Berakhot 22a:8ברכות כ״ב א:ח
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22aכ״ב א

משמשת וראתה נדה אינה צריכה טבילה אבל בעל קרי גרידא מחייב לא תימא מברך אלא מהרהר

that a woman who engaged in intercourse and saw menstrual blood is not required to immerse herself, but one who experienced a seminal emission alone, with no concurrent impurity, is required to do so? If so, we must interpret Rabbi Yehuda’s statement in the mishna that one recites a blessing both beforehand and thereafter as follows: Do not say that one recites a blessing orally, but rather he means that one contemplates those blessings in his heart.

ומי אית ליה לרבי יהודה הרהור והתניא בעל קרי שאין לו מים לטבול קורא קריאת שמע ואינו מברך לא לפניה ולא לאחריה ואוכל פתו ומברך לאחריה ואינו מברך לפניה אבל מהרהר בלבו ואינו מוציא בשפתיו דברי רבי מאיר רבי יהודה אומר בין כך ובין כך מוציא בשפתיו

The Gemara challenges this explanation: And does Rabbi Yehuda maintain that there is validity to contemplating in his heart? Wasn’t it taught in a baraita: One who experienced a seminal emission and who has no water to immerse and purify himself recites Shema and neither recites the blessings of Shema beforehand nor thereafter? And when he eats his bread, he recites the blessing thereafter, Grace after Meals, but does not recite the blessing: Who brings forth bread from the earth, beforehand. However, in the instances where he may not recite the blessing, he contemplates it in his heart rather than utter it with his lips, this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. However Rabbi Yehuda says: In either case, he utters all of the blessings with his lips. Rabbi Yehuda does not consider contemplating the blessings in his heart a solution and permits them to be recited.

אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק עשאן רבי יהודה כהלכות דרך ארץ

Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: Rabbi Yehuda’s statement in the mishna should be interpreted in another way. Rabbi Yehuda rendered the blessings like Hilkhot Derekh Eretz, which according to some Sages were not considered to be in the same category as all other matters of Torah and therefore, one is permitted to engage in their study even after having experienced a seminal emission.

דתניא והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך וכתיב בתריה יום אשר עמדת לפני ה׳ אלהיך בחורב מה להלן באימה וביראה וברתת ובזיע אף כאן באימה וביראה וברתת ובזיע

As it was taught in a baraita: It is written: “And you shall impart them to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9), and it is written thereafter: “The day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb” (Deuteronomy 4:10). Just as below, the Revelation at Sinai was in reverence, fear, quaking, and trembling, so too here, in every generation, Torah must be studied with a sense of reverence, fear, quaking, and trembling.

מכאן אמרו הזבים והמצרעים ובאין על נדות מותרים לקרות בתורה ובנביאים ובכתובים לשנות במשנה וגמרא ובהלכות ובאגדות אבל בעלי קריין אסורים

From here the Sages stated: Zavim, lepers, and those who engaged in intercourse with menstruating women, despite their severe impurity, are permitted to read the Torah, Prophets, and Writings, and to study Mishna and Gemara and halakhot and aggada. However, those who experienced a seminal emission are prohibited from doing so. The reason for this distinction is that the cases of severe impurity are caused by ailment or other circumstances beyond his control and, as a result, they do not necessarily preclude a sense of reverence and awe as he studies Torah. This, however, is not the case with regard to impurity resulting from a seminal emission, which usually comes about due to frivolity and a lack of reverence and awe. Therefore, it is inappropriate for one who experiences a seminal emission to engage in matters of in Torah.

רבי יוסי אומר שונה הוא ברגיליות ובלבד שלא יציע את המשנה רבי יונתן בן יוסף אומר מציע הוא את המשנה ואינו מציע את הגמרא רבי נתן בן אבישלום אומר אף מציע את הגמרא ובלבד שלא יאמר אזכרות שבו רבי יוחנן הסנדלר תלמידו של רבי עקיבא משום רבי עקיבא אומר לא יכנס למדרש כל עיקר ואמרי לה לא יכנס לבית המדרש כל עיקר רבי יהודה אומר שונה הוא בהלכות דרך ארץ

