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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah

Folio 50a

— R. Meir.1  For it was taught: R. Meir used to say, What was the purport of the Scriptural text, According to their word shall every controversy and every leprosy be?2  What connection could controversies have with leprosies? But3  controversies were compared to leprosies, as leprosies must be examined by day, since it is written, And in the day when … appeareth in him,4  so must controversies be tried by day; and5  as leprosies are not to be examined by a blind man,6  since it is written, Wherever the priest looketh,7  so are controversies not to be tried by a blind man.6  And8  leprosies are further compared to controversies: As controversies are not to be tried by relatives, so are leprosies not to be examined by relatives. In case [one were to argue:] 'As controversies must be tried by three men so must leprosies also be examined by three men, this being logically arrived at a minori ad majus: If controversies affecting one's wealth must be tried by three men, how much more so matters affecting one's body', it was explicitly stated, When he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest or unto one of his sons the priests.9  Thus you have learnt that even a single10  priest may examine leprosies.11

A certain blind man who lived in the neighbourhood of R. Johanan used to try lawsuits and the latter12  told him nothing against it. But how could he12  act in this manner, seeing that R. Johanan actually stated, 'The halachah is in agreement with an anonymous Mishnah', and we have learnt,13  WHOSOEVER IS ELIGIBLE TO ACT AS JUDGE IS ELIGIBLE TO ACT AS WITNESS, BUT ONE MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO ACT AS WITNESS AND NOT AS JUDGE, and when the question was raised, 'What was this intended to include?' R. Johanan replied, 'To include one who is blind in one eye'?14  — R. Johanan found another anonymous Mishnah.15  For we have learnt, Monetary suits must be tried by day and may be concluded by night.16  But why should this anonymous Mishnah17  be deemed more authoritative than the former?18  If you wish I might reply: An anonymous Mishnah which represents the view of a majority19  is preferable. And if you prefer I might reply: Because it20  was taught among the laws of legal procedure.21


GEMARA. What was this24  intended to include? — To include flesh, fish and eggs.25


GEMARA. What was this24  intended to include? — To include the fig-tree and vegetables, which are not subject to the obligation of pe'ah.27  For we have learnt: They28  have laid down a general rule concerning pe'ah. Whatsoever is a foodstuff, is kept under watch, grows29  from the ground, is all harvested at the same time, and is taken in for storage, is subject to pe'ah.30  'A foodstuff', excludes the after-growths of woad and madder;31  'is kept under watch', excludes hefker; 'grows32  from the ground', excludes morils and truffles;33  'is all harvested at the same time', excludes the fig-tree;34  and is taken in for storage', excludes vegetables. As regards tithes, however, we have learnt: Whatsoever is a foodstuff, is kept under watch and grows from the ground is subject to the obligation of tithes;35  whereas 'is all harvested at the same time36  and is taken in for storage'37  was not mentioned.38  But if garlic or onions39  grew among them40  they are subject [to pe'ah]. For we have learnt: As regards plots of onions between other vegetables, R. Jose ruled, Pe'ah must be left from each41  and the Sages ruled, From one for all.42

