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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah

Folio 34a

The incident occurred during a festival and the uncleanness of an 'am ha-arez1  during a festival the Rabbis treated as clean; for it is written, So all the men of Israel were gathered again against the city, knit together2  as one man,3  the text thus treated them all4  as haberim.5


GEMARA. But do not Beth Shammai uphold the tradition: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when any man hath an issue,12  only the children of Israel convey uncleanness by zibah and idolaters do not convey uncleanness by zibah, but a preventive measure has been enacted against them that they should be regarded as zabim in all respects?13  — Beth Shammai can answer you:14  How should it act? If it were to convey uncleanness both when wet and when dry, you would treat it as a Pentateuchal uncleanness.15  If it were to convey uncleanness only when wet and not when dry, you might also make the same distinction in a Pentateuchal uncleanness.16  If so, should not the same provision17  be made in the case of her spittle and her urine also?18  — Since a distinguishing rule has been laid down in regard to her blood19  it is sufficiently known that her spittle and her urine are only Rabbinically unclean. And why should no distinguishing rule be laid down in respect of her spittle or her urine while her blood should be ruled to be unclean? — Concerning her spittle and her urine, since they are frequently discharged, the Rabbis have enacted a preventive measure, but concerning her blood which is not frequently discharged the Rabbis have enacted no preventive measure.

Raba ruled: His20  discharge' in zibah is unclean21  even according to Beth Shammai22  and his discharge of semen is clean even according to Beth Hillel.23  'His discharge in zibah is unclean even according to Beth Shammai' since a distinguishing rule24  can be made in connection with the discharge of his semen. 'His discharge of semen is clean even according to Beth Hillel', since the Rabbis have enacted a distinguishing rule24  in order that terumah or other holy things shall not be burnt on its account.25  But why should not the distinguishing rule be enacted in regard to his discharge in zibah while his discharge of semen should be declared unclean? — Concerning his discharge in zibah which is not dependent on an act of his the Rabbis have enacted a preventive measure, but concerning a discharge of his semen which does depend on an act of his26  the Rabbis enacted no preventive measure.

May it be suggested that the following provides support to his27  ruling: If an idolatress discharged the semen of an Israelite, it is unclean; but if the daughter of an Israelite discharged the semen of an idolater, it is clean.28  Now does not this mean that it is completely clean?29  — No; clean Pentateuchally but unclean Rabbinically. Come and hear: It thus follows30  that the semen of an Israelite is unclean everywhere,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Who was no Sadducee and whose wife as a rule properly observed the laws of menstruation.
  2. Haberim, plural of haber.
  3. Judges XX, 11.
  4. When assembled together. as is also the case on a festival.
  5. Cf. prev. n. but two. Haberim meticulously observe all the laws of uncleanness.
  6. Cf. Lev. XV, 19 and 25.
  7. The blood of purification (Lev. XII, 5).
  8. This is discussed in the Gemara infra.
  9. Which conveys uncleanness when wet but not when dry.
  10. Seven days after the birth of a male child or fourteen days after that of a female child (cf. Lev. XII, 2, 5).
  11. Beth Shammai.
  12. Lev, XV, 2.
  13. Shab. 83a; how then could Beth Shammai in our Mishnah declare their blood clean?
  14. So Maharsha and old edd. Cur. edd. insert in parenthesis 'that was stated about males, for if about females'.
  15. And this might lead to the erroneous assumption that it also causes the burning of terumah and other sacred things.
  16. That of an Israelite woman. By ruling that it is clean such erroneous conclusions are avoided.
  17. To regard it as clean.
  18. Since otherwise the same erroneous conclusion might be drawn.
  19. By imposing upon it an uncleanness that is less restrictive than that of Pentateuchal uncleanness.
  20. An idolater's.
  21. Conveying it by contact.
  22. Who in our Mishnah relax the law in regard to an idolatrous woman.
  23. Cf. prev. n. mut. mut.
  24. Whereby it is indicated that the uncleanness of an idolater is merely Rabbinical.
  25. In the absence of the distinction it might have been presumed that the uncleanness is Pentateuchal and that, therefore, even terumah and other holy things must be burnt if they came in contact with it.
  26. Sexual excitement.
  27. Raba's.
  28. Mik. VIII, 4.
  29. In agreement with Raba.
  30. Lit., 'you are found saying'.
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Niddah 34b

even in the bowels of an idolatress,1  while that of an idolater is clean everywhere, even in the bowels of an Israelitish woman, with the exception of any urine of hers that is mixed up with it.2  And should you argue that here also it is only Pentateuchally clean but unclean Rabbinically, [it could be retorted:] Does then her urine convey uncleanness Pentateuchally?3  Consequently it may be inferred that it4  is clean even Rabbinically. This is conclusive.

The Master said, 'The semen of an Israelite is unclean everywhere, even in the bowels of an idolatress'. May you not thereby solve a question of R. Papa; for R. Papa enquired. 'What is the law regarding the semen of an Israelite in the bowels of an idolatress?' [Concerning a discharge] within three days5  R. Papa raised no questions. His enquiry related only to one after three days.6  What, he asked, is the law? Is it only in the case of Israelites, who are anxious to observe the commandments, that their bodies engender heat and the semen decomposes7  but in the case of idolaters, who are not anxious to observe the commandments, their bodies engender no heat and their [semen] therefore does not decompose, or is it possible that on account of their consumption of forbidden animals and reptiles their bodies also engender heat and their semen also decomposes? — This remains undecided.

