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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
It was stated: If a woman aborted a foetus whose face was mashed,16 R. Johanan ruled: She14 is unclean; and Resh Lakish ruled: She is clean. R. Johanan raised an objection against Resh Lakish: If a woman aborted a shaped17 hand or a shaped foot she14 is subject to the uncleanness of birth18 and there is no need to consider the possibility19 that it might have come from a shapeless body.20 Now if it were so,21 should it not have been stated, 'The possibility that it might have come from a shapeless body or from a foetus whose face was mashed'?22
R. Papi stated:23 Where its24 face was mashed no one25 disputes the ruling that the woman is unclean. They only differ where its face was entirely covered over,26 and the statement27 was made in the reverse order: R. Johanan ruled: His mother is clean; and Resh Lakish ruled: His mother is unclean. Should not then28 Resh Lakish raise an objection against R. Johanan from that [Baraitha]?29 — Because the latter could have answered him: 'A stumped body' and 'a foetus whose face was entirely covered over are identical terms.30
The sons of R. Hiyya once toured the countryside. When they appeared before their father he asked them, 'Has any case been submitted for your consideration?' 'The case of a foetus whose face was entirely covered over', they told him 'has been submitted to us, and we decided that the woman was unclean'. 'Go back', he said to them, 'and declare as clean that which you have declared unclean. For what did you think?31 That you are restricting the law;32 but this is a restriction that results in a relaxation, for thereby33 you also allow her34 the days of cleanness'.35
It was stated: If one aborted a creature that had two backs and two spinal columns, Rab ruled: In the case of a woman it is no valid birth36 and in that of a beast it is forbidden to be eaten;37 but Samuel ruled: In the case of a woman it is a valid birth38 and in that of a beast it is permitted to be eaten.39 On what principle do they40 differ? — On that of R. Hanin b. Abba; for R. Hanin b. Abba stated, 'The cloven'41 is a creature that has two backs and two spinal columns'.42 Rab maintains that such a creature exists nowhere in the world, and that when the All Merciful taught Moses about it43 he must have taught him about one that was still in her dam's bowels, while Samuel maintains that such a creature does exist in the world so that when the All Merciful taught Moses about it43 he taught him about the species in general,44 but one that is still in its dam's bowels is well permitted to be eaten.45 R. Shimi b. Hiyya pointed out an objection to Rab: R. Hanina b. Antigonus stated, Any [firstling of beasts] that had two backs and two spinal columns is unfit for the Temple service;46 from which47 it is obvious, is it not, that it is viable?48 — 'Is it you, Shimi?' the other49 replied, 'this50 refers to a case where its spinal column was only crooked'.51
An objection was raised: Among embryos52 there are some that are forbidden53 viz, a four monthly embryo among small cattle, and an eight monthly one among large cattle, and one that is younger54 is equally forbidden. From this is excluded one that had two backs and two spinal columns. Now what is meant by 'is excluded'? Obviously that it55 is excluded from the category of embryos56 in that it is forbidden to be eaten even while still in its dam's body?57 — Rab58 explains in accordance with his own view, and Samuel59 explains it in accordance with his view. 'Rab explains in accordance with his own view', thus: A four monthly embryo among small cattle and an eighth monthly one among large cattle, and one that is younger is equally forbidden. This applies only where it saw the light60 but while it is still in its dam's bowels it is permitted; but from this is excluded one that has two backs and two spinal columns which, even while still in its dam's bowels, is also forbidden.
Niddah 24bSamuel also 'explains it in accordance with his view', thus: A four monthly embryo among small cattle, and an eight monthly one among large cattle, and one that is younger is equally forbidden. This, however, applies only to one whose period of pregnancy1 had not ended, but if the period has ended it is permitted; and from this is excluded one who had two backs and two spinal columns which, even though its period of pregnancy had ended, it is forbidden if it saw the light2 but permitted when still in its dam's body.3
A Tanna recited before Rab: As it might have been assumed that if an abortion was a creature with a shapeless body or with a shapeless head its mother is unclean by reason of its birth, it was explicitly stated in Scripture, If a woman be delivered, and bear a man-child etc.4 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised etc.,5 thus implying6 that only a child that is fit for the covenant of the eight days7 [causes uncleanness to his mother] but these8 are excluded, since they are not fit for the covenant of the eight days. 'And', said Rab to him, 'conclude your statement thus:9 And one who had two backs and two spinal columns'.
R. Jeremiah b. Abba intended to give a practical decision10 in agreement with the view of Samuel,11 but R. Huna said to him: 'What have you in your mind? To impose a restriction?12 But this is a restriction that results in a relaxation, since you must in consequence13 allow her also a period of clean blood.14 Act rather in accordance with the view of Rab, since we have an established rule that in ritual matters the law is in agreement with Rab irrespective of whether this leads to a relaxation or a restriction.
