Previous Folio / Niddah Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
R. Samuel b. Bisna enquired of Abaye: 'Is a woman ejecting semen12 regarded as observing a discharge or as coming in contact with one?13 The practical issue14 is the question of rendering15 any previous counting16 void,17 and of conveying uncleanness by means of the smallest quantity17 and of conveying uncleanness internally as well as externally'.17 But what is the question?18 If he19 heard of the Baraithas [he should have known that] according to the Rabbis she is regarded as observing a discharge while according to R. Simeon she is regarded as coming in contact with one; and if he19 did not hear of the Baraitha,20 is it not logical that21 she should be regarded as coming in contact with one?22 — Indeed he may well have heard of the Baraitha and, as far as the Rabbis are concerned, he had no question at all;23 what he did ask concerned only the view of R. Simeon. Furthermore, he had no question24 as to whether uncleanness is conveyed internally as externally;25 what he did ask was whether any previous counting is rendered void and whether uncleanness is conveyed by means of the smallest quantity. When [he asked in effect] R. Simeon ruled that 'it is enough that she be subject to the same stringency of uncleanness as the man who had intercourse with her' he meant it only in respect of conveying uncleanness internally as externally26 but as regards rendering any previous counting void and conveying uncleanness by means of the smallest quantity she is regarded as one observing a discharge, or is it possible that27 there is no difference?28 There are others who read: Indeed he19 may never have heard of the Baraitha,29 but30 it is this that he asked in effect: Since the All Merciful has considered it proper to impose a restriction31 at Sinai on those who emitted semen,32 she must be regarded as one who observed a discharge, or is it possible that no inference may be drawn from Sinai, since it was placed under an anomalous law, seeing that zabs and lepers who are elsewhere subject to major restrictions were not subjected by the All Merciful to that restriction?31 — The other33 replied: She is regarded as one who has observed a discharge. He34 then came to Raba35 and put the question to him. The latter replied: She is regarded as one who observed a discharge. He thereupon came to R. Joseph who also told him: She is regarded as one who observed a discharge. He34 then returned to Abaye and said to him: 'You all spit the same thing',36 'We', the other replied, 'only gave you the right answer. For when R. Simeon ruled that "it is enough that she be subject to the same stringency of uncleanness as the man who had intercourse with her" it was only in respect of conveying uncleanness internally as externally,37 but in respect of rendering any previous counting void and in respect of conveying uncleanness by means of the smallest quantity she is regarded as one who observed a discharge.38
Our Rabbis taught: A menstruant,39 a zabah,40 one who awaits a day for a day40 and a woman after childbirth41 contract uncleanness internally42 as well as externally. Now, the enumeration of three of these cases43 may well be justified, but how is one to explain the mention of the woman after childbirth? If the birth44 occurred during her menstruation period she is a menstruant,45 and if it occurred during her zibah period she is a zabah?45 — The mention46 was necessary only in the case of one who went down47 to perform ritual immersion in order to pass out thereby from the period of uncleanness to that of cleanness;48 and this49 is in agreement with a ruling given by R. Zera citing R. Hiyya b. Ashi who had it from Rab: If a woman after childbirth went down47 to perform ritual immersion in order to pass out thereby from her period of uncleanness to that of cleanness,48 and some blood was detached from her body,50 while she was going down,51 she is unclean,52 but if it occurred while she was going up, she is clean.53 Said R. Jeremiah to R. Zera: Why should she be unclean if this occurred 'while she was going down'? Is not the blood merely an absorbed uncleanness?54 — Go, the other replied, and ask it of R. Abin to whom I have explained the point at the schoolhouse and who nodded to me with his head.55 He went and asked him [the question], and the latter replied: This was treated like the carcass of a clean bird which56 conveys uncleanness to garments57 while it is still passing through the oesophagus.58 But are the two cases at all similar
Niddah 42bseeing that in the latter case no uncleanness is conveyed by external contact1 while here uncleanness would be conveyed when it emerges from the body?2 — Here also it is a case where the discharge emerged from the body.3 But if it emerged from the body, what need was there to mention such a case?4 — It might have been presumed that as the immersion is effective in respect of blood that is internal it is also effective in respect of the other,5 hence we were informed [that in the latter case the immersion is of no avail]. The difficulty about our cited tradition6 is well solved; but as regards the woman after childbirth7 [the difficulty arises again]: If the birth occurred during her menstruation period she is a menstruant, and if it occurred during her zibah period she is a zabah?8 — Here we are dealing with the case of a dry birth.9 But in the case of a dry birth,10 what point is there in the statement that uncleanness is contracted internally as well as externally?11 — The statement is justified in a case for instance, where the embryo put its head out of the ante-chamber;12 and this13 is in agreement with R. Oshaia, for R. Oshaia stated, 'This14 is a preventive measure15 against the possibility that the embryo might put its head out of the ante-chamber';16 and this17 is also in line with the following ruling: A certain person once came before Raba and asked him, 'Is it permissible to perform a circumcision on the Sabbath?' 