THE CLEAN BLOOD OF A LEPROUS WOMAN, BETH SHAMMAI etc. What is Beth Hillel's reason? — R. Isaac replied: 'Whether it be a man'8  includes9  a male leper as regards his sources;10  'or a woman'8  includes9  a female leper as regards her sources. Now what could be meant by 'her sources'? If it be suggested: Her other sources11  [the objection could be made that the uncleanness of these] could be inferred from that of the male.12  The reference consequently must be to [the uncleanness of] her blood,13  to declare her 'CLEAN BLOOD' unclean. And Beth Shammai?14  — [The uncleanness of] a female could not be deduced from that of a male, for it can be objected: The position of the male is different15  since he is also required16  to uncover his head and to rend his clothes17  and he is also forbidden cohabitation; [how then could his uncleanness] be compared to that of a female18  who is not [subject to his restrictions]?19  And Beth Hillel?20  — The All Merciful could have written down the restrictions in regard to the female and there would have been no need to repeat them in regard to the male; for it could have been argued: If in the case of a female,18  who is not required to uncover her head or to rend her clothes and who is not forbidden cohabitation either, the All Merciful included her sources21  how much more then should this be the rule18  in the case of the male.22  Now since the text serves no purpose in regard to the male,23  apply it to the female; and since it can serve no purpose as far as her other sources24  are concerned,25  apply it to her blood, to declare her 'CLEAN BLOOD' unclean. And Beth Shammai?26  — The uncleanness of a male cannot be deduced from that of a female, for it can be objected: The position of a female is different,27  since she becomes unclean28  even as a result of a mishap; [how then could her uncleanness] be compared to that of a male who is not [subject to such a restriction]? And Beth Hillel?26  — The subject dealt with is the position of29  the leper, how can they raise an objection against it from that of the zab?30  And Beth Shammai?26  — They raise objections from any form of uncleanness. And if you prefer I might reply that Beth Shammai can answer you: The expression30  'whether it be a man'31  is required for the following exposition: 'Whether it be a man' whosoever is a man irrespective of whether he is of age or only a minor.32  And Beth Hillel?33  — They derive this ruling from 'This is the law of him that hath an issue'34  which implies, whether he be of age or a minor.

R. Joseph stated: When R. Simeon b. Lakish discoursed on the zab he raised the following question.35  Does the first observation36  of a zab who was a minor convey uncleanness by contact? The All Merciful having said, This is the law of him that hath an issue and of him from whom the flow of seed goeth out,37  therefore only if his 'flow of seed' causes uncleanness does his first observation also cause uncleanness, but the minor,38  since his 'flow of seed' conveys no uncleanness, his first observation also conveys no uncleanness; or is it possible that it is unclean, since if he observed two discharges the two are combined?39  — Raba replied. Come and hear: This is the law of him that have an issue,37  implies, whether he is of age or a minor; as in the case of an adult a first observation conveys uncleanness so also in that of a minor a first observation conveys uncleanness.

R. Joseph enquired: Does the blood of a first observation of a leper convey uncleanness by contact? Is the place of the zibah a source and, therefore, conveys uncleanness,40  or is it possible that it is no source and, therefore, conveys no uncleanness?41  — Raba replied, Come and hear: His issue is unclean,42  this teaches concerning an issue of a zab that it is unclean.43  Now of what kind of person has this been said? If it be suggested: Of one who is only a zab44

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. If she discharged it on a garment.
  2. As the idolater's semen is here ruled to be clean everywhere, support is adduced for Raba's ruling.
  3. Of course not. Its uncleanness is only Rabbinical.
  4. An idolater's semen.
  5. After intercourse.
  6. Which in the case of an Israelitish woman is clean.
  7. After three days, and in consequence of this it is regarded as clean.
  8. Lev. XV, 33.
  9. Since the expression is not required for its context that previously in the same verse dealt in general terms 'of him that have an issue'.
  10. His mouth, for instance. Sc. not only is his body a primary uncleanness but, as the zab of which the text explicitly speaks, his spittle also is a primary uncleanness and may, therefore, impart uncleanness of the first degree to man and articles.
  11. Those that do not discharge blood but spittle or urine.
  12. As these sources of the male are unclean, so are the similar sources of the female.
  13. Which does not apply to the male.
  14. How can they maintain their ruling in view of this argument?
  15. From that of a female.
  16. When leprous.
  17. Cf. Lev. XIII, 45.
  18. When leprous.
  19. Cf. Ker. 8b.
  20. V. p. 237. n. 10.
  21. As regards uncleanness,
  22. Who is subject to these restrictions.
  23. Whose case, as has just been shown, could well have been deduced from that of the female.
  24. Those that do not discharge blood but spittle or urine.
  25. These having been deduced supra from 'or a woman',
  26. How can they maintain their ruling in view of this argument?
  27. From that of a male.
  28. In the case of zibah.
  29. Lit., 'stand at',
  30. Lit., 'that'.
  31. Lev. XV, 33.
  32. In either case is he subject to the uncleanness of zibah. Now since the text is required for this exposition it cannot also serve the purpose for which Beth Hillel seek to employ it.
  33. Having used the text for their ruling in our Mishnah whence do they derive this ruling?
  34. Lev. XV, 32.
  35. Lit., 'enquired thus'.
  36. Of a discharge.
  37. Lev. XV, 32.
  38. Lit., that'.
  39. Constituting him a confirmed zab in respect of the uncleanness of seven days, as an adult zab.
  40. As the other sources of a leper.
  41. Except by contact.
  42. Lev. XV, 2, referring (since the root meaning 'issue' is repeated) to a second discharge.
  43. And conveys it not only by contact but also by carriage (cf. infra 55a).
  44. But no leper.
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