Talmud Tips

For the week ending 16 November 2019 / 18 Heshvan 5780

Nidah 16-22

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Two Against One

The Chachamim say, “The minority aspect is as if it does not exist.”

We learn on our daf about the status of a piece of dough found in a child’s hand. It is not known whether the child holding it is tamei or taho r, ritually pure or not, and the status of the dough depends on the status of the child holding it. The Torah teaches us to apply the appropriate logical principles to determine the status in any case of doubt, such as in our case.

The Chachamim rule that the dough is tamei since the majority of children touch shratzim, which renders them temei’im. Rabbi Meir, however, says that the dough is tahor). Why? The gemara explains because he combines the factors of mi’ut and chazaka. A mi’ut (minority) of children don’t touch shratzim, and, also, there is a chazaka (last known status) that the dough was tahor. Rabbi Meir says that when we combine these two factors we override the lone factor of rov (majority who touch), and conclude that the dough’s status is tahor. The Chachamim reason that when there is a rov, there is no mi’ut to combine to the chazaka.

The commentaries ask a question on Rabbi Meir’s reason. Why combine the mi’ut with a chazaka of the dough’s tahor status instead of combining it with the chazaka of the child’s tahor status? (Rabbi Akiva Eiger)

One suggestion to answer this question is that doing so would lead to a logical contradiction. If we would. combine the mi’ut of children who don’t touch shratzim together with the tahor chazaka of children, we would, in effect, nullify the reality and the halacha of the rov. We would conclude that in not any case of doubt would the child be tamei, which would contradict the fact that a rov of children touch shratzim and are actually tamei! Therefore, we cannot rely on the child’s chazaka, but rather must rely on the dough’s tahor chazaka according to Rabbi Meir. (Rabbi Aryeh Leib Steinman)

We would like to take this opportunity to heartily invite the reader to visit us at Ohr Somayach, or attend a local Torah class, in order to better understand these basic Torah principles of rov and chazaka – and more – and learn the methodology for applying them to our lives.

  • Nidah 18b

Not Black or White

Rabbi Yanai gave his children very specific instructions regarding his burial prior to his passing from this world. He said, “My sons — do not bury me in either black clothes or in white ones. Not in black because I may be resurrected among the righteous and will look like a mourner among the grooms. And not in white because I may not merit this honor (to be resurrected among the righteous) and will appear like a groom among the mourners.”

  • Nidah 20

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