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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Mishnah, Niddah, 6.13

nanA woman who found a blood-stain is in a spoiled condition and must take into consideration the possibility that it was due to zivah, the words of Rabbi Meir.If a woman makes a mistake in her reckoning there is no re-opening for her [of the niddah count] earlier than seven, nor later than after seventeen days. But the sages say: in the case of blood-stains there is no [need to consider the possibility of their being] due to zivah. Section five: This somewhat complicated halakhah has to do with counting a woman’s menstrual cycle, in order to know the difference between menstrual blood (which causes a woman to be impure for 7 days, even if she continued to bleed all the way through the seventh and non-menstrual blood (which causes a woman to be impure for one day, unless she sees blood for three straight days, in which case she is impure for 7 full days after she stops seeing blood). The rabbis instituted an 18 day cycle to calculate when blood was menstrual and when it is non-menstrual. When a woman first sees blood she considers it to be menstrual blood and she is impure for seven days, from the time she saw the first blood. After these seven days, any blood seen over the next 11 days is considered to be zivah (non-menstrual blood). After these eleven days are over, she returns to counting seven days, during which any blood is considered to be menstrual blood. Our mishnah deals with a situation where a woman made a mistake in counting these days (i.e. she didn’t know whether she was in the seven days or in the eleven) and she saw blood. She doesn’t know whether the blood she saw is to be considered menstrual, in which case she is impure for seven days, or zivah, in which case she is impure for only one day, or a full seven days if she sees zivah for three straight days. Our mishnah teaches that the beginning of her days of menstrual blood cannot be less then seven days after she doesn’t see any more blood, nor more than seventeen days, all counted from the time she first saw blood. How this works out is a bit complicated, but I shall try to explain very briefly. Let’s say she saw blood for one day, if these were “days of niddah” she could begin to count her next days of niddah after seventeen days, which is the maximum amount. This would mirror the normal situation. However, if she sees blood for several straight days, it may be possible that she only has to wait seven more days after not seeing blood to begin counting her menstrual blood days. Let’s say she sees blood for three straight days, she can then begin counting her menstrual days after seven days without seeing blood, because it doesn’t matter if the blood she saw was menstrual or not, seven days are sufficient to begin counting again. I realize that this is all very complicated, and indeed entire books exist dedicated to these complicated calculations. We will learn much more about this subject when we learn Tractate Niddah."

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subject book bibliographic info
experts Libson (2018) 70
impurity Libson (2018) 70
qeri' Libson (2018) 70