Daf Yomi

For the week ending 8 January 2005 / 27 Tevet 5765

Niddah 16 - 22

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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A Formula for Living

He who heeds the commandments heeds his own life, and he who despises them shall die prematurely. (Mishlei 19:16)

This passage from the wisdom of King Solomon is cited by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish as a condemnation of immodest behavior in marital relations which can cause one of the parties to be despised.

Rabbi Yochanan applies this same passage to other forms of improper behavior which cause one to be despised by the people who observe him. On his list is one who suddenly enters a home, even his own, without any previous notification. Rashi explains that this is considered disgusting behavior because such a sudden entry may find someone involved in a very private matter and thus cause embarrassment.

The simple meaning of the passage, however, offers a broad perspective of the importance of mitzvah observance to life itself. In his commentary on Mishlei, Rabbi Levi ben Gershon (Gersonides) puts it this way:

One who heeds the commands of G-d contained in His perfect Torah is heeding his very life, for the Torah guides one in the proper care of his body and soul. One who despises the Blessed G-d, however, shall die as a result of faulty character and senselessness which are, together with the punishment he has earned for his transgression, the causes of his premature death.

  • Niddah 16b

Blood Redder Than Water

In its discussion of the various shades of color of menstrual blood which can cause ritual impurity, the gemara cites this passage which definitively characterizes a red-colored fluid as being such blood:

They arose in the morning when the sun shone upon the water; Moav looked upon the water which was red like blood. (Melachim II 3.22)

The water which appeared to the Moavites as blood led to their downfall in the war they waged against the armies of Israel and Judea and their ally Edom. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Elisha, the dry river beds miraculously filled with water to quench the thirst of the famished soldiers and animals of these armies led by the righteous King Yehoshafat. The illusion of these waters being blood also led to the beginning of the fulfillment of the second part of that prophecy dealing with the defeat of Moav.

The Moavites misinterpreted the red colored water as being the blood of the armies of Israel, Judea and Edom which had come to fight them and who had subsequently fought amongst themselves and shed each others blood. Eager to gain spoils the Moavites descended upon the Israelite camp in foolhardy fashion and were decisively routed as the Prophet had foreseen.

  • Niddah 19a

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