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Nidah 24

    • Question: If a woman aborted a Guf Atum she does not have Tum'as Leidah. Rebbi explains that a Guf Atum is a body which is missing parts that are vital to its existence. There is an argument as to which missing parts are termed "vital to existence." Rebbi Zakai rules that a body missing the feet, from the knees down, is already called a Guf Atum. Rebbi Yanai explains that the legs must be missing before we can rule that the mother is Tehorah. Rebbi Yosi Ben Yehoshua claims that only if a body is missing the lower torso up until the belly button, can we call it a Guf Atum. The Gemara explains that these opinions depend upon the general question as to whether a Treifah can live or not. Rebbi Zakai rules that a Treifah cannot live. The other Amoraim rule that a Treifah can live. According to them, a trunk which has legs above the knees will be Metamei the mother, for although it is a Treifah, it is a viable offspring.

      The RAMBAM rules that a Treifah cannot live. Based upon this logic, he should rule that a trunk with legs cut off above the knees should not be Metamei Leidah, since it constitutes a Guf Atum. However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 10:11) rules, "If the trunk was missing from the belly button and below it is Atum." As the MAGID MISHNAH asks, since the RAMBAM rules that a Treifah cannot live, the child should not be Metamei Leidah even if it is missing its legs only from the knees down!

    • Answer: The RAMBAN; RASHBA and RITVA all ask, why should the ability of the fetus to live determine whether a woman has Tum'as Leidah or not? We rule that Tum'as Leidah applies even if a woman gives birth to a stillborn baby! Also, Rava rules that a baby with a hole in the esophagus will make the mother Temei'ah; this is surely a Treifah!

      These RISHONIM therefore explain that the Amoraim who argue as to what constitutes a Guf Atum did not rule that Tum'as Leidah is dependent on the baby being a Treifah or not. They merely were trying to determine what Rebbi meant by defining a Guf Atum as "A child missing enough of its body to cause its death." The Amora'im are explaining this statement based on the Halachah of whether a Treifah can live or not -- not that the fact that it will die causes the mother not to be Temei'ah Leidah. The RAMBAM apparently explained the Sugya in this manner as well. He therefore ruled that Tum'as Leidah is not dependent upon whether the child can live or not.


    • Question: Rabban Gamliel rules that if a woman miscarried a snake-like mass, she does not have Tum'as Leidah. Rebbi Yehoshua rules that she does. From the words of the Gemara earlier (Daf 23a), it appears that their argument revolves around the argument between Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim as to whether a woman is Temei'ah Leidah if she gives birth to what looks like an animal (Mishnah 21a), and a snake is the same as any other animal.

      The RAMBAM rules (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 10:8,9) rules like the Chachamim: If a woman miscarries an animal-like mass, but it has a human face, it is Metamei the mother. If the face lacked some human features, the mother does not have Tum'as Leidah. The RAMBAM then rules (Halachah 10) "If a woman miscarried a snake-like mass, she *does* have Tum'as Leidah, since the eye socket of a snake looks like the eye socket of a human being."

      As the RA'AVAD (ad.loc.) asks, Rebbi Yehoshua obviously rules like Rebbi Meir, that even one human feature (the eye socket) is sufficient in order to Metamei the mother. Since the RAMBAM rules like Chachamim, how can he rule that a snake-face is Metamei?

    • Answer: We may propose an answer based on the words of Tosfos (23b DH she'Rebbi Meir), who explains that there are three categories of offspring:
  2. Entirely human-like. (2) Entirely animal-like (3) With mixed features. If the fetus has mixed features, even Rebbi Meir requires that many, or all of its features be human-like in order it to bring about Tum'as Leidah (see Chart #4). However, if all of its features are animal-like, it will be Metamei Leidah as an animal, according to Rebbi Meir even though it does not resemble a human in the least.

    The Gemara earlier (23a) and in our Sugya implies that the snake is unique among all the creatures of the world in the fact that both its eyeball and its eye socket are round, like a man's. Rebbi Yehoshua is then saying that the Chachamim agree, for this reason, that the birth of a snake brings about Tum'as Leidah even though it is an animal. Human-like features are only necessary if the child has a mixture of features. Therefore, although the Rambam rules like the Chachamim of Rebbi Meir, he is justified in quoted the ruling of Rebbi Yehoshua that the birth of a snake-like child brings about Tum'as Leidah!

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