Regarding the story of Chanukah and the need for tahor oil, I recall hearing in a shiur one time that there are 4 things which are not susceptible to tumah from the Torah; oil (a subset of mashkin) being one of them (though it is a machlokes tanaaim, we come out l'halacha according to the opinion that it is not m'kabel tumah). Furthermore the maggid shiur stated that though oil can become tamei mi'derabbanan, that enactment was not extended to the oil in the temple (mashkei beis mad'bachayim). Thus the oil in the Temple, even those jugs whose seal was broken, weren't even tamei mi'derabbanan. If so why was there a need to produce new oil?

  • 1
    This question would be a great deal stronger if you could include more information about the shiur you heard from and, even better, the sources that it quoted.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 8, 2014 at 17:16
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    It starts around Pesachim 16 (@Isaac)
    – Double AA
    Dec 8, 2014 at 17:26
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    The T'shuva Meiahava, and Shoel U'meishiv address this. Either the Temple lost its status as temple upon invasion, rendering liquid susceptible to impurity, or the oil congealed, thus losing its status of a liquid.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 12, 2015 at 5:33
  • Ah, as my Rebbe liked to say, this is one of three questions that everyone asks about Chanukah. The other two are the Beis Yosef's question about why the Yom Tov is eight days, and I forget the other. Something to do with the Mizbeiach.
    – DonielF
    Jun 15, 2016 at 2:34
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    This was the true miracle of Chanukkah - that no one thought to ask this question! Dec 26, 2016 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


The Sefer Shalal Rav brings many answers such as that rule only applying while the Mizbeach was functional.

Another very clever answer he brings (which seems to me to be the best one) is that Rav holds (See top of Pesachim 17a-רב משקי בית מטבחיא תני, אבל משקי בי מדבחיא מטמא with Rashi D"H Midi Hu- משקה המטבחים דם ומים אבל משקה מדבחיא היין והשמן שהם משקה המזבח גזרו רבנן טומאה עלייהו) that the oil can become Tamei, only the blood and water can't become Tamei.

Shmuel, who argues (See Pesachim 16a- הניחא לשמואל דאמר דכן - מלטמא טומאת אחרים, אבל טומאת עצמן יש להן – שפיר) holds that the word דכן does not mean that they can't become Tamei, it means that they can't be Metameh other things, but they themselves can become Tamei.

Therefore according to both Rav and Shmuel the oil could become Tamei!

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