As we learned, the Gemara on yesterday’s daf closed with a story where the High Priest became concerned that he may have been rendered tameh by the saliva of a Sadducee with whom he was conversing in the market place. Although the conclusion of the baraita was that there was no concern with tum’at nidda, nevertheless that Gemara remains concerned about other types of tum’ah, since ordinarily the Rabbinic Sages consider the spittle of an am ha’aretz – someone who is not a ḥaver who is known to concern himself with the laws of ritual purity – to be tameh.
In response, Rava suggests that this incident took place on one of the three pilgrimage holidays (Pesaḥ, Shavuot or Sukkot) when a special rule was instituted. The passage in Sefer Shoftim (20:11) teaches “So all the men of Israel were gathered to the city, like one man, united (ḥaverim).” From here the Sages derive that at the time when all of the people join together, they are all treated as ḥaverim.
The Talmud Yerushalmi agrees with this rule, considering all Jews as ḥaverim during the pilgrimage holidays, but in Massekhet Ḥagiga it derives it from a different passage. In Sefer Tehillim (122:3) we find a pasuk that states “Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together.”
The term “compact together” – ḥubbera lah yaḥdav – is understood as teaching that when all visit Jerusalem, they are all considered ḥaverim. In Massekhet Bava Kamma the Talmud Yerushalmi interprets that same passage as teaching that the city of Jerusalem binds the entire Jewish people together. The Maharatz Ḥayyut explains that these two interpretations of the passage in Tehillim complement each other. When Jews gather in Jerusalem it brings them together emotionally and spiritually, so that all are trusted and can join together in celebration.