THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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1) THE TYPE OF EARTH THAT IS USED FOR "KISUY HA'DAM"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah teaches that Kisuy ha'Dam must be performed with
soft, fine sand (or similar material), and not with coarse sand. In the
first version, the Gemara asks what the Mishnah means by "fine" sand. Rabah
bar bar Chanah in the name of Rebbi Yochanan says that fine sand refers to
any sand that is so fine that a potter would not need to grind it when
making clay out of it. In the second version, the Gemara asks what the
Mishnah means by "coarse" sand. Rabah bar bar Chanah in the name of Rebbi
Yochanan says that coarse sand refers to any sand that a potter would need
to grind in order to make clay out of it.
The Gemara explains that the difference between the two versions is a
material that is chunky but breaks apart easily when handled.
What is the Gemara's intention? Does the Gemara mean that such material is
considered fine sand and may be used for Kisuy ha'Dam, or that it is
considered coarse sand and may not be used?
(a) RASHI (DH Ika) explains that according to the first version of the
Gemara, brittle sand that can be crushed by hand is considered fine sand
and may be used for Kisuy ha'Dam. According to the second version, such
sand is included in the category of sand that the potter must crush, and
therefore it is considered coarse sand and cannot be used for Kisuy ha'Dam.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 28:23) rules that any sand that must be
crushed by a potter in any manner may not be used for Kisuy ha'Dam, in
accordance with the Rosh's understanding of the Gemara's first version of
Rabah bar bar Chanah's ruling.
(b) The ROSH cites the RIF and explains that he understands the Gemara in
the opposite manner. A chunk of sand that breaks apart easily when handled
is not considered fine sand, and thus may not be used for Kisuy ha'Dam
according to the Gemara's first version. However, it is also not considered
to be coarse sand, and, therefore, according to the Gemara's second version
it may be used for Kisuy ha'Dam.
2) "KELAL HA'TZARICH LI'FERAT"
OPINIONS: The Gemara explains that we do not expound the verse, "v'Chisahu
b'Afar" (Vayikra 17:13), with the method of "Kelal u'Ferat u'Chelal,"
because the Kelal ("v'Chisahu") "needs" the Perat ("b'Afar"). In what way
does the Kelal need the Perat? Why is this verse different from any other
3) A MATERIAL IN WHICH SEEDS CAN GROW
(a) RASHI (DH Kelal) explains that since the word "v'Chisahu" alone can be
understood to mean that one must cover the blood in any manner, even by
placing a utensil over it. The Perat ("b'Afar"), therefore, is needed to
teach that one must cover the blood not with a utensil, but with earth.
Since the Perat is needed to explain the meaning of the Kelal, it cannot be
used as a Mi'ut to limit what is included in the Kelal. In contrast, in
other cases of a Kelal u'Ferat, the Kelal alone implies what the Perat is
teaching, and thus the Perat must be intended to limit the Kelal even more.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Kelal) quotes RABEINU TAM who disagrees with Rashi's
explanation. According to Rashi, he asks, "v'Chisahu" alone means both
covering with a utensil and covering with earth, while "b'Afar" is a Perat
that means only earth. Accordingly, the phrase should be judged as a normal
Kelal u'Ferat, and the Perat should limit the Kelal to only earth!
Rabeinu Tam suggests instead that "v'Chisahu" implies that one must cover
the blood only by placing something on top of the blood, while "b'Afar"
implies that the blood must be surrounded by earth, with earth both beneath
the blood and above it (as the Gemara teaches on 83b). Accordingly, the
Perat of "b'Afar" limits the Kelal to earth, but it also expands the
requirement of the Kelal to placing earth beneath the blood as well as on
top of it. When a Perat both limits a Kelal in one respect and expands a
Kelal in another respect, it is called a "Kelal ha'Tzarich li'Ferat," and
in such a case the Perat cannot limit what is implied by the Kelal. (M.
QUESTION: Rav Nachman bar Rav Chisda expounds that we may perform Kisuy
ha'Dam only with a material in which seeds can grow. He cites support for
this from a Beraisa that teaches that if a man is in the desert or on a
ship and has no dirt with which to cover the blood from the Shechitah, he
may burn a garment and use the ashes to cover the blood, or he may grind up
a gold coin and use the powder, because the verse refers to ashes and
crushed gold as "Afar"). He may not use the desert sand, though, because
seeds will not grow in it.
4) THE REWARD FOR AVRAHAM'S HUMILITY
If the verse teaches that ashes and gold dust are included in the category
of "Afar" and may be used for Kisuy ha'Dam, then why is desert sand not
valid for Kisuy ha'Dam? Even though it is not fertile, we should learn that
it may be used for Kisuy ha'Dam from the fact that ashes and gold dust may
ANSWER: The ROSH explains that for Kisuy ha'Dam we may only use a material
that is called "Afar," either by the Torah (as in the case of ashes and
gold dust), or by people. However, there is a difference between the two
types of Afar. Materials that are called "Afar" by the Torah may be used
even when they are not fertile. In contrast, materials that are called
"Afar" only by people may be used only when they are fertile. (See also
TOSFOS DH Shochek.) (Z. Wainstein)
QUESTION: Rava teaches that as reward for Avraham's humility when he called
himself "Afar va'Efer" -- "I am dirt and ashes" (Bereishis 18:27), his
offspring merited to have the two Mitzvos of Efer Parah Adumah and Afar
Sotah. The Gemara explains that Rava does not mention the Mitzvah of Kisuy
ha'Dam, which is also performed with Afar, because the Mitzvos given as
reward are Mitzvos from which benefit is derived (such as the Efer Parah
Adumah, which makes a person become Tahor, and the Afar Sotah, which
permits a woman to her husband and gives her a blessing of children). The
Mitzvah of Kisuy ha'Dam does not provide any benefit, since the meat of the
Chayah or bird is permitted even if Kisuy ha'Dam is not performed.
What is Rava's source for asserting that these two Mitzvos were given to us
as reward for Avraham's statement? There are many other Mitzvos that were
given to us not specifically as a reward for his statement. Why, then,
should we assume that these two Mitzvos are a reward for his statement?
ANSWER: The TORAS CHAYIM answers that these two Mitzvos indeed would not
have been given to us without the additional merit of Avraham's humility,
because it would not have been fitting to use such lowly and insignificant
materials (dirt and ashes) for Mitzvos that benefit us.
How did the humility of Avraham Avinu change the status of these materials,
making them dignified and worthy of being used for Mitzvos? The answer
seems to be that the insignificance that a person attributes to dirt and
ashes is due to the person's own sense of feeling important. When a person
feels that he is important, so he views dirt and ashes as unimportant.
However, when a person feels that he himself is no more important than dirt
and ashes, he acknowledges that there is nothing insignificant about any of
The Toras Chayim points out that we find that Bil'am was astounded to see
that the Jews have Mitzvos that involve dirt and ashes, as he declared, "Mi
Manah Afar Yakov" -- "Who has counted the dust of Yakov" (Bamidbar 23:10),
which the Midrash (see Rashi there) explains to mean, "Who can count the
Mitzvos that the Jews fulfill with dirt and ashes?" To Bil'am, the haughty
and arrogant Rasha, it truly was a wonder how such lowly materials could be
use in the service of Hashem.