to show that we don't follow their opinion, the Rabbis forced the Kohen to be a Tvul Yom.

However, Tosfos says there that they didn't make him a biblical Tvul Yom, just a Rabbinic.

My question is how this helps. The Sadducees didn't believe in Rabbinic enactments. So this Para Aduma would be Kosher even according to their opinions (he wasn't a Tvul Yom as he was never impure). What's the point of making him a Tvul Yom?

  • The Mishna says it already in Para 3:7 – Double AA Nov 14 '13 at 0:14
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    I don't think they're trying to invalidate the ashes for the Sadducees, but rather to demonstrate their position. – Double AA Nov 14 '13 at 0:16
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The Ritva asks this very question on Yuma daf 2a and answers it.

לפיכך בשעת שריפתה היו נוגעין בו כדי לטמאו: ואף על גב דטומאה זו אינה אלא מדרבנן הא אית בה הכירא לצדוקין שיודעין היו דלדידן טהרת הקדש טומאה היא לפרה וכיון שרואין שאנו מצריכין אותו טבילה בלא הערב שמש הא איכא הכירא

Even though this tumah was only Rabbinical, since the tzidukim knew that for us the Cohein was ritually impure by touching those who hadn't immersed for the sake of Kodshim (sacrificial service), it would be a clear distinction that the Cohein was ritually impure and a Tevul Yom (a second degree of impurity which is permitted to burn the cow) after having immersed and burned the red Heifer.

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