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בעקבות מסכת שקלים - האם תרצה ללמוד עוד מסכת מהתלמוד הירושלמי?





 

Steinsaltz

GEMARA: The mishna teaches that the Samaritans do not observe burial customs for stillborn children. The Gemara asks: What verse did they interpret as a source for this practice? The Gemara replies that they interpreted the verse: “You shall not remove your fellow’s boundary marker, which was bounded by the first ones, in your inheritance that you shall inherit, in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess it” (Deuteronomy 19:14).

The Gemara explains: The Sages derived from this verse that it is prohibited to sell one’s ancestral burial ground. In accordance with this interpretation of the verse, the Samaritans derived that any individual who has an inheritance, i.e., who stands to inherit land, has a boundary, i.e., a burial place, whereas any individual who does not have an inheritance in the land, e.g., a stillborn child, does not have a boundary, i.e., a burial place. The Samaritans therefore concluded that the mitzva of burial does not apply to stillborn children.

The mishna teaches that Samaritans are deemed credible to state: We buried the stillborn children in a certain place, or to state that they did not bury the stillborn children there, and that place does not transmit ritual impurity. The Gemara objects: But the Samaritans do not accept the Sages’ interpretation of the verse: “And you shall not put a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14), that one may not cause another to sin. Since they are not concerned about misleading others, why is their testimony accepted? Rabbi Abbahu says: The mishna is referring to a case where a Samaritan priest is standing there, on that spot, which indicates that he genuinely maintains it is not impure with the impurity of a corpse.

The Gemara objects: But perhaps he is an impure priest and therefore he does not refrain from standing in an impure place. The Gemara explains: The mishna is referring to a situation where the priest is holding teruma in his hand, which indicates he is ritually pure. The Gemara further objects: But perhaps it is impure teruma. The Gemara explains: The mishna is referring to a case where the priest is partaking of the teruma, which indicates that it is not impure, as it is prohibited to consume impure teruma.

The Gemara asks: If so, i.e., if this is the circumstance, it is obvious that the Samaritan priest’s testimony can be accepted. Then what is the purpose of stating this halakha? The Gemara answers: The ruling of the mishna is necessary, lest you say that the Samaritans are not knowledgeable with regard to the stages of the formation of an embryo, and they might bury a fetus believing that it is an unformed fetus that does not transmit impurity, when it is actually a forty-day-old fetus, which is impure. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that they are sufficiently knowledgeable, and their testimony is accepted.

The mishna teaches that the Samaritans are deemed credible to state with regard to an animal that it previously gave birth, and its subsequent offspring does not have the sacred status of a firstborn animal. The Gemara objects: But the Samaritans do not accept the Sages’ interpretation of the verse: “And you shall not put a stumbling block before the blind,” that one may not cause another to sin. Why, then, is their testimony accepted? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: The mishna is referring to a case where the Samaritan is shearing and working the offspring of the animal. Since the Samaritans are meticulous with regard to Torah law, it is evident that it is not a firstborn.

The Gemara asks: If so, i.e., if this is the circumstance, what is the purpose of stating this halakha? The Gemara answers: The ruling of the mishna is necessary, lest you say that the Samaritans are not knowledgeable with regard to a murky discharge emitted from the uterus, which is indicative of a fetus and exempts subsequent births from the mitzva of the firstborn (see Bekhorot 21a). It is possible that the Samaritan mistakenly believes the animal previously emitted a murky discharge and therefore its offspring is not a firstborn. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that they are sufficiently knowledgeable, and their testimony is accepted.

The mishna further teaches that the Samaritans are deemed credible to testify with regard to the marking of graves, as the Samaritans mark their graves, and we rely on their marking as an indication that a corpse is buried there. Therefore, any place where there is no marking is considered ritually pure. The Gemara explains: Even though the marking of graves is required only by rabbinic law, and Samaritans generally do not observe rabbinic law, since it is written in the Bible, the Samaritans are meticulous with regard to it, as it is written: “And those that pass through shall pass through the land, and when one sees a human bone he shall set up a marking by it, until the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog” (Ezekiel 39:15).

