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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
A question was raised in the presence of Rabbi: What is the ruling where a woman aborted a sac full of flesh? 'I did not hear of such a law', he answered them. 'Thus', announced R. Ishmael son of R. Jose before him, 'said my father: If it was full of blood the woman is unclean as a menstruant, but if it was full of flesh she is unclean as a woman after childbirth'. The other said to him: Had you told us something new in the name of your father we would have listened to you; but now, since his first ruling3 was given in accordance with the view of an individual, viz., in agreement with Symmachus who cited R. Meir,4 his second ruling also5 might be one given in accordance with the view of R. Joshua;6 but the halachah is not in agreement with R. Joshua. For it was taught: If an abortion was a sac with no fashioned limbs, R. Joshua ruled: It7 is regarded as a valid birth8 but the Sages ruled, it is no valid birth.9
R. Simeon b. Lakish citing R. Oshaia stated: The dispute10 refers only to a sac that was turbid11 but if it was clear12 all agree that it is no valid birth. R. Joshua b. Levi, however, stated: The dispute10 refers to the case of a clear sac. The question was raised:13 Do they differ only in the case of a clear sac but in that of a turbid one all agree that it is a valid birth or is it possible that they differ about the one as well as about the other? — This stands undecided.14 An objection was raised: This exposition was made by R. Joshua b. Hananiah: And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them15 teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, makes no skin for man before16 he is formed. Thus it is clearly proved that a valid birth17 depends on the skin irrespective of whether the sac was turbid or clear. Now if you grant18 that the dispute19 refers to the case of a clear sac there is full justification for his20 need for a Scriptural text;21 but if you maintain22 that the dispute refers only to a turbid sac,23 what need was there for a Scriptural text seeing that the reason24 is a matter of logic? Consequently it may be inferred that the dispute refers also to a clear sac.25 This is conclusive.
R. Nahman citing Rabbah b. Abbuha also26 stated: They27 differ only in regard to a turbid sac but as regards a clear one all agree that it is no valid birth. Raba raised an objection against R. Nahman: But they ruled: The token of a valid birth28 in small cattle is a discharge from the womb,29 in large cattle the placenta,30 and in a woman the sac or placenta',31 but, it follows, the abortion of a sac in cattle provides no exemption.32 Now, if you grant that they27 differ in the case of a clear sac, one can well see the reason why only a woman whose case Scripture specifically included,33 was granted exemption in respect of a sac31 while cattle whose case Scripture did not include no exemption was granted in respect of a sac, but if you maintain that the dispute concerns only a turbid sac consider! [The question of the validity of the birth being dependent] on a logical reason34 what difference in this respect could there be between a woman and cattle?35 — You think that R. Joshua was quite certain [of the nature of the sac],36 but the fact is that R. Joshua was rather doubtful on the matter and, therefore, he followed a restrictive course in both cases.37 [Only the question of the firstborn son] of38 a woman, which is a mere monetary matter,39 [did he rule that the abortion of a sac constitutes a valid birth,40 because] in a case of doubt in monetary matters a lenient course41 is followed.42 On the question of the firstling of cattle, however, which involves a ritual prohibition of shearing43 and of work44 [he ruled the abortion of a sac to be an invalid birth,45 because] in case of doubt in a ritual prohibition a restrictive course must be followed; and so also [on the question of the uncleanness] of a woman [the abortion of a sac is deemed to be a valid birth,46 because] in a case of doubtful uncleanness47 a restrictive course must be followed. But was he48 in doubt?49 Did he not, in fact, quote a Scriptural text?50 — The ruling is only Rabbinical51 and the Scriptural text is a mere prop.52
Said R. Hanina b. Shelemya to Rab: We have53 the statements of54 Rabbi,55 of54 R. Ishmael son of R. Jose,56 of R. Oshaia57 and of R. Joshua b. Levi;58 with whose view does the Master agree? — I maintain, the other replied, that in neither case59 need she take into consideration the possibility of a valid birth. Samuel, however, ruled: In either case60 must she consider the possibility of a valid birth.61 Samuel in this ruling follows his previously expressed view. For R. Dimi when he came62 stated: Never at Nehardea63 did they declare [one who aborted] a sac64 to be clean65 except in the case of a certain sac that was submitted to Samuel on which a hair that lay on one side could be seen through the other side when he said: If it were in fact an embryo it would not have been so transparent.
