Niddah 17a:9נדה י״ז א:ט
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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17aי״ז א

ומשתין מים ערום לפני מטתו והמשמש מטתו בפני כל חי אמר ליה רב יהודה לשמואל ואפי' לפני עכברים א"ל שיננא לא אלא כגון של בית פלוני שמשמשין מטותיהן בפני עבדיהם ושפחותיהם

and a man who urinates naked next to his bed; and one who engages in intercourse in the presence of any living being. Rav Yehuda said to Shmuel: Does the phrase: In the presence of any living being, mean even in the presence of mice? Shmuel said to him: Shinnana, that is not the case. Rather, it is referring to a situation such as in so-and-so’s house, where they engage in intercourse in the presence of their Canaanite slaves and maidservants.

ואינהו מאי דרוש (בראשית כב, ה) שבו לכם פה עם החמור עם הדומה לחמור

The Gemara asks: And those members of that household, who act in that manner, what verse do they interpret in a manner that allows them to do so? The Gemara answers: They reference the verse in which Abraham said to his two servants: “Remain here with [im] the donkey” (Genesis 22:5). This verse is interpreted as meaning that they are a nation [am] comparable to a donkey. The members of the aforementioned household thought that it is permitted to engage in intercourse in the presence of animals, and therefore one can do so in the presence of his Canaanite slaves and maidservants.

רבה בר רב הונא מקרקש זגי דכילתא אביי באלי דידבי רבא באלי פרוחי

The Gemara cites practices of modesty observed by the Sages. Rabba bar Rav Huna would sound the bells [zagei] of the canopy above his bed when engaging in intercourse, so that people would know to keep away. Abaye would even drive away flies [didevei] from around his bed, so that he would not engage in intercourse in their presence, and Rava would drive away gnats [peruḥei].

אמר ר"ש בן יוחי ה' דברים הן שהעושה אותן מתחייב בנפשו ודמו בראשו האוכל שום קלוף ובצל קלוף וביצה קלופה והשותה משקין מזוגין שעבר עליהן הלילה והלן בבית הקברות והנוטל צפרניו וזורקן לרה"ר והמקיז דם ומשמש מטתו

Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai further says: There are five actions with regard to which one who performs them is held liable for his own life, and his blood is upon his own head, i.e., he bears responsibility for his own demise. They are as follows: One who eats peeled garlic or a peeled onion or a peeled egg, and one who drinks diluted drinks; all these are referring to items only when they were left overnight. And one who sleeps at night in a cemetery, and one who removes his nails and throws them into a public area, and one who lets blood and immediately afterward engages in intercourse.

האוכל שום קלוף כו' ואע"ג דמנחי בסילתא ומציירי וחתימי רוח רעה שורה עליהן ולא אמרן אלא דלא שייר בהן עיקרן או קליפתן אבל שייר בהן עיקרן או קליפתן לית לן בה

The Gemara analyzes this statement of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai, beginning with the case of one who eats peeled garlic, a peeled onion, or a peeled egg, when they were left overnight. The Gemara notes: And these peeled foods are dangerous even if they are placed in a basket and they are tied and sealed in that basket throughout the night, as an evil spirit rests upon them. And we said that eating them is dangerous only if one did not leave on them their roots or their shells. But if one left on them their roots or their shells, we have no problem with it.

והשותה משקין מזוגין שעבר עליהן הלילה אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל והוא שלנו בכלי מתכות אמר רב פפא וכלי נתר ככלי מתכות דמו וכן אמר רבי יוחנן והוא שלנו בכלי מתכות וכלי נתר ככלי מתכות דמו

Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai further mentions one who drinks diluted drinks that were left overnight. Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: And that is dangerous only when they were left overnight in metal vessels. Rav Pappa says: And natron vessels are considered like metal vessels in this regard. And Rabbi Yoḥanan likewise says: And that is dangerous only when they were left overnight in metal vessels, and natron vessels are considered like metal vessels in this regard.

והלן בבית הקברות כדי שתשרה עליו רוח טומאה זימנין דמסכנין ליה

Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai also says: And one who sleeps in a cemetery places himself in danger. The Gemara notes that this is the case if he does so in order that a spirit of impurity will rest upon him, as sometimes the evil spirits in the cemetery endanger the one who sleeps there.

