Mishnayos Yadayim Perek 4

Color Code: Case: Black; Ruling: Green or Red; Name of Tanna: Gold; Reason: Blue; Condition: Purple; Proof: Grey ; Rule: Fuscia

Chapter 4

The last Mishna of Chapter Three resolved a dispute whether Koheles and Shir HaShirim are M'Tamei Yadayim by introducing testimony that the issue was affirmatively resolved by majority vote among those present in the Yeshiva on the day Rabi Elazar ben Azariah was appointed Head of the Academy ("בו ביום"). The Gemara in Berochos 28a tells us, that following a dispute between Raban Gamliel and Rabi Yehoshua, Raban Gamliel is removed as Rosh Yeshiva and Rabi Elazar ben Azariah is installed as the new Rosh Yeshiva (https://www.bimbam.com/scholars/). Raban Gamliel was very selective of whom he allowed to enter into the Beis Midrash--limiting the amount of students. Whereas, Rabi Elazar on the day he was installed as Rosh Yeshiva, dismissed the guard to the Beis Midrash; welcoming all students to attend. It was, therefore, on this day that two things happened. First, each Student recited the traditions he received from his Rebbeim providing a definitive account of the Mesorah--many of these were transcribed in Mesechtas Ediyot. Second, with so many Chachomim present, they were able to resolve many long-disputed matters via majority vote. Many of these resolutions are collected in Mishnayos containing the term בו ביום (notably, the terminology used in the prior Mishna and in Mishna 2 below, is different).

The first four Mishnayos of our Perek detail disputes resolved on בו ביום. Mishna 5 returns to discussing some technical rules relating to Tumas Seforim. Having completed the laws of Tumas Seforim, Mishna 6 transcribes a dispute between the Chachomim and the Tziddukim regarding the entire notion of Tumas Seforim. Mishnayos 7 and 8 conclude our Mesechta by describing other disputes between the Chachomim and Tzidukkim.

Mishnah 4:1

Typically, Tumah is transmitted via touch and each progression reduces the level of Tumah (e.g., something touches an Av HaTumah it will become a Rishon; a Rishon will make a Sheini). However, in certain circumstances, a person who is an Av HaTumah will convey Tumah to an object by merely resting his weight on the object (i.e., the object is supporting his weight), even if he does not directly touch the object itself (i.e., he sits on 5 pillows--even the bottom pillow will be Tamei). This is called Tumas Midras. Further, the rule is that the object becomes Tamei at the same level as the person himself. So, for instance, if a person is a Zav, a serious form of Av Hatumah, and sits on 5 pillows, each of those pillows will be an Av HaTumah.

There is a caveat to this rule that the supporting object must be of the type of object that is normally used to support a person's weight AND that when doing so, the primary purpose of the object is not being usurped. Therefore, a chest that opens on top will not be susceptible to Tumas Midras if a Zav sits on it since at the moment he sits on it it loses its ability to perform its main purpose.

Our Mishna discusses the situation of a medium sized bowl/trough used to wash a person's feet. The bowl is just the right size to wash feet in and, when not being used to wash feet, it can be turned over and used to sit on. A smaller bowl would be too small to wash feet or to sit on. A larger bowl would be too big to sit on and therefore not susceptible to Tumas Midras. In our case, the bowl springs a leak and is no longer suitable to wash feet. All that's left is the possibility to use it as a stool. The question facing our Mishna is whether a person must specifically designate it as a stool in order to be susceptible to Tumas Midras. Or does the secondary purpose become the primary purpose automatically.

Notably, Rabi Akiva finds himself on the wrong side of the vote. It seems many of his traditions were challenged this day. See the 5th chapter of Mesechtas Sotah.

בּוֹ בַיּוֹם נִמְנוּ וְגָמְרוּ עַל עֲרֵבַת הָרַגְלַיִם,

שֶׁהִיא מִשְּׁנֵי לֻגִּין וְעַד תִּשְׁעָה קַבִּין שֶׁנִּסְדְּקָה, שֶׁהִיא טְמֵאָה מִדְרָס.

שֶׁרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, עֲרֵבַת הָרַגְלַיִם כִּשְׁמָהּ:

(1) On that day the votes were counted and they decided that a footbath holding from two logs to nine kavs which was cracked could contract midras uncleanness. Because Rabbi Akiva said a footbath [must be considered] according to its designation.

Mishnah 4:2

There are four essential processes when bringing a Korban.

  1. שחיטה (slaughtering the animal),
  2. קבלה (collecting the blood in a sanctified vessel),
  3. הליכה (bringing the blood close to the Alter) and
  4. זריקה (sprinkling the blood on the Mizbeach.

At all times during these processes the person performing them must have the right intent. This means, he must intend to be doing all these things for the right (i) type of Korban (i.e., an Olah for an Olah) and (ii) the right person.

The general rule is that when he has the wrong intent the Korban in question can be completed and burned on the Mizbeach and even eaten when appropriate. The person, however, will be required to bring another Korban to make up for it; this time having the right intentions. Our Mishna discusses certain exceptions to this rule. And for them there is no cure and the wrongfully intended Korban is pasul and must be burned.