Rabbah b. Bar Hana citing R. Johanan ruled: If endives were originally sown for cattle-food and then [the owner] changed his mind43  to use them for human food,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Who disqualifies a man blind in one eye from acting as judge.
  2. Deut. XXI, 5.
  3. Owing to juxtaposition.
  4. Lev. XIII, 14, emphasis on 'day'. (E.V. 'whensoever' for 'in the day when').
  5. By a further analogy (cf. prev. n. but one).
  6. Even by one who is blind in one eye only.
  7. Lev. XIII, 12 emphasis on the last word.
  8. Owing to juxtaposition.
  9. Lev. XIII, 2 emphasis on 'Aaron' and 'one'.
  10. Cf. prev. n.
  11. At any rate it follows, as was stated above, that according to R. Meir a blind man (even if in one eye only) is eligible as judge. Our Mishnah, therefore, represents his view.
  12. R. Johanan.
  13. As an anonymous Mishnah.
  14. Which clearly shows that according to R. Johanan no blind man is eligible to act as judge. Why then did he raise no objection against the blind man's conduct?
  15. Which allows a blind man to act as judge.
  16. Sanh. 32a; which shows that, according to this Mishnah, 'controversies' were not compared to 'leprosies' for though the latter may not be examined by night the trying of the former may well be concluded by night. And since the two were not compared in this respect they were not compared as regards the ineligibility of a blind man either.
  17. The latter, cited from Sanh.
  18. Our Mishnah. Lit., 'and what is the strength of that anonymous etc.'
  19. As does the one from Sanh. Our Mishnah, as was explained supra, represents the view of R. Meir alone.
  20. The latter, cited from Sanh.
  21. With which the tractate of Sanh. deals. A law occurring in a tractate that is devoted to similar laws is more reliable than one occurring in a tractate that is mainly devoted to a totally different subject.
  22. Since only foodstuffs are subject to tithe.
  23. This is presently explained in the Gemara.
  24. The second clause of our Mishnah.
  25. Only foodstuffs that grow from the ground are subject to tithe.
  26. Lit., 'corner'. Cf. When ye reap the harvest … thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field … thou shalt leave them for the poor (Lev. XIX, 9f).
  27. But are liable to tithes.
  28. The Rabbis.
  29. Var. lec. 'draws its nourishment' (v. Tosaf.).
  30. Pe'ah I, 4.
  31. Plants used only in dyeing which are unsuitable as food.
  32. Var. lec. 'draws its nourishment' (v. Tosaf.).
  33. Which are not planted Aliter: Which (cf. prev. n.) do not draw their nourishment from the ground.
  34. And similar trees whose fruit ripens at different times.
  35. Ma'as. I, 1.
  36. Which would have excluded the fig-tree and the like.
  37. Which would have excluded vegetables.
  38. It thus follows that figs and vegetables are liable to tithes though exempt from pe'ah. The tithe mentioned is, of course, only Rabbinical, since Pentateuchally only corn, wine and oil are subject to the obligations of tithe.
  39. Vegetables that are taken in for storage.
  40. The other vegetables.
  41. Since the other vegetables form a division between one plot and another.
  42. The intervening vegetables being disregarded, Pe'ah III, 4.
  43. While they were still attached to the ground.
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Niddah 50b

it is necessary1  that he should intend them for the purpose2  after they had been detached; he being of the opinion that intention2  concerning attached [produce] is no valid intention. Raba observed: We also have learnt a rule to the same effect: Thirteen things have been said about the carrion of a clean bird, (and the following is one of them).3  It is necessary4  that it should be intended for food but there is no need for it to be rendered5  susceptible to uncleanness.6  Thus it is clearly evident that7  an intention concerning a live being is no valid intention; so also here8  it must be said, that an intention concerning attached [produce]9  is no valid intention.10  R. Zera said:11  We are dealing here12  with a [flying] pigeon that dropped from on high, so that it was not before us13  to enable one to have any intentions about it.14  Said Abaye to him:15  What can be said about the [case of the] hen of Jamnia?16  — That, the other15  replied, was a wild cock.17  They laughed at him: A wild cock is an unclean bird and an unclean bird does not convey uncleanness!18  — 'When a great man', Abaye told them, 'said something, do not laugh at him. This was a case of a hen that ran away;19  and as to the meaning20  of "wild", it turned wild as far as its master was concerned'.21  R. Papa said: It was a field-hen.22  R. Papa thus followed his known view. For R. Papa ruled, A field-cock is forbidden and a field-hen is permitted; and your mnemonic is 'A male Ammonite23  but not a female Ammonite'. Amemar laid down in his discourse that a field-hen is forbidden.24  The Rabbis observed that it stamps on its prey25  when eating it;26  and it is this bird that is known as girutha.27

Our Rabbis taught: If a pigeon28  fell into a winepress29  and it was intended to pick it up for a Samaritan,30  it is unclean;31  but if it was intended for a dog it is clean,32  R. Johanan b. Nuri33  ruled, Even if intended for a dog it is unclean.31  R. Johanan b. Nuri argued: This is arrived at a minori ad majus. If it34  conveys a major uncleanness,35  though there was no intention,36  should it not convey a minor uncleanness37  though there was no intention? They answered him: No; if you maintain your view in the case of a major uncleanness, which never descends to that,38  would you also maintain it in the case of a minor uncleanness which does descend to that?38  He replied: the hen of Jamnia proves my contention, for it descends to that and, though there was no intention, it was declared unclean. 'From there', they retorted, 'is your proof? In that place there were Samaritans and it was intended that they shall eat it.' Now with what case are we dealing here? If it be suggested with big cities [the objection would arise]: What need was there for intention, seeing that we have learnt: The carcass of a clean beast anywhere39  and the carcass of a clean bird and forbidden fat in large towns40  require neither intention nor to be rendered susceptible.41  If, however, it is suggested: Of villages, [the difficulty arises:] Is there any authority who maintains that in this case no intention is required, seeing that we have learnt: The carcass of an unclean beast42  anywhere43  and the carcass of a clean bird in villages44  require45  intention46  but need not be rendered susceptible?47  — R. Ze'ira b. Hanina replied: We are in fact dealing with an incident in a big city, but48  the winepress caused it49  to be objectionable50  and thus caused the town to be regarded as a village.

