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Nidah 20


QUESTION: The Gemara rules that a bloodstain which is the color of black ink is Tamei. The Gemara also rules that if the stain was the color of a raven then it is Tahor. This clearly indicates that a raven is lighter in color than black ink.

The Bi'ur Halachah (OC 32, DH Yichtevem) asks that the Halachah requires black ink for Tefilin; any other shade is invalid. If so, why does the Midrash (Chazis) write that the words "Shechoros k'Orev (Shir ha'Shirim 5:11)" refer to the letters of the Sefer Torah? Raven-black is a shade *lighter* than black ink, and therefore a Sefer Torah with letters black as a raven should be invalid!

ANSWER: The Bi'ur Halachah suggests that according to the Gemara's conclusion, dry ink is darker than wet ink and therefore Maros Dam would be compared against *dry* ink. Perhaps the Midrash is telling us that when the letters of the Sefer Torah are still *wet*, they are raven colored!


QUESTION: It seems evident from our Gemara that Rav Nachman's wife, Yalata, would not show her blood stains to her own husband, Rav Nachman, for a Halachic ruling. Since her husband was a great Talmid Chacham and a Gadol ha'Dor (see Sanhedrin 6a), why did she have find it necessary to bring her Mar'os to another Posek? This Gemara seems to imply that a Posek cannot rule on Mar'os for his own wife!

Similarly, the Mishnah in Nega'im (2:5) states, "A Chacham may rule on all Bechoros, except for his own. He may, however, rule even on his own Korbanos, Ma'asros and Taharos." The Gemara in Bechoros 31a explains that a person may rule on his own Taharos because there is no real difference to him whether they are Tahor or Tamei -- even if he finds them to be Tamei he may eat them while he is himself Tamei. If so, however, a person should only be allowed to rule on the Taharah of his own Chulin. In a question regarding Isur v'Heter (such as Mar'os of women) he should not be able to rule for himself!

On the other hand, the Gemara in Eruvin (63a) clearly permits a Talmid Chacham to rule for himself in such matters!


(a) The RASH (Nega'im 2:5) answers that a Chacham is allowed to rule for himself in all cases of Isur v'Heter where it is not "Ischazek Isura" (presumed to be forbidden until now). When the item is Ischazek Isura, he may not rule for himself.

As for Yalata, TOSFOS (Nidah 20b, DH Kol) says that a husband may certainly rule on the blood stains of his own wife. Yalata did not show them to Rav Nachman for other reasons (perhaps Rav Nachman was not well versed in the laws of stains, or he might have been too stringent when his rulings affected himself, or she was embarrassed - Tosfos ibid.). The SHACH (YD 188:7) cites the words of Tosfos and rules that a husband may rule on his own wife's stains.

(b) MAHARACH OHR ZARU'A (Teshuvah #97) adds that the Torah specifically tells us that a Nidah is trusted to count her days of Tumah (before immersing in a Mikvah) all by herself (Kesuvos 72a). We can learn from this law that a Chacham, too, is trusted to rule for himself with regard to the laws of Nidah.

(c) However, the ME'IRI in our Sugya maintains that a husband may not rule on the stains of his wife, and that is why Yalata did not show them to her husband, Rav Nachman, even though he was a qualified Posek. (This ruling does not appear to be accepted Halachically.)



QUESTION: Yalata showed Rabba Bar Bar Chana a Mar'eh and he ruled that it was Tamei. She then took it to Rav Yitzchok and once she explained that Rabba Bar Bar Chana usually was lenient with such a Mar'eh but today his eyes were sore, he agreed to re-assess the question and ruled that it was Tahor.

The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 7a) rules that if a person asked a Chacham a question and the Chacham was Machmir, then he should not ask another Chacham in order that he should be Mekil. If so, how could Yalata ask Rav Yitzchok to rule on this Mar'eh once Rabba Bar Bar Chanah was already Machmir on this Mar'eh?

TOSFOS (DH a'Gemarei) explains that it is only prohibited for the second *Chacham* to contradict the ruling of the first one. However, it is not prohibited for the person who is *asking* the question to ask again, since the second Chacham might bring to the attention of the first one that he made a mistake, causing the first Chacham to change his ruling. Tosfos notes, however, that the one asking the question *must* inform the second Chacham that he had already asked this question to someone else.

QUESTION: We have explained why it was permitted for Yalata to ask her question. Why was it permitted for Rav Yitzchak to *rule* on her question, though?


(a) The ME'IRI and TOSFOS (Avodah Zarah 7a DH ha'Nish'al) explain that Rav Yitzchok had the ability to overrule the Chumra of Rabba Bar Bar Chana since there were grounds to assume that he had made a mistake (i.e. his eyes hurt him and he could not see the Mar'eh properly). This would imply that a second Chacham may not normally rule l'Kula where a Chacham previously ruled l'Chumra, unless there are specific grounds to assume that a mistake was made in the ruling of the first Chacham.

(b) TOSFOS (DH a'Gemarei and Chulin 44b DH Heichi) explains that the second Chacham may overrule the ruling of the first Chacham based on a Mesorah. However, he may not overrule the first Chacham's decision based only on his own logical analysis of the Sugya.

HALACHAH: The REMA (Yoreh Deah 242:31) rules that if a Chacham ruled l'Hachmir, then a second Chacham may not overrule the first Chacham's decision based on his own logic (unless he finds that the first Chacham was a To'eh bi'Dvar Mishneh). However, he may overrule the first Chacham's decision based on a Mesorah. The SHACH (YD 242:55) rules that a second Chacham should not overrule the Chumra of the first Chacham even based on a Mesorah. (This would concur with the words of Tosfos in our Sugya.)

The MISHKENOS YAKOV (59) rules in accordance with the REMA. He explains the REMA to mean that if the second Chacham had a Mesorah from a Gadol ha'Dor which would cause the first Chacham to *change his mind*, then he may overrule the decision of the first Chacham. If the first Chacham would not accept the ruling of the Chacham from whom the Mesorah stemmed, then the second Chacham may not overrule the first decision based on his Mesorah.

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