והנוטל צפרניו וזורקן לרשות הרבים מפני שאשה מעוברת עוברת עליהן ומפלת ולא אמרן אלא דשקיל בגנוסטרי ולא אמרן אלא דשקיל דידיה ודכרעיה ולא אמרן אלא דלא גז מידי בתרייהו אבל גז מידי בתרייהו לית לן בה ולא היא לכולה מילתא חיישינן

The next case is one who removes his nails and throws them into a public area. The Gemara explains that this is dangerous because a pregnant woman might pass over them, and this can cause her to miscarry. And we said this halakha only when one removes his nails with scissors [bigenosteri]. And furthermore, we said this halakha only when one removes the nails of his hand and his foot together. And we said this halakha only when he did not cut anything else after his nails, but if he cut something else after them, we have no problem with it. The Gemara comments: And that is not so; rather, we are concerned with regard to the entire matter, i.e., in all cases.

ת"ר ג' דברים נאמרו בצפרנים שורפן חסיד קוברן צדיק זורקן רשע

With regard to removing one’s nails, the Sages taught: Three matters were stated with regard to removing nails: One who burns them is pious, as he eradicates them entirely; one who buries them is on the slightly lower level of a righteous individual, as they might be dug up; and one who simply throws them where a person might step upon them is wicked.

והמקיז דם ומשמש מטתו דאמר מר מקיז דם ומשמש מטתו הויין לו בנים ויתקין הקיזו שניהם ושמשו הויין לו בנים בעלי ראתן אמר רב ולא אמרן אלא דלא טעים מידי אבל טעים מידי לית לן בה

The Gemara discusses the final clause of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai’s statement: And one who lets blood and immediately afterward engages in intercourse. This is as the Master said: With regard to one who lets blood and afterward engages in intercourse, he will have weak [vittakin] children conceived from this act of intercourse. If both of them, husband and wife, let blood and engaged in intercourse, he will have children afflicted with a disease known as ra’atan. Rav says: And we said this only in a case when he did not taste anything after letting blood, but if he tasted something then we have no problem with it.

אמר רב חסדא אסור לו לאדם שישמש מטתו ביום שנאמר (ויקרא יט, יח) ואהבת לרעך כמוך מאי משמע אמר אביי שמא יראה בה דבר מגונה ותתגנה עליו אמר רב הונא ישראל קדושים הם ואין משמשין מטותיהן ביום

§ Rav Ḥisda says: It is prohibited for a person to engage in intercourse by day, as it is stated: “And you shall love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The Gemara asks: From where is this inferred? Abaye says: If one engages in intercourse by day, perhaps the husband will see some repulsive matter in his wife and she will become repugnant to him, which will cause him to hate her, and he will thereby violate this mitzva. Rav Huna says: Jews are holy, and they do not engage in intercourse by day.

אמר רבא ואם היה בית אפל מותר ות"ח מאפיל בכסותו ומשמש

Rava says: And if the house is dark, it is permitted to engage in intercourse by day there. And in the case of a Torah scholar, he may cause darkness with his garment and engage in intercourse even during the daytime, as he will certainly do so with modesty.

תנן או תשמש לאור הנר אימא תבדוק לאור הנר

The Gemara challenges: We learned in the mishna: Or she must engage in intercourse by the light of a lamp. This indicates that one may engage in intercourse in the light. The Gemara answers: Say that the mishna reads: She must examine the cloth by the light of a lamp, but not engage in intercourse in this manner.

ת"ש אע"פ שאמרו המשמש מטתו לאור הנר הרי זה מגונה אימא הבודק מטתו לאור הנר הרי זה מגונה

The Gemara cites a relevant source. Come and hear a baraita: Even though the Sages said that one who engages in intercourse by the light of a lamp is repulsive, nevertheless Beit Shammai say: Or she must engage in intercourse by the light of a lamp and inspect the cloths before and after each act of intercourse. The Gemara similarly explains: Say that the baraita reads: One who examines herself before or after intercourse by the light of a lamp is repulsive, as this examination would not be conducted properly, since the light of the lamp may not be sufficient. Nevertheless Beit Shammai say that a woman who engages in many acts of intercourse in one night must examine the cloth by the light of a lamp.

תא שמע ושל בית מונבז המלך היו עושין ג' דברים ומזכירין אותן לשבח היו משמשין מטותיהם ביום ובודקין מטותיהם במילא פרהבא ונוהגין טומאה וטהרה בשלגים קתני מיהא משמשין מטותיהן ביום

The Gemara further suggests: Come and hear a baraita: And the household of King Munbaz would perform three matters, and the Sages would mention them favorably for their behavior in this regard. They would engage in intercourse by day; and they would examine before and after intercourse with wool [bemeila] of Parhava, which is very white and would show any stain; and they would practice ritual impurity and purity with regard to snow. Regardless of the meaning of the last two matters, in any event this baraita teaches that they would engage in intercourse by day, which indicates that this practice is not prohibited.

