Mutual Agreements in Mei Chatat

Parah (7:11) | Yisrael Bankier | 3 years ago

We have learnt that if any activity is performed between drawing the spring water and the placement of the ashes, the mei chatat would be invalid. We have also learnt that even if one fills the water for the mei chatat for someone else, it would be considered an intervening activity (a melacha). The Mishnah (7:11) teaches that if two people were filling water and assisted one another is lifting the water on to each other's shoulders or helps the other remove a thorn that was preventing them from continuing, then if they were each preparing their own mei chatat their water would be invalid. R' Yossi however maintains that if they stipulated at the outset, it would be valid. Exactly what was agreed up is the subject of debate.

The Tifferet Yirael explains that they agreed to assist on another from the outset. The advantage of such a condition, is that assisting the other person is then considered an activity necessary for the drawing of his own water. He continues that this is the position of the Gra.

The Tifferet Yisrael addresses a few questions raised on this position. We learnt (7:5) that if one draws water for the mei chatat and water for their own needs, he must ensure that his own water is drawn first, otherwise drawing his own water would be considered an intervening activity. It is required even though his own water will be used as a counterweight for the water for the mei chatat when transporting them on each end of a carrying pole. One would think that this case should be no different. It should be considered a condition from the outset, such that drawing his own water would be considered part of the process of drawing the water for the mei chatat. The Tifferet Yisrael answers that that Mishnah is different. Since drawing his own water could have been done first, it is not consider a necessary activity as part of the drawing of the water for the mei chatat. In our case however, it is not clear when his help will be required.

A further difficulty is found in another Mishnah we learnt (7:4). If one said, "draw my water and I will [place the ashes on your spring water (kiddush)] -- both [waters] are invalid". The reason why both are invalid, is that drawing water or performing kidush for someone else after drawing his own water, but prior to kidush, is considered an intervening activity. Note that in that Mishnah, the waters are invalid despite forming a reciprocal agreement.

The Tifferet Yisrael suggest that the difference between the two Mishnayot is that in the other Mishnah, drawing the water and performing the kiddush are fundamental activities. Consequently, it is difficulty to say that when performing them for someone else, they can still be considered secondary to one's own preparations. Raising the water on another's shoulder and removing a thorn however can.

The Rash and Rosh however avoid these questions by providing a different explanation. The two parties stipulate that when one performs something that would be considered a melacha, then their water is in the care of the other. That way there is always a valid shomer (custodian) of the water.

The Tifferet Yisrael however finds this explanation difficult. Firstly, the critical point that it is placed in the care of the other, is not mentioned in this Mishnah. Furthermore, if that is the condition, then why would the Chachamim disagree with R' Yossi? Everyone agrees that if there is a valid shomer the water should remain valid. Finally, why are the activities of raising the water and removing a thorn brought in this Mishnah? The principle of shemira performed by another would work to ensure the validity of the water even if the owner performed an unrelated melacha.


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