Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Kohanic Prohibition of Tumah




Continuing on in מנחה טהורה to the chapter on איסור טומאה לכהנים, the main chakira here is the question of how to characterize the prohibition on Kohanim:

  • It is forbidden for Kohanim to become impure from Tumat Met
  • It is forbidden for Kohanim to come in contact with a corpse


For most cases, these conditions coincide, but there are nevertheless many cases where only one condition occurs, for example:

  1. If a Kohen is already tamei met, is he still forbidden from contact with a corpse? If the prohibition is on becoming impure, then it apparently wouldn't apply.
  2. Can a Kohen come into contact with a גוסס on his deathbed, who is not yet tamei yet still has the status of a corpse to some degree? It may be a problem of contact with a corpse.
  3. Why can the pregnant mother of a potential Kohen enter the tent of a dead body? No Tumah can reach the baby, yet the baby is still in a place of death so we may need the Rokeach’s sfeik sfeika to allow it.
  4. Are cherev kechalal or sof tumah latzeit forbidden to a Kohen? There is tumah, but no hitkarvut lamet.


Rav Wolf also points out that the psukim reflect both approaches, so it may be that there are two independent issurim, at least for a Kohen Gadol:
  • "לנפש לא יטמא בעמיו"(ויקרא כא:א)
  • "ועל כל נפשת מת לא יבא"(ויקרא כא:יא)

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