The baraita asks why we even need a special midrash to teach that a zav who saw two issues should have to count seven clean days. Shouldn’t this be obvious; after all, if he defiles things he lays and sits on, which constitutes a high level of impurity, clearly he should have to count seven days before he can become clean.
The midrash answers that this is not so obvious, because of the case of a woman who is keeping day for day. If a woman has one observation of non-menstrual discharge, she must count one day before she can become clean. Two observations and she counts two days. But even after one observation, she defiles bed and seat. Thus we can see that one can be impure with this high level of impurity but not need to count seven full days before becoming clean. Therefore, the verse had to teach us with regard to the zav, that after two observations he must count a full seven days before becoming clean.
If we pay careful attention, we can see that in this case the word “from his issue” was used to include a zav who had two observations—he already counts seven days before he can become clean. But in yesterday’s midrash, the same word excluded a zav who had two observations from being liable to bring a sacrifice. So why, R. Papa asks, does the word one time include and one time exclude?
Ashi answers that if the Torah had wanted to teach that one who has had two observations does not need to count seven days, then it should have said nothing about the matter. It could have omitted the word.
We would not have deduced this rule without the word, because the case of a woman who counts day for day would have refuted it, as we stated above. Just as she need not count seven days free of discharge, neither would a man. Therefore, we need this derashah to teach that the zav does need to count.
If you might have thought that the word “from his issue” only teaches the first halakhah that we learned above—that he need only be free from issue and not skin disease—the verse could have skipped the word “from his issue” altogether. The extra word “from his issue” teaches that one who has had two issues must already count seven clean days.
Another new mishnah!
Section one: A metzora is a person with some sort of skin affliction. After his skin affliction is identified he is set aside for seven days for observation by a priest. If the skin affliction spreads, then the priest declares him to be a definite metzora. There is no difference between the two stages except that one who has been declared to be a definite metzora has to have his hair disheveled and his clothes torn, as prescribed in Leviticus 13:45. [I should note that some interpret the Hebrew for “disheveling the hair” to mean that he has to let his hair grow long.] Other than these differences, the two types of metzora are equal in their impurity.
Section two: If the priest declares a metzora who had been under observation to be pure, he does not bring a sacrifice nor does he have to shave his hair. If the metzora had been definite then he must bring two birds as a sacrifice and shave his hair. See Leviticus 14. The two different types of metzora are the same in that at the end of their period of impurity they both must immerse in the mikveh and purify their clothes (see Lev. 13:6, 34).
Both types of metzora are unclean and must be sent outside of the camp.
Shmuel b. Yitzchak picks up on the double usage of “clean” in the verse. How can the priest pronounce him clean before he becomes clean at the end of the verse only after washing his clothes? The answer is that the first “clean” demonstrates that he is clean from rending his garments and loosening his hair. Only a definite metzora is obligated for these.
Rava raises a difficulty on the above midrash. The same construct appears in a verse about a “zav”—one who has had unnatural genital discharge. There too the word “clean” appears twice in the verse. In that case the extra “clean” is interpreted to mean that if after he goes to the mikveh but before the sun sets and he has become fully pure he sees another issue of discharge, he does not defile earthenware vessels by moving them. In that sense his immersion in the mikveh has purified him. So too in the case of the metzora we could interpret that after being pronounced clean he is already pure in that he doesn’t defile the contents of a house by entering a house. But if we interpreted this way, we would have no source for how we know that a metzora under observation is not liable for rending his garment or loosening his hair.
Rava derives the mishnah’s halakhah from elsewhere. The Torah says that the “metzora in whom the plague is” has to rend his clothes and loosen his hair. Rava reads the word “in whom” as limiting this rule to one whose impurity is due to the state of his body. He won’t become pure until he is physically cured. The metzora under observation’s impurity is limited to seven days. After that time he either becomes fully a metzora or he becomes pure.
Abaye points out that the same phrasing “in him” is used in Leviticus 13:46, which mentions being sent out of the camp. Were we to read this word the way Rava reads it above—it refers only to one whose impurity is due to his body—we would conclude that only a definite metzora is sent out of the camp. But this contradicts the mishnah which implies that every type of metzora is sent out of the camp!
Rava responds that his midrash is from the word “all.” All types of metzoras are sent out from the camp. The midrash is not based on the word “in him” as Rava had previously stated.
The Talmud now asks why a metzora under observation does not have to shave or offer bird sacrifices after being cleansed. After all, he should be included in these obligations due to the word “all.” But the mishnah again clearly states the opposite—only a definite metzora must shave and offer sacrifices.
Abaye derives this halakha from Leviticus 14:3, which begins to discuss the purification which is accompanied by sacrifices and shaving. These are obligatory only if his purification depends on his healing, and not a simple counting of days, as it does for the metzora under observation.
Today’s section is a mishnah. My commentary is taken from Mishnah Yomit. We will continue to discuss the talmudic commentary on the mishnah next week.
Section one: Scrolls of the Tanakh may be written in any language and in any type of writing. However, mezuzot and tefillin may be written only in Assyrian, the alphabet in which Hebrew was and is still written and they may be written only in Hebrew.
Section two: Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says that while Tanakh scrolls may indeed be written in languages other than Hebrew, they may not be written in any language, just Greek. At the time of the Mishnah Greek was the international language of the intelligentsia. It was also the language into which the Tanakh had already been translated. This translation is called the Septuagint and was widely used in the period by Jews in the Greek-speaking Diaspora.
This week’s daf focuses on the mishnah that we learned at the end of last week’s daf concerning the difference between Torah scrolls, mezuzot and tefillin. According to the Mishnah Torah scrolls can be written in any language or in any type of script, but mezuzot and tefillin must be written in Hebrew language using Assyrian script.
The pages of mezuzot, tefillin and Torah scrolls all must be sewn together with sinews. We should note that there are some sages who hold that Torah scrolls can be sewn with regular thread.
They all also defile the hands. This is a concept we have discussed before and is also found in Tractate Yadayim. Basically, this means that they are all holy.
According to the Mishah, Torah scrolls can be written in any language or any script. But a baraita says that if a Hebrew portion of the Tanakh was written in Aramaic, or an Aramaic portion was written in Hebrew, it is not valid (i.e. it does not defile the hands). It also must be written in what is known as Assyrian script (the script we use today) and not what is known today as Paleo-Hebraic script. Thus the mishnah and the baraita contradict each other.
Rava resolves the contradiction by saying that it depends on which script was used. If the script is “our script” meaning the original Hebraic script, then the scroll can be written in any language. But if the script is Assyrian, then the language must be Hebrew.