(דברים יז, ח) דברי ריבות בשעריך וקמת ועלית אלא ארץ ישראל גבוה מכל ארצות מנלן דכתיב (ירמיהו כג, ז) לכן הנה ימים באים נאם ה' לא יאמר עוד חי ה' אשר העלה את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים כי אם חי ה' אשר העלה ואשר הביא את בני ישראל מארץ צפון ומכל הארצות אשר הדחתים שם
“Matters of controversy within your gates, and you shall arise and go up to the place that the Lord, your God, shall choose” (Deuteronomy 17:8), indicating that the Temple, the place that God chose, is higher than all other cities in Eretz Yisrael. But from where do we derive the claim that Eretz Yisrael is higher than all other lands? The Gemara answers: As it is written: “Therefore behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when they shall no more say: As the Lord lives, Who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but: As the Lord lives, Who brought up and Who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them” (Jeremiah 23:7–8). The phrase “Who brought up” indicates that Eretz Yisrael is higher than all the other lands from where God will bring the Jewish people.
מאי איריא דתני עלו מבבל נתני עלו לארץ ישראל מסייע ליה לרבי אלעזר דאמר ר' אלעזר לא עלה עזרא מבבל עד שעשאה כסולת נקיה ועלה
The Gemara asks: If that is what the mishna wants to teach, why does the tanna specifically teach: Ascended from Babylonia? Let him teach: Ascended to Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara answers that the wording of the mishna supports the opinion of Rabbi Elazar, as Rabbi Elazar says: Ezra did not ascend from Babylonia until he made it like fine flour, free of bran, i.e., he ensured that the lineage of those remaining was unsullied, and selected all of those in Babylonia who were of questionable lineage, and then he ascended with them to Eretz Yisrael.
איתמר אביי אמר עלו מאיליהם תנן ורבא אמר העלום תנן וקמיפלגי בדרבי אלעזר דאמר רבי אלעזר לא עלה עזרא מבבל עד שעשאה כסולת נקיה ועלה
§ It was stated that amora’im had a dispute with regard to this matter. Abaye said: We learned in the mishna that there were ten categories of lineage among the Jews who ascended, meaning that they ascended of their own accord. And Rava said: We learned: Ezra brought them up, against their will. The Gemara explains: And they disagree about the statement of Rabbi Elazar, as Rabbi Elazar says: Ezra did not ascend from Babylonia until he made it like fine flour, and only then he ascended.
אביי לית ליה דרבי אלעזר רבא אית ליה דרבי אלעזר איבעית אימא דכולי עלמא אית להו דרבי אלעזר והכא בהא קא מיפלגי מר סבר אפרושי אפרושינהו ומנפשייהו סליקו ומר סבר בעל כרחייהו אסוקינהו
Abaye does not accept the statement of Rabbi Elazar, since he maintains that they ascended of their own free will, whereas Rava does accept the statement of Rabbi Elazar. Or, if you wish, say that everyone accepts the statement of Rabbi Elazar, and here they disagree with regard to this: One Sage, Abaye, holds that Ezra first separated the members of the community with flawed lineage, and they subsequently ascended to Eretz Yisrael out of their own desire. And one Sage, Rava, holds that he brought them up against their will.
בשלמא למאן דאמר עלו היינו דאמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל כל ארצות עיסה לארץ ישראל וארץ ישראל עיסה לבבל אלא למ"ד העלום מידע ידעינהו נהי דידעי לההוא דרא לדרא אחריני לא ידעי
The Gemara asks: Granted, according to the one who says that the mishna means that they ascended of their own accord, without any distinction between the types of people who came, this is the reason that Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: The lineage of residents of all lands is muddled compared to that of Eretz Yisrael, and the lineage of residents of Eretz Yisrael is muddled compared to that of Babylonia. As the people came of their own accord, there was a lack of oversight concerning who married whom. But according to the one who says that he brought them up, and Ezra identified and selected all those who came with him, the Sages of the time knew the lineage of all who came and would have been careful not to allow any forbidden marriages, so why is the lineage of residents of Eretz Yisrael considered to be muddled compared to that of Babylonia? The Gemara answers: Though the status of those who came was known to that generation, it was not known to other later generations.
