THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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- DOES THE BIRTH OF A "TREIFAH" BRING ABOUT "TUM'AS LEIDAH?"
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!
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.
- A LADY THAT GIVES BIRTH TO A SNAKE
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?
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:
- 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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