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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
IF ONE WAS YOUNGER THAN THIS AGE, INTERCOURSE WITH HER IS LIKE PUTTING A FINGER IN THE EYE. It was asked, Do the features of virginity6 disappear7 and reappear again8 or is it possible that they cannot be completely destroyed until after the third year of her age? In what practical respect could this matter? — In one, for instance, where her husband had intercourse with her before the age of9 three and found blood, and when he had intercourse after the age of three he found no blood. If you grant that they disappear and reappear again [it might well be assumed]10 that11 there 'was not sufficient time for their reappearance, but if you maintain that they cannot be destroyed until after the age of three years it would be obvious that12 a stranger cohabited with her.13 Now what is your decision? — R. Hiyya son of R. Ika demurred: But who can tell us that a wound inflicted within the three years is not healed14 forthwith, seeing it is possible that it is immediately healed and it would thus be obvious12 that a stranger had cohabited with her?13 Rather the practical difference is the case, for instance, where her husband had intercourse with her while she was under15 three years of age and found blood and when he had intercourse after the age of three he also found blood. If you grant that the features disappear and reappear again the blood might well be treated as that of virginity, but if you maintain that they cannot be destroyed until after the age of three years, that16 must be the blood of menstruation. Now what is your decision? — R. Hisda replied, Come and hear: IF ONE WAS YOUNGER THAN THIS AGE, INTERCOURSE WITH HER IS LIKE PUTTING A FINGER IN THE EYE; what need was there to state, LIKE PUTTING A FINGER IN THE EYE' instead of merely saying: IF ONE WAS YOUNGER THAN THIS AGE, INTERCOURSE WITH HER IS of no consequence'? Does not this then teach us that as the eye tears and tears again so do the features of virginity disappear and reappear again.
Our Rabbis taught: It is related of Justinia17 the daughter of 'Aseverus son of Antonius that she once appeared before Rabbi 'Master', she said to him, 'at what age may a woman marry?'. 'At the age of three years and one day', he told her. 'And at what age is she capable of conception?' 'At the age of twelve years and one day', he replied. 'I', she said to him, 'married at the age of six and bore a child at the age of seven; alas for the three years that I have lost at my father's house'. But can a woman conceive at the age of six years? Did not R. Bibi recite in the presence of R. Nahman: Three classes of woman may use an absorbent18 in their marital intercourse:19 A minor, and an expectant and a nursing mother. The minor,20 because otherwise she might become pregnant and die. An expectant mother,20 because otherwise she might cause her foetus to degenerate into a sandal.21 A nursing mother,20 because otherwise she might have to wean her child prematurely,22 and this would result in his death. And what is the age of such a 'minor'?23 From the age of eleven years and one day to the age of twelve years and one day. One who is under24 or over this age25 must carry on her marital intercourse in a normal manner; so R. Meir. But the Sages ruled: The one as well as the other carries on her marital intercourse in a normal manner and mercy26 will be vouchsafed from heaven, for it is said in Scripture, The Lord preserveth the simple?27 — If you wish I might reply: Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses.28 And if you prefer I might reply: Whose mouth speaketh falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of lying.29
