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Nidah 38

  1. HALACHAH: HOW LONG IS BLEEDING BEFORE BIRTH ATTRIBUTED TO LABOR? The Gemara tells us that when a woman has labor pains and then gives birth, she is not considered to be a Zavah, since her bleeding is attributed to labor. For how long before birth do we assume that bleeding is due to labor, if labor-like pains continues afterwards until the birth? Our Mishnah expresses a number of differing opinions on this matter. How do we rule, l'Halachah?

    1. The RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 7:1) rules that the longest period prior to birth that we assume a woman's bleeding is due to labor, is two weeks. Longer than that, we do not ascribe her bleeding to labor and the woman will be considered a Zavah.
    2. The RITVA, however, points out that this Halachah does not apply today. He explains that labor only prevents a woman from becoming a Zavah, but it does not prevent her from becoming a Nidah. At the time of the Gemara, women were aware of whether they were Nidos or Zavos. Today, however, every woman who sees blood takes on the stringencies of both Zavah and Nidah, and therefore the fact that the bleeding was preceded by labor pains will not make her Tehorah.

      38b------------------------------------------------------------------------ --38b

    • Answer: The Gemara tells us that the Chasidim ha'Rishonim were of the opinion that pregnancy lasts a fixed number of days. They therefore abstained from their wives in the earlier part of the week in order to avoid giving birth on a Shabbos, which would result in unnecessary Chilul Shabbos.

      The MAHARSHA suggests that this is alluded to in another statement of Chazal: "If the Jewish people would observe two Shabosos they would immediately be redeemed" (Shabbos 118b). The Gemara cites a verse to support this which associates "Sarisim (eunuchs) that observe the Shabbos" with the return to Zion. Why does the verse specifically refer to "Sarisim?"

      The Maharsha suggests that the Gemara is hinting to us that if a husband abstains from his wife on particular days of the week (that is, he conducts himself like a eunuch) in order to avoid having his child born on Shabbos, he prevents the desecration of two Shabbosos (both on the day when the child is born, and a week later when the child has his Bris Milah), and through this will merit the final redemption.


    • Question: There is an often cited Machlokes between the BA'AL HA'ME'OR and the RAMBAN regarding embarking on a sea voyage within three days of Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 19a) rules that it is forbidden to embark on a sea voyage three days prior to Shabbos. According to the Ba'al ha'Meor, the reason for the prohibition is because dangerous conditions may arise at sea on Shabbos, requiring the voyager to desecrate the Shabbos for the sake of saving lives (Piku'ach Nefesh). The RAMBAN argues that we do forbid traveling due to such desecration of Shabbos since it is done for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh, and one is permitted to violate the Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh.

      Apparently, the Ba'al ha'Me'or forbids entering a situation which might cause Chilul Shabbos due to Piku'ach Nefesh, while the Ramban permits it. The commentaries suggest (see Mishnah Berurah 328:39) that their argument depends on the nature of the why one may violate the Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh. If Shabbos is only "Dechuyah" in the event of Piku'ach Nefesh (literally, it is "pushed off;" i.e. the prohibition against Shabbos desecration is still intact, but it is overridden by necessity for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh -- see for example Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos 2:1), it would be logical to accept the Ba'al ha'Meor's assertion; Chilul Shabbos even for Piku'ach Nefesh must be avoided if possible. If Shabbos is "Hutrah" in the event of Piku'ach Nefesh (literally, it is "permitted;" that is, from the start the laws of Shabbos were never prescribed for situations of Piku'ach Nefesh and therefore no desecration of Shabbos has been done whatsoever -- see Bi'ur Halachah ibid. who cites ROSH and MAHARAM MI'ROTENBURG who ascribe to this view), we ought to accept the Ramban's ruling.

      The practice of the Chasidim ha'Rishonim seems difficult understand according to both the Ba'al ha'Me'or and the Ramban. According to the Ba'al ha'Me'or, the practice of the Chasidim ha'Rishonim should be required by the strict letter of the law and not merely a practice of Chasidim. According to the Ramban, not only is there no law requiring the Chasidim to abstain from their wives, but there is no basis whatsoever for their stringency, since it is totally permissible to enter into a situation which might eventually bring about desecration of the Shabbos due to Piku'ach Nefesh!

    • Answer:
      1. The BA'AL HA'ME'OR himself explains that the reason why it is forbidden to embark on a sea voyage within three days of Shabbos is because the days between Wed. and Shabbos are like one long Erev Shabbos (Pesachim 106a). If so, the Halachah only requires that one plan to avoid desecrating the Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh during the three days that precede Shabbos, and not any time longer prior to Shabbos. This is why it was only a Midas Chasidus for the Chasidim ha'Rishonim to abstain from their wives 270 days before the Shabbos that would be desecrated.

      2. As for the RAMBAN, the following difference between our case and that of the voyager may be suggested. The MISHNAH BERURAH (330:5) rules that if Shabbos must be desecrated for a woman giving birth, if it is possible to be Mechalel Shabbos with a Shinuy, then one should use a Shinuy. In other cases of Piku'ach Nefesh, however, no effort is made to be Mechalel Shabbos with a Shinuy. A Yoledes, the Mishnah Berurah explains, is a weaker degree of danger since it is a naturally occurring and common situation which normally does not result in death.

        The RAMBAN might explain that even though there is no requirement to avoid a situation which might require Chilul Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh, nevertheless, the Chasidim ha'Rishonim avoided having children in Shabbos since giving birth is a lesser degree of Piku'ach Nefesh. (That is, the Ramban might agree that Shabbos is only Dechuyah when it comes to giving birth.)

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