1) AN UNUSUAL WAY TO BLEED
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the dispute between Rebbi Eliezer and the Rabanan (21b). According to the Gemara's first understanding of their dispute, the Rabanan and Rebbi Eliezer disagree about the woman's status when she miscarries a piece of flesh (Chatichah) that is arranged in folds, and the blood is between the folds. Rebbi Eliezer says that "bi'Vesarah" (Vayikra 15:19) teaches that she is Tamei only due to a flow of blood "in her flesh," but not due to blood that comes out in a Shefir or Chatichah; however, blood between the folds of a Chatichah is considered "bi'Vesarah" and makes her Tamei. The Rabanan say that even the blood between the folds is not Dam Nidah and does not make her Tamei.
RASHI (DH Ki Pligi) explains that Rebbi Eliezer rules that the woman is Tamei due to the blood in the folds of the Chatichah, because the blood in the piece of flesh can make contact with the woman's flesh through the folds.
If, as Rashi writes, the blood in the folds can touch the flesh of the woman as the Chatichah exits, then why do the Rabanan rule that she is Tahor? They also should be concerned that blood from the folds in the Chatichah touched the woman's flesh!
ANSWER: The ROSH quotes RABEINU SHIMSHON MI'KUTZI who explains as follows. The Halachah is that blood that exits a woman's body through a tube (Shefoferes) does not make her Tamei. Why does such blood not make her Tamei? Is it because the blood never made contact with the woman's flesh outside of the Makor, or is it because it left her body in an unusual manner? (See Insights to Nidah 21:2.) According to Rabeinu Shimshon, Rebbi Eliezer maintains that the woman is Tahor when blood leaves her Makor through a Shefoferes because the blood does not make contact with the flesh of the woman outside of the Makor. Accordingly, Rebbi Eliezer rules that if the blood was contained in the folds of a Chatichah allowing the blood to make contact with her flesh on its way out, she is Tamei. The Rabanan, however, maintain that the reason why she is Tahor in the case of the Shefoferes is that the blood left her body in an unusual way. Accordingly, even if blood comes out of her body in the folds of a Chatichah, it does not render her Tamei (even though the blood indeed might touch her flesh), since this is also an unusual manner for blood to exit. (This appears to be the intention of Rashi as well.)
The DARCHEI MOSHE and BACH (YD 188) add that even when Dam Nidah exits in an unusual way other than in the folds of a Chatichah, the woman is Tahor.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 188:3) rules that if blood leaves the Makor through a tube, the woman is Tahor. If a Chatichah exited the woman with folds from which blood could make contact with her body, she is also considered Tahor.
The SHACH (188:8) cites the opinion of the BACH who rules that it is proper to be stringent and consider her Tamei in a case in which a Chatichah with blood came from her body, but if a bloodless piece came from her body, she is Tahor.
2) TRUSTING DOCTORS WITH REGARD TO HALACHAH
OPINIONS: Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Tzadok related two incidents that happened with his father. The first incident involved a woman who was miscarrying red scabs. Rebbi Elazar's father asked the Chachamim, who in turn consulted doctors, who said that the scabs were coming from a wound inside of her. The Chachamim said that she should place the scabs into water, and if they dissolve, this will indicate that they are Dam Nidah and she is Tamei.
In the second incident, a certain woman was miscarrying red hairs. Rebbi Elazar's father asked the Chachamim, who again consulted doctors, who said that the hairs were coming from a wart inside of the woman.
The TOSFEI HA'ROSH (DH Amru) comments that in the first incident the doctors themselves were unsure about whether the source of the blood was an injury or it was Dam Nidah. They therefore told the Chachamim to perform the test in water to determine whether it was Dam Nidah. When the Yerushalmi relates the same incident, however, it makes no mention of a water-solubility test, indicating that the Chachamim simply trusted the doctors' word that this was blood from an injury, and not Dam Nidah.
Does the conduct of the Chachamim imply that we may rely on the word of doctors with regard to whether or not something is Dam Nidah?