Our Rabbis taught: A story is told of a certain woman who came before R. Akiba and said to him, 'Master, intercourse has been forced upon me30 when I was under31 three years of age; what is my position towards the priesthood?'32 'You are fit for the priesthood',33 he replied. 'Master', she continued, 'I will give you a comparison; to what may the incident be compared? To a babe whose finger was submerged34 in honey. The first time and the second time he cries about it, but the third time he sucks it'.35 'If so', he replied, 'you are unfit for the priesthood'.36 Observing that the students were looking at each other,37 he said to them, 'Why do you find the ruling difficult?'38 'Because', they replied, 'as all the Torah is a tradition that was handed to Moses at Sinai so is the law that a girl under the age of three years39 is fit for the priesthood one that was handed to Moses at Sinai'. R. Akiba too made his statement40 only for the purpose of exercising the wits of41 the students.42
MISHNAH. IF A BOY OF THE AGE OF NINE YEARS AND ONE DAY COHABITED WITH HIS CHILDLESS BROTHER'S WIDOW, HE43 ACQUIRES HER THEREBY,44 BUT45 HE CANNOT DIVORCE HER UNTIL HE ATTAINS HIS MAJORITY. HE CONTRACTS UNCLEANNESS THROUGH INTERCOURSE WITH A MENSTRUANT AND HE IN TURN CONVEYS THE SAME DEGREE OF UNCLEANNESS TO THAT UPON WHICH HE LIES AS [DOES A ZAB] TO THAT WHICH HAS LAIN UPON HIM.46 HE47 DISQUALIFIES A WOMAN FROM THE PRIESTHOOD,48 BUT49 CANNOT CONFER UPON ONE50 THE RIGHT TO EAT TERUMAH.51 HE RENDERS A BEAST52 INVALID FOR THE ALTAR, AND IT IS STONED ON HIS ACCOUNT.53 IF HE HAD INTERCOURSE WITH ANY OF THE FORBIDDEN DEGREES THAT ARE ENUMERATED IN THE TORAH, SHE IS TO BE EXECUTED ON HIS ACCOUNT, THOUGH HE54 IS EXEMPT FROM PUNISHMENT.
GEMARA. But when HE ATTAINS HIS MAJORITY, is55 a divorce alone sufficient? Was it not taught: The cohabitation of a boy of nine years56 of age was given the same validity as that of a ma'amar57 by an adult; as a ma'amar by an adult requires58 a divorce in respect of his ma'amar and halizah in respect of his marital bond so does the cohabitation of a boy of nine years of age56 require58 a divorce in respect of his ma'amar59 and halizah in respect of his marital bond?60 — Rab replied: It is this that was meant:61
Niddah 45bwhen HE ATTAINS HIS MAJORITY he shall cohabit with her1 and give her a divorce.2
MISHNAH. THE VOWS OF A GIRL OF THE AGE OF ELEVEN YEARS AND ONE DAY MUST BE EXAMINED;3 THE VOWS OF ONE WHO IS OF THE AGE OF TWELVE YEARS AND ONE DAY ARE VALID;4 AND THROUGHOUT THE TWELFTH YEAR THEY ARE TO BE EXAMINED.3 THE VOWS OF A BOY OF THE AGE OF TWELVE YEARS AND ONE DAY MUST BE EXAMINED;5 THE VOWS OF ONE WHO IS OF THE AGE OF THIRTEEN YEARS AND ONE DAY ARE VALID; AND THROUGHOUT THE THIRTEENTH YEAR THEY ARE TO BE EXAMINED.5 PRIOR TO THIS AGE,6 EVEN THOUGH THEY SAID, 'WE KNOW IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR VOW' OR 'IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR DEDICATION', THEIR VOW7 IS NO VALID VOW AND THEIR DEDICATION IS NO VALID DEDICATION. SUBSEQUENT TO THIS AGE,8 EVEN THOUGH THEY SAID, 'WE DO NOT KNOW IN THE HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR VOW' OR 'IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR DEDICATION', THEIR VOW IS A VALID VOW AND THEIR DEDICATION IS A VALID DEDICATION.
