Previous Folio / Niddah Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
Resh Lakish ruled: If a reed was held in a fold of the body of a zab and he shook therewith a clean person the latter remains clean.3 If a reed was held in the fold of the body of a clean person and he shook therewith a zab the former is unclean.4 What is the reason?5 Because Scripture said, And whomsoever he that hath issue6 toucheth, without having rinsed his hands in water,7 and this8 refers to the shaking of a zab, a form of conveyance of uncleanness the like of which we do not find anywhere in all the Torah; and the All Merciful expressed this in the term of touching,9 in order to tell that shaking and touching must be performed with a part of the body which is like one's hands; as one's hands are exposed10 so must any other part of the body11 be exposed.
BUT A ZAB AND ONE WHO EMITTED SEMEN CONVEY NO UNCLEANNESS etc. A ZAB, because it is written in Scripture, When any man hath an issue out of his flesh,12 [which implies that no uncleanness is conveyed] unless his issue emerged 'out of his flesh'; ONE WHO EMITTED SEMEN, because It is written, And if the flow of seed go out from a man.13
IF A MAN WAS EATING TERUMAH WHEN HE FELT etc. Was it not, however, taught: R. Eliezer stated, whoever holds his membrum when he makes water is as though he had brought a flood on the world?14 — Abaye replied: One does it with a thick rag.15 Raba stated: It may even be done with a soft rag, for once the semen has been detached the subsequent touch is of no consequence.16 And Abaye?17 — He takes into consideration the possibility of an additional discharge. And Raba? — He does not consider the possibility of an additional discharge. But does he not?18 Was it not in fact taught: 'To what may this be compared? To the putting of a finger upon the eye when, so long as the finger remains on it, the eye continues to tear'? Now Raba?19 — It is unusual to get heated twice in immediate succession.20
Samuel ruled, Any semen the emission of which is not felt throughout one's body causes no uncleanness. What is the reason? — The All Merciful has said, The flow of seed,21 implying that the text22 deals only with such as is fit to produce seed. An objection was raised: If a man was troubled with unchaste thoughts in the night and when he rose up he found his flesh heated, he is unclean!23 — R. Huna explained this to apply to a man who dreamt of indulging in sexual intercourse, it being impossible to indulge in the act without experiencing the sensation. Another rendering: Samuel ruled, Any semen which does not shoot forth like an arrow causes no uncleanness. What is the practical difference between the latter reading and the former reading? — The practical difference between them is the case where the detachment of the semen was perceived but the emergence was not felt.24 Now this ruling which was quite obvious to Samuel was a matter of enquiry for Raba. For Raba enquired: What is the law where the detachment of the semen was perceived but its emergence was not felt?25 — Come and hear: If a man who emitted semen performed immersion26 before he had made water, his uncleanness is resumed when he makes water!27 — There it is different, since the emergence of most of the semen was perceived. Others have a different reading: Samuel ruled, Any semen which does not shoot forth like an arrow causes no fructification. It is only fructification that it does not cause but it does cause uncleanness, for it is said in Scripture. If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of that which chanceth him,28 which implies: Even a chance emission29 whatever its nature.30
Raba enquired: What is the law where an idolater indulged in sexual thoughts,31 and then32 he went down and performed ritual immersion?33 If you were to find some case where we follow the time of detachment34 [the question would arise]. Does this apply only where the law is thereby restricted,35 but not here36 where the law would thereby be relaxed,37 or is it possible that no distinction is made? — This is undecided.
Raba enquired: What is the ruling where the urine of a zabah had been detached from the source38 and then she went down and performed ritual immersion?39 If you were to find some case where we follow the time of the detachment [the question would arise], Does this apply only to semen, since it cannot be restrained,40 but not to her urine which she is able to restrain,41 or is it possible that no distinction is made? — This is undecided.
Raba enquired: What is the law where the urine of an idolatress42 who was a zabah had been detached
Niddah 43bfrom the source, and then she1 went down and performed ritual immersion? If you were to find a case2 where we follow the time of the detachment even where the woman can restrain the discharge [the question would arise], Does this apply only to the Israelitish woman who is Pentateuchally unclean but not to an idolatress who was a zabah, since she is only Rabbinically unclean,3 or is it possible that no difference is made between them? — This is undecided.
AND THE DISCHARGES CONVEY UNCLEANNESS HOWEVER SMALL THE QUANTITY. Samuel ruled: [the discharge of] a zab4 must be such a quantity as would stop the orifice of the membrum, for it is said in Scriptures Or his flesh be stopped from his issue.5 But have we not learnt: AND THE DISCHARGES CONVEY UNCLEANNESS, HOWEVER SMALL THE QUANTITY? — He6 maintains the same view as R. Nathan. For it was taught: R. Nathan citing R. Ishmael ruled, [the discharge of] a zab4 must be such a quantity as would stop the orifice of the membrum; but [the Rabbis] did not agree with him.7 What is R. Ishmael's reason? — Because Scripture said, Or his flesh be stopped from his issue.5 And the Rabbis?8 — That text9 is required for the inference that the discharge conveys uncleanness only when in a state of fluidity10 but not when it is dry.11 And R. Ishmael?12 — That13 is inferred from run.14 And the Rabbis?15 — That text14 serves the purpose of indicating the number:16 His issue,9 implies once; His flesh run,9 implies twice; With his issue,9 implies three times; thus it was taught that a zab who observed three discharges is under an obligation to bring a sacrifice; Or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness,9 implies that he is unclean even on account of a part of the number of his issues,17 this teaches that a zab who observed only two discharges conveys uncleanness to his couch and seat. As to R. Ishmael, however,18 whence does he deduce the number required?19 — He derives it from an exposition of R. Simai; for it was taught: R. Simai stated, Scripture enumerated two issues and described the man as unclean20 and it also enumerated three issues and described the man as unclean,21 how is this to be reconciled? Two observations subject a man to the restrictions of uncleanness, and three observations render him liable to bring a sacrifice. But according to the Rabbis22 who deduced both numbers from 'This shall be his uncleanness in his issue',23 what deduction do they make from the text 'when any man hath an issue out of his flesh'?24 — They require it for the deduction that uncleanness does not begin until the discharge emerged from one's flesh. What need, however, was there for 'His issue be unclean'?24 — 'This teaches that the issue itself25 is unclean.
