Tevul Yom and Yadayim

Tevul Yom (2:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 2 years ago

The Mishnah (2:2) compares a tevul yom []{dir="rtl"}and tumat yadayim. A tevul yom is an individual that was tameh, immersed in a mikveh and is waiting until nightfall to become completely tahor. During that time, the person is considered a sheni le'tumah. While he would not affect other people, utensils or regular food, he would invalidate terumah if he touched it. Yadayim refers to cases where one's hands alone can be a sheni le'tumah. The ability for hands to be tameh is rabbinic and can become so either by touching tameh food or they are defined as such during the course of the day as soon as one is not careful to ensure that they are tahor -- stam yadayim.

One difference between the two is the following case. If a tevul yom touches liquid inside a pot, the Mishnah teaches the if the liquid is terumah, then it becomes pasul. If however it is chulin then it is unaffected. In either case, the pot itself remains tahor. The ruling is readily understood. A tevul yom is a sheni le'tumah and can only affect terumah. Once the terumah is pasul it cannot make the pot tameh. It is important to note that in this case a tevul yom is an exception. We have learnt previously that two gezeirot applied to liquids that touched something tameh, even a sheni le'tumah, such that they become a rishon le'tumah and can make both food, and even keilim (other vessels) tameh. The Mishnah therefore teaches that the gezeira does not apply to a tevul yom.

The Mishnah continues that if tameh hands touched the liquid in the pot, then "everything is tameh". The simple understanding is that both the liquid and the pot become tameh. In other words, tameh hands are also included in the gezeira described above. That is indeed how the Rosh explains the Mishnah and he adds that it would not matter whether the liquid was terumah or chullin.

The Rambam however has a different understanding of the Mishnah. He understands the "everything is tameh" means, whether the liquid is terumah or chulin, it would become tameh -- it would become a rishon le'tumah. The pot however would remain tahor. The Rambam (Shaar Avot Ha'Tumah 7:2) explains as follows: "There is no vlad (derivative) of tumah that can make keilim tameh except for liquids alone, and that tumah is rabbinic. That is only if the liquid became tameh directly from a source of tumah, be it biblical or rabbinic. What was the reason for this gezeira? It was due to [potential confusion with] liquids that come a zav, which is an av (source) that can make keilim tameh."

The Raavad however disagrees with the Rambam and argues that the gezeira that allowed tameh liquids to make keilim tameh, is even if the liquid became tameh from tameh hands. The Raavad cites Gemara Berachot (52a) that explains that the reason Beit Shammai preferred washing hands prior to making kiddush was out of concern that the liquid on the back of the cup would become tameh as a result of one's hands, and then make the cup tameh.1

The Mishnah Achrona (Zavim 5:2) however notes that there are instances where the Rambam rules that liquid that became tameh from tameh hands can make keilim tameh2. The Mishnah Achrona therefore suggest that it makes a difference how the hand become tameh. When the Rambam excludes tumat yadaim, it is only the case of stam yadaim. That is because that form of tumah has no origin from the Torah -- it is a pure gezeira. Consequently, when the Rambam explains that the gezeira that tameh liquids can make keilim tameh is only if it due to an av ha'tumah, we must understand that he means that it is only if it can be traced back to an av ha'tumah. The Mishnah Achrona therefore explains that Mishnah from Berachot cited above, must be referring to hands that were tameh since they touched liquids that came from a sheretz. Since in that case it can be traced back to an av ha'tumah it is part of the gezeira.

The Chazon Ish (1:3) however disagrees with this distinction. He explains that since there is no concept of tameh hands in the Torah, it is not considered as originating from an av ha'tumah irrespective of why they are tameh. He explains that this is similar to one that is a sheni le'tumah because they ate tameh food. In that case also, the liquid that the person touched would also not be able to make keilim tameh since one becoming tameh due to eating has no origin in the Torah even if the tumah of the consumed food can be traced back to an av ha'tumah.

1 The Kesef Mishnah cites the Ri Kurkus who answer that that Gemara was only according to Beit Shammai and therefore does not present a difficulty.

2 He cites, Hilchot Keilm 28 and Peirush Le'Mishnayot Machshirin 4.


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