הא קתני נדה doesn’t the mishna teach that the woman observes the strictures of a menstruating woman, i.e., she is considered ritually impure every time she experiences bleeding, and does not observe any period of purity at all?
שאם תראה יום ל"ד ותחזור ותראה יום מ' ואחד תהא מקולקלת עד מ"ח The Gemara answers: The mishna mentions that the woman observes the strictures of a woman who gave birth to a male to teach that if she sees blood on the thirty-fourth day after her miscarriage and again sees blood on the forty-first day, her purity status shall be ruined, i.e., she shall be prohibited from engaging in intercourse, until the forty-eighth day. If she were not observing the strictures of a woman who gave birth to a male, but only those of a menstruating woman and one who gave birth to a female, she would not have to wait seven days after seeing blood on the forty-first day. Instead, she would wait only one day, as her possible seven-day period of menstruation began on the thirty-fourth day and ended on the fortieth. Yet, as she might have given birth to a male, the forty-first day might be the first day after her period of purity, and therefore the first of her seven days of menstruation. Consequently, she must consider herself impure until the forty-eighth day.
וכן לענין נקבה שאם תראה יום ע"ד ותחזור ותראה יום פ"א תהא מקולקלת עד פ"ח And similarly, with regard to the halakha that she observes the strictures of a woman who gave birth to a female, one ramification is that if she sees blood on the seventy-fourth day and again sees blood on the eighty-first day, her purity status shall be ruined until the eighty-eighth day. Although she observes ritual impurity after discovering bleeding on the seventy-fourth day, as perhaps she has the status of a menstruating woman, when she discovers bleeding on the eighty-first day she must begin the count of seven days of menstruation again, in case the seventy-fourth day was during her period of purity after having given birth to a female.
רבי ישמעאל אומר יום מ"א תשב לזכר ולנדה כו' תניא רבי ישמעאל אומר טימא וטיהר בזכר וטימא וטיהר בנקבה § The mishna teaches that Rabbi Yishmael says: A woman who discharges on the forty-first day after immersion observes both the strictures of a woman who gave birth to a male, and those of a menstruating woman, but not the strictures of a woman who gave birth to a female, as the formation of a male offspring takes forty-one days, whereas the formation of a female offspring takes eighty-one days. It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yishmael says, in explanation of his opinion: In the case of a woman who gave birth to a male, the verse deems her impure for seven days and deems her pure for an additional thirty-three days, for a total of forty days; and with regard to a woman who gave birth to a female, the verse deems her impure for fourteen days and deems her pure for another sixty-six days, for a total of eighty days.
מה כשטימא וטיהר בזכר יצירתו כיוצא בו אף כשטימא וטיהר בנקבה יצירתה כיוצא בה אמרו לו אין למדין יצירה מטומאה It can therefore be inferred that just as when the verse deems a woman impure and then deems her pure for a total of forty days in the case of a male, its amount of time is parallel to the time of the formation of a male embryo; so too, when the verse deems a woman impure and deems her pure for a total of eighty days in the case of a female, its amount of time is parallel to the time of the formation of a female embryo. Accordingly, the formation of a female ends on the eighty-first day after conception. The Rabbis said to Rabbi Yishmael in response: One cannot derive the amount of time of the formation of an embryo from the extent of a woman’s period of impurity after giving birth.
אמרו לו לר' ישמעאל מעשה בקליאופטרא מלכת אלכסנדרוס שנתחייבו שפחותיה הריגה למלכות ובדקן ומצאן זה וזה למ"א אמר להן אני מביא לכם ראייה מן התורה ואתם מביאין לי ראייה מן השוטים Furthermore, the Rabbis said to Rabbi Yishmael that there is a proof against his opinion from an incident involving Cleopatra, Queen of Alexandria. Since her maidservants were sentenced to death by the government, she took advantage of the opportunity and experimented on them in order to examine the amount of time it takes for an embryo to develop. She had her maidservants engage in intercourse and operated on them following their execution in order to determine the stage at which an embryo is fully formed, and found that both in this case, when the embryo is male, and that case, when it is female, the formation is complete on the forty-first day after conception. Rabbi Yishmael said to them in response: I bring you proof from the Torah, and you bring me proof from the fools?