R. Hanilai citing R. Eliezer son of R. Simeon ruled: Semen conveys uncleanness to the man who emitted it,26 however small its quantity, but as regards the man who touched it its quantity must be of the bulk of a lentil.27 But did we not learn, AND THE DISCHARGES CONVEY UNCLEANNESS, HOWEVER SMALL THE QUANTITY, which applies, does it not, to the case of one who touched semen? — No, it applies only to one who emitted it.26
Come and hear: In one respect the law of semen is more restrictive than that of a dead creeping thing while in another respect the law of a dead creeping thing is more restrictive than that of semen. 'The law of a dead creeping thing is more restrictive' in that no distinction [of age] is made about its uncleanness,28 which is not the case with semen.29 'The law of semen is more restrictive' in that uncleanness is conveyed by its smallest quantity, which is not the case with a creeping thing.30 Now does not this apply to one who touched the semen?31 — No, it applies only to one who emitted it.32 But was it not taught as being on a par with the creeping thing: As the latter is a case of touching so also the former?31 — R. Adda b. Ahabah replied: The ruling referred to a creeping thing in general33 and to semen in general.34 But does a creeping thing convey no uncleanness even when it is of the smallest bulk? Have we not in fact learnt: Members of the body35 have36 no prescribed minimum size [and uncleanness is, therefore, conveyed] by less than the size of an olive of corpse,37 by less than the size of an olive of nebelah or by less than the size of a lentil of a dead creeping thing?38 — It is different with a member of the body39 since the whole of it takes the place of the size of a lentil; for were any part of it40 missing,41 would the member42 have conveyed any uncleanness?43 What is meant by the 'distinction in uncleanness' in the case of semen? If it be suggested: The distinction between the semen of an Israelite and that of foreigners [it could be objected]: Is there not in this case also44 a distinction between a sea-mouse and a land-mouse?45 — The distinction rather is that between a minor and an adult.46
R. Papa stated: This ruling47 is a point at issue between Tannas:48 [For it was taught] whence do we derive the inclusion in uncleanness of one who touched semen? From Scripture which explicitly stated, Or whosoever;49 and elsewhere Tannas differ on a relevant point,50 for there are those who hold that a deduction is carried through in all respects51 while others hold that a deduction is limited by its original basis.52 Now according to those who hold that a deduction is carried through in all respects51 it follows that as a dead creeping thing53 conveys uncleanness through touch so does semen convey uncleanness by touch and, consequently,54 as a dead creeping thing conveys uncleanness only when it is of the bulk of a lentil so does semen convey uncleanness only when it is of the bulk of a lentil; while according to him who maintained that a deduction is limited by its original basis55 it also follows that as a dead creeping thing conveys uncleanness through touch so does semen convey uncleanness through touch, but then, limiting it to its original basis, as semen conveys uncleanness to the man who emitted it, however small its quantity, so does it also convey uncleanness to the man who touched it, however small its quantity.56 Said57 R. Huna son of R. Nathan to R. Papa: Whence the proof that the inclusion in uncleanness of one who touched semen is deduced from the expression of 'Or whosoever occurring in the context dealing with the creeping thing?58 Is it not possible that the inclusion is derived from the expression of 'Or from whomsoever the flow of seed goeth out,59 and60 all may be of the opinion that a deduction is to be carried through in all respects?61 The Tannas62 were asked63 Some recited as R. Papa while others recited in agreement with R. Huna son of R. Nathan.
MISHNAH. A GIRL ONE DAY OLD IS SUBJECT TO THE UNCLEANNESS OF MENSTRUATION. ONE WHO IS TEN DAYS OLD IS SUBJECT TO THE UNCLEANNESS OF ZIBAH. A BOY ONE DAY OLD IS SUBJECT TO THE UNCLEANNESS OF ZIBAH, AND TO THE UNCLEANNESS OF LEPROSY AND THAT OF CORPSEUNCLEANNESS; HE SUBJECTS [HIS DECEASED BROTHER'S WIDOW] TO THE DUTY OF LEVIRATE MARRIAGE;64 HE EXEMPTS [HIS MOTHER] FROM THE LEVIRATE MARRIAGE,65 HE ENABLES HER66 TO EAT TERUMAH AND HE ALSO CAUSES HER TO BE DISQUALIFIED FROM EATING TERUMAH;67
- To Next Folio -