More Discussions for this daf
1. A Jew's physiology is different 2. Zav Katan - Re'iyah Rishonah Metamei

Moshe Fried asks:

The Gemara suggests that the Shichvas Zera of a Nochri has different properties from that of a Jew, since the Nochri eats non-Kosher foods and is physically affected by his diet.

Is there any practical relevance to this point?

The Kollel replies:

The CHASAM SOFER (Teshuvos YD 175) writes that this Gemara is relevant in practice. He rules that we cannot assume that a medical treatment that was tested successfully on a Nochri will also be successful on a Jew. Consequently, if a Jewish woman sees blood as a result of relations, we cannot rely on a particular cure just because it has been experimented successfully on Nochrim.

Moshe Fried asked further:

Dear Rabbi Kornfeld,

Based on the Chasam Sofer two questions come to mind.

1) A patch like refuah which has been tested on Nochrim, can a Jew where it on Shabbos?

2) How can a Jew do any kind of new surgery or treatment with a sakana if tests on Nochrim are invalid proof of there affect on Jews?

Thank you very much,

Moshe Fried

The Kollel replied:

To answer your questions, we have to understand the background of the Chasam Sofer's Psak. The question that the Chasam Sofer was addressing was the following: if a woman sees blood every time she has relations, can we rely on the treatment of a non-Jewish doctor who claims that his treatment will cure her condition and that the next time she has relations she won't see blood. The stakes are high. If the treatment doesn't work, then an Isur Kares will have been violated. In such a case, the Chasam Sofer says we cannot rely on the treatment if it was only proven effective on non-Jewish women. Let us now turn to your two questions.

1) Wearing a medicated patch on Shabbos.

One may wear a medical amulet on Shabbos even in the Reshus ha'Rabim because it is considered to be a Tachshit (adornment) (Shulchan Aruch, OC 301:25). It is quite possible that the Chasam Sofer would allow one to wear a medicated patch that had only been tested on non-Jews. The fact that it has been shown to be effective on non-Jews is probably enough to give it the status of a medical treatment and not a mere superstition. Once it has this status, the Torah would allow one to wear it on Shabbos even though it may turn out to be ineffective for Jews.

2) Surgeries and medical treatments that are considered dangerous.

We must remember that the Chasam Sofer was addressing a case where there was a very serious Halachic Isur involved. He ruled that the proven effectiveness of the treatment was not enough to justify the risk of violating the Isur of Nidah. If we are dealing with a case of physical danger, then the Chasam Sofer would probably agree that one must do a risk-benefit analysis. That is, how urgent is it to treat the condition and how risky is the treatment. This would have to be done on a case-by-case basis. It could be that the fact that the treatment has not been tested on Jews would be outweighed by the danger involved in not treating the condition.

One last point: the Gemara says that the difference in physiology between a Jew and non-Jew is due to the difference in their diet - not inherent genetic difference. Specifically, they ate many kinds of non-Kosher animals that the Jew doesn't eat ("Shekatzim ve'Ramasim"). Even in the times of the Chasam Sofer there was still probably a significant difference in their respective diets. Today the diets of Jew and non-Jew are very similar. The significant differences that come to mind are: 1) pork, 2) milk and meat, 3) Shechita. It is not clear to me that any of these (with the exception perhaps of pork) fall into the category of "Shekatzim ve'Ramasim" that the Gemara mentions. Therefore, it could be that today this difference in physiology is not significant anymore.

Kol Tuv,

Yonasan Sigler