(a) The MAHARI SHAPIRA quotes the TESHUVOS MAIMONI who discusses the Halachah in the case of a woman who saw blood after having relations. If the blood was a result of relations, this would have serious consequences on the permissibility of the woman to remain married. The Teshuvos Maimoni writes that if a Jewish (and Torah-observant) doctor examines her and proclaims that she is healed and no longer will see blood as a result of relations, she may rely on his declaration. He proves this from the Yerushalmi in Shabbos (6:2) that states that a Jewish doctor is believed to say that a certain amulet is known to heal a certain sickness, as he has healed people with it three times. However, he cautions, one may not rely on a Nochri doctor for such information due to concern that he might lie.
(b) The Mahari Shapira argues that the case of the Yerushalmi in Shabbos is not a valid proof. In that case, the doctor is testifying that a certain amulet has healed on three occasions. Even if he was not a doctor, he would be believed to give this information. In the case of the woman, however, it is possible that the doctor is merely speculating that the woman has been healed, and he does not really know for certain that she has been healed. There is no proof from the Yerushalmi that we may believe him in such a case.
Moreover, the Mahari Shapira says, there is no reason not to believe a Nochri doctor in this particular case. The Gemara in Chulin (97a) says that we trust a Nochri chef who tastes a mixture and tells us that the taste of a forbidden food that fell into the food is evident, or not evident, in the mixture. We believe the Nochri because we assume that a Nochri would not lie when his professional reputation is at stake. However, the Mahari Shapira qualifies this by saying that this assumption applies only when we have the ability to find out whether the Nochri is lying. If there is no way to find out whether he is lying, then there is no incentive for the Nochri to be careful to tell the truth, and we may not rely on his word. The Mahari Shapira explains that in this case the doctor's reputation is at risk if he lies, because if the woman continues to see blood after having relations, it will be apparent that she was not healed and that the doctor lied.
The MAR'EH KOHEN (pages 11-12 and footnotes there) writes that one must always consult a competent Halachic authority when dealing with such matters. He says, however, that if a Torah-observant doctor actually sees a sore which is bleeding, he definitely is believed to say that the blood is Dam Makah and not Dam Nidah. If the doctor is not Torah-observant, or if a Torah-observant doctor gives his opinion as to the source of the blood without clear evidence, a Posek must be consulted. (See also IGROS MOSHE YD 4:17:17, who discusses many cases involving such matters.) (Y. MONTROSE)
3) CLARIFYING THE TRADITION OF A "GEZEIRAH SHAVAH"
QUESTION: In the Mishnah (21a), Rebbi Meir says that if a woman miscarries something resembling an animal, she is Tamei with Tum'as Yoledes, according to the gender of the stillborn. Rebbi Chiya bar Aba in the name of Rebbi Yochanan explains that Rebbi Meir derives from a Gezeirah Shavah ("va'Yitzer," written both with regard to the formation of man and with regard to the formation of animals) that just as a woman becomes Tamei with Tum'as Yoledes when she gives birth to a human child, a woman also becomes Tamei with Tum'as Yoledes when she gives birth to a form that resembles an animal.
The Gemara asks that he also should derive from a Gezeirah Shavah that a woman who gives birth to a Tanin (a giant sea creature, or any fish) is Tamei with Tum'as Yoledes, because it also says with regard to the Tanin, "and Hash-m created (va'Yivra) the great Taninim" (Bereishis 1:21).
The Gemara's question does not seem to be consistent with the established rules for deriving a law through a Gezeirah Shavah.
In many places, the Gemara teaches that in order to derive a law through a Gezeirah Shavah, one must have a tradition from his Rebbi that such a Gezeirah Shavah exists (see, for example, Shabbos 97a). How, though, was such a tradition handed down? It cannot be that the tradition taught the specific Gezeirah Shavah, because the Gemara often asks that a Gezeirah Shavah should be learned from a different verse. If the tradition was limited to the specific Gezeirah Shavah, then obviously no Gezeirah Shavah can be learned from another verse. It must be that there is more to the tradition of Gezeirah Shavah than a simple transmission of the actual teaching.
