א׳ בכסלו ה׳תש״פ (November 29, 2019)

Nidda 37a-b: God Unlocks the Womb for Birth

As we learned on yesterday’s daf , if a woman in childbirth begins to experience bleeding on days that we anticipate that she will be a zava (as opposed to a – see the explanation on yesterday’s daf), she will not become a zava, since she will only get that status if the bleeding is from her and not if it is caused by the emerging fetus. The Mishna continues, teaching that if after three days of bleeding and contractions, her contractions stop for a 24 hour period and then she gives birth, it becomes clear that the bleeding cannot be associated with the birth process, and she is rendered a zava.

The Gemara on today’s daf discusses a situation where after three days of bleeding and contractions, her contractions stop and she stops bleeding, as well. Rav Ḥisda rules that this is the same as the case of the Mishna – since the birth occurs a day after the contractions and bleeding ended, they cannot be associated with the birth and she is rendered a zava. Rabbi Ḥanina argues that since both bleeding and contractions stopped, it is clear that the bleeding is related to the birth, and she does not become a zava.

Rabbi Ḥanina offers a mashal (a metaphor) that expresses this idea:

This may be compared to a king who, when going on a tour, is preceded by his troops and it is known that they are the king’s troops.

Rav Ḥisda’s retort was that immediately before the arrival of the king he would require even more troops.

One explanation of Rabbi Ḥanina’s metaphor is that it is based on a Gemara in Massekhet Ta’anit (daf 2a ) that teaches that the King of kings – God Himself – holds the “key” to birth. Thus, the birth contractions are the King’s troops that precede His arrival, that is, the Heavenly “unlocking” the womb for birth. Rav Ḥisda argues that since we see that in this case the original bleeding and contractions did not lead to birth, clearly they are unrelated to it, for we would anticipate that the greatest number of “troops” would be needed immediately before the birth.