3

Based upon an exchange in this question, we require complete purity in the drawing of water for the purposes of mei chatas. The setup described in Maseches Parah was essentially a ritualistic clean room to avoid impurities, and the process of gathering the water was a bit of a Rube Goldberg to make sure there was no possibility of any tumas tehom.

The discussion in Parah 3:2 suggests that we not go "too overboard" with how we go about the process, but it also suggests that direct ko'ach gavra is not a requirement in the drawing of the water. If the movements of a robot are controlled by an operator one ostensibly solves the issues of kavanah through the mechanism of grama - since the operator's intent is what is causing the action, the lack of intent on the part of the tool has no bearing on the status of the water.

Assuming there was a need to perform the drawing of water for mei chatas again, would it be possible to do so using a properly constructed robot as a "puppet" rather than the clean-room setup mentioned in the mishna? One would still need to ensure that the tool doesn't become tamei, so what other parts of the process (riding on doors on the backs of animals) might still apply?

  • Interesting question, but surely the robot would have to be tahor all the way through the construction process. Possibly problematic since it (at a tool) is liable to contract all sorts of tumah by contact and cannot cleanse itself by immersion. – Epicentre May 19 '16 at 4:07
  • But a tool CAN become clean through immersion... That's precisely WHY we tovel them? Constructing a robot in a sterile/pure environment isn't a new challenge - it's an extension of an existing process (see NASA's sterilization procedures, for instance). Raising a human in such an environment is far more untenable... Also, I'm not entirely sure I agree with your premise - it's clear from kelim that a non-functional partial vessel isn't considered capable of becoming tamei. How would a partial robot be any different? – Isaac Kotlicky May 19 '16 at 11:43
  • But could you immerse a robot? This is the sort of question that I feel that Hazal would have enjoyed discussing and would have lead to an interesting sugya. – Epicentre May 22 '16 at 3:54

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