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Nidah 13

  1. QUESTION: The Gemara gives a number of situations in which it is permissible for a man to touch the Amah. Among them:
    1. by means of a clay potsherd, a thick, hard rag or a small stone;
    2. by assistance from the Beitzim;
    3. from the Atarah and down;
    4. if he is married. In these cases, touching will not bring about forbidden thoughts.

      RAMBAM (Hil. Isurei Bi'ah 21:23) writes, "An unmarried man may neither touch his genitals, nor place his hands anywhere beneath his belly. If he urinates, he may not hold the Amah. If he is married, however, this is permissible. Whether married or not, he may not touch the Amah at all except when he needs to relieve himself."

      Why does he leave out Heterim (a), (b), (c), and permit (d) only while urinating?

      • Answer:
    5. On Daf 13b, Rebbi Tarfon rules that if a thorn is stuck in a man's stomach below the belt, he may not remove it, reasoning that it is better to have one's stomach split than to go to Gehinom. Why doesn't Rebbi Tarfon suggest using a thick hard rag to remove the thorn? ARUCH LA'NER proves from this that Rebbi Tarfon obviously argues and does nor permit touching the Amah with a hard rag etc. If so, the Rambam is following Rebbi Tarfon's ruling.

    6. &(c) The Gemara tells us that Rav Yehudah was married when Shmuel told him to hold the Amah and urinate. (It is not logical to say that the various opinions in the Gemara argued over whether he was married or not, as Aruch La'Ner points out.) If so, the Gemara is only permitting touching the Beitzim (b) and from the Atarah down (c) for a married man. This is exactly what the Rambam means when he writes that "if he is married, this is permissible." "This" refers to touching "the genitals," i.e. all parts of the genitals (Beitzim, Atarah and down). The only part that Rambam prohibits a married man to touch when not urinating is the part between the Beitzim and the Atarah, which is called the Amah.

    7. Next, since everyone agrees that Rav Yehudah was married, why doesn't the Gemara suffice with that fact alone (d) to permit Rav Yehudah to touch the Amah? From this it may be concluded that even a married person should normally refrain from touching the Amah, since it is permitted to do so only due to necessity, while relieving oneself. The Amora'im therefore explained that Shmuel would not have told Rav Yehudah to touch his Amah, since it was possible to avoid doing so by touching the Beitzim (b) or the lower Atarah (c), which a married man may do without hesitation.


    8. The Mishnah Berurah 3:29 rules that touching with a thick rag is permitted, but he suggests not to rely on this since we do not know what constitutes "thick." The clay potsherd and small stone may be used by married or unmarried men.
    9. &(c) The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 3:14-15) permits married or unmarried men to touch the Beitzim or from the Atarah and down.
    10. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 23:4) quotes the Rambam's ruling, that whether married or not, a man may not touch the Amah at all except when he needs to relieve himself. In Orach Chaim (3:14), however, he quotes the Sefer ha'Yir'ah of Rabeinu Yonah who writes that it is only a Midas Chasidus for a married man to abstain from doing so.

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