תשב אין לשון ישיבה אלא לשון עכבה כמו ותשבו בקדש (דברים א מו) וישב באלוני ממרא (בראשית יג יח) לשון רש"י (רש"י על ויקרא י״ב:ד׳) ואם כן יאמר ושלשים יום ושלשת ימים תמתין עוד עד שלא תגע בכל קדש ולא תבא למקדש אע"פ שהם ימי טוהר אצל הבעל וזה טעם "בדמי טהרה" ואמר בלשון הזה להודיע כי אפילו לא תראה בימים האלה תמתין בהן מפני הלידה ויתכן כי לשון תשב בכאן כמו ימים רבים תשבי לי לא תזני ולא תהיי לאיש (הושע ג ג) כי האשה השוכבת עם בעלה תקרא יושבת לו ולפי שאמר בשבעה וטמאה שבעת ימים כימי נדת דותה תטמא שתטמא לבעל ולקדשים כל שבעה אמר כי אחרי השבעה תשב לבעלה שלשים ושלשה ימים בדמי טוהר אבל לא תגע בקודש ולא תבא אל המקדש אע"פ שלא תראה ותשב עם בעלה אע"פ שתראה והנכון בעיני כי האשה בימי ראייתה תקרא נדה בעבור שינדוה וירחיקוה כל בני אדם והאנשים והנשים ירחקו ממנה ויושבת בדד לא תספר עם בני אדם כלל כי גם דיבורה טמא אצלם והעפר אשר תדרוך טמא להם כעפר רקב עצמות המת והזכירו זה גם רבותינו ואף מבט שלה מוליד היזק וכבר הזכרתי זה בסדר ויצא יעקב (בראשית לא לה) והיה משפט הנדות לשבת באהל מיוחד והוא מאמר רחל לאביה (שם) כי לא אוכל לקום מפניך כי דרך נשים לי כי מנהגן שלא תלך ולא תדרוך כף רגלה על הארץ ולכך החמירה התורה במושב הנדה והמשכב יותר מן המגע וכן אמר הכתוב במצורע (ויקרא י״ג:מ״ו) בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה מושבו ולא אמר כאשר אמר בשאר הטמאים (דברים כג יא) ויצא אל מחוץ למחנה לא יבא אל תוך המחנה כי הזכיר בו ישיבה שלא ילך כלל כי ריחו והבלו מזיקים ולכך אמר הכתוב בכאן כי גם שלשים ושלשת ימים תשב בדמי טהרה על מושבה אשר ישבה בימי נדות הלידה והזהיר בלאו שלא תגע בקודש ולא תבוא אל המקדש ומדרשו (ת"כ כאן) תשב להביא המקשה בימי אחד עשר שתהא טהורה מן הזיבה יכול תהא טהורה מן הנדה תלמוד לומר דותה תטמא: AND SHE SHALL THEN ‘TEISHEIV’17Literally: “sit” or “dwell.” (REMAIN) IN THE BLOOD OF PURIFICATION THREE AND THIRTY DAYS. “The term yeshivah [literally: sitting] signifies here ‘remaining,’ just like in the verses: ‘vateishvu’ (and ye stayed) in Kadesh;18Deuteronomy 1:46. ‘vayeishev’ (and he dwelled) by the terebinths of Mamre.”19Genesis 13:18. This is Rashi’s language. But if so, the verse is stating: “for another thirty-three days she should still wait, touching no hallowed thing nor coming into the Sanctuary, even though they are days of purity as far as [physical relationship with] her husband,”20A woman after the birth of a male child is impure for seven days like a menstruant, and is forbidden to have conjugal relations with her husband. For the next thirty-three days, even though she has an issue of blood, she is permitted to her husband, but she may not eat of the offerings nor come into the Sanctuary until the forty-first day, when she brings her prescribed offerings (Verses 6-8). For a female child the number of impure days are fourteen, and the waiting period until she may eat of the offerings etc. is sixty-six days, and she brings her offerings on the eighty-first day. — It should be pointed out that this is the Scriptural law which explains the verses and the text of Ramban before us. For the practical law to be observed today, see further, Note 23. this being the sense of the expression in the blood of purification. Scripture uses this expression [‘remain’ in the blood of purification, instead of saying “and she shall then be … “] in order to inform us that even though she sees no issue of blood during these [thirty-three days for a male child, or sixty-six for a female], she must still wait this entire period on account of the childbirth [before she may eat of the hallowed food or enter the Sanctuary]. It is possible that the expression teisheiv here is like in the verse, Many days ‘teishvi’ (thou shalt sit solitary) for me; thou shalt not play the harlot, and then thou shalt not be any man’s wife,21Hosea 3:3. for a woman who has intercourse with her husband is called yosheveth lo (sitting for him). Now since He said in regard to the seven days [after the birth of the male child], she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of the sickness shall she be unclean,22Verse 2. meaning that she be impure to her husband and for hallowed food during all these seven days, He now said that after the seven days she may sit for her husband [i.e., she may have intercourse with him] for thirty-three days in the blood of purification, but still she