Blended Fabric

Negaim (11:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 6 years ago

With the beginning of the eleventh perek we start learning about negaim that affects clothing. We learn that whether or not tzaraat applies to them depends on their material, size and colour. With respect to the material, negaim is only applicable to clothes made of sheep wool, linen or leather. The Mishnah (11:2) discusses garments that are made of blended materials, e.g. sheep and camel wool. The Mishnah teaches that the susceptibility depends on which material is in the majority. If it is sheep’s wool then it is, whereas if it is camel’s wool then it is not. If the proportions are equal, then the Mishnah teaches that the garment can become be affect by negaim (“tameh” for short). Why?

The Tifferet Yisrael explains that there reason that the garment is tameh is not because we are in a situation of doubt and whenever we have a doubt regarding biblical laws we rule stringently. The reason is that we have already learnt that with respect to negaim in cases of doubt we rule leniently. Instead he explains that since the sheep’s wool is not in the minority it is not annulled. Consequently it is similar to the case in the previous Mishnah. We had learnt tzaraat does not affect leather produced from sea creatures. If however even a small thread was attached to the leather it would be able to affect it. He continues, unlike the previous case where the materials are distinct and proportions are not important, in this case, since the fabrics are blended, if the sheep wool is in the minority, it can be annulled. If however it is equally proportioned it is not annulled and the garment can be affected by tzaraat.

The Mishnah Achrona cites the Tosefta that includes the opinion of R’ Shimon who argues with our Mishnah stating that if the proportions are equal then the garment is tahor. The Mishnah Achrona explains that the debate between our Mishnah and the Tosefta is regarding whether there is bila – mixture. The Tosefta dismisses the concept of bila. In other words the sheep and camel wools remain distinct from one another. Consequently there will always be a doubt whether the mark that is of concern is on the camel or sheep wool. Since doubts regarding negaim are dealt with leniently the garment must be tahor. The Chachamim however maintain the concept of bila and the mark will always be on the sheep wool.

The Mishnah Achrona however asks according to R’ Shimon, the camel wool component should at least be considered a yad. Recall that a yad (handle), even if it were not independently susceptible to tumah, when attached to a kli it can transfer tumah to that kli. Consequently, even if the nega appeared on the camel wool section, the begged should be tameh.

The Mishnah Achrona explains that this case is different. With respect to a yad the reason why the kli is tameh is because it is as if the kli is in direct contact with the source of tumah. In our case however, it is only considered tzaraat if the mark is found on specific fabrics. Consequently if the mark is indeed on the camel wool then there is no nega at all – there is no source of tumah.

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