אימא בודקין מטותיהם ביום הכי נמי מסתברא דאי ס"ד משמשין מזכירין אותן לשבח אין ה"נ דאגב דאיכא אונס שינה מגניא באפיה

The Gemara answers: Say that they would examine their beds, i.e., check the examination cloths, by day. The Gemara adds: So too, it is reasonable that this is the correct explanation, as if it should enter your mind that it means that they would engage in intercourse by day, even if it is permitted, would the Sages have mentioned them favorably for this practice? The Gemara refutes this proof: Yes, it is indeed so. There is a praiseworthy aspect to engaging in intercourse by day, as at night there is a risk of being overcome by sleep, because the husband might be too tired after the exertions of the day, and consequently his wife who desires sexual intercourse might be repulsive to him.

ובודקין מטותיהן במילא פרהבא מסייע ליה לשמואל דאמר שמואל אין בודקין את המטה אלא בפקולין או בצמר נקי ורך אמר רב היינו דכי הואי התם בערבי שבתות הוו אמרי מאן בעי פקולי בנהמא ולא ידענא מאי קאמרי

The Gemara further analyzes the baraita, which teaches: And the household of King Munbaz would examine before and after intercourse, with wool of Parhava. The Gemara notes: This statement supports the opinion of Shmuel, as Shmuel said: One may examine a bed, i.e., use an examination cloth for intercourse, only with a cloth made of linen [befakolin], or with one made of clean and soft wool. Rav says: This is the explanation of that which I heard when I was there, in Eretz Yisrael, on Shabbat evenings, which is the time when Torah scholars engage in intercourse with their wives; people would offer and say: Who needs linen cloths for eating bread [benahama], a euphemism for intercourse. And I did not know what they were saying until now.

אמר רבא הני שחקי דכיתנא מעלי לבדיקה איני והא תנא דבי מנשה אין בודקין את המטה לא בעד אדום ולא בעד שחור ולא בפשתן אלא בפקולין או בצמר נקי ורך

Rava says: Those worn-out flax clothes are good for examination. The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn’t the school of Menashe teach: One may not examine a bed with a red cloth, nor with a black cloth, nor with flax, but with a cloth made of linen, or with one made of clean and soft wool?

לא קשיא הא בכיתנא הא במאני דכיתנא ואיבעית אימא הא והא במאני דכיתנא הא בחדתי הא בשחקי

The Gemara answers that this is not difficult, as this statement that one may not examine with flax is referring to flax itself, whereas that statement of Rava, that flax is good for an examination, is referring to flax garments. And if you wish, say instead that both this statement and that statement are referring to flax garments, and the difference is that this ruling that one may not use flax is referring to new garments, whereas that ruling of Rava is referring specifically to worn-out garments, which are brighter.

נוהגין טומאה וטהרה בשלגין תנן התם שלג אינו לא אוכל ולא משקה חישב עליו לאכילה אינו מטמא טומאת אוכלין למשקה מטמא טומאת משקין

It was further stated that the household of King Munbaz was praised by the Sages because its members would practice ritual impurity and purity with regard to snow. The Gemara comments: We learned in a baraita there (see Tosefta, Teharot 2:5): Snow is neither food nor drink with regard to ritual impurity. If one designated it for consumption, his intention is disregarded, and it does not impart the ritual impurity of food. But if one planned to use it as a drink, it imparts the ritual impurity of liquid.

נטמא מקצתו לא נטמא כולו נטהר מקצתו נטהר כולו

If part of the snow became impure, it does not all become impure, but only the area that came into contact with the item of ritual impurity, as a pile of snow is not considered a single unit. If impure snow in a vessel is lowered into a ritual bath, even if the waters of the ritual bath touched only the snow on the mouth of the vessel, since part of the snow is purified, all of it is purified.

הא גופא קשיא אמרת נטמא מקצתו לא נטמא כולו והדר תני נטהר מקצתו נטהר כולו למימרא דנטמא כולו

The Gemara analyzes the baraita: This baraita itself is difficult. You initially said that if part of the snow became impure, it does not all become impure, and then the baraita teaches that if part of the snow is purified, all of it is purified, which is to say that all of it became impure. In other words, the last clause of the baraita is dealing with a lump of snow all of which is ritually impure, whereas according to the previous clause this is impossible: How could the source of the impurity have touched all of the snow?

אמר אביי כגון שהעבירו על אויר תנור דהתורה העידה על כלי חרס

Abaye says: It is possible for all the snow to become impure, in a case where one passed the snow within the airspace of an earthenware vessel, such as an oven, in which the source of impurity was located. This renders the entire lump of snow impure, as the Torah testifies with regard to an earthenware vessel that contains a source of impurity that all items inside its airspace are rendered impure, as the verse states: “Whatever is in it shall be impure” (Leviticus 11:33).