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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
MISHNAH. IF A GIRL2 HAS GROWN TWO PUBIC HAIRS SHE3 MAY EITHER PERFORM HALIZAH OR CONTRACT LEVIRATE MARRIAGE, AND SHE IS UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO PERFORM ALL THE COMMANDMENTS THAT ARE ENUMERATED IN THE TORAH. SO ALSO A BOY, IF HE HAS GROWN TWO PUBIC HAIRS, IS UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO PERFORM ALL THE COMMANDMENTS ENUMERATED IN THE TORAH. HE IS FURTHERMORE LIABLE TO THE PENALTY OF A STUBBORN AND REBELLIOUS SON4 AS SOON AS HE HAS GROWN TWO HAIRS UNTIL THE TIME WHEN HIS BEARD FORMS A CIRCLE.5 (THIS REFERS TO THE LOWER, AND NOT TO THE UPPER ONE, BUT6 THE SAGES USED A EUPHEMISM.)7 A GIRL WHO HAS GROWN TWO HAIRS8 MAY NO LONGER EXERCISE THE RIGHT OF MI'UN. R. JUDAH RULED: MI'UN MAY BE EXERCISED UNTIL THE BLACK9 PREDOMINATES.10
GEMARA. But since we have learnt, SHE IS UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO PERFORM ALL THE COMMANDMENTS THAT ARE ENUMERATED IN THE TORAH, what need was there for stating, SHE MAY EITHER PERFORM HALIZAH OR CONTRACT LEVIRATE MARRIAGE?11 — To exclude a ruling of R. Jose who stated, 'In the Biblical section12 it is written man,13 but as regards a woman there is no difference between a major and a minor'.14 Hence we were informed that15 if she has grown two hairs she may perform halizah,16 but otherwise she may not. What is the reason? A woman is to be compared to man.17
But since it was stated, SO ALSO A BOY, IF HE HAS GROWN TWO PUBIC HAIRS,18 what need was there for stating, HE IS UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO PERFORM ALL THE COMMANDMENTS ENUMERATED IN THE TORAH? And should you reply: Because it was desired to teach, HE IS FURTHERMORE LIABLE TO THE PENALTY OF A STUBBORN AND REBELLIOUS SON [the objection would arise]: Have we not learnt this once: 'When does one become liable to the penalty of a stubborn and rebellious son? As soon as one grows two hairs until the time the beard forms a circle. (By this was meant the lower, and not the upper one, but the Sages used a euphemism)'? — This is so indeed; only because details were specified about the girl those relating to the boy were also specified.
IF A GIRL HAS GROWN etc. R. Abbahu citing R. Eleazar stated, The halachah is in agreement with R. JUDAH. R. Judah, however, agrees that if she was subjected to cohabitation after she had grown two hairs,19 she may no longer exercise the right of mi'un.20 The colleagues of R. Kahana desired to give a practical decision21 in agreement with the ruling of R. Judah, although intercourse had taken place, but R. Kahana addressed them as follows: Did not such an incident happen with the daughter of R. Ishmael?22 She, namely, came to the schoolhouse to exercise the right of mi'un while her son was riding on her shoulder; and on that day were the views of R. Ishmael mentioned at the schoolhouse; and the Rabbis wept bitterly23 saying, 'Over a ruling which that righteous man24 had laid down should his offspring stumble!' For Rab Judah citing Samuel who had it from R. Ishmael stated: And she be not seized,25 [then only]26 is she forbidden,27 but if she was seized she is permitted. There is, however, another class of woman who is permitted27 even if she was not seized. And who is that? A woman whose betrothal was a mistaken one,28 and who, even if her son sits riding on her shoulder, may exercise the right of mi'un and go away.29 Thereupon they took a vote and decided: Up to what age may a girl30 exercise the right of mi'un? Until that at which she grows two hairs. [On hearing this incident] they31 abstained and did not act as they first intended.32
R. Isaac and the disciples of R. Hanina gave a practical decision in agreement with R. Judah, though the girl had been subjected to intercourse. R. Shamin b. Abba proceeded to tell it in the presence of R. Johanan; R. Johanan proceeded to tell it in the presence of R. Judah Nesi'ah33 and the latter sent a constable34 who took her away.35
R. Hisda citing Mar Ukba stated: The meaning36 is not that the black must actually predominate but that it shall be such as, when two hairs lie flat, has the appearance37 of the black predominating over the white,38 Raba stated: Two hairs that reach from rim to rim.
R. Helbo citing R. Huna stated: The two hairs of which the Rabbis spoke39 must40 have follicles at their roots. R. Malkio citing R. Adda b. Ahabah ruled: Follicles suffice even in the absence of hairs. Said R. Hanina the son of R. Ika: The rulings concerning a spit,41 bondwomen42 and follicles43 were laid down by R. Malkio, but those concerning a forelock,44 wood-ash45 and cheese46 were laid down by R. Malkia. R. Papa, however, stated: If the statement was made on a Mishnah or a Baraitha the author is R. Malkia but if on reported traditions47 the author is R. Malkio. And the mnemonic48 is, 'The mathnitha49 is queen'.50 What is the practical difference between them?51 — The practical difference between them is the statement on bondwomen.52 R. Ashi stated, Mar Zutra told me that R. Hanina of Sura felt about this the following difficulty: Would not a single Tanna53 go out of his way to teach54 us the law of the follicles? — If one55 had informed us of the law of the follicles it might have been presumed that [puberty is not established] unless there were two hairs in two follicles respectively, hence we were informed56 that even two hairs in one follicle are sufficient. But is there such a phenomenon?57 Is it not in fact written in Scripture, He that would break me with a tempest, and multiply my wounds without cause58 in connection with which Raba59 remarked: Job blasphemed with the mention of tempest and he was answered with a tempest. He 'blasphemed with the mention of tempest', saying to Him, 'Sovereign of the world, perhaps a tempest has passed before Thee, and caused Thee to confuse "Job"60 with "enemy"?'61 'He was answered with a tempest': Then the Lord answered
Niddah 52bJob out of the whirlwind, and said1 to him, 'Most foolish man,2 I have created many hairs3 in a man's head and for every hair I have created a separate follicle, so that two should not suck from the same follicle, for if two were to suck from the same follicle they would impair the sight of man. I did not confuse one follicle with another, would I confuse "Job" and "enemy"?'4 — This is no difficulty since one5 refers to the body while the other6 refers to the head.
Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: The two hairs of which they spoke [establish puberty] even if one is on the crest and the other on the testes. So it was also taught: The two hairs of which they spoke [establish puberty] even if one grows on her back and the other on her belly, one on the joints of the fingers of her hand and the other on the joints of her toes; so R. Simeon b. Judah of Kefar Akko who cited it in the name of R. Ishmael.7 But Rab citing R. Assi ruled: puberty is not established unless two hairs grow in the same spot.
Our Rabbis taught: Up to what age may a girl exercise the right of mi'un? Until she grows two hairs; so R. Meir. R. Judah ruled: Until the black predominates.8 R. Jose ruled: Until a ring is formed around the nipple. Ben Shelakoth ruled: Until she grows her hair in profusion.9 In connection with this R. Simeon stated: Hanina b. Hakinai once met me at Zidon and said to me,10 'When you arrive at R. Akiba's ask him "until what age may a girl exercise the right of mi'un". If he tells you, "Until she grows two hairs", ask him this: Did not Ben Shelakoth testify in the presence of all of you at Jamnia, "Until she grows her hair in profusion", and you did not say to him a word to the contrary?' When I arrived at R. Akiba's the latter told me, 'I do not know anything about the growing of hair in profusion, and I do not know Ben Shelakoth; a girl may exercise the right of mi'un until the age when she grows two hairs'.
MISHNAH. THE TWO HAIRS SPOKEN OF IN REGARD TO THE RED HEIFER11 AND IN REGARD TO LEPROSY12 AS WELL AS THOSE SPOKEN OF ANYWHERE ELSE13 MUST BE LONG ENOUGH FOR THEIR TIPS TO BE BENT TO THEIR ROOTS; SO R. ISHMAEL. R. ELIEZER RULED: LONG ENOUGH TO BE GRASPED BY A FINGER-NAIL, R. AKIBA RULED: LONG ENOUGH TO BE TAKEN OFF WITH SCISSORS.
GEMARA. R. Hisda citing Mar Ukba stated: The halachah is in agreement with the views of all these in that the law is thereby invariably restricted.14
MISHNAH. A WOMAN WHO OBSERVED A BLOOD-STAIN15 IS IN AN UNSETTLED CONDITION16 AND MUST17 TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE POSSIBILITY THAT IT WAS DUE TO ZIBAH; SO R. MEIR. BUT THE SAGES RULED: IN THE CASE OF BLOOD-STAINS THERE IS NO [NEED TO CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY OF THEIR BEING] DUE TO ZIBAH.
GEMARA. Who are THE SAGES? — R. Hanina b. Antigonus. For it was taught: R. Hanina b. Antigonus ruled, In the case of blood-stains there is no [need to consider the possibility of their being] due to zibah, but sometimes blood-stains do lead to zibah. How so? If a woman18 put on three shirts that she had previously examined and then found a blood-stain on each of them, or if she19 observed a discharge20 on two days and [a blood-stain on] one shirt,21 these are the blood-stains that lead to zibah. But since in the case of three shirts, where she observed no direct discharge from her body, the possibility of zibah is taken into consideration, why was it necessary to mention22 that of 'two days and one shirt'? — It might have been presumed23 that in any instance like this24 the woman brings a sacrifice which may be eaten,25 hence we were informed [that only the possibility26 of zibah is taken into consideration].27 Raba observed: In this matter R. Hanina b. Antigonus vindicated his case against the Rabbis. For why is it [that when a bloodstain] less than three beans in size is in one spot we do not take into consideration the possibility of zibah? [presumably] because we assume that it is the result of observations on two days.28 But then why should we not, even if a stain of the size of three beans was in one spot, similarly assume that only to the extent of the size of two and a half beans the discharge was from her body while the rest is the blood of a louse due to the filth?29 — And the Rabbis?30 — Since the stain31 can be divided up into parts of the size of a bean and over for each day32 we do not ascribe it to any external cause. As to R. Hanina b. Antigonus, is it33 only when a stain of the size of three beans in one spot that we do not take the possibility of zibah into consideration, but if it is in three different places34 the possibility is taken into consideration? But did you not say35 that this36 applies only to stains on37 three shirts,38 from which it follows that it does not apply to stains39 in three spots?40 — He41 spoke to them on the line of the view of the Rabbis. As far as I am concerned, he said in effect, it42 applies only to three shirts38 and not to three spots;40 but according to your view, agree with me at least that, where she had observed a stain of the size of three beans in one spot, we assume that to the extent of two and a half beans the discharge came from her body while the rest is the blood of a louse due to the filth. And the Rabbis? — Since the stain43 can be divided up into parts of the size of a little more than a bean for each day,44 we do not ascribe it to any external cause,
Our Rabbis taught: If a woman observed a blood-stain, if it is big enough43 to be divided into parts corresponding respectively to three beans, each of which being slightly bigger than the size of a bean, she must take into consideration the possibility of zibah; otherwise, she need not take this possibility into consideration. R. Judah b. Agra citing R. Jose ruled: In the one case and in the other45 the possibility must be taken into consideration.46
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