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Steinsaltz

as the Torah has already rendered an uncertain case of a woman who has engaged in sexual intercourse with a man forbidden to her by the Torah [zona] as though she is certainly a zona, since a sota is forbidden to her husband after seclusion even though there are no witnesses that she committed adultery, and therefore it should be prohibited for her to marry a priest just like any zona, then with regard to her prohibition against partaking of teruma a verse should also not be necessary, as it is prohibited for a zona to partake of teruma. Therefore, the Torah renders an uncertain zona like a certain zona.

Rather, it must be explained that according to Rabbi Akiva, the equivalent of four verses worthy of exposition are written with regard to the defilement of a sota, as he maintains that an additional halakha should be derived from the superfluous prefix vav in the verse: “And is defiled [venitma’a]” (Numbers 5:29). Therefore, one verse is written to forbid her to her husband, and one is to forbid her to her paramour, and one is to forbid her to marry into the priesthood, and one is to forbid her to partake of teruma.

And Rabbi Yishmael disagrees with Rabbi Akiva, as he does not expound on the superfluous vav, and therefore maintains that only three verses are written: One is to forbid her to her husband, and one is to forbid her to her paramour, and one is to forbid her to partake of teruma. And her being prohibited to marry into the priesthood is derived through an a fortiori inference, as described in the baraita.

The Gemara asks: And from where does Rabbi Yishmael derive that the verse was necessary to teach the prohibition of a sota to partake of teruma, and her prohibition against marrying into the priesthood is derived through an a fortiori inference? Perhaps the verse was necessary in order to teach that it is prohibited for the woman to marry into the priesthood, but teruma is permitted for her?

The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yishmael could have said to you: It is reasonable to derive from this verse a prohibition that is similar to the prohibitions derived from the other verses, i.e., that she is forbidden to her husband and her paramour. Just as she is forbidden to her husband and her paramour even during the lifetime of her husband, so too, the prohibition against partaking of teruma applies also during the lifetime of her husband, to the exclusion of her prohibition against marrying into the priesthood, which is relevant only after the death of her husband. The reason is that if her husband would divorce her it would be prohibited for her to marry a priest anyway.

And how would Rabbi Akiva respond? The Gemara answers: He is not of the opinion that it is more reasonable to derive a prohibition from the phrase “and is defiled” that is similar to the prohibitions involving her husband and her paramour, and therefore he requires two separate derivations; one for teruma and one for the priesthood.

Or alternatively, perhaps he accepts the opinion that the halakha derived from “and is defiled” should be similar to the prohibitions involving the husband and paramour, but nevertheless, in certain instances with regard to a matter that can be derived through an a fortiori inference, the verse nevertheless takes the trouble and writes explicitly. Therefore, although unnecessary, two verses are stated, one for teruma and one for the priesthood.

The Gemara continues discussing the baraita. Rav Giddel said that Rav said: The halakha with regard to an entity that has awareness in order for it to be asked and an entity that lacks awareness in order for it to be asked in cases of uncertain ritual impurity is derived from this verse: “And the flesh that touches any impure thing shall not be eaten” (Leviticus 7:19). This would seem to indicate that specifically food that is impure for certain is that which shall not be eaten, but food for which it is uncertain whether it is impure and uncertain whether it is pure can be eaten.

However, say the latter clause of the verse: “And as for the flesh, every one that is pure may eat the flesh” (Leviticus 7:19), which would seem to indicate that specifically one who is pure for certain is one who shall eat meat, but one for whom it is uncertain whether he is impure and uncertain whether he is pure shall not eat. The two clauses in the verse seem to contradict one another with regard to the status of uncertain purity.

Rather, must one not conclude from it that the Torah differentiates between two different types of uncertainty? Here, the latter clause, which discusses “every one that is pure,” is referring to an entity that has awareness in order for it to be asked, e.g., a person, who is considered impure if he is uncertain whether he contracted ritual impurity. There, the former clause which discusses impure meat presents the principle of an entity that lacks awareness in order for it to be asked, where an uncertain case of ritual impurity is deemed pure.

The Gemara explains the need for two separate derivations concerning uncertain contractions of ritual impurity: And the derivation that Rav Giddel said that Rav said was necessary, and it was also necessary to derive the principle of uncertain ritual impurity from sota; since if it were derived only through the derivation of Rav, I would say that it makes no difference whether the uncertain contraction of impurity occurred in the private domain or whether it occurred in the public domain. Therefore, it was necessary to derive from sota that uncertain impurity is considered impure only in the private domain.

And if it is derived only from sota, I would say that similar to sota, where both the woman and the paramour possess awareness in order to be asked if they committed the act, so too, items with uncertain impurity should not be deemed impure unless there is awareness on the part of both the one who touches the impure item and the one who causes him to touch, i.e., the agent of impurity and the recipient of impurity are both competent people. Therefore, the derivation of Rav was necessary, as it teaches that in an uncertain case of impurity in the private domain, one is deemed impure even if only the contractor of impurity possesses the awareness to be asked.

§ It is stated in the mishna: On that same day Rabbi Akiva interpreted the phrase “shall be impure” in the verse: “And every earthen vessel into which any of them falls, whatever is in it shall be impure [yitma], and you shall break it” (Leviticus 11:33), as indicating that a loaf that has second-degree ritual impurity can render other food with which it comes into contact impure with third-degree impurity. Rabbi Yehoshua related that Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai had predicted that a future generation would purify a loaf that contracted third-degree impurity, as there is no explicit verse in the Torah stating that this degree of impurity exists.

The Gemara asks: But since the loaf does not have an explicit verse stating that it is impure, why did Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai himself maintain that it is impure?

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai maintained that although it has no explicit basis from a verse in the Torah, it has proof for its impurity through an a fortiori inference: If even one who immersed in a ritual bath that day and will become completely purified after nightfall, who is therefore permitted to touch non-sacred articles, i.e., he does not transmit impurity to them, disqualifies teruma that he touches, then with regard to a loaf that has second-degree impurity as result of contact with an impure item of the first degree, which is disqualified, i.e., it is rendered impure, even if it is non-sacred, isn’t it logical that it should impart third-degree impurity upon teruma?

The Gemara challenges: This a fortiori inference can be refuted. What is unique about one who was ritually impure who immersed that day and is waiting for nightfall for the purification process to be completed is that prior to his immersion, he was a primary source of impurity. He therefore retains his stringent status even after immersion with regard to his capability of disqualifying teruma. The loaf, by contrast, has second-degree impurity from the outset, and should therefore be treated more lightly.

The Gemara answers: Derive this halakha

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)
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