R. Jose' commented: People will say, 'Meir is dead, Judah is angry, Jose is silent, what is to become of the Torah?' And so R. Jose explained: It was only necessary [to mention the corpse itself explicitly] for the case of a corpse that has not an olive's bulk of flesh upon it. — But it can still be objected: If [the nazirite] must poll for a [single] limb, then surely he must poll for the whole [skeleton]! — It must therefore be as R. Johanan explained [elsewhere],1 that it was only necessary [to mention the corpse itself] for the case of an abortion in which the limbs were not bound together by the sinews, and here too it refers to an abortion in which the limbs are not bound together by the sinews.2
Raba said: It is only necessary [to mention the corpse itself] for the case where there is the greater part3 of the frame [of a corpse]4 or the majority [of its bones],4 which do not amount altogether to a quarter [kab] of bones.5
FOR AN OLIVE'S BULK OF [THE FLESH OF] A CORPSE, OR AN OLIVE'S BULK OF NEZEL: And what is NEZEL? The flesh of a corpse that has coagulated, and liquid secretion [from a corpse] that has been heated [and has congealed].6
What are the circumstances? If it be not known to belong to [the corpse], what does it matter if it has coagulated?7 Whilst if we know that it pertains to [the corpse], then even though it has not coagulated [it should defile]! — R. Jeremiah replied: [Secretion] of uncertain origin is referred to. If it coagulates, it is [cadaverous] secretion,8 otherwise it may be phlegm or mucus.9
Abaye inquired of Rabbah: Is there [defilement through] corpse-dregs in the case of [defilement caused by] animals[' corpses], or not?10 Was the tradition only that corpse-dregs coming from man [defile], but not corpse-dregs coming from animals, or is there no difference?11 According to the opinion that the uncleanness is of the heavier type12 only until [the animal is unfit to be eaten by]a stranger,13 and is then of the lighter type14 until [it is unfit to be eaten by] a dog,15 there is no difficulty,16 but according to the opinion that the uncleanness remains of the heavier type until [it is unfit to be eaten by] a dog, what answer can be given?17 — Come and hear: If he melted [unclean fat] with fire, it remains unclean, but if in the sun,18 it becomes clean. Now if you assume [that the animal remains unclean] until [it is unfit to be eaten by] a dog, then even if [the fat has been melted] in the sun, it should also [remain unclean]!19 — It only melts after it has decomposed in the sun, and since it has decomposed it is [nothing but] dust.20
We have learnt elsewhere: Any jet of liquid [poured from a clean to an unclean vessel] is clean21 save only [a jet of] thick honey22 and heavy batter.23
Original footnotes renumbered.
- The reference here is thought to he to Oh. II, 1, dealing with defilement by overshadowing, where the same phrase occurs. But the only occurrence of this statement of R. Johanan is found in Hul. 89b, with reference to our Mishnah; v. Tosaf. Naz. and Hul.
- A single limb of such an abortion not containing an olive's bulk of flesh, would not convey defilement, but the whole does.
- The greater part being equivalent to the whole.
- V. infra 52b for the explanation of these terms.
- And but for the fact that it constitutes the greater part of the frame of the corpse it would not convey defilement.
- [Nezel is thus derived from kmb to separate', cf. Gen. XXXI. 9 (Rashi); Petuchowski connects it with kzb 'to flow', 'melt away'.]
- It should not convey defilement.
- And causes defilement.
- Which do not defile.
- This question has no bearing on the nazirite, who does not lose any of his period for defilement caused by an animal corpse.
- And animal corpse-dregs also defile.
- Defiling man by contact or carrying.
- V. Bek. 23b. A Jew may not eat the flesh of an animal which dies of itself, but may give it to a stranger; v. Deut. XIV, 21.
- Defiling food only but not man.
- After which it ceases to defile.
- For corpse-dregs are unfit to be eaten by a human being.
- For corpse-dregs are fit to be eaten by a dog.
- When it becomes corpse-dregs.
- It is assumed that though the sun turns the fat into corpse-dregs, it is still fit to be eaten by a dog.
- And unfit for a dog. Hence it becomes clean.
- I.e., it does not convey defilement from the unclean to the clean vessel.