may not touch hallowed things nor come into the Sanctuary, even if she sees [no issue of blood], and she may be with her husband even if she sees [an issue].23This as noted above is the Scriptural law. Rabbi Moshe Isserless states the law as it is to be observed today. After commenting that in some places it is customary that during the entire forty-days period for a male-child and eighty for a female, the mother does not purify herself for her husband by immersion in a ritual pool, he states the law to be as follows: “But in those places where there is no such custom, we should not be stringent at all. Rather, immediately after she has not seen blood following the seven-days for a male-child and fourteen for a female, and after she counted a further seven clean days, she is permitted to her husband. But if she again saw even a drop of blood as tiny as a grain of mustard, she is unclean. For although by Scriptural law it is clean blood, yet the custom has already been accepted in all Israel that no coition is permitted if there is clean blood, the law applicable thereto being in every respect like that of other [unclean] blood” (Yoreh Deah 194:1, Rama).
The correct interpretation appears to me to be that a woman in the days of her menstruation is called niddah (shunned) because she was avoided by and kept distant from all people. Men and women would not approach her, and she would sit alone and not speak with them, for even her speech was considered by them impure, and they regarded the dust upon which she stepped to be impure as the dust of the decomposed bones of the dead. Our Rabbis have mentioned this.24Vol. I, p. 387. Even her gaze was considered harmful, and I have already mentioned this in Seder Vayeitzei Ya’akov.25Ibid., pp. 387-388, and Note 224 there. Thus it was the custom of menstruants to sit in a special tent, this being the intent of Rachel’s words to her father [Laban], Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise up before thee; for the manner of women is upon me,26Genesis 31:35. since it was their custom that a woman in that condition should not walk, nor let the sole of her foot step upon the ground. That is why the Torah was more stringent in regard to what the menstruant sits upon or lies upon [in that both the person who touches them and his garments are rendered impure]27Further, 15:21-23. than with respect to touching [the menstruant herself, in which case the person himself is rendered impure, but not his garments].28Ibid., Verse 19. Similarly Scripture said in regard to the leper: he shall dwell [literally: “sit”] alone; without the camp shall his dwelling be,29Ibid., 13:46. and it did not say as it did in the case of the other impure persons, and he shall go out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp.30Deuteronomy 23:11. Rather, it mentioned the term “sitting,” meaning that he is to avoid walking, since his odor and breath are harmful. It is for this reason that Scripture says here that for another thirty-three days she shall ‘sit’ in the blood of purification, in the same place where she sat in the [seven] days of impurity on account of the childbirth, and further prohibited by means of a negative commandment from touching hallowed things or coming into the Sanctuary during that time. The [Rabbinical] interpretation thereof is as follows:31Sifra, Tazria 1:7. “She shall continue [in the blood of purification for three and thirty days]. This comes to include a woman in hard labor during the eleven days,32It is important to clarify first certain basic Scriptural concepts in order to understand the text before us: (a) Commencing with the day on which a woman first sees a menstrual issue, she is to count seven days of impurity. During these days she remains impure, and forbidden to her husband, whether or not she sees another issue in the course of them. The issue, however, having ceased before the sun has set on the seventh day, she is to immerse herself that night in a ritual pool and may enter into conjugal relations. [However, for the Rabbinic ordinance as observed today, see Note 35.] (b) After these seven days of impurity effecting the menstruant, commences “the