Monday, July 07, 2008

Eglah Arufah from Yerushalayim

The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Sotah 45b) had stated: The city of Yerushalayim does not bring an eglah arufah (the law is that upon finding a corpse, and being unable to solve the murder, the leaders of the city closest to the corpse are required to bring a calf to an untilled valley, decapitate it, wash their hands over it, and then they must recite a verse, declaring publicly that they did not kill the person).

The Gemora explains the reason for this: It is written: If a corpse will be found on the land that Hashem your God gives you to inherit it. The Tanna of our Mishna holds that Yerushalayim was not apportioned among the tribes. It was given to all of Klal Yisroel, and therefore, it is not included in the verse of being “land that was given to inherit it.”

The halacha would be that the city, which is next closest to the spot where the body was found, would bring the eglah arufah.

The Gemora in Bava Basra (23b) states that the halacha of eglah arufah is only applicable when the city is located between two mountains, and therefore, people do not frequent that area. For if it would be a city where many people from the world pass through, we would say that the murderer did not come from the nearest city; but rather, he came from the majority of the world.

Tosfos there asks: If so, why is it necessary to exclude Yerushalayim from bringing an eglah arufah based upon the verse “to inherit it”? Yerushalayim should be excluded because it is a city where all people from the world pass through. They come for the pilgrimage and they come during the year to offer their sacrifices and to eat their ma’aser! It emerges that we would never attribute the murderer to the residents of Yerushalayim, for most of the people there are from the rest of the world!?

Tosfos answers that there were streets in Yerushalayim that were only frequented by the residents of Yerushalayim, and it is on account of those areas that the verse is necessary to exclude Yerushalayim from bringing an eglah arufah.

HaRav Elyashiv derives from this Tosfos the following halacha: If there would be a city that a portion of it would not be fit to bring an eglah arufah, but a different part of the same city would be suitable to bring it, that city would be required to bring an eglah arufah.

Accordingly, if they would add on to the city of Yerushalayim (like the Gemora in Shavuos 14b states that this can be done with a Beis Din of seventy-one and the Kohen Gadol), and the added area would be apportioned to all the tribes, Yerushalayim would be required to bring an eglah arufah on account of the extra area.