'This', the other replied, 'is quite in order'. After that person went out Raba considered: Is it likely that this man did not know that it was permissible to perform a circumcision on the Sabbath? He thereupon followed him and said to him, 'Pray tell me all the circumstance of the case'.18 'I', the other told him, 'heard the child cry late on the Sabbath eve but it was not born until the Sabbath'. 'This is a case', the first explained to him, 'of a child19 who put his head out of the ante-chamber20 and consequently his circumcision21 is one that does not take place at the proper time,22 and on account of a circumcision that does not take place at the proper time the Sabbath may not be desecrated.'23
The question was raised: Is that region in a woman24 regarded as an absorbed place or as a concealed one? — In what respect could this matter? — In the case, for instance, where her friend inserted in her in that region a piece of nebelah of the size of an olive. If you say that it is regarded as an absorbed place, this nebelah being now an absorbed uncleanness25 would convey no uncleanness to the woman,26 but if you say that it is a concealed place, granted that no uncleanness could be conveyed by means of contact27 uncleanness would be conveyed by means of carriage?28 — Abaye replied: It is regarded as an absorbed place. Raba replied: It is regarded as a concealed one. Said Raba: Whence do I derive this? From what was taught: Since the uncleanness arises in a concealed region, and since an uncleanness in a concealed region is elsewhere ineffective, a special Scriptural ordinance was required [to give it effect in this particular case].29 And Abaye?30 — The meaning31 is this: There is one reason and there is yet another.32 In the first place the woman should be clean since the uncleanness is an absorbed one; and, furthermore, even if you were to find some ground for saying that it is a concealed uncleanness and an uncleanness in a concealed region is ineffective, this33 is a specific Scriptural ordinance.
The question was raised: Is the region through which the nebelah of a clean bird conveys uncleanness to a human being34 regarded as an absorbed place or as a concealed one? In what respect can this matter? — In a case, for instance, where his friend pushed a piece of nebelah of the size of an olive into his mouth.35 If you regard it as an absorbent place, this nebelah being now an absorbed uncleanness would convey no uncleanness, but if36 you say that it is a concealed one, granted that no uncleanness is conveyed by means of contact,37 uncleanness would be conveyed by means of carriage?38 — Abaye replied: It is an absorbed place, but Raba replied: It is a concealed one. Whence, said Abaye, do I derive this? From what was taught: As it might have been presumed that the nebelah of a beast conveys uncleanness to a person's garments by way of his oesophagus,39 it was explicitly stated in Scripture, That which dieth of itself,40 or is torn of beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith,41 which implies: Only that42 which has no other form of uncleanness but that which is conveyed through the eating thereof42 [conveys uncleanness by way of the oesophagus],39 but this43 is excluded since it conveys uncleanness even before one had eaten of it. But why should not this44 be inferred a minori ad majus from the nebelah of a clean bird: If the nebelah of a clean bird which is not subject to uncleanness externally is subject to uncleanness internally39 how much more then should this,43 which is subject to uncleanness externally, be subject to uncleanness internally? — Scripture said, 'therewith'41 which implies: Only therewith45 but not with any other.43 If so, why was it stated in Scripture, And he that eateth?46 To prescribe for one who touches or carries it the same size as that which was prescribed for one who eats of it: As one who eats of it incurs guilt on consuming the full size of an olive so also one who touches or carries it contracts uncleanness only if it is of the size of an olive.
Raba ruled: A man holding a dead creeping thing in a fold of his body47 is clean, but if he holds nebelah in a fold of his body he is unclean. 'A man holding a dead creeping thing in a fold of his body is clean', since a dead creeping thing conveys uncleanness by means of touch, while a concealed region of the body47 is not susceptible to the uncleanness of touch. 'If he holds nebelah in a fold of his body he is unclean' for, granted that he contracts no uncleanness through touch, he contracts it, at any rate, through carriage. If a man held a dead creeping thing in the fold of his body48 and he thus brought it into the air spaces49 of an oven50 the latter is unclean. Is not this obvious?51 — It might have been presumed that the All Merciful said, Into the inside of which,52 implying:
- To Next Folio -