The HALICHOS OLAM (Klal 102) writes that there are two types of Gezeirah Shavah that were passed down from teacher to student. One type is the tradition that there is a Gezeirah Shavah that teaches that the law regarding one subject is to be learned from another subject. This tradition does not include the specific word or verse to be used in the Gezeirah Shavah. This type of Gezeirah Shavah appears, for example, in Kesuvos (38a-b). The Gemara there learns a Gezeirah Shavah from Ones to Mefateh, using the words "Asher Lo Orasah" -- "for she was not betrothed" (Shemos 22:15 and Devarim 22:28). The Gemara in Kesuvos asks that "perhaps the word 'Besulah' should be used to make the Gezeirah Shavah?" This clearly implies that the actual words used to make the Gezeirah Shavah were not part of the tradition; the tradition teaches only the fact that there is a Gezeirah Shavah to be expounded between the two subjects.
The second type of Gezeirah Shavah is where the tradition says that a specific word was given over to be used for a Gezeirah Shavah, but the exact incidence of the word was not taught as part of the tradition. It is possible that the word appears in the Torah many times, and it is unclear which incidence of that word is supposed to be used for a Gezeirah Shavah. Accordingly, there is room to ask questions on a Gezeirah Shavah.
The YAVIN SHEMU'AH asks that if the Gemara here in Nidah understands that the Gezeirah Shavah of Rebbi Meir is the type of Gezeirah Shavah that is based on a tradition that the law regarding one subject is learned from the law regarding another subject, then there is no basis for the Gemara's question on Rebbi Meir. Rebbi Meir's tradition to expound a Gezeirah Shavah taught only that we learn a law from people to animals. His tradition did not teach that a law may be derived through a Gezeirah Shavah from the topic of people to the topic of Taninim (fish).
On the other hand, if the Gemara here understands that the Gezeirah Shavah of Rebbi Meir is the type of Gezeirah Shavah that is based on a tradition that the word "va'Yitzer" is to be used for a Gezeirah Shavah, then again there is no basis for the Gemara's question, because there is no reason to assume that the word "va'Yivra" is meant to be used for a Gezeirah Shavah instead of the word "va'Yitzer," since it is not part of the tradition.
What, then, is the intent of the Gemara's question?
ANSWER: The CHOCHMAS BETZALEL answers that the Halichos Olam is correct in saying that there are two types of Gezeirah Shavah. However, the Amora'im occasionally were unsure about the exact tradition that the Tana'im had. In the Gemara later (23a), Rabah bar bar Chanah gives a different source for Rebbi Meir's opinion, a source entirely unrelated to a Gezeirah Shavah. Accordingly, the Gemara here merely asks any possible questions on this Gezeirah Shavah until it clarifies beyond a doubt why Rebbi Meir would learn this way.
The Chochmas Betzalel concludes that this answer is necessary only according to TOSFOS (DH Zo), who says that the Gemara understands that only one Gezeirah Shavah was expounded, either that of "va'Yitzer" or that of "va'Yivra," but not both. According to the RASHBA, RAMBAN, and RAN, however, who learn that the Gemara's question from "va'Yivra" is that Rebbi Meir should also learn a Gezeirah Shavah of Tanin, the Yavin Shemu'ah's question does not apply. The Gemara knows that the word given over for the Gezeirah Shavah is "va'Yitzer." The Gemara is proposing merely that since the word "va'Yivra" is similar in meaning to the word "va'Yitzer," it should be included in the tradition to learn a Gezeirah Shavah with the word "va'Yitzer."
(It is interesting to note that TOSFOS in Shabbos (97a, DH Gezeirah Shavah) gives another limitation to deriving a law through a Gezeirah Shavah. We often find in the Gemara that a certain Tana does not learn like another Tana, since he did not have a tradition to learn the Gezeirah Shavah that the other Tana learns. Tosfos asks that if a Gezeirah Shavah needs merely a tradition, then why should the Tana not accept this tradition from his colleague? Tosfos answers that there was also a certain amount of teachings of Gezeirah Shavah that were handed down from teacher to student. If one Tana had a Gezeirah Shavah that another Tana did not, then the second Tana could not add that Gezeirah Shavah to his list of laws learned through a Gezeirah Shavah, because he would then have more teachings of Gezeirah Shavah than the number of teachings that his tradition from his Rebbi counts.) (See also Insights to Sanhedrin 16:1.) (Y. MONTROSE)