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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
R. Isaac b. Nahmani citing R. Eleazar22 stated: The halachah is in agreement with the ruling which R. Jose b. Kipper cited in the name of R. Eliezer.23 R. Zera observed: May I be worthy to go up24 and to learn the tradition25 from the Master's mouth. When he went up24 he met R. Eleazar and asked him, 'Did you say: The halachah is in agreement with R. Jose b. Kipper?' — 'What I said was', the other replied, 'that it seemed to be reasonable. For since, throughout the chapter, "one day" was explicitly added26 while in this case27 it was not mentioned it may well be inferred that it seems reasonable [that the halachah is] in agreement with him'.
MISHNAH. IF THE LOWER MARK28 APPEARED BEFORE THE UPPER ONE29 HAD YET MADE ITS APPEARANCE, SHE MAY PERFORM HALIZAH OR CONTRACT LEVIRATE MARRIAGE.30 IF THE UPPER MARK29 APPEARED BEFORE THE LOWER ONE28 HAD MADE ITS APPEARANCE, THOUGH THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE,31 R. MEIR RULED, SHE MAY NEITHER PERFORM HALIZAH NOR CONTRACT THE LEVIRATE MARRIAGE; BUT THE SAGES RULED, SHE MAY EITHER PERFORM HALIZAH OR CONTRACT THE LEVIRATE MARRIAGE, BECAUSE THEY MAINTAIN: IT IS POSSIBLE FOR THE LOWER MARK TO APPEAR BEFORE THE UPPER ONE HAD YET MADE ITS APPEARANCE, BUT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE UPPER MARK TO APPEAR BEFORE THE LOWER ONE HAD MADE ITS APPEARANCE.32
GEMARA. 'THOUGH THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE'! But has it not in fact APPEARED?33 — 'APPEARED', according to R. Meir;34 'THOUGH THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE' according to the Rabbis.35 Why then was it not stated: 'If the upper mark appeared, R. Meir ruled, She may neither perform halizah nor contract levirate marriage but the Sages ruled, She may either perform halizah or contract levirate marriage'. and I would well have known that their reason is that it is impossible?36 — If 'THOUGH THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE had not been stated, It might have been presumed that in most women the lower mark appears first and in that of a minority the upper mark appears first, and that R. Meir37 is guided by his principle according to which he takes even a minority into consideration,38 while the Rabbis39 are guided by their principle according to which they do not take a minority into consideration;40 and that this41 applies only to a general case, but where an examination was held and no [lower mark] was found the Rabbis, it might have been assumed, agree with R. Meir37 since the upper mark has appeared first, hence we were informed that this IS IMPOSSIBLE and that the lower mark42 had undoubtedly appeared earlier but merely fell off. According to R. Meir43 one may well justify the Scriptural text, Thy breasts44 were fashioned, and thy hair45 was grown,46 but according to the Rabbis,47 should not the order have been reversed?48 — It is this that was meant: As soon as the 'breasts are fashioned' it is known that 'thy hair was grown'. According to R. Meir49 one can well see the justification for the order of the Scriptural text, When they from Egypt bruised thy breasts44 for the bosom45 of thy youth.50 but according to the Rabbis,47 should not the order have been reversed?48 — It is this that was meant: As soon as 'thy breasts' appeared it is known that thy youth45 had appeared. And if you prefer I might reply: As to the meaning of51 shede,52 all the clause was written with regard to the breasts; and it is this that the Holy One, blessed be He, said in effect to Israel:
Niddah 48b'Thy breasts were swollen, yet thou didst not repent; yea, thy breasts were dried up, yet thou didst not repent'.1 All2 at any rate agree that3 we rely on the lower mark; whence do we deduce this? — Rab Judah citing Rab replied and so it was taught at the school of R. Ishmael: Scripture said, When a man or a woman shall commit any sin that men commit,4 Scripture5 compared the 'woman' to the 'man' in respect of all the punishments in the Torah; as a man is subject to punishments on the appearance of the one mark6 so is also a woman subject to punishments on the appearance of the one mark. Might it not be suggested: Either the one or the other?7 — Like the man: As with the man [the determining factor] is the lower mark and not the upper one so also with the woman it is the lower one that determines majority but not the upper one. So8 it was also taught: R. Eliezer son of R. Zadok stated, Thus did they explain and promulgate at Jamnia: As soon as the lower mark makes its appearance no attention need any longer be paid to the upper one.
It was taught: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel stated, Among towns-women the lower mark appears earlier because they are in the habit of taking baths; among village women the upper mark appears earlier because they grind with millstones.9 R. Simeon b. Eleazar stated: Among the daughters of the rich the right hand side develops earlier because it rubs against their scarves;10 among the daughters of the poor the left side develops earlier because they carry11 jars of water on them. And if you prefer I might say, Because they carry their brothers on their sides.
Our Rabbis taught: The left side develops earlier than the right side. R. Hanina the son of the brother of R. Joshua stated: The left side never developed earlier than the right side except in the case of one woman who lived in our neighbourhood whose left side developed earlier than the right one which later regained its normal strength.
Our Rabbis taught: All girls to be examined must be examined by women. So also R. Eliezer entrusted the examination to his wife, and R. Ishmael entrusted it to his mother. R. Judah ruled: Before the period12 and after the period,13 women examine them.14 During the period15 no woman may examine them, since in doubtful cases16 no woman is allowed to marry17 on the evidence of women. R. Simeon ruled, Even during the period15 women examine them. And a woman may be relied upon when by her evidence the law is restricted but not when it is relaxed thereby. How so? [She may be relied upon when she states: 'The girl] is of age', so that the latter should thereby be denied the right of mi'un, or 'She is a minor', so that she should thereby be denied the right of performing halizah; but she is not trusted when asserting, 'She is a minor', so that she should have the right of exercising mi'un, or 'She is of age', so that she should be entitled to perform halizah.
The Master said, 'R. Judah ruled: Before the period and after the period women examine them'. One can well concede that before the period an examination is required, for should [the same hairs]18 be found after the period they would be regarded as a mole;19 but what need could there be for an examination after the period seeing that Raba has laid down that a minor who has attained the age of her majority need not be examined since there is presumption that she had by that time produced the marks of puberty? — When Raba stated, 'there is presumption', he meant it in respect of mi'un,20 but as regards halizah21 an examination is still required.22 'During the period no women may examine them', because he is of the opinion [that the presence of hairs] during the period [is a mark of majority] as after the period;23 but after the period, when Raba's presumption is applicable, we rely upon women who may, therefore, conduct the examination,22 while during the period, when Raba's presumption is not applicable, we cannot rely upon women, and women, therefore, may not conduct the examination. 'R. Simeon ruled, Even during the period women examine them', for he is of the opinion [that the presence of hairs] during the period [is no more a mark of puberty] than it is before the period; and an examination is, therefore, required so that if [the same hairs]24 should be found after the period they would be regarded as a mole.25 'And a woman may be relied upon when by her evidence the law is restricted but not when it is relaxed thereby.' Who taught this? — If you wish I might say: R. Judah, and [the reference is to evidence] during the period.26
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