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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah

Folio 69a

what is the law according to R. Eliezer.1  Is it necessary2  that an examination should take place both at the beginning and at the end of the prescribed days3  [hence this case is excluded]4  since there was one at the beginning only5  but not at the end,6  or is it possible that an examination at the beginning5  suffices although there was none at the end?6  — Rab replied: The law is the same in either case,7  an examination at the beginning sufficing although there was none at the end. R. Hanina, however, replied: It is necessary2  that there be an examination both at the beginning and at the end8  [hence this case is excluded] since there was one at the beginning only but not at the end.

An objection was raised: But both hold the same opinion,9  where a zab and a zabah examined themselves on the first day and on the eighth day and found themselves clean, that they may count the eighth day only as clean.10  Now who are referred to in the expression 'both hold the same opinion'? Is it not R. Eliezer and R. Joshua?11  — No; R. Joshua and R. Akiba.12

R. Shesheth citing R. Jeremiah b. Abba who had it from Rab stated: If a menstruant has ascertained her separation to a state of cleanness on her third day,13  she may count it in the number of the seven clean days.14  'A menstruant'! What need has she for counting?15  — Rather read: If a zabah has ascertained her separation to a state of cleanness on her third day,13  she may count it in the number of the seven clean days.14  Said R. Shesheth to R. Jeremiah b. Abba: Did then Rab pronounce his ruling in agreement with the view of the Samaritans who ruled that the day on which a woman ceases to have her discharge may be counted by her in the number of the prescribed seven days?16  — When Rab spoke he meant: Exclusive of the third day.17  But if 'exclusive of the third day' is not the ruling obvious? — The ruling was necessary only in a case, for instance, where the woman18  did not examine herself until the seventh day,19  so that20  we were informed there21  that an examination at the beginning22  suffices although there was none at the end,23  while here24  we were informed that an examination at the end23  suffices25  even though there was none at the beginning.22  As it might have been presumed that only where there was an examination at the beginning,22  though there was none at the end,23  do we assume [the days to be clean], because we regard them as remaining in their presumptive state,26  but not where the examination was held at their conclusion23  and27  not at their beginning,22  hence we were informed [that in either case the days are regarded as clean]. But can this28  be correct seeing that29  when Rabin came30  he stated, 'R. Jose b. Hanina raised an objection [from a Baraitha dealing with] a forgetful31  woman but I do not know what his objection was', and32  we have an established rule that during the first week of her appearance before us we require her to undergo immersion in the nights33  but we do not require her to undergo immersion in the day time. Now if it could be entertained that it is not necessary that the days34  be counted in our presence, she35  should have been made to undergo immersion in the day time also, since it is possible that she gave birth during a zibah period and had completed the counting on that day. Must it not consequently be inferred from the ruling that it is necessary for the counting to take place in our presence?36  — But have we not explained this ruling to be in agreement with the view of R. Akiba who ruled that it was necessary for the counting to take place in our presence?37  — And whence do you infer that according to the Rabbis it is not necessary for the counting to take place in our presence? — From what was taught:38  'If a forgetful39  woman stated, "I observed some uncleanness on a certain day",40  she41  is expected to undergo nine immersions, seven42  in respect of menstruation43  and two44  in respect of zibah.45  If she states, "I observed some uncleanness at twilight", she is to undergo eleven immersions'. 'Eleven'! For what purpose?46  — R. Jeremiah of Difti replied: This is a case, for instance, where the woman47  actually appeared before us at twilight,48  so that provision has to be made for49  eight immersions in respect of menstruation50  and for three in respect of zibah.51  'If she states, "I observed no discharge whatsoever", she is to undergo fifteen immersions'.52  Raba observed: 'This kind of law that is a negation of all reason53  is in vogue at Galhi where there is a law that one who owns a bull must feed the town's cattle one day while one who owns no bull must feed them on two days. Once they had occasion to deal with54  an orphan the son of a widow. Having been entrusted with the bulls [to feed] he proceeded to kill them, saying to the people, "He who owned a bull shall receive one hide and he who owned no bull shall receive two hides". "What", they said to him, "is this that you say?" "The conclusion of this process", he answered them, "follows the same principle as the beginning of the process. Was it not the case with the beginning of this process that one who owned nothing was better off? Well, at the conclusion of the process too, one who owned nothing is better off". Here also: If where a woman states, "I observed a discharge", it suffices for her to undergo either nine immersions or eleven immersions,55  should it be necessary for her, where she states, "I observed no discharge whatsoever", to undergo fifteen immersions?' — Rather read thus: If she states, 'I observed a discharge and I do not know how long it continued56  and whether I observed it during a menstruation period or a zibah one', she is to undergo fifteen immersions. For if she appeared before us in the day-time we allow her seven days in respect of menstruation55