בּוֹ בַיּוֹם אָמְרוּ,

כָּל הַזְּבָחִים שֶׁנִּזְבְּחוּ שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָן, כְּשֵׁרִים,

אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא עָלוּ לַבְּעָלִים לְשׁוּם חוֹבָה,

חוּץ מִן הַפֶּסַח וּמִן הַחַטָּאת.

הַפֶּסַח בִּזְמַנּוֹ, וְהַחַטָּאת בְּכָל זְמַן.
רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, אַף הָאָשָׁם.

הַפֶּסַח בִּזְמַנּוֹ, וְהַחַטָּאת וְהָאָשָׁם בְּכָל זְמַן.
אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן עַזַּאי,

מְקֻבְּלַנִי מִפִּי שִׁבְעִים וּשְׁנַיִם זָקֵן, בַּיּוֹם שֶׁהוֹשִׁיבוּ אֶת רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה בַּיְשִׁיבָה,

שֶׁכָּל הַזְּבָחִים הַנֶּאֱכָלִין שֶׁנִּזְבְּחוּ שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָן, כְּשֵׁרִים,

אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא עָלוּ לַבְּעָלִים לְשֵׁם חוֹבָה,

חוּץ מִן הַפֶּסַח וּמִן הַחַטָּאת.

לֹא הוֹסִיף בֶּן עַזַּאי אֶלָּא הָעוֹלָה,

וְלֹא הוֹדוּ לוֹ חֲכָמִים:

(2) On that day they said: all animal sacrifices which have been sacrificed under the name of some other offering are [nevertheless] valid, but they are not accounted to their owners as a fulfillment of their obligations, with the exception of the pesah and the sin-offering. [This is true of] the pesah in its correct time and the sin-offering at any time. Rabbi Eliezer says: [with the exception] also of the guilt-offering; [so that this refers to] the pesah in its correct time and to the sin- and guilt-offerings at any time. Rabbi Shimon ben Azzai said: I received a tradition from the seventy-two elders on the day when they appointed Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah head of the college that all animal sacrifices which are eaten and which have not been sacrificed under their own name are nevertheless valid, but they are not accounted to their owners as a fulfillment of their obligations, with the exception of the pesah and the sin-offering. Ben Azzai only added [to these exceptions] the wholly burnt-offering, but the sages did not agree with him.

Mishnah 4:3

The seven-year Jewish agricultural cycle consists of six "normal" years during which working the fields is permitted and a seventh year when the land must remain fallow, called Shmittah. During the six "normal" years the farmer would separate from his crops a certain amount as "gifts" for the Kohanim and Leviim. In addition to the regular Terumos and Maasros, there was an additional Ma'aser separated--either Ma'aser Ani (an additional tenth given to the poor) or Ma'aser Sheni, the second tithe. This second tithe is kept by the farmer but is considered Kodesh and must be brought to and consumed within Yerushlayim. During Shmittah, because the fields are considered Hefker the farmer does not need to give any Terumos or Ma'asros at all.

Ma'aser Ani and Sheini were not given each year of the cycle, rather you would alternate, giving two years of Ma'aser Sheini followed by one year of Ma'aser Ani. The schedule of Terumos and Ma'asros is as follows:

These rules apply in Eretz Yisroel proper. However, the Chachomim applied some of these rules to neighboring lands, including Egypt, Bavel and Transjordan. In each of these lands, the Chachomim instituted Terumos and Ma'asros on a Rabbinic level, requiring the farmers to set aside these gifts and portions from their fields. Importantly, however, Shmittah did not apply in these lands--therefore even during a Shmittah year they would need to separate Terumos and Ma'asros.

The question posed in our Mishna is which secondary Ma'aser is set aside during the Shmittah year in these lands? Ma'aser Ani or Ma'aser Sheini. The Chachomim had long standing traditions regarding both Egypt (Ma'aser Ani) and Bavel (Ma'aser Sheini). The dispute in our Mishna is over Transjordan--at least those areas not initially occupied by the two-and-a-half Tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe.

The Mishna first describes the back-and-forth conversation among the Ta'anaim in Yavneh. In support of their views they provide differing rationales why Transjordan should be more similar to Egypt or Bavel. These include, proximity to Israel, timing of initial decree and who enacted the decree. Eventually, on "Bo Bayom" this question is resolved in favor of Ma'aser Ani. The Mishna concludes with a story about Rabi Yosi visiting Rabi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, who had been excommunicated and was no longer attending the Beis Midrash, and reporting in his name an ancient tradition in line with the Mishna's conclusion

בּוֹ בַיּוֹם אָמְרוּ,

עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב, מַה הֵן בַּשְּׁבִיעִית.
גָּזַר רַבִּי טַרְפוֹן, מַעְשַׂר עָנִי.

וְגָזַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה, מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי.
אָמַר רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל, אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה, עָלֶיךָ רְאָיָה לְלַמֵּד, שֶׁאַתָּה מַחְמִיר,

שֶׁכָּל הַמַּחְמִיר, עָלָיו רְאָיָה לְלַמֵּד.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה, יִשְׁמָעֵאל אָחִי, אֲנִי לֹא שִׁנִּיתִי מִסֵּדֶר הַשָּׁנִים,

טַרְפוֹן אָחִי שִׁנָּה, וְעָלָיו רְאָיָה לְלַמֵּד.
הֵשִׁיב רַבִּי טַרְפוֹן, מִצְרַיִם חוּץ לָאָרֶץ, עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב חוּץ לָאָרֶץ,

מַה מִּצְרַיִם מַעְשַׂר עָנִי בַשְּׁבִיעִית, אַף עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב מַעְשַׂר עָנִי בַשְּׁבִיעִית.
הֵשִׁיב רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה, בָּבֶל חוּץ לָאָרֶץ, עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב חוּץ לָאָרֶץ,

מַה בָּבֶל מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי בַשְּׁבִיעִית, אַף עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי בַשְּׁבִיעִית.
אָמַר רַבִּי טַרְפוֹן, מִצְרַיִם שֶׁהִיא קְרוֹבָה, עֲשָׂאוּהָ מַעְשַׂר עָנִי, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עֲנִיֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל נִסְמָכִים עָלֶיהָ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית,

אַף עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב, שֶׁהֵם קְרוֹבִים, נַעֲשִׂים מַעְשַׂר עָנִי, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עֲנִיֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל נִסְמָכִים עֲלֵיהֶם בַּשְּׁבִיעִית.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה, הֲרֵי אַתָּה כִמְהַנָּן מָמוֹן, וְאֵין אַתָּה אֶלָּא כְמַפְסִיד נְפָשׁוֹת.

קוֹבֵעַ אַתָּה אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם מִלְּהוֹרִיד טַל וּמָטָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלאכי ג), הֲיִקְבַּע אָדָם אֱלֹקִים כִּי אַתֶּם קֹבְעִים אֹתִי וַאֲמַרְתֶּם בַּמֶּה קְבַעֲנוּךָ הַמַּעֲשֵׂר וְהַתְּרוּמָה.
אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, הֲרֵינִי כְמֵשִׁיב עַל טַרְפוֹן אָחִי, אֲבָל לֹא לְעִנְיַן דְּבָרָיו.

מִצְרַיִם מַעֲשֶׂה חָדָשׁ, וּבָבֶל מַעֲשֶׂה יָשָׁן, וְהַנִּדּוֹן שֶׁלְּפָנֵינוּ מַעֲשֶׂה חָדָשׁ.

יִדּוֹן מַעֲשֶׂה חָדָשׁ מִמַּעֲשֶׂה חָדָשׁ, וְאַל יִדּוֹן מַעֲשֶׂה חָדָשׁ מִמַּעֲשֶׂה יָשָׁן.
מִצְרַיִם מַעֲשֵׂה זְקֵנִים, וּבָבֶל מַעֲשֵׂה נְבִיאִים, וְהַנִּדּוֹן שֶׁלְּפָנֵינוּ מַעֲשֵׂה זְקֵנִים. יִדּוֹן מַעֲשֵׂה זְקֵנִים מִמַּעֲשֵׂה זְקֵנִים, וְאַל יִדּוֹן מַעֲשֵׂה זְקֵנִים מִמַּעֲשֵׂה נְבִיאִים.
נִמְנוּ וְגָמְרוּ, עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב מְעַשְּׂרִין מַעְשַׂר עָנִי בַּשְּׁבִיעִית.
וּכְשֶׁבָּא רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן דֻּרְמַסְקִית אֵצֶל רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בְּלוֹד, אָמַר לוֹ,

מַה חִדּוּשׁ הָיָה לָכֶם בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ הַיּוֹם.

אָמַר לוֹ, נִמְנוּ וְגָמְרוּ, עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב מְעַשְּׂרִים מַעְשַׂר עָנִי בַּשְּׁבִיעִית.
בָּכָה רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וְאָמַר,

סוֹד יי לִירֵאָיו וּבְרִיתוֹ לְהוֹדִיעָם (תהלים כה).

צֵא וֶאֱמֹר לָהֶם, אַל תָּחֹשּׁוּ לְמִנְיַנְכֶם.

מְקֻבָּל אֲנִי מֵרַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי, שֶׁשָּׁמַע מֵרַבּוֹ, וְרַבּוֹ מֵרַבּוֹ עַד הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,

שֶׁעַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב מְעַשְּׂרִין מַעְשַׂר עָנִי בַּשְּׁבִיעִית:

