Niddah 65 - 71
Fallen Fruits, Fallen Pages
A woman in the Babylonian community of Pumpedita was having some serious menstrual problems which interfered with her ability to maintain normal marital relations. She was advised by one of the Sages to let people know about her condition so that they should pray for her recovery. This was based on the passage listing the restrictions which the Torah imposed upon the metzora which concludes with the directive for him "to cry: Unclean, unclean" (Vayikra 13:46). The purpose of his proclaiming his ritual uncleanness stemming from his physical condition is to encourage passersby to pray for him to become healed. In the same fashion this woman was directed to publicize her problem and the result was that her problem found a solution.
The same idea is applied by our Sages (Mesechta Shabbat 67a) to a sickly tree which prematurely sheds its fruits. In addition to prescribing a method for reducing the trees energy which causes this premature shedding, they also suggested marking the tree with a red dye. This was to call the attention of the passersby to the sickly condition of the tree and invite their prayers for its recovery.
A unique post-Talmud application of this idea is quoted in the name of todays foremost halachic authority, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv of Yerushalayim. He calls attention to an unusual statement of one of the great Talmudic commentators in his writings on Mesechta Kiddushin. In regard to one particular topic, MaHaRYT states that he had many innovations written on this subject but unfortunately lost his manuscript and can no longer recall them. The point of writing this seemingly unnecessary apology, explains Rabbi Eliyashiv, was to let the students of his works in on his anxiety in the hope that they would pray for him to regain his lost Torah treasure.
- Niddah 66a
The Stone on the Lions Den
What is an evven mesamei?
In its discussion of the unique dimension of ritual impurity which pertains to the zav, this mishna mentions the fact that if there are vessels beneath a stone upon which a zav, alive or dead, reposes, they become contaminated. This stone is called an evven mesamei and this passage from Daniel is cited as a source for this term which means "a stone that has been placed":
"And a stone was brought and placed on the mouth of the den." (Daniel 6:18)
This den is the lions den into which the righteous Daniel was cast as the result of a conspiracy against him by some of the ministers of King Darius who were envious of the great power this ruler of the mighty empire of the Persians and Medians had conferred upon this superbly capable Hebrew exile at their expense. They coaxed the king into issuing an irrevocable decree that anyone praying to any force aside from him during the next thirty days would be fed to the lions. When this failed to deter Daniel from maintaining his daily schedule of three prayer services directed to G-d, he was reported to the king who, despite his great affection for Daniel, ordered him confined to the lions den. The king even sealed the stone which was placed on the mouth of the den with his signet ring to prevent any attempt to free Daniel, but only after assuring this faithful servant that his G-d would surely save him. After a sleepless night he rushed to the den to see if G-d had indeed saved him and happily heard from Daniel that a Heavenly angel had closed the mouths of the hungry lions. Their appetites were subsequently satisfied, however, when the king ordered that those who had conspired against Daniel be cast into that den.
Darius then wrote to all the nations in his empire decreeing that all of his subjects tremble and fear before the G-d of Daniel.
- Niddah 69b