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Who, in the case of an examination on the first and the seventh, regards all the seven days as clean.
  2. If the seven days are to be regarded as clean.
  3. Lit., 'their beginning and their end'.
  4. And the days are regarded as unclean,
  5. On the first of the seven days.
  6. On the seventh day, the examination having taken place on the eighth.
  7. Lit., 'it it', the seven days are regarded as clean in both cases.
  8. Lit., 'their beginning and their end'.
  9. Lit., 'and equal'.
  10. Lit., 'that they have only the eighth day'.
  11. Who agree in this case with R. Akiba though they differ from him where the examination took place on the first and the seventh. How then could Rab maintain his view on the ruling of R. Eliezer?
  12. But R. Eliezer maintains, as Rab stated, that since the examination on the first day proved the person to be clean all the seven days also are regarded as clean.
  13. Since her discharge first appeared.
  14. Sc. the clean days may begin to be counted from that day.
  15. None, since a menstruant becomes clean after seven days irrespective of whether these were clean or not.
  16. Supra 33a.
  17. The counting beginning from the following day.
  18. Though her discharge ceased on the third day.
  19. So that the beginning of the counting was not in a condition of ascertained cleanness.
  20. Rab adopting two relaxations of the law.
  21. Where Rab stated that R. Eliezer holds the woman clean if she examined herself on the first and the eighth.
  22. On the first day.
  23. On the seventh.
  24. In the last cited ruling of Rab.
  25. To justify the assumption that all the six preceding days were also clean,
  26. Which, owing to the examination, was known to be one of cleanness.
  27. Lit., 'although'.
  28. Rab's ruling that it is not necessary to make sure that each of the seven days individually has been a clean one,
  29. Lit., 'I am not, for surely'.
  30. From Palestine to Babylon,
  31. Lit., 'erring'.
  32. So with BaH. Cur. edd. 'for'.
  33. Since of each night it might be said that it is the one following the seventh day of the period of uncleanness prescribed after the birth of a male child.
  34. Following zibah.
  35. Since a zabah undergoes immersion on her seventh clean day.
  36. Apparently it must; and thus an objection arises against Rab.
  37. And, since the Rabbis differ from R. Akiba, Rab may follow their view.
  38. V. marg. glos. Cur. edd., 'for we learnt'.
  39. Lit., 'erring'.
  40. But she is unable to say whether it happened on the same, or on any other day, or whether that day was one of the days of her menstruation or of her zibah.
  41. In order to perform the precept of immersion at the proper time and at the earliest possible moment.
  42. On the following seven nights, if she arrived in the day time.
  43. V. supra p. 482, n. 12.
  44. In the day time.
  45. On the first day of her arrival she must undergo immersion since it is possible that the previous day was one of her zibah period and her discharge appeared that day (a woman who experienced a discharge on one of the days of her zibah period awaits one day, viz., the following one, and on that day she undergoes immersion in the day time). On the second day of her arrival she again undergoes immersion for a similar reason, since it is possible that the day on which her discharge had appeared was not the previous one but the day of her arrival. On the third day no immersion is necessary since it is certain that on the second there was no discharge.
  46. Sc. why should more immersions be required in this case, where she states that her discharge took place at twilight, than in the former where she does not specify the time of day.
  47. Who did not merely state during the day that her discharge took place at twilight.
  48. And stated that her discharge occurred either earlier or possibly at that very moment when it is doubtful whether it was day or night.
  49. Lit., 'and they are'.
  50. In addition to the seven immersions as in the former case (beginning on the night that followed the twilight at which she arrived) there must be one on the eighth night because it is possible that her discharge took place actually at the twilight of her arrival which was part of the following night, so that the menstruation period did not terminate until the seven following days have passed and her cleanness is attained by her immersion on the last, which is the eighth night after her arrival.
  51. She performs the first two immersions for the same reason as in the former case, since it is possible that her discharge in zibah took place on the day prior to her arrival (so that immersion must be performed immediately at the twilight when she arrived) or on that day (so that immersion has to be performed on the following day). She must also undergo immersion on the third day since it is possible that the discharge occurred at the twilight at which she arrived and that that time was a part of the night, so that she was unclean on the day following, and having waited the second day she becomes clean on the third when the immersion is performed.
  52. This is discussed presently.
  53. Lit., 'this law that is no law'.
  54. Lit., 'it happened to them'.
  55. As explained supra.
  56. Sc. whether it appeared on one day only or on three days.
Tractate List