(3) On that day they said: what is the law applying to Ammon and Moab in the seventh year? Rabbi Tarfon decreed tithe for the poor. And Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah decreed second tithe. Rabbi Ishmael said: Elazar ben Azariah, you must produce your proof because you are expressing the stricter view and whoever expresses a stricter view has the burden to produce the proof. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said to him: Ishmael, my brother, I have not deviated from the sequence of years, Tarfon, my brother, has deviated from it and the burden is upon him to produce the proof. Rabbi Tarfon answered: Egypt is outside the land of Israel, Ammon and Moab are outside the land of Israel: just as Egypt must give tithe for the poor in the seventh year, so must Ammon and Moab give tithe for the poor in the seventh year. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah answered: Babylon is outside the land of Israel, Ammon and Moab are outside the land of Israel: just as Babylon must give second tithe in the seventh year, so must Ammon and Moab give second tithe in the seventh year. Rabbi Tarfon said: on Egypt which is near, they imposed tithe for the poor so that the poor of Israel might be supported by it during the seventh year; so on Ammon and Moab which are near, we should impose tithe for the poor so that the poor of Israel may be supported by it during the seventh year. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said to him: Behold, you are like one who would benefit them with gain, yet you are really as one who causes them to perish. Would you rob the heavens so that dew or rain should not descend? As it is said, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you: How have we robbed You? In tithes and heave-offerings" (Malakhi 3:8). Rabbi Joshua said: Behold, I shall be as one who replies on behalf of Tarfon, my brother, but not in accordance with the substance of his arguments. The law regarding Egypt is a new act and the law regarding Babylon is an old act, and the law which is being argued before us is a new act. A new act should be argued from [another] new act, but a new act should not be argued from an old act. The law regarding Egypt is the act of the elders and the law regarding Babylon is the act of the prophets, and the law which is being argued before us is the act of the elders. Let one act of the elders be argued from [another] act of the elders, but let not an act of the elders be argued from an act of the prophets. The votes were counted and they decided that Ammon and Moab should give tithe for the poor in the seventh year. And when Rabbi Yose ben Durmaskit visited Rabbi Eliezer in Lod he said to him: what new thing did you have in the house of study today? He said to him: their votes were counted and they decided that Ammon and Moab must give tithe for the poor in the seventh year. Rabbi Eliezer wept and said: "The counsel of the Lord is with them that fear him: and his covenant, to make them know it" (Psalms 25:14). Go and tell them: Don't worry about your voting. I received a tradition from Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai who heard it from his teacher, and his teacher from his teacher, and so back to a halachah given to Moses from Sinai, that Ammon and Moab must give tithe for the poor in the seventh year.

Mishnah 4:4

The Torah forbids an Amonnite and Moavite, even after they convert, from marrying a Jew.* As it says in Devarim (23:4):

לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א עַמּוֹנִ֛י וּמוֹאָבִ֖י בִּקְהַ֣ל יְיְ גַּ֚ם דּ֣וֹר עֲשִׂירִ֔י לֹא־יָבֹ֥א לָהֶ֛ם בִּקְהַ֥ל יְיְ עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃

עַל־דְּבַ֞ר אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹא־קִדְּמ֤וּ אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּלֶּ֣חֶם וּבַמַּ֔יִם בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֣ם מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וַאֲשֶׁר֩ שָׂכַ֨ר עָלֶ֜יךָ אֶת־בִּלְעָ֣ם בֶּן־בְּע֗וֹר מִפְּת֛וֹר אֲרַ֥ם נַהֲרַ֖יִם לְקַֽלְלֶֽךָּ׃

Famously, this applies only to men, Moavite women may indeed marry a Jewish man.

Our Mishna relates how on Bo Bayom, an Ammonite man presented himself in the Beis Midrash and inquired about his status and whether the biblical injunction against marrying into the community still prevails. The Mishna record a dispute between Rabban Gamliel and Rabi Yehoshua.

Notably, Rabban Gamliel remained present and active in the Yeshiva even after he was deposed from his leadership position.

בּוֹ בַיּוֹם בָּא יְהוּדָה, גֵּר עַמּוֹנִי, וְעָמַד לִפְנֵיהֶן בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ. אָמַר לָהֶם,

מָה אֲנִי לָבֹא בַקָּהָל.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, אָסוּר אָתָּה.

אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, מֻתָּר אָתָּה.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (דברים כג), לֹא יָבֹא עַמּוֹנִי וּמוֹאָבִי בִּקְהַל יי גַּם דּוֹר עֲשִׂירִי וְגוֹ'.

אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, וְכִי עַמּוֹנִים וּמוֹאָבִים בִּמְקוֹמָן הֵן.

כְּבָר עָלָה סַנְחֵרִיב מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וּבִלְבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאֻמּוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה י), וְאָסִיר גְּבוּלֹת עַמִּים וַעֲתוּדוֹתֵיהֶם שׁוֹשֵׂתִי וְאוֹרִיד כַּאבִּיר יוֹשְׁבִים.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (ירמיה מט), וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן אָשִׁיב אֶת שְׁבוּת בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן, וּכְבָר חָזְרוּ.

אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (עמוס ט), וְשַׁבְתִּי אֶת שְׁבוּת עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל וִיהוּדָה, וַעֲדַיִן לֹא שָׁבוּ.
הִתִּירוּהוּ לָבֹא בַקָּהָל:

(4) On that day Judah, an Ammonite convert, came and stood before them in the house of study. He said to them: Do I have the right to enter into the assembly? Rabban Gamaliel said to him: you are forbidden. Rabbi Joshua said to him: you are permitted. Rabban Gamaliel said to him: the verse says, "An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord: even to the tenth generation" (Deuteronomy 23:4). R. Joshua said to him: But are the Ammonites and Moabites still in their own territory? Sanheriv, the king of Assyria, has long since come up and mingled all the nations, as it is said: "In that I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and have brought down as one mighty the inhabitants" (Isaiah 10:1. Rabban Gamaliel said to him: the verse says, "But afterward I will bring back the captivity of the children of Ammon," (Jeremiah 49:6) they have already returned. Rabbi Joshua said to him: [another] verse says, "I will return the captivity of my people Israel and Judah" (Amos 9:14). Yet they have not yet returned. So they permitted him to enter the assembly.

Mishnah 4:5

During significant portions of Jewish history, starting with the Babylonian exile, the main spoken language of the Jews was Aramaic. Thus, we find that portions of the Nevi’im Acharonim, like Ezra and Daniel, whose words were directed to those Jews living in Chutz L’aretz, were written in Aramaic. Further, during the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash a number of “translations” of the Torah were written—one of the most famous ones being Targum Onkelos. It became common to read these Targumim as part of the Kriyas haTorah so that the general population would understand what they were hearing.

Separately, one of the many decrees instituted by Ezra was to adopt a new font [or revitalize an older font] for the Hebrew Alphabet. While the letters and sounds remained the same, their depiction was changed to our familiar form—this is called Ksav Ashuris. The more ancient form is called Paleo-Hebrew or Ksav Ivris and is still used today by the Samaritans.

Our Mishna discusses whether the Aramaic portions of the Nevi’im, the Targumim and scrolls written in Ksav Ivris are considered Seforim for purposes of the decree of Tumas Seforim.

תַּרְגּוּם שֶׁבְּעֶזְרָא וְשֶׁבְּדָנִיֵּאל, מְטַמֵּא אֶת הַיָּדַיִם.
תַּרְגּוּם שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ עִבְרִית וְעִבְרִית שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ תַּרְגּוּם, וּכְתָב עִבְרִי, אֵינוֹ מְטַמֵּא אֶת הַיָּדַיִם.
לְעוֹלָם אֵינוֹ מְטַמֵּא, עַד שֶׁיִּכְתְּבֶנּוּ אַשּׁוּרִית, עַל הָעוֹר, וּבִדְיוֹ:

(5) The Aramaic sections in Ezra and Daniel defile the hands. If an Aramaic section was written in Hebrew, or a Hebrew section was written in Aramaic, or [Hebrew which was written with] Hebrew script, it does not defile the hands. It never defiles the hands until it is written in the Assyrian script, on parchment, and in ink.

General Introduction to Mishnayos 6-8

The final three Mishnayos of our Mesechta form a distinct group of Mishnayos detailing four disputes between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Each Mishna follows a similar pattern. First, the Sadducees ask a question on the presumptive Pharisaic practice by questioning the underlying logic of the practice. The Pharisees respond, in turn, by showing that the Sadducees have either a similar practice (undercutting their question) or misunderstood the underlying rationale or logic of the Pharisees' practice.

Traditional sources relate that the Sadducian sect was started by a wayward student of Antigonus Ish Socho named Tzadok. He misinterpreted one of his Rebbe's teachings and could not reconcile it with his faith. It is commonly misunderstood that that the Sadducees only believed in or followed exclusively the Torah Sh'beksav, the Written Torah (like the Karaites of the Middle Ages). However, as it appears in these Mishnayos and others, while they had their own distinctive way of explicating the Torah and its laws--often adhering to a more Peshat level understanding of the text--they did have an interpretive tradition. Many of their leaders were active in the Beis HaMikdash and the Beis Midrash and, more importantly, there likely was not a singular set of Halochos they all followed. In addition, while not identical, the Qumran sect espoused similar Halachik positions. See generally, Eyal Regev, הצדוקים והלכתם: על דת וחברה בימי בית שני, יד יצחק בן צבי, ירושלים תשס"ה and Yair Furstenberg, "קובלין אנו עליכם פרושים: לעיצובה של תמונת העולם הפרושית במשנה", א' רוזנק וד' שרייבר (עורכים), ההלכה: הקשרים רעיוניים ואידיאולוגיים גלויים וסמויים, מגנס וואן ליר, ירושלים תשע"ב, עמ' 283-211

Notably, we do not find specific cases of the Pharisees directly challenging the logic of the Sadducian Halacha, rather, you find numerous instances of the Pharisees (and the later Chachomim) taking actions to indoctrinate their own views and solidify its practice. For example, we find the Chachomim admonishing the Kohein Godol prior to Yom Kippur to properly observe the Incense Service. For the cutting of the Omer, the procession and the triple repeat of the instructions ensured that no one forgot the law. Finally, when it came to the Parah Adumah, the Chachomim would specifically make the Kohein designated to burn the Heifer a "T'vul Yom" so as to clearly indicate that the Halacha was not like the Sadducees.

The first two disputes are about purity rules: Tumas Seforim and the concept of "Nitzuk" (when pouring liquid from a pure vessel into an impure vessel the stream of water and the water remaining in the pure vessel remain pure). The third case is whether a master is held liable for the damages caused by his servant and maidservant. The final case is whether to include the words "כדת משה וישראל" in a divorce contract.

Mishna 4:6

Our Mishna, the first of the group, is directly related to our Mesechta. The Saducees challenge the notion that Seforim can be M'tamei Yadayim.* As commonly understood and as related in the Gemara in Mesechtas Shabbos, Seforim were deemed Tamei either to prevent a person from storing them with his Terumah or to prevent one from touching them with his naked hands.

It seems, that either Sadducees didn't know or misunderstood the basis for the decree or were trying to undermine Pharasaic authority and, therefore, were incredulous that something as holy as a Sefer Torah could be a source of Tumah--no different than a Korban that is Pigul or Nosar. The idea that Kedusha itself is the source of Tumah was illogical to them.**

To emphasize their objection they compare Seforim to unholy books, identified as either heretical books or the Homeric Epics, and question why those books do not generate Tumas Yadayim. The representative of the Pharisees is Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai. According to most commentators, although knowing the real reason behind the decree, rather than disclose it, he plays into their thinking (i.e., devil's advocate) and tries to undercut their logic by utilizing a comparable case of the impurity of human bones vis-a-vis animal bones which even the Sadducees agree are pure. The Sadducees respond that the reason for this is that the more beloved an item is the greater the concern that we may act and use the object inappropriately in a misplaced desire to remain close to it (i.e., make a spoon from the bones of our parents). In response, Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai says similarly, Seforim are very dear to us and we must make sure not to use them inappropriately (e.g., as an added layer under the saddle--see Tosefta), whereas these secular books are of no special value and therefore need no similar protection.***

* Some commentators understand the Sadducees' position as opposing the notion of Tumas Yadayim in its entirety. In other words, they did not accept the Chachomim's rule that hands alone, without the rest of the body, can become Tamei on a stand alone basis. See Regev p. 190-191 quoting Louis Finklestein The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of their Faith. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, Third Edition, 1962.

** See Saul Lieberman, Tosefes Rishonim, Seder Taharos, Chelek R'vii, Yadayim, p. 156 accepting the Gemara's explanation of the decree's source but also noting that it is the Kedusha that gives rise to the Tumah for if the Sefer Torah was already Tamei, it would not make Yadayim Tamei. See also, The Paradox of the Red Heifer, Albert I. Baumgarten, Vetus Testamentum, Vol 43, Fasc. 4 (Oct., 1993) pp 449, where Baumgarten suggests a similar approach to our Mishnah as part of his larger thesis regarding the Red Heifer's supposed paradox, that contact with the sacred disturbs the natural equilibrium, hence causing defilement.

***See Regev, p. 191 in which he discusses an alternative reading of our Mishna in which the Tziddukim actually rule that the bones of animals are Tamei and that Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai's conversation is rhetorical with his fellow Pharisees. We know from the MMT that the Qumran sect ruled the bones impure so it is certainly possible that the Sadducees held likewise. We translate our Mishna in accordance with the traditional commentators. But see the Chazon Nachum who intuits that perhaps Rabban Yochanan rhetorically to himself since it was uncommon for the Sadducees to try and respond to the Pharisees.

We find Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai engaged in a similar conversation, undercutting his interlocutor's question, by referencing a situation similar to the case under scrutiny and showing how the outcome is natural in that case, yet, not revealing the real reason for the law. See Bamidbar Rabbah 19:8 where RYBZ is asked to defend the Parah Adumah ceremony from gentile ridicule.

אוֹמְרִים צְדוֹקִים,

קוֹבְלִין אָנוּ עֲלֵיכֶם, פְּרוּשִׁים,
שֶׁאַתֶּם אוֹמְרִים, כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ מְטַמְּאִין אֶת הַיָּדַיִם, וְסִפְרֵי הוֹמֵרִיס אֵינוֹ מְטַמֵּא אֶת הַיָּדַיִם.
אָמַר רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי, וְכִי אֵין לָנוּ עַל הַפְּרוּשִׁים אֶלָּא זוֹ בִלְבָד.

הֲרֵי הֵם אוֹמְרִים, עַצְמוֹת חֲמוֹר טְהוֹרִים וְעַצְמוֹת יוֹחָנָן כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל טְמֵאִים.
אָמְרוּ לוֹ, לְפִי חִבָּתָן הִיא טֻמְאָתָן, שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם עַצְמוֹת אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ תַּרְוָדוֹת.
אָמַר לָהֶם, אַף כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ לְפִי חִבָּתָן הִיא טֻמְאָתָן,

וְסִפְרֵי הוֹמֵרִיס, שֶׁאֵינָן חֲבִיבִין, אֵינָן מְטַמְּאִין אֶת הַיָּדָיִם:

(6) The Sadducees say: we complain against you, Pharisees, because you say that the Holy Scriptures defile the hands, but the books of Homer do not defile the hands. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai said: Have we nothing against the Pharisees but this? Behold they say that the bones of a donkey are clean, yet the bones of Yohanan the high priest are unclean. They said to him: according to the affection for them, so is their impurity, so that nobody should make spoons out of the bones of his father or mother. He said to them: so also are the Holy Scriptures according to the affection for them, so is their uncleanness. The books of Homer which are not precious do not defile the hands.

Mishna 4:7

Our Mishna describes two cases of the Sadducees complaining to the Pharisees.

The Mishna in Machshirin (5:9) rules that כל הנצוק טהור. This means that when pouring a liquid from a pure vessel into an impure vessel, both the stream of liquid and the pure vessel will remain pure.* The Sadducees take exception since the waters are connected they should, in fact, become impure. In response, the Pharisees present another example of this phenomenon, a stream flowing through a cemetery, the portion outside where it pools into a Mikveh remains pure--a rule to which even the Sadducees would concede.

The Second case concerns a master's responsibility for the damage caused by his servants and maidservants. Under Torah law, a master is not responsible for their damages but is responsible if his animals cause damage (See Bava Kama 8:4). Once again the Sadducees take exception to this rule asking how can it be that while the master is obligated to manage the religious life of his servants he is not responsible for their monetary obligations? The Pharisees respond that the master cannot be held responsible, otherwise, because the servant has a mind of its own and can intentionally cause damage, anytime he got upset at his master he would go out and cause damage.**

* See Albeck, P. 609 who suggests an alternative source, Taharos 8:9, and suggests that the water is flowing from the impure to the pure vessel--similar to the example in our Mishna where the water flows from the cemetery (source of Tumah) to outside the cemetery.

**See Albeck, P. 609 who notes that in surrounding cultures the general rule was that masters are responsible for their servant's damages. But see Regev, P 109, who cautions not to jump to conclusions as to the role these laws may have influenced Sadducian legal thinking.

אוֹמְרִים צְדוֹקִין,

קוֹבְלִין אָנוּ עֲלֵיכֶם, פְּרוּשִׁים,
שֶׁאַתֶּם מְטַהֲרִים אֶת הַנִּצּוֹק.
אוֹמְרִים הַפְּרוּשִׁים,

קוֹבְלִין אָנוּ עֲלֵיכֶם, צְדוֹקִים,

שֶׁאַתֶּם מְטַהֲרִים אֶת אַמַּת הַמַּיִם הַבָּאָה מִבֵּית הַקְּבָרוֹת.
אוֹמְרִים צְדוֹקִין, קוֹבְלִין אָנוּ עֲלֵיכֶם, פְּרוּשִׁים,

שֶׁאַתֶּם אוֹמְרִים, שׁוֹרִי וַחֲמוֹרִי שֶׁהִזִּיקוּ, חַיָּבִין.

וְעַבְדִּי וַאֲמָתִי שֶׁהִזִּיקוּ, פְּטוּרִין.
מָה אִם שׁוֹרִי וַחֲמוֹרִי, שֶׁאֵינִי חַיָּב בָּהֶם מִצְוֹת, הֲרֵי אֲנִי חַיָּב בְּנִזְקָן.

עַבְדִּי וַאֲמָתִי, שֶׁאֲנִי חַיָּב בָּהֶן מִצְוֹת, אֵינוֹ דִין שֶׁאֱהֵא חַיָּב בְּנִזְקָן.
אָמְרוּ לָהֶם, לֹא.

אִם אֲמַרְתֶּם בְּשׁוֹרִי וַחֲמוֹרִי, שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם דַּעַת,

תֹּאמְרוּ בְּעַבְדִּי וּבַאֲמָתִי, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם דָּעַת.

שֶׁאִם אַקְנִיטֵם, יֵלֵךְ וְיַדְלִיק גְּדִישׁוֹ שֶׁל אַחֵר וֶאֱהֵא חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם:

(7) The Sadducees say: we complain against you, Pharisees, that you declare an uninterrupted flow of a liquid to be clean. The Pharisees say: we complain against you, Sadducees, that you declare a stream of water which flows from a burial-ground to be clean? The Sadducees say: we complain against you, Pharisees, that you say, my ox or donkey which has done injury is liable, yet my male or female slave who has done injury is not liable. Now if in the case of my ox or my donkey for which I am not responsible if they do not fulfill religious duties, yet I am responsible for their damages, in the case of my male or female slave for whom I am responsible to see that they fulfill mitzvot, how much more so that I should be responsible for their damages? They said to them: No, if you argue about my ox or my donkey which have no understanding, can you deduce from there anything concerning a male or female slave who do have understanding? So that if I were to anger either of them and they would go and burn another person's stack, should I be liable to make restitution?

Mishna 4:8

Our Mishna, the final Mishna of the Mesechta, describes one last case of a Galilean "Min"* complaining to the Pharisees.

There is a convention with every legal document that it include the date it was entered into. This allows people to know when the transaction took place. Wrongly dating a contract could potentially invalidate them. The Mishna in Gitin 8:5 suggests that it was customary to date Jewish divorce contracts (Get) using the year of the then reigning non-Jewish sovereign (i.e., in the third year of the reign of King "so and so"). This was done to keep good relations with the government in power.

Separately, as part of the text, the Chachomim included the following words at the end of the Get: "כדת משה וישראל" (i.e., that the text is in accordance with Jewish religious law and custom). The Galilean took exception to the fact that both the secular ruler and the name of Moshe Rabbeinu are included in the same contract.**

The Chachomim respond that we find a similar situation in the Torah itself where we have the name of both the secular king (Pharaoh) and Hashem near each other. Moreover, Pharaoh's name is listed before Hashem's name.*** If it is not disrespectful for Hashem's name to be written as such, certainly we can do so for Moshe's name.

Finally, because the pasuk quoted is referencing Pharaoh's irreverence for Hashem "i.e., who is this Hashem?!?", to end on a positive note the Mishna ends with a quote showing that, in the end, even Pharaoh acknowledged Hashem's righteousness.

* While our Mishna uses the term Sadducee, most, if not all, extant manuscripts use the term Min instead of Sadducee. Historically, this term was used to denote an early Christian. Even if this time it was not so referencing, Medieval censors likely changed the word from Min to Tziduki. See Ma"Harsha on this Mishna who suggests that the whole notion of including the words כדת משה וישראל in the Get was to show that everlasting nature of our Tradition and the Torah.

**It is unclear whether he was suggesting that the king's name should be stricken or whether to exclude the concluding words from the Get. Because most contracts included this form of sovereign dating (see Mishna Rosh HaShana 1:1 and , generally, Rambam, Tosfos Yom Tov and Rash"ash), it would appear that it was the inclusion of כדת משה וישראל that upset him. But it does not seem like he was necessarily looking to undermine the authority of the Chachomim and the concept of Gittin.

***Albeck, p. 609-10 notes that some sects would actually split this pasuk in half, with Hashem's name starting on a new line. Making the reference in the Mishna to higher and lower (rather than prior or later) literal. He also notes that there is a different version of our Mishna that reads " את המושל עם השם " so that the question is how can it be that both Hashem's name and the secular king's name are mentioned in a Get. See Tosfos s.v. לפי שאין למדין Bava Basra 162a who rejects this reading and Aishel Avraham on Megillat Taanis (3rd day of Tishrei).

Nonetheless, the alternative reading has a certain inherent logic. By switching Hashem for Moshe, it better parallels the pasuk with Pharaoh. Further, it helps explain the Mishna's secondary question namely that in the Torah Pharaoh's name is written above Hashem's (unlike the Get where Hashem's name would come first). However, it also presupposes that Hashem's name is written in a Get, something our Gittin do not include (but, perhaps, ancient ones may have included). See Rabinowitz, J.J., "The legal papyrus from 'Auja el-Hafir," Yedi ‘ot ha-Hevrah la-hakirat Erets-Yisra'el ye-‘ atikoteha Volume 17, online in Digital Library for International Research Archive, Item #2143, http://www.dlir.org/archive/items/show/2143 (accessed February 26, 2017).

If the "Hashem" version is the correct version of our Mishna, it could mean our Mishna preserves an ancient text (i.e., Mishna Rishona) since such a practice of including Hashem's name in a contract would have been abolished as noted in Megillat Taanis. See Zeitlin, Solomon. “Megillat Taanit as a Source for Jewish Chronology and History in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods.” The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 10, no. 2/3, 1919, pp. 237–290. New Series, www.jstor.org/stable/1451411, especially footnote 269 and his hypothesis as to the cause of the mistaken version.

אָמַר צְדוֹקִי גְלִילִי,

קוֹבֵל אֲנִי עֲלֵיכֶם, פְּרוּשִׁים,
שֶׁאַתֶּם כּוֹתְבִין אֶת הַמּוֹשֵׁל עִם משֶׁה בַּגֵּט.
אוֹמְרִים פְּרוּשִׁים, קוֹבְלִין אָנוּ עָלֶיךָ, צְדוֹקִי גְלִילִי,

שֶׁאַתֶּם כּוֹתְבִים אֶת הַמּוֹשֵׁל עִם הַשֵּׁם בַּדַּף,

וְלֹא עוֹד, אֶלָּא שֶׁאַתֶּם כּוֹתְבִין אֶת הַמּוֹשֵׁל מִלְמַעְלָן וְאֶת הַשֵּׁם מִלְּמַטָּן,

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות ה) וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה מִי יי אֲשֶׁר אֶשְׁמַע בְּקֹלוֹ לְשַׁלַּח אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל.

וּכְשֶׁלָּקָה מַהוּ אוֹמֵר (שם ט), יי הַצַּדִּיק:

(8) A Galilean min said: I complain against you Pharisees, that you write the name of the ruler and the name of Moses together on a divorce document. The Pharisees said: we complain against you, Galilean min, that you write the name of the ruler together with the divine name on a single page [of Torah]? And furthermore that you write the name of the ruler above and the divine name below? As it is said, "And Pharoah said, Who is the Lord that I should hearken to his voice to let Israel go?" (Exodus 5:2) But when he was smitten what did he say? "The Lord is righteous" (Exodus 9:27).