בשלמא למאן דאמר עלו היינו דכתיב (עזרא ח, טו) ואקבצם אל הנהר הבא על אחוה ונחנה שם ימים שלשה ואבינה בעם ובכהנים ומבני לוי לא מצאתי שם
The Gemara asks another question: Granted, according to the one who says that they ascended of their own accord, this is the meaning of the verse that is written in the book of Ezra: “And I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava, and we camped there for three days; and I viewed the people and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi” (Ezra 8:15), as it was necessary for Ezra to clarify the identity of the people traveling to Eretz Yisrael.
אלא למאן דאמר העלום הא מיזהר זהירי נהי דאיזהור בפסולים בכשירים לא איזדהור
But according to the one who says that he brought them up, they were careful to classify the lineage of the people before they left for Eretz Yisrael, so why was it necessary for him to clarify the matter by the riverside? The Gemara answers: Though they were careful with regard to people of flawed lineage before they left for Eretz Yisrael, with regard to people of unflawed lineage they were not careful to clarify the precise lineage of each of them earlier, and they did this by the riverside.
כהני לויי וישראלי מנלן דסליקו דכתיב (עזרא ב, ע) וישבו הכהנים והלוים ומן העם והמשוררים והשוערים והנתינים בעריהם וכל ישראל בעריהם
§ The mishna included in its list of types of lineage priests, Levites, and Israelites. The Gemara asks: From where do we derive that they ascended? The Gemara answers: As it is written: “So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the gatekeepers, and the Gibeonites dwelt in their cities, and all of Israel in their cities” (Ezra 2:70). The verse specifies priests, Levites, and all of Israel.
חללי גירי וחרורי חללי מנלן דתניא ר' יוסי אומר גדולה חזקה שנא' (עזרא ב, סא) ומבני הכהנים בני חביה בני הקוץ בני ברזילי אשר לקח מבנות ברזילי הגלעדי אשה ויקרא על שמם אלה בקשו כתבם המתייחשים ולא נמצאו ויגואלו מן הכהונה ויאמר התרשתא להם אשר לא יאכלו מקדש הקדשים עד עמוד כהן לאורים ותומים
The mishna further states that ḥalalim, converts, and emancipated slaves ascended from Babylonia. The Gemara clarifies: From where do we derive that ḥalalim ascended? The Gemara answers: As it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei says: Great is the importance of a presumptive status, as it is stated: “And of the children of the priests: The children of Habaiah, the children of Hakkoz, the children of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name. These sought the registry of their genealogy, but it was not found. Therefore, they were deemed polluted and put out from the priesthood. And the Tirshatha said to them that they should not eat of the offerings of the most sacred order until there arose a priest with the Urim VeTummim” (Ezra 2:61–63).
ואמר להם הרי אתם בחזקתכם במה הייתם אוכלים בגולה בקדשי הגבול אף כאן נמי בקדשי הגבול
The baraita continues: This shows that there was uncertainty whether specific descendants of priests were fit for the priesthood or were ḥalalim, and Ezra said to them: You have retained your presumptive status. In other words, despite their failure to provide proof that they were fit priests, they maintained their prior status. Ezra said: Of what priestly gifts did you partake when you were in exile? You partook only of the consecrated gifts of the boundaries, i.e., from teruma, which may be eaten anywhere. Here too, in Eretz Yisrael, you may partake only of the consecrated gifts of the boundaries. You may not, however, partake of anything that must be eaten inside Jerusalem, as indicated by the verse “They should not eat of the offerings of the most sacred order.” In any event, since the verse writes that they were “put out from the priesthood,” it can be seen that there were ḥalalim who came with Ezra to Eretz Yisrael.
ולמאן דאמר מעלים מתרומה ליוחסין הני דאכול בתרומה אתו לאסוקינהו שאני התם דריע חזקתייהו
The Gemara asks: And according to the one who says that one elevates a priest to lineage, i.e., one attributes the lineage of a priest to an individual on the basis of observing him partaking of teruma, how could they be allowed to partake of teruma? Those who partake of teruma will subsequently be elevated to the full status of priests. The Gemara answers: There it is different, as their presumptive status had been weakened. Since they did not partake of offerings, as did all other priests, all knew that they were not regular priests.
ואלא מאי גדולה חזקה דמעיקרא אכול בתרומה דרבנן ולבסוף אכול בתרומה דאורייתא
The Gemara asks: But if so, what is the meaning of Rabbi Yosei’s claim that great is a presumptive status? They received nothing extra by virtue of this presumption. The Gemara responds: They have gained in that initially they would partake of teruma only of Babylonian produce, which is teruma by rabbinic law, and afterward they would partake of produce that is teruma by Torah law. The separation of teruma in Eretz Yisrael is a Torah obligation, and the produce is fully consecrated.
ואיבעית אימא לעולם השתא נמי בדרבנן אכול בדאורייתא לא אכול וכי מסקינן מתרומה ליוחסין מדאורייתא מדרבנן לא מסקינן
The Gemara offers an additional defense of the opinion that one elevates a priest to lineage based on observing him partake of teruma: And if you wish, say: Actually, now also, in Eretz Yisrael, they would partake only of produce that is teruma by rabbinic law, such as vegetables, while they would not partake of produce that is teruma by Torah law, such as grains. And when we elevate a priest to lineage on the basis of observing him partake of teruma, that is only when he was observed partaking of produce that is teruma by Torah law, but if someone partakes of produce that is teruma by rabbinic law, we do not elevate him. Therefore, they could continue partaking of teruma based on their presumptive status, and there is no concern that they might be elevated to the status of full-fledged priests.
אי הכי מאי גדולה חזקה דמעיקרא ליכא למיגזר משום תרומה דאורייתא לבסוף אף ע"ג דאיכא למיגזר משום תרומה דאורייתא בדרבנן אכול בדאורייתא לא אכול
The Gemara asks: If so, the question remains: What is meant by the phrase: Great is a presumptive status? The Gemara answers: It means that initially, there was no reason to decree and prohibit them from partaking of produce that was teruma by rabbinic law due to the possibility that they may partake of produce that is teruma by Torah law, as there was no produce that was teruma by Torah law in Babylonia. Afterward, when they came to Eretz Yisrael, although there was reason to decree and prohibit them from partaking of produce that was teruma by rabbinic law due to the possibility that they may partake of produce that was teruma by Torah law, as that kind of teruma was also present, their presumptive status was nevertheless strong enough to allow them to continue to partake of produce that was teruma by rabbinic law, although they could not eat produce that is teruma by Torah law.
והכתיב (עזרא ב, סג) ויאמר התרשתא להם אשר לא יאכלו מקדש הקדשים בקדש הקדשים הוא דלא יאכל הא כל מידי ניכול
The Gemara asks: But isn’t it written: “And the Tirshatha said to them that they should not eat of the offerings of the most sacred order [kodesh hakodashim]” (Ezra 2:63)? This indicates that it is from the offerings of the most sacred order that they may not eat, but anything else, i.e., offerings not of the most sacred order, they may eat, including produce that is teruma by Torah law.
הכי קאמר לא מידי דמיקרי קדש ולא מידי דמיקרי קדשים לא מידי דמיקרי קדש דכתיב (ויקרא כב, י) וכל זר לא יאכל קדש ולא מידי דמיקרי קדשים דאמר קרא (ויקרא כב, יב) ובת כהן כי תהיה לאיש זר היא בתרומת הקדשים לא תאכל ואמר מר במורם מן הקדשים
The Gemara answers: This is what the Tirshatha is saying: They may not partake of anything that is called sacred [kodesh], nor anything that is called most sacred [kodashim]. The Gemara clarifies. The words not anything that is called sacred are referring to teruma, as it is written with regard to teruma: “No non-priest may eat of the sacred” (Leviticus 22:10). And the words nor anything that is called most sacred are referring to offerings, as the verse states: “And a daughter of a priest, if she is married to a non-priest, she may not eat of that which is set apart from the sacred things” (Leviticus 22:12). And the Master says: What is the meaning of “that which is set apart from the sacred things”? It means from the portions separated from the offerings, i.e., the breast and thigh of a peace-offering,