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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
MISHNAH. IF THREE WOMEN SLEPT IN ONE BED, AND BLOOD WAS FOUND UNDER THE MIDDLE ONE, THEY ARE ALL UNCLEAN. IF IT WAS FOUND UNDER THE INNER ONE,1 THE TWO INNER ONES2 ARE UNCLEAN WHILE THE OUTER ONE IS CLEAN. IF IT WAS FOUND UNDER THE OUTER ONE,3 THE TWO OUTER ONES4 ARE UNCLEAN WHILE THE INNER ONE5 IS CLEAN. WHEN6 IS THIS THE CASE?7 WHEN THEY PASSED8 BY WAY OF THE FOOT OF THE BED,9 BUT IF THEY PASSED ACROSS IT,10 THEY ARE ALL UNCLEAN.11 IF ONE OF THEM EXAMINED HERSELF AND WAS FOUND CLEAN, SHE REMAINS CLEAN WHILE THE TWO OTHERS ARE UNCLEAN. IF TWO, EXAMINED THEMSELVES AND WERE FOUND TO BE CLEAN THEY REMAIN CLEAN WHILE THE THIRD IS UNCLEAN. IF THE THREE EXAMINED THEMSELVES AND WERE FOUND TO BE CLEAN, THEY ARE ALL UNCLEAN. TO WHAT MAY THIS BE COMPARED? TO AN UNCLEAN HEAP12 THAT WAS MIXED UP WITH TWO CLEAN HEAPS, WHERE, IF THEY EXAMINED ONE OF THEM AND FOUND IT TO BE CLEAN, IT IS CLEAN WHILE THE TWO OTHERS ARE UNCLEAN; IF THEY EXAMINED TWO OF THE HEAPS AND FOUND THEM TO BE CLEAN, THEY ARE CLEAN WHILE THE THIRD ONE IS UNCLEAN; AND IF THEY EXAMINED THE THREE AND THEY WERE FOUND TO BE CLEAN, THEY ARE ALL UNCLEAN; SO R. MEIR, FOR R. MEIR RULED: ANY OBJECT THAT IS IN A PRESUMPTIVE STATE OF UNCLEANNESS ALWAYS REMAINS UNCLEAN UNTIL IT IS KNOWN TO YOU WHERE THE UNCLEANNESS IS. BUT THE SAGES RULED: ONE CONTINUES THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEAP UNTIL ONE REACHES BEDROCK OR VIRGIN SOIL.13
IF ONE OF THEM EXAMINED HERSELF etc. What need was there for stating, 'TO WHAT MAY THIS BE COMPARED'? — It is this that R. Meir in effect said to the Rabbis: Why is it that in the case of blood you do not differ from me18 while in that of a heap you differ?19 — And the Rabbis?20 — There [the heap may be regarded as clean] since it might well be assumed that a raven had carried away the piece of corpse, but here, whence21 could the blood have come?22
It was taught: R. Meir stated, It once happened that a sycamore tree at Kefar Saba, held to be in a presumptive state of uncleanness, was examined and no object of uncleanness was found. After a time the wind blew upon it and uprooted it when the skull of a corpse was found stuck in its root.23 They24 answered him: 'Do you adduce proof from there? It might be suggested that the examination was not thorough enough'.25
It was taught: R. Jose stated, It once happened that a cave at Shihin, held to be in a presumptive state of uncleanness, was examined until ground, that was as smooth as a finger nail26 was reached, but no unclean object was found. After a time labourers entered it to shelter from27 rain, and chopping with their axes found a mortar full of bones.28 They29 answered him: 'Do you adduce proof from there? It might be suggested that the examination was not thorough enough'.30
It was taught: Abba Saul stated, It once happened that a clod at Beth Horon was held in a presumptive state of uncleanness, and the Sages could not properly examine it because its area was extensive.31 But there was an old man in the place32 whose name was R. Joshua b. Hananiah and he said to them, 'Bring me some sheets'. They brought to him sheets and he soaked them in water and then spread them over the clod.33 The clean area34 remained dry while the unclean area35 became moist. And, having examined the latter, they found a large pit full of bones. One taught: That was the pit which Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had filled with slain bodies, as it is written, Now the pit wherein Ishmael cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain by the hand36 of Gedaliah.37 But was it Gedaliah that killed them? Was it not in fact Ishmael that killed them?38 — But owing to the fact that he39 should have taken note of the advice of Johanan the son of Kareah40 and did not do so Scripture regards him as though he had killed them.
Raba observed: As to slander, though one should not believe41 it one should nevertheless take note of it. There were certain Galileans about whom a rumour was spread that they killed a person. They came to R. Tarfon and said to him, 'Will the Master hide us?' 'How', he replied, 'should I act? Should I not hide you, they42 would see you.43 Should I hide you, I would be acting contrary to the statement of the Rabbis,44 "As to slander, though one should not believe45 it, one should take note of it".46 Go you and hide yourselves'.
And the Lord said unto Moses: Fear him not'.47 Consider: Sihon and Og were brothers, for a Master stated, 'Sihon and Og were the sons of Ahijah the son of Shamhazai',48 then why was it that he feared Og while he did not fear Sihon? R. Johanan citing R. Simeon b. Yohai replied: From the answer that was given49 to50 that righteous man51 you may understand what was in his mind.52 He thought: Peradventure the merit of our father Abraham will stand him53 by, for it is said, And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew,54 in connection with which R. Johanan explained: This refers to Og who escaped the fate of the generation of the flood.55
Niddah 61bOne must examine it in small sections.1 If semen was lost in it, when new it should be examined with a needle,2 and when worn out it should be examined in sunlight.3 One taught: No section need be smaller than three fingerbreadths.
Our Rabbis taught: A garment in which kil'ayim4 was lost5 may not be sold to an idolater,6 nor may one make of it a packsaddle for an ass, but it may be made into7 a shroud for a corpse. R. Joseph observed: This8 implies that the commandments will be abolished in the Hereafter.9 Said Abaye (or as some say R. Dimi) to him: But did not R. Manni10 in the name of R. Jannai state, 'This8 was learnt only in regard to the time of the lamentations11 but for burial12 this is forbidden'?13 — The other replied: But was it not stated in connection with it, 'R. Johanan ruled: Even for burial'? And thereby R. Johanan followed his previously expressed view, for R. Johanan stated: 'What is the purport of the Scriptural text, Free14 among the dead?15 As soon as a man dies he is free from the commandments'.
Rafram b. Papa citing R. Hisda ruled: A garment in which kil'ayim was lost may be dyed16 and17 it is then permitted to be worn.18 Said Raba to Rafram b. Papa: Whence does the old man derive this?19 The other replied: It is in our Mishnah, for we have learnt, ONE CONTINUES THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEAP UNTIL ONE REACHES BEDROCK; and if it20 is not there, it is obviously assumed that a raven had carried it away. Here too, dye does not have the same effect on wool and flax and, since no [difference could be] discerned,21 it may well be assumed [that the compromising threads] had dropped out.
R. Aha son of R. Yeba citing Mar Zutra ruled: If a man inserted flaxen threads in his woollen garment and then pulled them out but is not sure whether he pulled them [all] out or not, it is quite proper [for him to wear the garment]. What is the reason? — Pentateuchally, since it is written sha'atnez22 the prohibition does not apply unless the material was hackled, spun and woven,23 but it is only the Rabbis who imposed a prohibition on it,24 and since the man is not quite sure about the pulling out of the threads the garment is permitted. R. Ashi demurred: Might it not be suggested that it25 must be either hackled or spun or woven? — The law, however, is in agreement with Mar Zutra, because the All Merciful expressed them in one word.23
Our Rabbis taught: A dyed garment is susceptible to the uncleanness of a bloodstain. R. Nathan b. Joseph ruled: It is not susceptible to the uncleanness of a stain, for dyed garments were ordained for women only in order to relax the law in regard to their bloodstains. 'Were ordained'! Who26 ordained them? — Rather read: For dyed garments were permitted to women only in order to relax the law in regard to their bloodstains. 'Were permitted'! Does this then imply that they were once forbidden? — Yes, for we have learnt: At the time of the Vespasian invasion they27 prohibited the wearing of garlands by bridegrooms and the beating of drums at weddings. They also desired to prohibit dyed garments, but felt that it was better not to do so,28 in order to relax the law in regard to their bloodstains.
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