Asking the question because if there is a Jewish person living in the same building that dies in the building, couldn't this pose a problem for a Kohen being under the same roof?

  • 5
    How is this different from a Kohein having a roommate or ever being in the same room as anyone else (aside from nuclear relatives)?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 2:27
  • Unless the building houses a morgue, why would you assume there's a dead body in it? And even if it did house a morgue, why would you assume it had Jewish bodies in it? While a Kohen is not allowed to touch a body of a non-Jew, it doesn't cause Tumah to spread through the whole building. Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 2:50
  • While i agree with @Salmononius2 that it's rather unlikely for a dead body to be in a random apartment building at any given time, or should be noted that Tumah can spread through a building via the concept of ohel
    – MTL
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 3:47
  • @Salmononius2 Actually, the Shulchan Arukh (YD 372:2) says a Kohein should not be in the same building as a dead non-Jew.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 4:56
  • It seems from the Kitzur סימן רב - הלכות טמאת כהן that there's no prohibition to live there, but if somebody dies he needs to get out, fast. Could be an issue even of a non-Jew dies, according to some opinions. (ibid). Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


While a Cohen must be fastidious regarding ritual purity, there are discrete limits to how far we require them to go. Generally, we prohibit them from engaging in activities in which contact with tumas meis would be inevitable (see discussions on a Cohen attending medical school). There is no inevitability to someone dying in their apartment building.

Furthermore, the major principle is "derech tumah latzeis, vi'ayn darko lehikanes." While the body may be taken out the front door of the building (thus turning the common area into an ohel), it would not enter the apartment of the Cohen. Therefore, he would only become impure if he was WITH the person who died, or happened to be standing in the hallway between the point of death and the removal of the body. The former he is exempt entirely, and for the latter, just advise him to wait until the ambulance leaves. So there is no need for a general concern of tumas meis in an apartment building.

  • @DannySchoemann Not quite - all the examples given are about the Kohen and a KNOWN source of tumah - and si'if vav actually describes my point precisely: הֲלָכָה לְמֹשֶׁה מִסִּינַי הִיא שֶׁהַפֶּתַח אֲשֶׁר עֲתִידִים לְהוֹצִיא דֶרֶךְ שָׁם אֶת הַמֵּת מִן הָאֹהֶל אֲשֶׁר הוּא שָׁם, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי הוֹצָאָה זֹאת יִטְהַר הָאֹהֶל, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַפֶּתַח הַזֶּה הוּא סָתוּם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם נִדּוֹן כְּאִלּוּ הוּא פָתוּחַ So the front door, or whatever designated opening the meis will be taken out, preserves the other rooms from tumah. And once it's out you're in the clear. Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 0:05
  • @DannySchoemann Nonsense to you! Tumah spreads through the ohel ONLY IF there is an existing opening CURRENTLY OPEN between the two domains. In old times, most rooms in the same house weren't "sealed off" the way they are now (no doors between rooms, walls not reaching the ceiling, etc.). If the window/door is closed, a meis under the awning outside does spread tumah INSIDE the house. The door as a luach that seals the entrance definitively stops the spread of tumah to the inside of the room. Reread Ohalos. Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 21:46

My great-grandfather z"l lived in an apartment building in Warsaw and his custom was to leave the building for 7 days when someone died.

  • 2
    While very cool if true, that doesn't seem to make any sense Halachically. Was he worried that they kept the dead person around in the building for the whole week?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 6:28
  • 2
    Was he a kohen? Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 7:24
  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Menachem! Do you know anything about why your great-grandfather did this? Had he been told to, was he stringent just in case, something else? Do you happen to know if that was the custom in his community or if this was a personal custom? Any further information that you can edit into your answer will help. Thanks, and I hope to see you around the site. Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 15:56
  • In Antwerp the houses are built attached one to the other around the block. Plus the roof's of the houses even if it's not the same height it is above or below one another that considers the whole block as one roof. And if shabbos there is a nifter the kohanim don't go in to the houses on that block. It happened more than one time. They don't go in to the houses/ apartments till the nifter is taken out after shabbos.
    – Nachmen
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 7:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .