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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
Epilepsy1 is regarded as [one of the] concealed bodily defects.2 This, however, applies only to attacks which occur at regular periods,3 but if they are irregular [epilepsy is regarded] as [one of the] exposed bodily defects.4
MISHNAH. A MAN IN WHOM BODILY DEFECTS HAVE ARISEN CANNOT BE COMPELLED TO DIVORCE [HIS WIFE]. R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID: THIS APPLIES ONLY TO MINOR DEFECTS, BUT IN RESPECT OF MAJOR DEFECTS5 HE CAN BE COMPELLED TO DIVORCE HER.
GEMARA. Rab Judah recited: 'HAVE ARISEN';6 Hiyya b. Rab recited: 'Were'.7 He who recited 'HAVE ARISEN' [holds that the ruling applies] with even more force [where the defects] 'were',7 since [in the latter case the woman] was aware of the facts and acquiesced. He, however, who recited 'Were' [holds that the ruling does] not [apply where the defects] 'have arisen'.8
We learned: R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID: THIS APPLIES ONLY TO MINOR DEFECTS BUT IN RESPECT OF MAJOR DEFECTS HE CAN BE COMPELLED TO DIVORCE HER. Now, according to him who reads, 'HAVE ARISEN9 it is quite proper to make a distinction between major defects and minor defects.10 According to him, however, who reads, 'were', what [it may be asked] is the difference between major defects and minor ones? Was she not in fact aware [of their existence] and acquiesced?11 — She may have thought that she would be able to tolerate them but now she finds that she is unable to tolerate them.12
These,13 R. Simeon b. Gamaliel explained, are major defects: If, for instance, his eye was blinded, his hand was cut off or his leg was broken.
It was stated: R. Abba b. Jacob said in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah is in agreement with R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. Raba said in the name of R. Nahman: The halachah is in agreement with the Sages. But could R. Johanan, however, have made such a statement?14 Surely Rabbah b. Bar Hana stated in the name of R. Johanan: Wherever R. Simeon b. Gamaliel taught in our Mishnah, the halachah is in agreement with his ruling except [in the cases of] 'guarantor',15 'Zidon'16 and the 'latter proof'!17 — There is a dispute of Amoraim as to what was R. Johanan's view.18
MISHNAH. THE FOLLOWING ARE COMPELLED TO DIVORCE [THEIR WIVES]: A MAN WHO IS AFFLICTED WITH BOILS, OR HAS A POLYPUS,19 OR GATHERS [OBJECTIONABLE MATTER]20 OR IS A COPPERSMITH20 OR A TANNER,20 WHETHER THEY WERE [IN SUCH CONDITIONS OR POSITIONS] BEFORE THEY MARRIED OR WHETHER THEY AROSE AFTER THEY HAD MARRIED. AND CONCERNING ALL THESE R. MEIR SAID: ALTHOUGH THE MAN MADE A CONDITION WITH HER [THAT SHE ACQUIESCES IN HIS DEFECTS] SHE MAY NEVERTHELESS PLEAD, 'I THOUGHT I COULD ENDURE HIM,21 BUT NOW I CANNOT ENDURE HIM.'21 THE SAGES, HOWEVER, SAID: SHE MUST ENDURE [ANY SUCH PERSON] DESPITE HER WISHES, THE ONLY EXCEPTION BEING A MAN AFFLICTED WITH BOILS, BECAUSE SHE [BY HER INTERCOURSE] WILL ENERVATE HIM.
GEMARA. What [is meant by one] WHO HAS A POLYPUS? — Rab Judah replied in the name of Samuel: [One who suffers from an offensive] nasal smell. In a Baraitha it was taught: [One suffering from] offensive breath.25 R. Assi learnt in the reverse order26 and supplied the mnemonic, 'Samuel did not cease [studying] all our chapter [with] his mouth'.27
WHO GATHERS. What [is meant by one] WHO GATHERS? — Rab Judah replied: One who gathers dogs' excrements.28
An objection was raised: 'One who gathers' means a tanner!29 — But even according to your own view,30 would not a contra diction arise from our Mishnah [which specifies] OR GATHERS OR IS A COPPERSMITH OR A TANNER?31 — One may well explain why our Mishnah31 presents no contradiction32 because the latter33 refers to a great tanner34 whilst the former35 refers to a small tanner;36 but according to Rab Judah the contradiction remains?37 — [The definition]38 is [a matter in dispute between] Tannaim. For it was taught: 'One who gathers' means a 'tanner'; and others say: It means 'one who gathers dogs' excrements'.39
OR IS A COPPERSMITH OR A TANNER. What is meant by A COPPERSMITH? — R. Ashi40 replied: A kettle-smith.41 Rabbah b. Bar Hana explained: One who digs copper from the mine.42 It was taught in agreement with Rabbah b. Bar Hana: What is meant by a coppersmith? One who digs copper from the mine.42
Rab stated: If a husband says, 'I will neither maintain nor support [my wife]', he must divorce her and give her also her kethubah. R. Eleazar went and told this reported statement to Samuel [who] exclaimed, 'Make Eleazar eat barley;43 rather than compel him to divorce her let him be compelled to maintain her'. And Rab?44 — No one can live with a serpent in the same basket.45 When R. Zera went up46 he found R. Benjamin b. Japheth sitting [at the college] and reporting this47 in the name of R. Johanan.48 'For this statement', he said to him, 'Eleazar was told in Babylon to eat barley'.
Rab Judah stated in the name of R. Assi:49 We do not compel divorce except [in the case of] those who are tainted.50 When I mentioned this in the presence of Samuel he remarked, 'As, for instance, a widow [who was married] to a High Priest, a divorced woman or a haluzah51 to a common priest, a bastard or a nethinah51 to an Israelite, or the daughter of an Israelite to a nathin51 or a bastard; but if a man married a woman and lived with her ten years and she bore no child he cannot be compelled [to divorce her]'. R. Tahlifa b. Abimi, however, stated in the name of Samuel: Even the man who married a woman and lived with her ten years and she bore no child may be compelled [to divorce her].52
We learned, THE FOLLOWING ARE COMPELLED TO DIVORCE [THEIR WIVES]: A MAN WHO IS AFFLICTED WITH BOILS OR HAS A POLYPUS. This53 is quite justified according to R. Assi, since only Rabbinically forbidden cases were enumerated whilst those which are Pentateuchally forbidden were omitted.54 According to R. Tahlifa b. Abimi55 however, our Mishnah should also have stated: If a man married a woman and lived with her for ten years and she bore no child he may be compelled [to divorce her].56 — R. Nahman replied: This is no difficulty. For in the latter case57 [compulsion is exercised] by words; in the former58 cases, by whips.59
but in the former, if she said, 'I wish to be with him', she is allowed [to live with him] whilst in the latter,1 even if she said, 'I wish to be with him', she is not allowed [to continue to live with him].2 But behold [the case of the man who was] afflicted with boils with whom the woman is not allowed to live even if she said, 'I wish to be with him', for we learned: THE ONLY EXCEPTION BEING A MAN AFFLICTED WITH BOILS BECAUSE SHE [BY HER INTERCOURSE] WILL ENERVATE HIM, and this case was nevertheless enumerated!3 — There,4 if she were to say. 'I will live with him under [the supervision of] witnesses',5 she would be allowed [to remain with him] but here,6 even if she were to say, 'I will live with him under [the supervision of] witnesses,' she would not be allowed to do so.