Raba said: It has been stated that a woman may bear15 at nine months16 and also at seven months.16 Can [then] large cattle who bear17 at nine months also bear17 at seven months or not? — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied, Come and hear: 'One that is younger is equally forbidden'.18 Does not this also refer to the large cattle?19 — No, it may only refer to the small cattle.20 What an argument this is! If you grant that the reference21 was to the large cattle also, one can well see the necessity for it. For it might have been presumed that since [a seven monthly] is viable in the case of a woman it is also viable in that of cattle, we were informed that it is not viable; but if you maintain that reference was made to small cattle only, this would be obvious, for can a three monthly abortion live?22 — It23 was necessary: As it might have been presumed that anyone [born within] less than two months [before the conclusion of the normal conception] can survive,24 hence we were informed that it25 was not viable.
Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith26 its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings. So it was also taught: R. Jose stated, It once happened at Simoni27 that a woman aborted the likeness of Lilith, and when the case came up for a decision before the Sages they ruled that it was a child but that it also had wings. If an abortion had the likeness of a serpent, Hanina the son of R. Joshua's brother ruled: Its mother is unclean by reason of the birth. R. Joseph proceeded to report the ruling to R. Gamaliel when the latter sent word [to]28 R. Joshua, 'Take charge of29 your nephew and come with him to me'. As they were going, Hanina's30 daughterin-law came out to meet R. Joshua.31 'Master', she said to him, 'what is your ruling where an abortion had the likeness of a serpent?' 'Its mother', he replied, 'is clean'. 'But', she retorted, 'was it not in your name that my mother-in-law told me that its mother was unclean?' 'And', he asked her, 'on what ground?' 'Since [she told him] its eye-ball is round like that of a human being'. As a result of her statements R. Joshua recollected his ruling and sent the following message to R. Gamaliel: 'Hanina gave his ruling on my authority'.32 Abaye observed: From this incident it may be learnt that when a scholar gives a ruling he should also indicate his reason so that when he is ever reminded of it he would recollect it.
MISHNAH. IF A WOMAN ABORTED A SAC FULL OF WATER, FULL OF BLOOD, OR FULL OF MATTER OF VARIOUS COLOURS, SHE NEED NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE POSSIBILITY OF ITS BEING A VALID BIRTH; BUT IF ITS LIMBS WERE FASHIONED SHE MUST CONTINUE [IN UNCLEANNESS AND SUBSEQUENT CLEANNESS FOR THE PERIODS PRESCRIBED] FOR BOTH MALE AND FEMALE.33 IF SHE ABORTED A SANDAL OR A PLACENTA SHE MUST ALSO CONTINUE [IN UNCLEANNESS AND CLEANNESS AS] FOR BOTH MALE AND FEMALE.33
GEMARA. One can well understand why BLOOD or WATER34 [constitutes no valid birth, since in this respect] it is of no consequence;35 but as regards MATTER OF VARIOUS COLOURS,36 why should not the possibility be taken into consideration that it had originally been a child that was now squashed? — Abaye replied: How much of undiluted wine must the mother of this thing have drunk that her embryo should be squashed within her bowels!37 Raba replied: We have learnt, FULL OF, and if it were the case that the embryo had been squashed something would have been missing.38 R. Adda b. Ahaba replied: We have learnt, MATTER OF VARIOUS COLOURS, and if it were the case that an embryo had been squashed it would all have been reduced to the same colour.
It was taught: Abba Saul stated, I was once a grave-digger39 when I made a practice of carefully observing the bones of the dead. The bones of one who drinks undiluted wine are burned; those of one who drinks wine excessively diluted are dry;40 and those of one who drinks wine properly mixed are full of marrow.41 The bones of a person whose drinking exceeds his eating are burned; those of one whose eating exceeds his drinking are dry,40 and those of one who eats and drinks in a proper manner are full of marrow.41
It was taught: Abba Saul (or, as some say, R. Johanan stated): I was once a grave-digger.39 On one occasion, when pursuing a deer, I entered the thigh-bone of a corpse, and pursued it for three parasangs but did neither reach the deer nor the end of the thigh-bone.42 When I returned I was told that it was the thigh-bone of Og, King of Bashan.43
It was taught: Abba Saul stated, I was once a grave-digger39 and on one occasion there was opened a cave under me and I stood in the eye-ball of a corpse up to my nose. When I returned I was told that it was the eye of Absalom. And should you suggest that Abba Saul was a dwarf [it may be mentioned that] Abba Saul was the tallest man in his generation, and R. Tarfon reached to his shoulder and that R. Tarfon was the tallest man in his generation and R. Meir reached to his shoulder. R. Meir was the tallest man in his generation and Rabbi reached to his shoulder. Rabbi was the tallest man in his generation and R. Hiyya reached to his shoulder, and R. Hiyya was the tallest in his generation and Rab reached to his shoulder. Rab was the tallest man in his generation and Rab Judah reached to his shoulder, and Rab Judah was the tallest man in his generation and his waiter Adda reached to his shoulder.
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