Niddah 69b

and eight in respect of zibah;1  and if she appeared before us at night we allow her eight in respect of menstruation2  and seven in respect of zibah.3  But does not menstruation require eight days?4  — Rather say: In either case5  seven in respect of menstruation and eight in respect of zibah. But if she appeared at night, does she not require4  eight in respect of menstruation?6  — In respect of zibah where the number of immersions is fixed, since it does not vary whether she appeared before us in the day time or at night, [the eighth immersion] was counted, but in respect of menstruation where the number is not fixed, for only where she appeared before us at night does she require eight immersions while if she appeared before us in the day time she does not require eight [the eighth immersion] was not counted. Now, if it could be entertained that it is necessary for all the counting to take place in our presence, what need is there7  for all these immersions?8  Should she not rather count the seven days and then undergo immersion?9  Consequently it may be inferred from here that10  it is the Rabbis11  who hold that it is not necessary for the counting to take place in our presence.12  Said R. Aha son of R. Joseph to R. Ashi, Have we not had recourse to explanations of this ruling?13  Explain it then in the following manner and read thus: If a woman states, 'I counted14  and know not how many days I counted and whether I counted them during the period of menstruation or during that of zibah', she is to undergo fifteen immersions.15  But if she stated, 'I counted and know not how many days I counted', it is at any rate impossible that she should not have counted one day, at least, is she then not short of one immersion?16  Rather read: If she states, 'I know not whether I did or did not count'.17


GEMARA. What is the meaning of BY CARRIAGE? If it be suggested: By actual carriage, [the objection would arise:] Does not in fact every corpse convey uncleanness by carriage?21  — Rather say that BY CARRIAGE means22  through a heavy23  stone,24  for25  it is written, And a stone was brought, and laid26  upon the mouth of the den.27  What is the reason?28  — Rab replied: This29  is a preventive measure against the case where they30  swoon.31  One taught: In the name of R. Eliezer it was stated, This possibility must be taken into consideration until his stomach bursts.

IF AN IDOLATER HAS DIED etc. It was taught: Rabbi stated, On what ground did they rule that if an idolater has died he conveys no uncleanness by carriage? Because his uncleanness when alive32  is not Pentateuchal, but Rabbinical.