GEMARA. But since it was stated, THE VOWS OF A GIRL OF THE AGE OF ELEVEN YEARS AND ONE DAY MUST BE EXAMINED,9 what need was there for stating, THE VOWS OF ONE WHO IS OF THE AGE OF TWELVE YEARS AND ONE DAY ARE VALID? — It might have been presumed that henceforth they must always be examined,10 hence we were informed that after the age of twelve years and a day the vows are invariably valid. But since it was stated, THE VOWS OF ONE WHO IS OF THE AGE OF TWELVE YEARS AND ONE DAY ARE VALID,11 what need was there for stating, AND THROUGHOUT THE TWELFTH YEAR THEY ARE TO BE EXAMINED?12 — It might have been presumed that, since a Master has laid down that 'Thirty days of a year are counted as a full year', where we examined her vows during a period of thirty days13 and she knew not how to express their significance,14 no further examinations15 should be held16 hence we were informed that her vows are to be examined all through the twelfth year. Then let the last two cases be stated, THE VOWS OF ONE WHO IS OF THE AGE OF TWELVE YEARS AND ONE DAY ARE VALID, AND THROUGHOUT THE TWELFTH YEAR THEY ARE TO BE EXAMINED, but17 what was the need for the statement, THE VOWS OF A GIRL OF THE AGE OF ELEVEN YEARS AND ONE DAY MUST BE EXAMINED? — It was required: Since it might have been suggested that as a rule examination was necessary in the twelfth year and unnecessary in the eleventh year, but that where we see that the girl is particularly bright she might also be examined in the eleventh year,18 we were informed that the period of examination invariably begins at the age of eleven years and one day. What was the need19 for stating, PRIOR TO THIS AGE and SUBSEQUENT TO THIS AGE? — It might have been presumed that the previous rulings20 applied only where the children themselves spontaneously say nothing21 but that where they do assert spontaneous opinion22 we may rely upon them, hence we were informed that even their own assertions do not affect the age limits.
Our Rabbis taught: These23 are the rulings of Rabbi. R. Simeon b. Eleazar stated, The age limits that were assigned to the girl apply to the boy while those assigned to the boy apply to the girl.24 R. Hisda stated: What is Rabbi's reason? Because it is written in Scripture, And the Lord God built25 the rib26 which teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, endowed the woman with more understanding27 than the man. And the other?28 — He requires that text25 for the same deduction as the one made by Resh Lakish, for Resh Lakish citing R. Simeon b. Menasya stated, And the lord God built the rib which he took from the man into a woman, and he brought her unto the man,29 teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, plaited Eve's hair and then brought her to Adam, for in the sea-towns they describe net-work as binyatha.30 But what is R. Simeon b. Eleazar's reason? — R. Samuel son of R. Isaac replied: As a boy frequents the house of his teacher his subtlety31 develops earlier.32
It was asked: Is the intervening period33 regarded as that of under, or of over age?34 — In respect of what law could this matter: If in that of vows, it is neither regarded as that of under age nor as that of over age?35 — Rather in respect of punishments.36 Now what is the ruling? — Both Rab and R. Hanina replied: The intervening period is regarded as that of under age.37 Both R. Johanan and R. Joshua b. Levi replied: The intervening period is regarded as that of over age. Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: Your mnemonic38 is: Now this was the custom in former time in Israel.39
R. Hamnuna raised an objection:40 SUBSEQUENT TO THIS AGE, EVEN THOUGH THEY SAID, WE DO NOT KNOW IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR VOW' OR 'IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR DEDICATION' THEIR VOW IS A VALID VOW AND THEIR DEDICATION IS A VALID DEDICATION. Thus41 it follows, does it not, that the intervening period is regarded as that of under age? Said Raba to him, Read then the first clause: PRIOR TO THIS AGE, EVEN THOUGH THEY SAID, 'WE KNEW IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR VOW' OR 'IN HONOUR OF WHOSE NAME WE HAVE MADE OUR DEDICATION', THEIR VOW IS NO VALID VOW AND THEIR DEDICATION IS NO VALID DEDICATION. Thus42 it follows, does it not, that the intervening period is regarded as that of over age? — This, however, is no argument, Raba having laboured under a misapprehension. He thought that R. Hamnuna drew his inference from a Mishnah redundancy,43 [hence he argued that] instead of drawing an inference from the final clause he might as well have drawn one from the first clause; but this was not the case. R. Hamnuna in fact drew his inference from the very wording44 of our Mishnah. How [he reasoned] is one to understand the expression of 'SUBSEQUENT TO THAT AGE'? If by that time one had not yet grown two hairs, one would, surely, still be a minor.45 Consequently it must refer to one who had grown two hairs,
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