It was taught: R. Jose related, An old man of the inhabitants of Jerusalem told me, 'There are twenty-four [kinds of] skin disease,7 and in respect of all these the Sages said, "Intercourse is injurious", but most of all is this the case with those afflicted with ra'athan'.8 What is the cause of it? — As it was taught: If a man had intercourse immediately after being bled, he will have feeble9 children; if intercourse took place after the man and the woman10 had been bled they will have children afflicted with ra'athan. R. Papa stated: This11 has been said only in the case where nothing was tasted [after the bleeding] but if something was tasted there can be no harm.12
What are the13 symptoms? — His eyes tear, his nostrils run, spittle flows from his mouth and flies swarm about him. What is the cure?13 — Abaye said: Pila,14 ladanum,15 the rind of a nut tree, the shavings of a dressed hide,16 melilot17 and the calyx18 of a red date-tree. These must be boiled together and carried into a house of marble,19 and if no marble house is available they may be carried into a house [the walls of which are of the thickness] of seven bricks and a half.20 Three hundred cups [of the mixture] must then be poured upon his21 head until his cranium is softened, and then his brain is cut open. Four leaves of myrtle must be brought and each foot22 [in turn] lifted up and one [leaf] placed [beneath it].23 It24 is then grasped with a pair of tweezers and burned; for otherwise it would return to him.21
R. Johanan issued the announcement: Beware of the flies of the man afflicted with ra'athan.25
R. Zera never sat [with such a sufferer] in the same draught. R. Eleazar never entered his tent. R. Ammi and R. Assi never ate any of the eggs coming from the alley in which he lived. R. Joshua b. Levi, however, attached himself to these [sufferers] and studied the Torah; for he said, A lovely hind and a graceful doe,26 if [the Torah] bestows grace upon those who study it, would it not also protect them?
When he27 was about to die the Angel of Death was instructed, 'Go and carry out his wish'. When he came and shewed himself to him the latter said, 'Shew me my place [in Paradise]'. — 'Very well', he replied. 'Give me your knife', the other demanded, '[since, otherwise], you may frighten me on the way'. He gave it to him. On arriving there he lifted him up and shewed him [his place]. The latter jumped and dropped on the other side [of the wall].28 He seized him by the corner of his cloak; but the other exclaimed, 'I swear that I will not go back'. Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'If he ever had an oath of his annulled29 he must return;30 but if not, he need not return'. 'Return to me my knife', he said to him; but the other would not return it to him. A bath kol31 went forth and said to him, 'Return the thing to him, for it is required for the mortals'.32
Elijah33 heralded him34 proclaiming. 'Make room for the son of Levi, make room for the son of Levi'. As he34 proceeded on his way he found R. Simeon b. Yohai sitting on thirteen stools35 of gold. 'Are you', the latter asked him, 'the son of Levi?' — 'Yes', he replied. 'Has a rainbow [the latter asked again] ever appeared in your lifetime?' — 'Yes', he replied. 'If that is so [the other said] you are not the son of Levi'.36 The fact, however, is37 that there was no such thing [in his lifetime], but he38 thought, 'I must take no credit for myself'.
R. Hanina b. Papa was his39 friend, and when he was about to die the Angel of Death was commanded, 'Go and carry out any wish of his'. He went to his house and revealed himself to him. 'Allow me', the latter said to him, 'thirty days in which to revise my studies', for it was said,40 'Happy is he who comes here in full possession of his learning'. He left him, and after thirty days he appeared to him again. 'Shew me', the latter said to him 'my place [in Paradise]'. 'Very well', he replied. 'Give me your knife', the other said to him, [since otherwise], you may frighten me on the way'. 'Do you wish to treat me as your friend41 has done?' he asked. 'Bring', the other replied, 'the Scroll of the Law and see if anything that is written therein has not been observed by me'. 'Have you attached yourself', he asked 'to the sufferers of ra'athan and engaged thus in the study of the Torah?'42 Nevertheless when his soul passed to its eternal rest, a pillar of fire formed a partition between him and the world; and we have it as a tradition that such a partition by a pillar of fire is made only for a person who is unique in his generation43 or [one] of the two [outstanding men] in his generation. R. Alexandri approached him and said, 'Do it for the honour of the Sages', but he disregarded him. 'Do it [he said] for the honour of your father's house', but he again disregarded him. 'Do it [he finally requested] for your own honour's sake' [and the pillar of fire] departed.
Abaye remarked: [The purpose of the pillar of fire was] to keep away44 anyone who had failed to observe even a single letter45 [of the Torah]. Said R. Adda b. Mattena to him: [This then would also] exclude the Master, since he has no battlement to his roof.46 The fact, however, was47 that he did have one, but the wind had thrown it down at that moment.
R. Johanan stated: Why are there no lepers in Babylon? — Because they eat beet,48 drink beer, and bathe in the waters of the Euphrates.
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