מאי ראיה מן התורה אילימא טימא וטיהר בזכר וטימא וטיהר בנקבה כו' הא קאמרי ליה אין דנין יצירה מטומאה The Gemara asks: What proof from the Torah does Rabbi Yishmael bring for his opinion? If we say that his proof is the aforementioned derivation that in the case of a woman who gave birth to a male, the verse deems her impure for seven days and deems her pure for an additional thirty-three days, for a total of forty days; and in the case of a female, the verse deems her impure for fourteen days and deems her pure for an additional sixty-six days, for a total of eighty days, didn’t the Rabbis say to him in response that one cannot derive the amount of time that the formation of an embryo takes from the extent of a woman’s period of impurity after giving birth?
אמר קרא תלד הוסיף לה הכתוב לידה אחרת בנקבה The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yishmael’s derivation is that the verse states: “If a woman bears seed and gives birth to a male…and if she gives birth to a female” (Leviticus 12:2–5). The verse adds another explicit mention of childbirth with regard to a female, besides the mention of childbirth in the case of a male, when it could have simply stated: And if it is a female. Rabbi Yishmael derives from here that not only are the periods of ritual impurity and purity of one who gives birth to a female double those of a woman who gives birth to a male, but the formation of a female embryo also takes twice the time.
ומאי ראיה מן השוטים אימר נקבה קדים ואיעבור ארבעין יומין קמי זכר The Gemara asks: And for what reason does Rabbi Yishmael refer to the proof that the Rabbis cited from Cleopatra’s experiment as a proof from the fools? The Gemara answers: One can say that the maidservant who was pregnant with a female embryo became pregnant first, forty days before the maidservant who was pregnant with a male embryo. Consequently, it took the female embryo eighty days to be develop, not forty.
ורבנן סמא דנפצא אשקינהו ור' ישמעאל איכא גופא דלא מקבל סמא The Gemara asks: And how would the Rabbis respond to this claim? The Gemara answers: Cleopatra gave the maidservants a purgative medicine to drink before they engaged in intercourse, which would have terminated any previous pregnancy. And Rabbi Yishmael would respond that there are bodies that are not affected by this medicine, i.e., certain pregnancies are not terminated by the medicine. Consequently, the maidservant who was pregnant with a female embryo might have been pregnant prior to the experiment.
אמר להם ר' ישמעאל מעשה בקלפטרא מלכת יוונית שנתחייבו שפחותיה הריגה למלכות ובדקן ומצאן זכר לארבעים ואחד ונקבה לפ"א אמרו לו אין מביאין ראיה מן השוטים The Gemara cites another baraita that presents a different version of this exchange between Rabbi Yishmael and the Rabbis: Rabbi Yishmael said to the Rabbis that there is a proof for his opinion from an incident involving Cleopatra, the Greek queen, as her maidservants were sentenced to death by the government, and she experimented on them and found that a male embryo is fully formed on the forty-first day after conception, and a female embryo is formed on the eighty-first day. The Rabbis said to him: One does not bring proof from the fools.
מאי טעמא הך דנקבה אייתרה ארבעין יומין והדר איעבר The Gemara explains: What is the reason the Rabbis consider this a proof from the fools? They claim that it is possible that this woman who was pregnant with a female embryo did not conceive when Cleopatra had her engage in intercourse; rather, she waited forty days, and then became pregnant when she again engaged in intercourse. Therefore, the embryo was formed in forty days.
ורבי ישמעאל לשומר מסרינהו ורבנן אין אפוטרופוס לעריות אימא שומר גופיה בא עליה And how would Rabbi Yishmael respond to this claim? He would claim that the maidservants could not have conceived on a later date, as Cleopatra transferred them to the custody of a steward, who made sure that they did not engage in intercourse during the experiment. And the Rabbis would say that there is no steward [apotropos] for restraining sexual intercourse, and therefore one can say that the warden himself engaged in intercourse with the maidservant.
