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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah

Folio 66a

and marries another man.1  If she was married to another man and again observed a discharge of blood as a result of her marital intercourse, she may perform her marital duty the first, second and third time. Henceforward, however, she may not perform it until she is divorced and marries another man. If she was married to another man and again observed a discharge of blood as a result of her intercourse she may perform her marital duty the first, second and third time. Henceforward, however, she may not perform it unless she first examines herself. How does she examine herself? She inserts a tube within which rests a painting stick to the top of which is attached an absorbent. If blood is found on the top of the absorbent it may be known that it2  emanated from the source3  and if no blood is found on the top, it may be known that it2  emanated from the sides.4  If, however, she has a wound in that place she may attribute the blood to her wound.4  If she has a fixed period5  she may attribute it to her fixed period,6  but if the nature of the blood of her wound is different from that of the blood of her observation she may not so attribute it. A woman, furthermore, is believed when she says, 'I have a wound in the source from which blood is discharged';4  so Rabbi.7  R. Simeon b. Gamaliel ruled: The blood of a wound that is discharged through the source is unclean. Our Masters, however, testified that the blood of a wound that is discharged through the source is clean. What is the point at issue between them?8  — 'Ulla replied: The point at issue between them is the question whether the interior of the uterus is unclean.9  Would not a tube10  bruise her?11  — Samuel replied: The examination is performed with a leaden tube whose edge12  is bent inwards. But, said Resh Lakish to R. Johanan, why should she not13  examine herself14  after the third intercourse with her first husband?15  — The other replied: Because not all fingers16  are alike.17  But, the former said, why should she not18  have to examine herself14  after the first intercourse with her third husband? — Because not all ejections19  are of equal force.20

A certain woman once came to Rabbi [with such a complaint].21  Go, he said to Abdan, and frighten her. As the latter approached and frightened her a clot of blood dropped from her. This woman, Rabbi exclaimed, is now cured. A certain woman [with a similar complaint]21  once came to the Master Samuel. Go, he said to R. Dimi b. Joseph, and frighten her. The latter approached and frightened her but nothing dropped from her. This woman, Samuel pronounced, is one full of blood which she scatters,22  and any woman who is full of blood which she scatters22  has no cure. Once there came to R. Johanan a certain woman who, whenever she emerged from her ritual immersion, observed a discharge of blood. It is possible, he said to her, that the gossip of your townspeople23  has caused the affliction;24  arrange25  for your intercourse with him to take place near the river side.26  There is one who says: He27  said to her, Reveal your affliction to your friends so that, as they were astounded in one way,28  they may also be astounded in the other.29  There is also one who says: He30  said to her, Announce your trouble to your friends so that they may offer prayers for mercy to be vouchsafed to you. For it was taught: And shall cry, 'Unclean, unclean',31  he must announce his trouble to the public so that they may pray for mercy to be vouchsafed to him. R. Joseph stated: Such an incident once occurred at Pumbeditha and the woman was cured.

R. Joseph citing Rab Judah who had it from Rab stated: Rabbi ordained at Sadoth,32  If a woman observed a discharge on one day she33  must wait34  six days in addition to it.35  If she observed discharges on two days she33  must wait34  six days in addition to these.36  If she observed a discharge on three days she33  must wait34  seven clean days.37  R. Zera stated: The daughters of Israel have imposed upon themselves the restriction that even if they observe a drop of blood of the size of a mustard seed they wait on account of it seven clean days.

Raba took R. Samuel out for a walk38  when he discoursed as follows: If a woman39  was in protracted labour40  for two days and on the third she miscarried she must wait seven clean days; he being of the opinion that the law relating to protracted labour41  does not apply to miscarriages and that it is impossible for the uterus42  to open without bleeding. Said R. Papa to Raba: What is the point in speaking of one who was in protracted labour for two days seeing that the same applies even where there was the minutest discharge, since R. Zera stated, The daughters of Israel have imposed upon themselves the restriction that even where they observe only a drop of blood of the size of a mustard seed they wait on account of it seven clean days? — The other replied: I am speaking to you of a prohibition,43  and you talk of a custom which applies only where the restriction has been adopted.44