eleven-day period” (here referred to in the text) during which she becomes subject to the law affecting the zavah (a woman suffering a flux outside her regular period). That is to say, if during this period she sees one or two issues on the same day or on two consecutive days, she only has to immerse herself in a ritual pool on the following day, and returns to her purity with the setting of the sun. A woman suffering a flux of this kind is often referred to as “a minor zavah.” If, however, during the eleven-day period she sees one or more issues on three consecutive days, she becomes “a major zavah,” being under the obligation to count seven “clean days” after the complete cessation of the flux. And if in the course of these seven “clean days,” she sees another issue, she is to commence counting seven “clean days” anew. With the completion of the counting of seven completely “clean days,” the major zavah is to immerse herself in a ritual pool, bringing on the following day the prescribed offering (further, 15:29-30). Thus it is clear that by ordinance of the Torah, the law of the menstruant is far different from that of the zavah, to which she is subject during “the eleven-day” period, or the intervening time between her regular periods. See additionally, Note 35 as to the Rabbinic ordinance. that she be pure from zivah (the law of ‘flux’).33Thus a woman who was in protracted labor for three days of this “eleven-day period” [during which ordinarily the laws of zivah would have applied], and she saw issues on these three consecutive days, is yet not subject to this law. But, as the text continues, if she was in hard labor during her seven days of menstruation and she saw an issue, she is impure as a menstruant. I might think that she should also be regarded as pure from [the impurity conveyed through] menstruation;34See above, Note 32 (a). Scripture therefore says [as in the days of the impurity of her sickness] shall she be unclean.”35It is important to note that by Rabbinic ordinance a woman seeing an issue at any time whatever, is under obligation to count seven completely “clean days” after the cessation of the issue last seen — irrespective of whether she has seen the last issue within the seven-day period, or at any time thereafter. She must then immerse herself in a ritual pool, whereupon she is considered purified, and may enter into conjugal relations — the conditions attaching to the eating of hallowed food no longer of course being in force in our days because of the destruction of the Sanctuary and the absence of certain other means of ritual purification.
וטעם בדמי טהרה על דעת רש"י לומר שאע"פ שראתה טהורה מן התורה וכך אמר ר"א (אבן עזרא על ויקרא י״ב:ד׳) כי הטעם שהוא דם טוהר כנגד דם הנדה ואינו מטמא והשם גזר על הזכר כמספר הימים שתשלם צורתו בבטן והנקבה כפלים וזה דבר ברור ומנוסה ולפי דעתי כי טעם טהרה נקיון כלשון זהב טהור (שמות כה לט) צרוף ומזוקק וכן וישב מצרף ומטהר כסף וטהר את בני לוי וזקק אותם (מלאכי ג ג) והענין כי צוה ביולדת זכר שתטמא שבעה כנדתה כי המנהג שתהיה שופעת דם מן המקור וצוה שתוחיל עוד שלשים ושלשה ימים תשב בביתה לנקות גופה כי בכל אלה תוציא תמצית הדמים והלחות העכורות המעופשות הבאות מתמצית הדם ואז תנקה מלידה ומבטן ומהריון ותבא בית ה' ורבותינו קבלו שהיא טהורה לבעלה בימים האלו מפני שאמר בשבעה שהם כימי נדת דותה ובאלה אמר שתטמא לקודש ולמקדש לא לחולין ולא לבעל וכמו שאמרו (חולין לא) בעלה חולין הוא וטעם הכפל בנקבה או כדברי רבי אברהם על דעת ר' ישמעאל שאמר שהזכר נגמר לארבעים ואחד יום והנקבה לשמונים ואחד (נדה ל) אבל לדעת חכמים שאמרו אחד זכר ואחד נקבה לארבעים ואחד הטעם בעבור כי טבע הנקבה קר ולח והלבנה ברחם האם רבה מאד וקרה ועל כן ילדה נקבה ועל כן צריכה נקיון גדול מפני רבוי הלחות והדם המעופש שבהן ומפני קרירות כידוע כי החוליים הקרים צריכין בנקיותם אריכות זמן יותר מן החמים: IN THE BLOOD OF ‘TAHORAH’ (PURIFICATION). According to Rashi this means that even though she sees [an issue of blood during this period of thirty-three days for a male child, and sixty-six for a female], she is nevertheless pure by law of the Torah.23This as noted above is the Scriptural law. Rabbi Moshe Isserless states the law as it is to be observed today. After commenting that in some places it is customary that during the entire forty-days period for a