Daf Yomi

For the week ending 29 January 2005 / 19 Shevat 5765

Niddah 37 - 43

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Niddah 37-43

Beyond Conception

When Ruth conceived a child who was to be the grandfather of King David, an unusual term is used in describing this development. Rather than the usual "she conceived" found elsewhere in Tanach, the passage in the Book of Ruth (4:13) relates that "G-d granted her harayon (conception)".

In our gemara the Sage Mar Zutra calls attention to the gematria numerical value of the letters of the word harayon. The letters of this word add up to 271 and this is understood to be a hint that this is the number of days in a full-term pregnancy.

In his commentary on Ruth, the Malbim offers an interesting explanation of this unusual terminology. Boaz was a very old man when he married Ruth. The Midrash states that he passed away the morning after his wedding. Ruth had not borne any children in her earlier marriage to Machlon who was a young man. For her to now conceive from such an aged husband was not natural and this is what is meant by the stress on Divine intervention expressed in G-d granting her the ability to conceive the child who would be the progenitor of the royal House of David.

  • Niddah 38b

The Inside and Outside of Impurity

Neveila the flesh of an animal which died causes ritual impurity for the one who touches or carries it. When it comes to the neveila of a fowl which would be permitted to be eaten had its death been caused by shechita (ritual slaughtering), the only way that it causes ritual impurity is by being eaten.

This seems paradoxical for if the neveila of an animal can cause ritual impurity even through external contact, it would seem logical for it to achieve the same effect if this contact were internal through eating. One passage in the Torah, however, serves to eliminate the possibility of the neveila of an animal having this power.

In prohibiting one who ate neveila from eating from sacrificial flesh, the Torah states "He shall not eat from it to become ritually impure because of it." (Vayikra 22:8) The fact that the passage stresses eating as the manner in which this impurity is caused is seen as an indication that it is referring only to the neveila of a kosher fowl, and not to the neveila of an animal which can cause such impurity even through touching or carrying. But even an attempt to extend this rule about eating thus stated in regard to fowl to include animals as well is eliminated by the concluding words "of it," which strictly limits impurity caused by eating to fowl alone.

  • Niddah 42b

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