(Mnemonic. Had an offer, natron, In warm water, to perform immersion, folds upon a haven.)45  Raba stated: If a woman had an offer of marriage and she accepted it she46  must allow seven clean days to pass.47

Rabina was engaged in preparations for the marriage of his son at R. Hanina's.48  'Does the Master', the latter said to him, 'intend writing the kethubah four days hence?' 'Yes', the other replied; but when the fourth day arrived he waited for another four days and thus caused a delay of seven days after the day in question.49  'Why', the first asked, 'all this delay?'50  'Does not the Master', the other replied, 'hold the opinion of Raba, Raba having ruled: If a woman had an offer of marriage and she accepted she must allow seven clean days to pass?' 'It is possible', the first suggested, that Raba spoke only of one of mature age who is likely to discharge menstrual blood,51  but did he speak of a minor who is unlikely to discharge menstrual blood?' 'Raba', the other replied, 'has explicitly stated: There is no difference between one of mature age and a minor. For what is the reason why one of mature age is subject to the restriction? Because her passions are excited;52  well, those of a minor also are excited.

Raba ruled: A woman

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. The reason is explained infra.
  2. The blood.
  3. The uterus; and is unclean.
  4. And it is clean.
  5. During which intercourse causes her to bleed.
  6. And is consequently permitted intercourse at other times without previous examination.
  7. This refers to the last ruling only. All the previous rulings in the Baraitha, however, represent the view of R. Simeon.
  8. Rabbi and our Masters on the one hand and R. Simeon on the other.
  9. Lit., 'the source, its place is unclean'.
  10. Presumably a reed.
  11. Why then is she expected to carry out her examination with it?
  12. Lit., and its mouth'.
  13. Instead of being divorced.
  14. Before each subsequent intercourse.
  15. And thus continue to live with him.
  16. Euphemism.
  17. Sc. the husband might have been the cause. It is preferable, therefore, that she marries another man with whom she can lead a normal life than continue to live with one in an abnormal condition.
  18. Since a repetition of the occurrence with three husbands establishes presumption.
  19. Lit., 'forces'.
  20. Hence it is necessary for the occurrence to be repeated three times with the third husband before presumption is established.
  21. Bleeding occasioned by intercourse.
  22. As a result of intercourse.
  23. Sc. their 'evil eye'; jealousy at the affection between her and her husband.
  24. Lit., 'went up on thee'.
  25. Lit., 'go'.
  26. Thus avoiding the town's gossip.
  27. R. Johanan.
  28. Lit., 'side'; at her husband's affection (cf. prev. n. but four).
  29. At her affliction. They would in consequence no longer envy her and the influence of their 'evil eye' would disappear.
  30. R. Johanan.
  31. Lev. XIII, 45.
  32. A place that was inhabited by unlettered people who were incapable of calculating the dates of the menstrual, and the zibah periods.
  33. Before she attains cleanness.
  34. Lit.,'she shall sit'.
  35. Sc. seven days, the number prescribed for a menstruant, since (cf. prev. n. but two) it is possible that the discharge occurred during a menstruation period.
  36. Since it is possible that the first of the two days was the last of a zibah period while the second was the first of a menstruation one.
  37. It being possible that the discharge occurred in a period of zibah.
  38. [H] V. Ta'an., (Sonc. ed.), p. 60 n. 5.
  39. In her zibah period.
  40. Accompanied by bleeding.
  41. Which regards accompanying bleeding as exempt from uncleanness.
  42. Lit., 'the grave'.
  43. Which is Pentateuchally applicable to all.
  44. Lit., 'where it was restricted it was restricted; where it was not etc.'
  45. Words or phrases occurring in the following rulings of Raba. 'Folds' should be inserted before 'to perform' to correspond with the order of the rulings in cur. edd.
  46. Since the excitement of the proposal and its acceptance may have produced some menstrual discharge.
  47. Before she may regard herself as clean.
  48. Var. lec. Habiba (MS.M. and BaH.)
  49. Lit., 'that day', on which the proposal was made to the girl.
  50. Lit., 'what that'.
  51. Lit., 'who sees blood'.
  52. Lit., 'that she covets'.
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Niddah 66b

must not wash her head either with natron or with ohal.1  'With natron', because it plucks out the hair;2  and 'with ohal' because it causes the hairs to cling to one another.3