- Aliter; The honey of Zifim; (cf. Josh. XV, 24). V.Sot. 48b.
- So the Aruch.
Beth Shammai say: Also one of a porridge of grist or beans, because [at the end of its flow] it springs back.1
Rammi b. Hama asked: is there [transference of defilement through] a jet in the case of foodstuffs,2 or does [transference of defilement through] a jet not apply to foodstuffs? Do we say [that the principle applies to thick honey and batter] because they contain liquor,3 whereas [foodstuffs] contain no liquor,4 or is it perhaps because they are compact masses5 and [foodstuffs] are also compact masses?6 — Raba replied: Come and hear: A whole piece of fat7 from a corpse, if melted, remains unclean, but if it was in pieces8 and they were melted, it remains clean.9 Now if you assume [that the principle of transference of defilement through] a jet does not apply to foodstuffs, [then even if it be] whole and then melted it should become clean!10 — R. Zera commented: I and Mar, son of Rabina, interpreted [the above teaching as follows]: It refers to where at the time of melting, the column of fire ascended to the mouth of the vessel11 and [the fat] coagulated whilst it was all together.12
Rabina said to R. Ashi: Come and hear [the following]: Beth Shammai say: Also one of a porridge of grist or of beans, because [at the end of its flow] it springs back!13 — What does this prove? In the other cases14 it may be the fact that they are compact masses [which causes defilement] though here it is because of the liquor.15
OR A LADLEFUL OF CORPSE-MOULD: And what is its size? — Hezekiah said: The palm of the hand full. R. Johanan said: The hollow of the hand16 full.
It has been taught: The [measure of the] ladleful of corpsemould mentioned is, from the bottom of the fingers upwards.17 So R. Meir. The Sages say [it means] the hollow of the hand full.18 Now R. Johanan at least agrees with the Rabbis; but with whom does Hezekiah agree, neither with R. Meir, nor with the Rabbis? — I will tell you. The palm of the hand full and from the joints of the fingers upwards is the same measure.19 R. Shimi b. Adda said to R. Papa: How is it known that 'from the joints of the fingers and upwards' means towards the tips? Perhaps it means lower down the hand20 when [the measure] is the palm of the hand full?21 This was not solved.22
Original footnotes renumbered.
- Being thick liquids, they have such elasticity that when he ceases to pour out the liquid, the lower end of the jet, which has touched the unclean vessel, springs back into the upper vessel. M. Maksh. V. 9.
- Viz, if he melted some solid food, e.g., fat, and poured it from a clean to an unclean vessel.
- And it is the presence of the liquor which causes the jet to shrink backwards.
- Whence they would not transfer defilement from the lower end of the jet to the upper end.
- And so transfer defilement; in the same way as any solid becomes wholly unclean even if part of it is defiled.
- And transfer defilement.
- Of an olive's bulk.
- Each smaller than an olive. When smaller than an olive, unclean flesh loses its defiling property.
- Though now solidified to one piece larger than an olive's bulk. Tosaf. Oh. IV, 3.
- Whilst being melted, the fat would move from side to side of the vessel and so there would be less than an olive's bulk of the fat in one spot, if the jet of liquid fat be not counted as joined together.
- And the vessel was at rest when heated so that the fat was heated all together.
- Without moving from its original position, so Rashi. Tosaf. and Asheri give the following reading: 'It refers to where at the time of melting a column [of fat] rose and sublimed at the mouth of the vessel'. In either case there is no flow.
- It is now assumed that the Rabbis disagree with Beth Shammai only as regards grist and beans, but accept his criterion of springing back. This occurs in the presence of a liquid only.
- I.e., thick honey and batter.
- And the Rabbis disagree as to the criterion. Beth Shammai say it is liquor and the Rabbis, perhaps, the fact that it is a compact mass.
- Formed by bending the fingers to touch the wrist.
- I.e., presumably towards the tips of the fingers.
- Tosef. Oh. II, 2.
- And he agrees with R. Meir.
- Upwards in the direction of the shoulder.
- And there is no difficulty for Hezekiah.
- These words occur in the printed texts, but are omitted by Tosaf. and others.