Our Rabbis taught: Twelve questions did the Alexandrians address to R. Joshua b. Hananiah.33  Three were of a scientific nature,34  three were matters of aggada, three were mere nonsense and three were matters of conduct.35

'Three were of a scientific nature': If a zab, a zabah, a menstruant, a woman after childbirth or a leper have died, how long do their corpses convey uncleanness by carriage? He replied: Until the flesh has decayed. Is the daughter of a woman that was divorced and remarried by her first husband36  allowed to marry a priest? Do we say that this might be inferred a minori ad majus: If the son of a widow who was married to a High priest, who is not forbidden to all,37  is nevertheless tainted,38  how much more so the offspring of her39  who is forbidden to all;40  or is it possible to refute the argument, thus: The case of a widow married to a High Priest is different because she herself is profaned?41  He replied:

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Because each of the eight days might be the last of the seven clean days that followed a zibah discharge that had extended over three days. No immersion is necessary on the ninth day because even if the very day of the woman's arrival had been the last of the three days on which her zibah discharge had been making its appearance seven clean days have elapsed since that day.
  2. On the first night of her arrival and on the following six nights immersion is necessary because each might be the night following the seventh day, while on the eighth immersion is required on account of the possibility of the discharge having appeared on the very night of her arrival which caused the day following to be regarded as the first of the prescribed seven days of menstruation.
  3. This is discussed presently.
  4. As explained supra.
  5. Whether the woman arrived at night or in the day time.
  6. Of course she does.
  7. In respect of zibah,
  8. That the woman is expected to perform in the day time.
  9. But not before; since even if her seven clean days have terminated she, owing to her neglect of examining herself, is not fit for immersion,
  10. As submitted supra 69a.
  11. Who differ from R. Akiba.
  12. And Rab in his ruling supra follows their view.
  13. We had; since in the absence of explanations it bristles with difficulties,
  14. Sc. she examined herself on certain days and ascertained that she was then clean.
  15. As explained supra.
  16. Obviously she is; why then was the number given fifteen and not fourteen?
  17. So that it is possible that she did not count even one clean day.
  18. This is discussed in the Gemara infra.
  19. Lit., 'clean from causing uncleanness'.
  20. Who died.
  21. Of course it does; why then did our Mishnah restrict it to the classes specified?
  22. Lit., 'but what by carriage'.
  23. Mesamma, lit., 'closing' (cf. foll. n.).
  24. One used for closing up a pit. If the corpse lay on such a heavy stone, and certain objects rested under it, the latter contract the uncleanness though the weight of the corpse can hardly be perceptible.
  25. The following explains the etymology of mesamma ('heavy').
  26. Wesumath, a word of a sound similar to mesamma (v. prev. n. but two).
  27. Dan. VI, 18.
  28. Why the corpses enumerated in our Mishnah convey uncleanness through the stone mentioned while others do not.
  29. The enactment that the corpses enumerated in our Mishnah shall convey uncleanness even through a heavy stone.
  30. The persons mentioned.
  31. As such persons when alive, if they sit on such a stone, convey uncleanness to objects under it, in accordance with Pentateuchal law, a Rabbinic enactment has imposed a similar restriction when they are dead in case they might be merely in a swoon and mistaken for a corpse. Were the objects to be deemed clean in 'the case of a corpse they might erroneously be deemed clean even when the person is alive.
  32. Through zibah, for instance.
  33. V. marg. glos. and Bomb. ed. Cur. edd., 'Hinena'.
  34. Halachah,
  35. Lit., 'the way of the earth', worldly affairs.
  36. After she had been married and divorced by a second husband. Such a marriage is forbidden according to Deut. XXIV, 1-4.
  37. A widow being forbidden to a High Priest only (v. Lev. XXI, 14).
  38. Though not actually a bastard he would be, if of priestly stock, disqualified from the priesthood.
  39. A remarried divorcee after she had been married and divorced by another man.
  40. Non-priests as well as priests.
  41. If the High Priest to whom she was unlawfully married dies she may not marry even a common priest, and if she was a priest's daughter she is henceforth forbidden to eat terumah. No such restrictions are imposed on the woman who was remarried after her divorcement.
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