Amemar also citing Raba ruled: A woman4  must wash her head in warm water only and she may do it even with such as was warmed by the sun5  but not with cold water. Why not with cold water? — Because cold water6  loosens7  the hair.8

Raba further ruled: A man should always give instructions to his household that a woman9  should wash the folds of her body10  with water. An objection was raised: It is not necessary for the water11  to penetrate into the folds of the body12  or to its concealed parts!13  — Granted that it is not necessary for the water to penetrate,14  it is necessary nevertheless that it be capable of penetration to every part;15  in agreement with a ruling of R. Zera. For R. Zera ruled: Wherever proper mingling16  is possible actual mingling is not essential,17  but where proper mingling is not possible18  the actual mingling is indispensable.19

Rabin son of R. Adda citing R. Isaac stated: It once happened that a bondmaid of Rabbi performed immersion and when she ascended [from the water] a bone constituting an interposition was found between her teeth, and20  Rabbi required her to perform a second immersion.21

Raba further ruled: If a woman performed immersion, and when she ascended [from the water] an object that caused an interposition was found upon her, she need not wash her head or perform immersion again if her immersion was performed immediately after the washing of her head;22  otherwise, she must wash her head and perform immersion again. There are others who say: If she performed her immersion on the same day on which she washed her head, she need not wash her head or perform immersion again, otherwise she must wash her head and perform immersion again. What is the practical difference between them?23  — The practical difference between them is the question whether immersion must follow immediately upon the washing of the head,24  and whether a woman may wash her head during the day and perform her immersion at night.

Raba ruled: A woman may not stand upon an earthenware when she is to perform ritual immersion. R. Kahana intended to say, 'What is the reason? Because a preventive measure has been enacted against the possibility of using25  bath-houses,26  but that it is quite proper to stand upon a block of wood'. Said R. Hanan of Nehardea to him, 'What is the reason27  there?28  Because she is frightened;29  on a chip of wood she is also frightened'.29

R. Samuel b. R. Isaac ruled: A woman shall not perform immersion

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. An alcalic plant. So Aruk, Alfasi and Asheri. Cur. edd. 'sand'.
  2. Which, remaining on the head, form an interception between the water of the ritual bath and the body.
  3. Cf. prev. n. mut. mut.
  4. Before ritual immersion.
  5. For the sequence of the rulings cf. MS.M., BaH. and Asheri.
  6. Cf. BaH.
  7. Aliter: hardens.
  8. Cf. prev. n. but five mut. mut.
  9. Before performing ritual immersion.
  10. Her armpits for instance.
  11. Of a ritual bath.
  12. Lit., 'the house of folds'.
  13. How then could Raba maintain that the folds must be washed?
  14. Into the folds.
  15. Lit., 'a place that is suitable for the entry of the water we require'.
  16. Of the flour and the oil of a meal-offering. Perfect mingling is effected with one log of oil to sixty 'esronim of flour in one pan; v. Men. 103b.
  17. The meal-offering being acceptable even if no mingling took place.
  18. If, for instance, the proportions were less than a log of oil to sixty 'esronim of flour.
  19. Similarly in the case of ritual immersion, though the water need not penetrate to all parts of the body, the immersion is invalid if owing to dirt or some other interception the water cannot penetrate everywhere.
  20. Though it is not necessary for the water to come in contact with the teeth.
  21. In agreement with R. Zera's rule.
  22. It being assumed in such a case that the interposition became attached to the body after the immersion.
  23. The two readings.
  24. According to the first reading it must.
  25. For ritual immersion.
  26. Where the benches on which people stand when bathing are made of earth and are thus similar to earthenware. Were a woman to be allowed to stand on earthenware when performing ritual immersion in a ritually valid bath she might assume that ritual immersion is also valid when she stands on an earthen bench in a bath-house.
  27. Why a woman must not stand on earthenware.
  28. Where immersion is performed in a ritual bath.
  29. That she might fall; and in consequence might not perform the immersion in a proper manner.
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