However, there are many opinions concerning the precise parameters of the Torah matters prohibited by this decree. Rabbi Yosei says: One who experiences a seminal emission studies mishnayot that he is accustomed to study, as long as he does not expound upon a new mishna to study it in depth. Rabbi Yonatan ben Yosef says: He expounds upon the mishna but he does not expound upon the Gemara, which is the in-depth analysis of the Torah. Rabbi Natan ben Avishalom says: He may even expound upon the Gemara, as long as he does not utter the mentions of God’s name therein. Rabbi Yoḥanan the Cobbler, Rabbi Akiva’s student, says in the name of Rabbi Akiva: One who experiences a seminal emission may not enter into homiletic interpretation [midrash] of verses at all. Some say that he says: He may not enter the study hall [beit hamidrash] at all. Rabbi Yehuda says: He may study only Hilkhot Derekh Eretz. In terms of the problem raised above, apparently Rabbi Yehuda considers the legal status of the blessings to be parallel to the legal status of Hilkhot Derekh Eretz, and therefore one may utter them orally.

מעשה ברבי יהודה שראה קרי והיה מהלך על גב הנהר אמרו לו תלמידיו רבינו שנה לנו פרק אחד בהלכות דרך ארץ ירד וטבל ושנה להם אמרו לו לא כך למדתנו רבינו שונה הוא בהלכות דרך ארץ אמר להם אף על פי שמיקל אני על אחרים מחמיר אני על עצמי:

The Gemara relates an incident involving Rabbi Yehuda himself, who experienced a seminal emission and was walking along the riverbank with his disciples. His disciples said to him: Rabbi, teach us a chapter from Hilkhot Derekh Eretz, as he maintained that even in a state of impurity, it is permitted. He descended and immersed himself in the river and taught them Hilkhot Derekh Eretz. They said to him: Did you not teach us, our teacher, that he may study Hilkhot Derekh Eretz? He said to them: Although I am lenient with others, and allow them to study it without immersion, I am stringent with myself.

תניא רבי יהודה בן בתירא היה אומר אין דברי תורה מקבלין טומאה מעשה בתלמיד אחד שהיה מגמגם למעלה מרבי יהודה בן בתירא אמר ליה בני פתח פיך ויאירו דבריך שאין דברי תורה מקבלין טומאה שנאמר הלא כה דברי כאש נאם ה׳ מה אש אינו מקבל טומאה אף דברי תורה אינן מקבלין טומאה

Further elaborating on the issue of Torah study while in a state of impurity, it was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira would say: Matters of Torah do not become ritually impure and therefore one who is impure is permitted to engage in Torah study. He implemented this halakha in practice. The Gemara relates an incident involving a student who was reciting mishnayot and baraitot hesitantly before the study hall of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira. The student experienced a seminal emission, and when he was asked to recite he did so in a rushed, uneven manner, as he did not want to utter the words of Torah explicitly. Rabbi Yehuda said to him: My son, open your mouth and let your words illuminate, as matters of Torah do not become ritually impure, as it is stated: “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as fire does not become ritually impure, so too matters of Torah do not become ritually impure.

אמר מר מציע את המשנה ואינו מציע את הגמרא מסייע ליה לרבי אלעאי דאמר רבי אלעאי אמר רבי אחא בר יעקב משום רבינו הלכה מציע את המשנה ואינו מציע את הגמרא כתנאי מציע את המשנה ואינו מציע את הגמרא דברי רבי מאיר רבי יהודה בן גמליאל אומר משום רבי חנינא בן גמליאל זה וזה אסור ואמרי לה זה וזה מותר

In this baraita the Master said that one who is impure because of a seminal emission expounds upon the mishna but does not expound upon the Gemara. The Gemara notes: This statement supports the opinion of Rabbi El’ai, as Rabbi El’ai said that Rabbi Aḥa bar Ya’akov said in the name of Rabbeinu, Rav: The halakha is that one who experienced a seminal emission may expound upon the mishna but may not expound upon the Gemara. This dispute is parallel a tannaitic dispute, as it was taught: One who experienced a seminal emission expounds upon the mishna but does not expound upon the Gemara; that is the statement of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Yehuda ben Gamliel says in the name of Rabbi Ḥanina ben Gamliel: Both this and that are prohibited. And some say that he said: Both this and that are permitted.

מאן דאמר זה וזה אסור כרבי יוחנן הסנדלר מאן דאמר זה וזה מותר כרבי יהודה בן בתירא

Comparing these opinions: The one who said that both this and that are prohibited holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yoḥanan the Cobbler; the one who said that both this and that are permitted holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira.

אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק נהוג עלמא כהני תלת סבי כרבי אלעאי בראשית הגז כרבי יאשיה בכלאים כרבי יהודה בן בתירא בדברי תורה

Summarizing the halakha, Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: The universally accepted practice is in accordance with the opinions of these three elders: In accordance with the opinion of Rabbi El’ai with regard to the halakhot of the first shearing, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yoshiya with regard to the laws of prohibited diverse kinds, and in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira with regard to matters of Torah.

כרבי אלעאי בראשית הגז דתניא רבי אלעאי אומר ראשית הגז אינו נוהג אלא בארץ

The Gemara elaborates: In accordance with the opinion of Rabbi El’ai with regard to the first shearing, as it was taught in a baraita that Rabbi El’ai says: The obligation to set aside the first shearing from the sheep for the priest is only practiced in Eretz Yisrael and not in the Diaspora, and that is the accepted practice.

כרבי יאשיה בכלאים כדכתיב לא תזרע [כרמך] כלאים רבי יאשיה אומר לעולם אינו חייב עד שיזרע חטה ושעורה וחרצן במפולת יד

In accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yoshiya with regard to diverse kinds, as it is written: “You shall not sow your vineyard with diverse kinds” (Deuteronomy 22:9). Rabbi Yoshiya says: This means that one who sows diverse kinds is not liable by Torah law until he sows wheat and barley and a grape pit with a single hand motion, meaning that while sowing in the vineyard he violates the prohibition of diverse kinds that applies to seeds and to the vineyard simultaneously.

כרבי יהודה בן בתירא בדברי תורה דתניא רבי יהודה בן בתירא אומר אין דברי תורה מקבלין טומאה

In accordance with Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira with regard to one who experiences a seminal emission is permitted to engage in matters of Torah, as it was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira says: Matters of Torah do not become ritually impure.

כי אתא זעירי אמר בטלוה לטבילותא ואמרי לה בטלוה לנטילותא מאן דאמר בטלוה לטבילותא כרבי יהודה בן בתירא מאן דאמר בטלוה לנטילותא כי הא דרב חסדא לייט אמאן דמהדר אמיא בעידן צלותא:

And the Gemara relates: When Ze’iri came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he succinctly capsulated this halakha and said: They abolished ritual immersion, and some say that he said: They abolished ritual washing of the hands. The Gemara explains: The one who says that they abolished immersion holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira that one who experienced a seminal emission is not required to immerse. And the one who says that they abolished washing of the hands holds in accordance with that which Rav Ḥisda cursed one who goes out of his way to seek water at the time of prayer.

תנו רבנן בעל קרי שנתנו עליו תשעה קבין מים טהור נחום איש גם זו לחשה לרבי עקיבא ורבי עקיבא לחשה לבן עזאי ובן עזאי יצא ושנאה לתלמידיו בשוק פליגי בה תרי אמוראי במערבא רבי יוסי בר אבין ורבי יוסי בר זבידא חד תני שנאה וחד תני לחשה

The Sages taught in a baraita: One who experienced a seminal emission who had nine kav of drawn water poured over him, that is sufficient to render him ritually pure and he need not immerse himself in a ritual bath. The Gemara relates: Naḥum of Gam Zo whispered this halakha to Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Akiva whispered it to his student ben Azzai, and ben Azzai went out and taught it to his students publicly in the marketplace. Two amora’im in Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Yosei bar Avin and Rabbi Yosei bar Zevida, disagreed as to the correct version of the conclusion of the incident. One taught: Ben Azzai taught it to his students in the market. And the other taught: Ben Azzai also whispered it to his students.

מאן דתני שנאה משום בטול תורה ומשום בטול פריה ורביה ומאן דתני לחשה שלא יהו תלמידי חכמים מצויים אצל נשותיהם כתרנגולים

The Gemara explains the rationale behind the two versions of this incident. The Sage who taught that ben Azzai taught the law openly in the market held that the leniency was due to concern that the halakhot requiring ritual immersion would promote dereliction in the study of Torah. The ruling of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira eases the way for an individual who experienced a seminal emission to study Torah. This was also due to concern that the halakhot requiring ritual immersion would promote the suspension of procreation, as one might abstain from marital relations to avoid the immersion required thereafter. And the Sage, who taught that ben Azzai only whispered this halakha to his students, held that he did so in order that Torah scholars would not be with their wives like roosters. If the purification process was that simple, Torah scholars would engage in sexual activity constantly, which would distract them from their studies.