BUT IF ITS LIMBS WERE FASHIONED etc. Our Rabbis taught: What is meant by a sac the limbs of which are fashioned? Abba Saul explained: A foetus which in its primary stage resembles a locust,66 and its two eyes are like two drippings67 of a fly. R. Hiyya taught: They are far removed from one another. Its two nostrils are like two drippings of a fly. R. Hiyya taught: They are near one to another. Its mouth is as narrow as a stretched hair,68 its membrum69 is of the size of a lentil70 and in the case of a female [the organ] has the appearance of the longitudinal [slit]71 of a barley grain; but it has no shaped hands or feet.72 Of such a foetus there is this description in the post-Pentateuchal Scriptures:73 Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favor, and Thy providence hath preserved my spirit.74 It75 must not be examined in water because water is hard76
Niddah 25band disturbs its shape. It must rather be examined in oil because oil is mild and makes it clear. Furthermore, it must be examined in sunlight only. How is it to be examined? 'How is it to be examined' [you ask]! Of course as has just been described. — Rather, wherewith is it to be examined in order to ascertain whether it was male or female? — Abba Saul b. Nashor, as others say, Abba Saul b. Ramash replied: One brings a splinter with a smooth top and moves it [in an upward direction] in that place.1 If it is caught it will be known that the foetus is a male,2 and if not it will be known to be a female. R. Nahman citing Rabbah b. Abbuha stated: This3 was learnt only of a movement in an upward direction,2 but if sideways [it is no reliable test, since] it may be assumed [that the obstruction] was caused by the sides of the womb. R. Adda b. Ahaba stated: A Tanna taught, If the foetus was a female the organ has the appearance of the [longitudinal] slit of a barley grain.4 R. Nahman demurred: Is it not possible that it5 is merely the depression between6 the testes? — Abaye replied: Since the testes themselves are indistinguishable, would the depression between them be distinguishable?7
R. Amram stated: A Tanna taught, 'Its8 two thighs are like two silk threads', and in connection with this R. Amram explained: Like those of the woof;9 'and its two arms are like two threads of silk', in connection with which R. Amram explained: Like those of the warp.9
Samuel said to Rab Judah: Shinena,10 give no practical decision [on the validity of a birth] unless the embryo has hair [on its head]. But could Samuel have said such a thing, seeing that he ruled, 'In either case must she consider the possibility of a valid birth'? — R. Ammi b. Samuel replied: This was explained to me by the Master Samuel: She must indeed take into consideration the possibility of a valid birth;11 but she is not allowed the privilege of the clean days12 unless the embryo had hair [on its head]. This then implies that Samuel was doubtful on the point.13 But is it not a fact that when a certain sac was submitted to the Master Samuel he said, 'This is forty-one days old', but on calculating the time since the woman had gone to perform her ritual immersion14 until that day and finding that there were no more than forty days he declared, 'This man15 must have had marital intercourse during her menstrual period' and having been arrested16 he confessed?17 — Samuel was different from other people because his knowledge was exceptional.18
IF SHE ABORTED A SANDAL etc. Our Rabbis taught: A sandal is like a sea-fish [of the same name].19 At first it is a normal foetus but later it is crushed. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: A sandal resembles the tongue of a big ox. In the name of our Masters it was testified: A sandal20 must have the facial features.21 Rab Judah citing Samuel stated: The halachah is that a sandal20 must have the facial features. R. Adda citing R. Joseph who had it from R. Isaac ruled: A sandal20 must have the facial features even if only at the back, this being a case similar to that of a man who slapped his fellow and caused his face to turn backwards.
In the days of R. Jannai it was desired to declare [the mother of] a sandal that had no facial features as clean.22 Said R. Jannai to them: You would declare [the mother of newly born] children23 as clean!24 — But was it not taught, 'In the name of our Masters it was testified: A sandal25 must have the facial features'?26 — R. Bibi b. Abaye citing R. Johanan replied: It was on the evidence of R. Nehunya27 that this ruling28 was learnt.29 R. Ze'ira observed: R. Bibi was lucky [to be the first] with his reported traditions, for both I and he were sitting in the presence of R. Johanan when he discoursed upon this tradition, but he30 forestalled me and, reporting it first, gained the advantage.
Why was a sandal31 at all mentioned, seeing that there can be no birth of a sandal without that of an embryo with it?32 — If a female child were to be born with it this would be so indeed,33 but here we are dealing with one with which a male was born.34 As it might have been presumed that, since R. Isaac b. Ammi stated, 'If the woman is first to emit the semen she bears a male child and if the male is first to do it she bears a female child', the one35 is a male as well as the other is a male,36 hence we were informed [that no such assumption is made, for] it might equally be assumed that both emitted their semen simultaneously so that one might be a male while the other35 is a female.37 Another explanation:38 [Sandal39 was mentioned] in order that if a woman bore a female child before sunset and a sandal after sunset40 she must count the beginning of her period of menstruation in accordance with the first birth and in accordance with the second birth.41
As regards the sandal that we learnt
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