Ohalot, Chapter One, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

Our mishnah serves as an introduction to the next several mishnayot. As is frequently the case in the beginning of a tractate, the mishnah is based on numbers (see for instance the beginning of Shabbat and Shevuot). It discusses the different levels of impurity that have their source in a corpse.

 

Mishnah One

1)      Two are defiled through a corpse, one being defiled with seven days’ defilement and one being defiled with a defilement lasting until the evening. 

2)      Three are defiled through a corpse, two being defiled with seven days’ defilement and one with a defilement lasting until the evening.

3)      Four are defiled through a corpse, three being defiled with seven days’ defilement and one with a defilement lasting until the evening.

4)      What [is the case of] two? A person who touches a corpse is defiled with seven days’ defilement and a person who touches him is defiled with a defilement lasting until the evening. 

 

Explanation

Section one: This will be explained below in section four.

Section two: This will be explained in mishnah two.

Section three: This will be explained in mishnah three.

Section four: Numbers 19:11 explicitly states that one who has contact with a corpse is defiled for seven days. Verse 22 states, “and the person who touches him shall be unclean until evening.” “Him” refers to the person who came into contact with the corpse.   

 

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