The mishna teaches: But with regard to the following cases in which the exact location of a grave is unknown, the Samaritans are not deemed credible to testify: They are not deemed credible to testify about overhanging boughs, nor about the protrusions that jut out of stone fences. The Gemara explains these terms: The term overhanging boughs should be understood as we learned in a mishna (Oholot 8:2): These are overhanging boughs: A tree that hangs over the ground. The term protrusions should be understood as we learned in the Tosefta (Oholot 9:4): Protruding stones that jut out of a fence.

§ The mishna teaches that the Samaritans are not deemed credible to testify about a beit haperas. With regard to a beit haperas, Rav Yehuda says that Rav Shmuel says: The reason the Sages deemed a beit haperas impure is due to the concern that the bones, but not the flesh of the corpse, were dispersed by the plow throughout the field. The halakha is that a bone transmits impurity by carrying or by contact, if it is at least the size of a barley grain, but it does not transmit impurity by means of a tent. Therefore, if a person is carrying ritually pure items, or if he wishes to remain ritually pure so that he may consume consecrated items, and yet he must pass through a beit haperas, he may blow on the earth of the beit haperas before each step, so that if there is a bone beneath the dust he will expose it and avoid it. And in this manner he may walk across the area while remaining ritually pure, even though he might step over a bone.

Rav Yehuda bar Ami says in the name of Rav Yehuda: A beit haperas that has been trodden underfoot by many people is pure, as it may be assumed that any bone fragments at least as large as a barley grain that were on the surface were either broken or removed. And it was taught in a baraita: In the case of one who plows a graveyard, this individual thereby renders it a beit haperas. And to what extent does he render it a beit haperas, i.e., how far does the concern apply that bones might have been dispersed? The field is rendered a beit haperas to the extent of a full furrow [ma’ana], one hundred cubits by one hundred cubits, which is the area required for sowing four se’a of seed. Rabbi Yosei says: The area rendered a beit haperas is the area required for sowing five se’a of seed.

With regard to the ruling of the mishna that the Samaritans are not deemed credible to testify about a beit haperas, the Gemara asks: And aren’t they deemed credible? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: With regard to a field in which a grave was lost, which has the status of a beit haperas, a Samaritan is deemed credible to say: There is no grave there?

The baraita explains: This is due to the fact that he is not considered to be testifying about a case of uncertain impurity; rather, he is testifying about the location of the grave itself, which is a matter of Torah law, and the Samaritans are deemed credible with regard to a matter of Torah law. Likewise, in the case of a tree that is hanging over the ground, a Samaritan is deemed credible to say: There is no grave beneath it, as he is testifying only about the location of the grave itself. This indicates that the Samaritans are deemed credible with regard to overhanging boughs and protrusions.

Rabbi Yoḥanan says in explanation: The baraita is referring to a case where the Samaritan is walking to and fro over the entire area, and therefore if there was a grave there he would certainly have become impure. Consequently, one may rely on his statement with regard to the purity of the place. By contrast, the mishna is speaking of a case where the Samaritan did not traverse the entire area, and therefore his testimony is not accepted, as they are not meticulous with regard to cases of uncertainty.

The Gemara asks: If so, it is obvious that his testimony is credible, and what is the purpose of stating this halakha? The Gemara answers: The ruling of the baraita is necessary, lest you say that perhaps a narrow strip of land, which is called by the same name as this field, extends into a nearby field, and the Samaritan presumes the grave is located in that strip of land. If so, even if the Samaritan traversed the entire field his testimony cannot be accepted, as he traversed the field because he considered it merely a case of uncertain impurity. The baraita therefore teaches us that if the Samaritan traverses the entire field his testimony is accepted, as this concern is not an issue.

The mishna teaches: This is the principle governing the credibility of Samaritans: In the case of any matter of halakha that they are suspected of not fulfilling, they are not deemed credible to testify about it. The Gemara asks: What is added by the term: This is the principle? The Gemara answers: It serves to add that Samaritans are not deemed credible with regard to Shabbat boundaries, i.e., to say that a Shabbat boundary extends until a certain point, as the halakha of Shabbat boundaries applies by rabbinic law. And likewise, the Samaritans are not deemed credible with regard to the status of wine used for a libation in idol worship, as the Samaritans do not refrain from drinking wine touched by a gentile.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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