'R. Johanan b. Nuri argued: This is arrived at a minori ad majus. If it conveys a major uncleanness, though there was no intention, should it not convey a minor uncleanness though there was no intention? They answered him: No; if you maintain your view in the case of a major uncleanness which never descends to that.' What is meant by 'it never descends to that'? — Raba replied: It is this that they51  in effect said to him,52  'No; if you maintain your view

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. If they are to be rendered susceptible to food-uncleanness as human food.
  2. To be used as human food.
  3. The bracketed words are not in the cited Mishnah.
  4. Cf. prev. n. but one mut. mut.
  5. By intentionally wetting it.
  6. As is the case with other dry foodstuffs which must come in contact with liquids before they can be capable of contracting uncleanness. Toh. I, 1.
  7. Since intention is required when it is already carrion though a live bird is usually intended for food.
  8. R. Johanan's ruling.
  9. Which, analogous to a live animal, is not susceptible to uncleanness.
  10. Support is thus adduced for R. Johanan's ruling.
  11. The cited Mishnah affords no support to R. Johanan.
  12. The Mishnah of Toh. cited.
  13. While it was yet alive.
  14. Hence the ruling that 'it is necessary that it should be intended for food' after it was carrion. Where, however, a live animal was intended to be used in due course as food no further intention is necessary after it had been killed,
  15. R. Zera.
  16. Which (v. infra) was in its owner's possession before it died and yet was regarded as a food for the sole reason that the Samaritans living there intended it as such after it was dead.
  17. Not usually intended for food. Hence the necessity for intention after its death.
  18. Through one's oesophagus, v. Hul. 100b. Now since the uncleanness of the hen at Jamnia was conveyed through the oesophagus (sc. by the swallowing of it) it could not possibly have been a wild cock.
  19. Lit., 'rebelled', and thus was not before us while alive and for this reason intention would be necessary after it died. It was one of the young of this hen that dropped at Jamnia and gave rise to the discussion.
  20. Lit., 'and what',
  21. Lit., 'from its master'. As the bird in question was consequently a clean one it may well have conveyed uncleanness (as stated) through the oesophagus.
  22. Or 'a hen of the marshes', which in his opinion (v. infra) is a clean bird.
  23. Is forbidden to enter the Assembly (cf. Deut. XXIII, 4).
  24. As food.
  25. In the manner of birds of prey.
  26. No clean birds eat in this manner.
  27. Presumably the moor-hen. The girutha is an unclean bird (cf. Hul. 109b).
  28. A clean bird.
  29. Where it got crushed and died, becoming repulsive for eating.
  30. To give it to him to eat.
  31. Food-uncleanness. It conveys uncleanness to other foodstuffs through contact, without being rendered susceptible.
  32. Such an intention being invalid.
  33. Holding that no intention is required (v. infra).
  34. The pigeon.
  35. The uncleanness of the person and the clothes worn by him when he ate it.
  36. When, for instance, the man was unaware that he was eating that particular pigeon.
  37. That of food and drink by means of contact.
  38. This is explained presently.
  39. Even in a village where there are not many consumers.
  40. Where consumers are many and any sort of food finds buyers.
  41. 'Uk. III, 3; since a clean beast is usually intended for food both in town and in villages while the carcass of a clean bird and forbidden fat would find consumers in large towns only but not in villages (cf. prev. two notes). Intention, therefore, is required in the latter case but not in the former.
  42. Which is not usually eaten.
  43. Even in large towns,
  44. Where consumers are few.
  45. Since they are not usually eaten.
  46. To enable them to convey uncleanness. In the case of the former, uncleanness is conveyed even in the absence of intention provided its bulk was no less than that of an olive. The intention, however, avails where the bulk of carcass was less than that of an olive and that of other food was less than the bulk of an egg. In such a case the two quantities combine to form together the prescribed bulk of an egg which contracts uncleanness through contact with a dead creeping thing.
  47. Since they would eventually be subject to a major uncleanness.
  48. The reason why the Rabbis require intention.
  49. The pigeon.
  50. So that it is not so very suitable for consumption.
  51. The Rabbis.
  52. R. Johanan b. Nuri.
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