ודילמא אי קרעוהו להך דנקבה בארבעין וחד הוה משתכחא כזכר אמר אביי בסימניהון שוין The Gemara raises a difficulty with regard to Rabbi Yishmael’s proof: But how can one be sure that the female embryo was formed after eighty-one days? Perhaps if the womb of the woman carrying this female embryo would have been torn open on the forty-first day after conception, the female embryo would have already been found in it, just as in the case of a male embryo. Abaye says in response: It was a case where the indications of the ages of the two embryos, e.g., their hairs and fingernails, were identical. Evidently, the female embryo developed in eighty days to the same degree that the male embryo developed in forty days.
וחכ"א אחד בריית זכר ואחד בריית נקבה וכו' חכמים היינו ת"ק § The mishna teaches: And the Rabbis say: Both the formation of the male and the formation of the female conclude on the forty-first day. The Gemara asks: The statement of the Rabbis is identical to the statement of the first tanna. Why does the mishna repeat this opinion in the name of the Rabbis?
וכי תימא למסתמא רישא כרבנן ויחיד ורבים הלכה כרבים פשיטא And if you would say that the purpose is to teach that the unattributed opinion mentioned in the first clause of the mishna is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis, and therefore it is the halakha, as when there is a disagreement between an individual Sage and many Sages, the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of the many, this cannot be the reason. The Gemara explains: It is obvious that the halakha is in accordance with the unattributed opinion mentioned in the first clause of the mishna, as this is a general halakhic principle.
מהו דתימא מסתברא טעמא דרבי ישמעאל דקמסייע ליה קראי קמ"ל The Gemara answers: Lest you say that from the fact that the explanation of the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael stands to reason, as the verses apparently support it, the halakha should be in accordance with his opinion, therefore the mishna teaches us that the majority of Sages agree with the unattributed opinion mentioned in the first clause of the mishna.
דרש רבי שמלאי למה הולד דומה במעי אמו לפנקס שמקופל ומונח ידיו על שתי צדעיו שתי אציליו על ב' ארכובותיו וב' עקביו על ב' עגבותיו וראשו מונח לו בין ברכיו ופיו סתום וטבורו פתוח ואוכל ממה שאמו אוכלת ושותה ממה שאמו שותה ואינו מוציא רעי שמא יהרוג את אמו וכיון שיצא לאויר העולם נפתח הסתום ונסתם הפתוח שאלמלא כן אינו יכול לחיות אפילו שעה אחת § Rabbi Samlai taught: To what is a fetus in its mother’s womb comparable? To a folded notebook [lefinkas]. And it rests with its hands on its two sides of its head, at the temples, its two arms [atzilav] on its two knees, and its two heels on its two buttocks, and its head rests between its knees, and its mouth is closed, and its umbilicus is open. And it eats from what its mother eats, and it drinks from what its mother drinks, and it does not emit excrement lest it kill its mother. But once it emerges into the airspace of the world, the closed limb, i.e., its mouth, opens, and the open limb, its umbilicus, closes, as otherwise it cannot live for even one hour.
ונר דלוק לו על ראשו וצופה ומביט מסוף העולם ועד סופו שנאמר (איוב כט, ג) בהלו נרו עלי ראשי לאורו אלך חשך ואל תתמה שהרי אדם ישן כאן ורואה חלום באספמיא And a candle is lit for it above its head, and it gazes from one end of the world to the other, as it is stated: “When His lamp shined above my head, and by His light I walked through darkness” (Job 29:3). And do not wonder how one can see from one end of the world to the other, as a person can sleep here, in this location, and see a dream that takes place in a place as distant as Spain [beAspamya].
ואין לך ימים שאדם שרוי בטובה יותר מאותן הימים שנאמר (איוב כט, ב) מי יתנני כירחי קדם כימי אלוה ישמרני ואיזהו ימים שיש בהם ירחים ואין בהם שנים הוי אומר אלו ירחי לידה And there are no days when a person is in a more blissful state than those days when he is a fetus in his mother’s womb, as it is stated in the previous verse: “If only I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me” (Job 29:2). And the proof that this verse is referring to gestation is as follows: Which are the days that have months but do not have years? You must say that these are the months of gestation.