אמר רבי ינאי שמעתי שמקילין בה ושמעתי שמחמירין בה וכל המחמיר בה על עצמו מאריכין לו ימיו ושנותיו

With regard to this ritual immersion, Rabbi Yannai said: I heard that there are those who are lenient with regard to it and I have heard that there are those who are stringent with regard to it. The halakha in this matter was never conclusively established and anyone who accepts upon himself to be stringent with regard to it, they prolong for him his days and years.

אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי מה טיבן של טובלי שחרין מה טיבן הא איהו דאמר בעל קרי אסור בדברי תורה הכי קאמר מה טיבן בארבעים סאה אפשר בתשעה קבין מה טיבן בטבילה אפשר בנתינה

The Gemara relates that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the essence of those who immerse themselves in the morning? The Gemara retorts: How can one ask what is their essence? Isn’t he the one who said that one who experiences a seminal emission is prohibited from engaging in matters of Torah and is required to immerse himself in the morning? Rather, this is what he meant to say: What is the essence of immersion in a ritual bath of forty se’a of water when it is possible to purify oneself with nine kav? Furthermore, what is the essence of immersion when it is also possible to purify oneself by pouring water?

אמר רבי חנינא גדר גדול גדרו בה דתניא מעשה באחד שתבע אשה לדבר עבירה אמרה לו ריקא יש לך ארבעים סאה שאתה טובל בהן מיד פירש

Regarding this, Rabbi Ḥanina said: They established a massive fence protecting one from sinning with their decree that one must immerse himself in forty se’a of water. As it was taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving one who solicited a woman to commit a sinful act. She said to him: Good-for-nothing. Do you have forty se’a in which to immerse and purify yourself afterwards? He immediately desisted. The obligation to immerse oneself caused individuals to refrain from transgression.

אמר להו רב הונא לרבנן רבותי מפני מה אתם מזלזלין בטבילה זו אי משום צינה אפשר במרחצאות

Rav Huna said to the Sages: Gentlemen, why do you disdain this immersion? If it is because it is difficult for you to immerse in the cold waters of the ritual bath, it is possible to purify oneself by immersing oneself in the heated bathhouses, which are unfit for immersion for other forms of ritual impurity but are fit for immersion in this case.

אמר ליה רב חסדא וכי יש טבילה בחמין אמר ליה רב אדא בר אהבה קאי כוותך

Rabbi Ḥisda said to him: Is there ritual immersion in hot water? Rav Huna said to him: Indeed, doubts with regard to the fitness of baths have been raised, and Rav Adda bar Ahava holds in accordance with your opinion. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that it is permitted.

רבי זירא הוה יתיב באגנא דמיא בי מסותא אמר ליה לשמעיה זיל ואייתי לי תשעה קבין ושדי עלואי אמר ליה רבי חייא בר אבא למה ליה למר כולי האי והא יתיב בגווייהו אמר ליה כארבעים סאה מה ארבעים סאה בטבילה ולא בנתינה אף תשעה קבין בנתינה ולא בטבילה

The Gemara relates: Rabbi Zeira was sitting in a tub of water in the bathhouse. He said to his attendant: Go and get nine kav of water and pour it over me so that I may purify myself from the impurity caused by a seminal emission. Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said to him: Why does my master require all of this? Aren’t you seated in at least nine kav of water in the tub. He said to him: The law of nine kav parallels the law of forty se’a, in that their halakhot are exclusive. Just as forty se’a can only purify an individual through immersion and not through pouring, so too nine kav can only purify one who experienced a seminal emission through pouring and not through immersion.

רב נחמן תקן חצבא בת תשעה קבין כי אתא רב דימי אמר רבי עקיבא ורבי יהודה גלוסטרא אמרו לא שנו אלא לחולה לאונסו אבל לחולה המרגיל ארבעים סאה

The Gemara relates that Rav Naḥman prepared a jug with a capacity of nine kav so that his students could pour water over themselves and become pure. When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said: Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehuda Gelostera said: The halakha that one who experienced a seminal emission can be purified by pouring nine kav was only taught for a sick person who experienced the emission involuntarily. However, a sick person who experienced a normal seminal emission in the course of marital relations, is required to immerse himself in forty se’a.

אמר רב יוסף אתבר חצביה דרב נחמן כי אתא רבין אמר באושא הוה עובדא

Rav Yosef said: In that case, Rav Naḥman’s jug is broken, meaning it is no longer of any use, as few people fall into the category of sick people who experienced seminal emissions. Nevertheless, when Ravin came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia he said: In Usha there was an incident