|Introduction to Seder Tohoroth by the Editor||PAGE xiii|
|Introduction to Niddah by the Translator||xxvii|
|Index of Scriptural References|
|Transliteration of Hebrew Letters|
[page xxvii] The Tractate Niddah, which comes seventh in the Mishnah editions of the Order of Tohoroth, is placed first in the editions of the Talmud, since it is the only Tractate in this order which consists of Gemara as well as Mishnah.
The term niddah1 is applied in Biblical and Rabbinical literature to a woman in menstruation who, by reason of her uncleanness, is subject to certain restrictions during her periods and for a varying number of days subsequently.
The origin of these regulations is Lev. XV, 19ff, which prescribe some general rules concerning niddah and zibah (v. Glos.). These enactments have been expounded and amplified in accordance with Rabbinical methods of interpretation and tradition, and have been made still more onerous by the strict customs adopted by Jewish women themselves.
The following is a brief summary of the ten chapters of this Tractate:
CHAPTER I describes the factors that determine the length of the periods of uncleanness in various classes of women, particularly with reference to the retroactive effect of the uncleanness.
CHAPTER II states the test which establish the beginning of the menstrual period and indicates which colours of discharge are clean and which are unclean.
CHAPTER III deals with the woman in childbirth, stating under what conditions and for what length of time she is unclean, and determining the period of uncleanness in those cases where the sex of the child cannot be established either because of hermaphroditism or on account of miscarriage or abortion.
CHAPTER V deals with the uncleanness of a woman whose child was delivered by a Caesarean section. It indicates also the signs of puberty in both sexes, determining their symptoms and the times of their appearance.
CHAPTER VI gives further details on the signs of puberty in the female. In this connection the rule is evolved that on the appearance of a particular symptom the other are assumed to exist, whereas the converse is not true. This terse rule is illustrated by a number of diverse topics where, likewise, it is seen that one condition or fact implies another, but not vice versa (cf. 49a ff).
CHAPTER VII discusses the uncleanness of menstrual blood and other impurities. It also states the circumstances and to what extent Samaritans are believed in regard to uncleanness.
CHAPTERS VIII — X indicate the tests to be applied to decide whether a stain is that of menstrual blood or of some other matter; describe the symptoms of the approach of the menstrual period; and deal finally with the condition of uncleanness of the corpse of a menstruant.
This Tractate contains little Haggadic material. Apart from the occasional homiletical interpretations of Biblical verses the following passages are noteworthy: the view that the physical qualities and characteristics of a person are preordained before birth whereas the moral character and spiritual outlook are left to the free choice of man (16b); the remarkable experiences of Abba Saul as a grave digger (24b); and the folkloristic belief in the blissful condition of the unborn child in the mother's womb (30b).
ISRAEL W. SLOTKI
The Indices of this Tractate have been compiled by Dr. Judah J. Slotki, M. A.
PREFATORY NOTE BY THE EDITOR
The Editor desires to state that the translation of the several Tractates, and the notes thereon, are the work of the individual contributors and that he has not attempted to secure general uniformity in style or mode of rendering. He has, nevertheless, revised and supplemented, at his own discretion, their interpretation and elucidation of the original text, and has himself added the notes in square brackets containing alternative explanations and matter of historical and geographical interest.