male-child and eighty for a female, the mother does not purify herself for her husband by immersion in a ritual pool, he states the law to be as follows: “But in those places where there is no such custom, we should not be stringent at all. Rather, immediately after she has not seen blood following the seven-days for a male-child and fourteen for a female, and after she counted a further seven clean days, she is permitted to her husband. But if she again saw even a drop of blood as tiny as a grain of mustard, she is unclean. For although by Scriptural law it is clean blood, yet the custom has already been accepted in all Israel that no coition is permitted if there is clean blood, the law applicable thereto being in every respect like that of other [unclean] blood” (Yoreh Deah 194:1, Rama). And so did Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra write, that the meaning of the above expression is that “it constitutes pure blood in contrast to the blood of the menstruant, and therefore does not convey impurity, G-d having decreed in the case of a male child [a forty-days period for the after-effects of the childbirth upon the mother — seven impure days and thirty-three pure days], corresponding to the number of days necessary for the form of the male child to be completed in the womb, while that of the female child is double [fourteen impure days and sixty-six pure days, corresponding to the eighty days it takes for the female child to be formed in the mother’s womb]. This is clear and tested.”
But in my opinion the meaning of the word tahorah is cleanness [in a physical sense], similar in meaning to ‘zahav tahor’ (pure gold),36Exodus 25:39. which means smelted and refined. A similar expression is found in the verse, And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.37Malachi 3:3. Thus the meaning of the expression here is as follows. Having commanded that a woman who gives birth to a male child be impure for seven days as in the days of her impurity, because then she usually sees issues of blood from the interior of the womb [from which the menses are discharged], He further commanded that she should wait for another thirty-three days, staying in her house in order to cleanse her body; for during all these days she will emit the remnants of blood and the turbid, ill-smelling secretions which come from these bloods, and then she will become cleansed from the childbirth, pregnancy and conception,38See Hosea 9:11. and she may come to the House of G-d. Now our Rabbis have received the tradition that during these [thirty-three days for a male child and sixty-six for a female], she is pure for her husband, because with reference to the seven impure days it says that they are as in the days of the impurity of her sickness,22Verse 2. but in connection with these [thirty-three days etc.] He said that she is impure as regards [eating or touching] hallowed things and entering the Sanctuary, but not for non-holy things nor for her husband, just as the Rabbis have said,39Chullin 31 a. “Her husband is not a holy object.”
The reason that the time is doubled in the case of the birth of a female child [i.e., fourteen impure days and sixty-six pure days], is perhaps as Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra said [as mentioned above] in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, that the formation of a male child is completed on the forty-first day, and that of a female child on the eighty-first day. But according to the opinion of the Sages who say that both male and female are completed on the forty-first day, we must say that the reason [why the time is doubled in the case of a female child] is that the nature of the female is cold and moist, and the white [fluid] in the mother’s womb is then exceedingly abundant and cold, this being the reason why she gave birth to a female child. Hence she needs a longer time to become clean [in a physical sense], on account of the abundant moisture in her which contains the ill-smelling blood, and on account of the coldness [of her body], as is well-known that sick people who suffer from cold need a longer period to restore their vigor than those who are hot.