QUESTION: Rebbi Yehudah states that if a cow drinks Mei Chatas and then it
is slaughtered, the meat of the cow remains Tahor, even though Mei Chatas
normally conveys Tum'ah to whatever it touches.
The Gemara explains that the Mei Chatas loses its status of an Av ha'Tum'ah
because it can no longer be used for sprinkling, since it is in the cow's
stomach. However, the Mei Chatas is Metamei itself at that moment to become
a Rishon l'Tum'ah like any other liquid. The Gemara attempts to prove that
since the meat is Tahor, it must be that according to Rebbi Yehudah liquids
cannot be Metamei other items. The Gemara rejects this proof and says that
the water in the cow's stomach is a "Mashkeh Saru'ach," a putrid liquid
unfit even for animal consumption, and therefore it loses all of its Tum'ah.
RASHI (DH Rav Ashi Amar) says that the source that liquid loses its Tum'ah
when it becomes spoiled is found in the Toras Kohanim (Parshas Shemini 8:4;
Tosefta Taharos 9:7), where this law is derived from a verse.
However, in the Toras Kohanim it is only Rebbi Eliezer who learns the verse
in that way. The Chachamim there argue and maintain that liquids that become
spoiled do *not* lose their Tum'ah, since even if dogs would not drink such
liquids, birds and cows would, and therefore they do not lose their Tum'ah.
(The RAMBAM and RA'AVAD -- Hilchos Tum'as Ochlin 2:14 -- rule like the
Chachamim that liquids never lose their Tum'ah.)
How can the Gemara say that according to Rebbi Yehudah, spoiled liquids lose
their Tum'ah, when we see that the Chachamim argue and maintain that they do
not lose their Tum'ah?
(a) This approach of the Gemara is suggesting that Rebbi Yehudah is in
agreement with the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer in Toras Kohanim.
(b) The RA'AVAD (on the Beraisa in Toras Kohanim) says that *everyone*
agrees that the Mashkeh Saru'ach in our Sugya loses its Tum'ah. The
Chachamim maintain that a spoiled liquid remains Tamei only when it becomes
spoiled by dirt or it spoils by itself. Since it is still fit for birds, it
does not lose its Tum'ah. Here, however, the liquid becomes *digested* in
the cow's stomach and it is considered to be nothing more than digested
waste products. Everyone agrees that such a liquid is no longer considered a
liquid. (CHAZON YECHEZKEL)