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Megillah, Daf Het, Part 3

 

Introduction

Today’s mishnah is about the difference between a man who has two unnatural genital discharges (meaning not semen) and one who has three.

 

משנה. אין בין זב הרואה שתי ראיות לרואה שלש אלא קרבן.

 

There is no difference between a zav who sees [genital discharge] twice and one who sees three, except the sacrifice.

 

A man who experiences an abnormal discharge for one or two consecutive days is impure for seven days after the discharge ends. If he sees the discharge for a third consecutive day, he must bring a sacrifice at the end of the seven day period. See Leviticus 15.

 

גמרא. הא לענין משכב ומושב וספירת שבעהזה וזה שוין.

 

GEMARA. Behold we can deduce that in the matter of [defiling] a bed or a seat and counting seven days they are on the same footing.

 

Both one who saw two "issues" and one who saw "three" issues defile anything they sit or lie on (even if they don’t touch it) and need to count seven days before they can become pure.

 

מנהני מילי? דתנו רבנן: רבי סימאי אומר: מנה הכתוב שתים וקראו טמא, שלש וקראו טמא. הא כיצד? שתים לטומאה, ושלש לקרבן.

 

From where is this rule derived? As our Rabbis have taught: R. Simai says: The text counted two [issues] and designated the man as unclean, and then three and designated him as unclean. How so? Two for uncleanness, a third for a sacrifice.

 

Leviticus 15:2 uses the word "zav" and its equivalent "zovo" which R. Simai interprets as two issues of unnatural discharge. After using this word twice, the end of the verse calls him impure. The next verse uses the word three times and also calls him impure. However, this is problematic. If he is already impure after two issues, why mention (midrashically) that he has a third?

The answer is that after two issues he is unclean, but after the third he is also liable for a sacrifice.

 

ואימר שתים לטומאה ולא לקרבן, שלש לקרבן ולא לטומאה!

אמרת: עד שלא ראה שלש ראה שתים.

 

But say that two means he is unclean but he does not bring a sacrifice, while three means he brings a sacrifice but he is not unclean?

Say: before he has three issues he must have already had two.

 

The Talmud now explores other ways of understanding why first the Torah refers to two issues and then three. Perhaps it means that after two he is unclean but that after three he brings a sacrifice and is not unclean!

Of course, this is not a serious suggestion. Before he can have three issues, he would have been unclean after having two. He stays unclean.

ואימר: שתים לקרבן ולא לטומאה, שלש אף לטומאה!

 

Say then that two observations obligate him for a sacrifice but not uncleanness, whereas three means he is uncleanness also?

 

This is a slightly more plausible interpretation. After two issues he would be obligated to bring a sacrifice but not unclean. After three he would be unclean as well.

Of course, this does conflict with the simple meaning of the verse which in both verses call him impure.

לא סלקא דעתך, דתניא: +ויקרא ט"ו+ וכפר עליו הכהן לפני המזובומקצת זבין מביאין קרבן ומקצת זבין אין מביאין קרבן. הא כיצד? ראה שלשמביא, שתיםאינו מביא. או אינו אלא: ראה שתיםמביא, ראה שלשאינו מביא? אמרת: עד שלא ראה שלש ראה שתים.

 

Do not even think this, since it has been taught: "And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord from his issue" (Leviticus 15:15); [From his issue] implies that zavim bring a sacrifice and some zavim do not bring a sacrifice.

How so? If he has three issues, he brings a sacrifice, if only two, he does not bring.

Or shall we say that if he has two he brings the sacrifice, but if three he does not? You can say that before he has three he must have had two.

 

This baraita derives the same halakhah we learned from R. Simai above. It focuses on the word "from his issue" which (to this midrash) implies that some zavim bring a sacrifice and some do not. Two issues does not entail bringing a sacrifice, but three does.

ואיצטריך דרבי סימאי, ואצטריך מזובו. דאי מדרבי סימאיהוה אמינא כי קושיין. קמשמע לן מזובו. ואי מזובולא ידענא כמה ראיות, קמשמע לן דרבי סימאי.

 

And both the midrash of R. Simai and the midrash on "from his issue" are necessary [to prove this point].

For if I had only R. Simai, I might have raised the above objection, and therefore it teaches us "from his issue."

And if I had only "from his issue," I would not have known how many issues [obligate for a sacrifice]; therefore I have R. Simai.

 

The Talmud points out that both midrashim were necessary. If we only had R. Simai we would not have known that after two he is unclean and after three he brings a sacrifice. We might have thought the opposite, as was stated in the difficulty above.

And if all we had was the latter baraita, we would have known that there was a difference between how many issues a zav had seen, but we wouldn’t have known that he was impure after two and brought a sacrifice after three. Therefore we need both midrashim.