ומלמדין אותו כל התורה כולה שנאמר (משלי ד ד) ויורני ויאמר לי יתמך דברי לבך שמור מצותי וחיה ואומר (איוב כט, ד) בסוד אלוה עלי אהלי And a fetus is taught the entire Torah while in the womb, as it is stated: “And He taught me and said to me: Let your heart hold fast My words; keep My commandments, and live” (Proverbs 4:4). And it also states: “As I was in the days of my youth, when the converse of God was upon my tent” (Job 29:4).
מאי ואומר וכי תימא נביא הוא דקאמר ת"ש בסוד אלוה עלי אהלי The Gemara asks: What is the purpose of the statement: And it also states: “When the converse of God was upon my tent”? Why is it necessary to cite this verse in addition to the previously quoted verse from Proverbs? The Gemara explains: And if you would say that the verse in Proverbs is insufficient, as it is a prophet who is saying that he was taught the entire Torah in his mother’s womb, but this does not apply to ordinary people, come and hear the verse in Job: “When the converse of God was upon my tent.”
וכיון שבא לאויר העולם בא מלאך וסטרו על פיו ומשכחו כל התורה כולה שנאמר (בראשית ד, ז) לפתח חטאת רובץ And once the fetus emerges into the airspace of the world, an angel comes and slaps it on its mouth, causing it to forget the entire Torah, as it is stated: “Sin crouches at the entrance” (Genesis 4:7), i.e., when a person enters the world he is immediately liable to sin due to his loss of Torah knowledge.
ואינו יוצא משם עד שמשביעין אותו שנאמר (ישעיהו מה, כג) כי לי תכרע כל ברך תשבע כל לשון כי לי תכרע כל ברך זה יום המיתה שנאמר (תהלים כב, ל) לפניו יכרעו כל יורדי עפר תשבע כל לשון זה יום הלידה שנאמר (תהלים כד, ד) נקי כפים ובר לבב אשר לא נשא לשוא נפשו ולא נשבע למרמה And a fetus does not leave the womb until the angels administer an oath to it, as it is stated: “That to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:23). The verse is interpreted as follows: “That to Me every knee shall bow”; this is referring to the day of one’s death, as it is stated: “All those who go down to the dust shall kneel before Him” (Psalms 22:30). “Every tongue shall swear”; this is referring to the day of one’s birth, as it is stated in description of a righteous person: “He who has clean hands, and a pure heart, who has not taken My name in vain, and has not sworn deceitfully” (Psalms 24:4), i.e., he has kept the oath that he took before he was born.
ומה היא השבועה שמשביעין אותו תהי צדיק ואל תהי רשע ואפילו כל העולם כולו אומרים לך צדיק אתה היה בעיניך כרשע והוי יודע שהקב"ה טהור ומשרתיו טהורים ונשמה שנתן בך טהורה היא אם אתה משמרה בטהרה מוטב ואם לאו הריני נוטלה ממך And what is the oath that the angels administer to the fetus? Be righteous and do not be wicked. And even if the entire world says to you: You are righteous, consider yourself wicked. And know that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is pure, and His ministers are pure, and the soul that He gave you is pure. If you preserve it in a state of purity, all is well, but if you do not keep it pure, I, the angel, shall take it from you.
תנא דבי ר' ישמעאל משל לכהן שמסר תרומה לעם הארץ ואמר לו אם אתה משמרה בטהרה מוטב ואם לאו הריני שורפה לפניך The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught a parable: This matter is comparable to a priest who gave teruma, the portion of the produce designated for the priest, to one who is unreliable with regard to ritual impurity [am ha’aretz], and therefore it is suspected that he might not maintain the purity of the teruma. And the priest said to him: If you keep it in a state of ritual purity, all is well, but if you do not keep it pure, I shall burn it before you.
א"ר אלעזר Rabbi Elazar said: