Sunday, September 16, 2007

Daf Yomi Ketubot 35b: The Mature Woman's Claim of Virginity, Reconsidered

I posted earlier about this subject.

And now let me take the opposite position, and show how I am wrong. Again, this is why I say is not halacha lemaaseh.

Assuming we sever the Rif's connection between the gemara in Ketubot 35b and in Niddah 64b, we still should read the gemara in Niddah as referring to having seen menstrual blood previous to this.

The Rif had drawn a relationship between his girsa in Ketubot and Niddah. The Rif's girsa in Ketubot said that a bogeret has no claim of missing virginity against her, but this was only where she had menstruated in the past. Thus, kalu dameha, her blood had been finished up. A bogeret who had not yet menstruated was able to have such a claim lodged against her. And similarly in Niddah, Rav gave a bogeret that entire night, and the gemara clarifies that this is where she had not seen blood. Thus, it is a woman who had never before seen menstrual blood, but if she had, perhaps we would say kalu dameha and so she has no blood from a torn hymen, and so we would attribute it to menstrual blood and she would have to separate immediately.

I questioned the Rif's girsa in Ketubot for several reasons, including a much simpler and straightforward available girsa and an otherwise contradictory Yerushalmi. But further, I noted that this was a strange medical theory linking previous menstruation to kalu dameha such that she would not see blood from tearing her hymen.

However, as I noted in my introduction to this, even assuming we sever the connection between Ketubot and Niddah, we still may read it as above. Indeed, it may be the most plausible reading.

If you recall, the gemara in Niddah 64b read:
אמר רב בוגרת נותנין לה לילה הראשון
וה"מ שלא ראתה אבל ראתה אין לה אלא בעילת מצוה ותו לא
Rav said that for a bogeret, we give her the entire first night.
And the gemara clarifies: And these words were where she did not see, but if she did see, she only has the intercourse of the precept and no further.

The Rif summarizes this -- or perhaps it is his girsa -- as
והא דרב אוקימנא פרק תינוקת בבוגרת שעדיין לא ראתה דם אבל בוגרת שראתה ועודה בבית אביה אין לה אלא בעילת מצוה ופורש
Thus, that she saw blood of menstruation in the past in her life. I suggested it meant that she saw blood during the wedding night.

Even rejecting the connection between sugyot and rejecting the strange medical theory, we can explain this as the Rif does.

That is, if she has even seen blood in the past, then we know that she menstruates. Therefore, we have reason to fear that this blood we see now is not blood from the torn hymen but rather menstrual blood. However, if she has not menstruated in the past, why should we assume it is such now. We have an even stronger case to assume that it is from the torn hymen.

Indeed, this is the reading of the setama's restriction that makes sense. After all, granting her the entire night, or in other cases, granting her until Shabbat, means that even if she sees blood, we can attribute it to the torn hymen. So how in the world are we "granting" her this night is she has to stop when she sees blood. It would be have to be a reinterpretation of granting, such that we grant her so long as we do not see blood. But if she does not see blood, she should theoretically be allowed to continue for much longer. But if she sees blood on the second day, we no longer grant her this.

And indeed, there is precedent for such an interpretation. For example, in Ketubot 6a:
R. Hisda objected: If a girl, whose period to see [blood] had not arrived yet, got married, Beth Shammai say: One gives her four nights, and the disciples of Hillel say: Until the wound is healed up. If her period to see [blood] had arrived and she married, Beth Shammai say: One gives her the first night, and Beth Hillel say: Until the night following the Sabbath [one gives her] four nights
Thus, we have a girl {= a virgin} whose period to see menstrual blood has arrived and married, and she gets the first night, says Bet Shammai. It is not exact but pretty close in terminology.

So, most women who marry, even virgins, are bogeret, and furthermore have had their periods. (One exception is the 20-year old woman mentioned in this teshuva from Rav Moshe in Igrot Moshe.) Thus, no one will get the full night mentioned by Rav. Rather, they are all subject to the second case:

אבל ראתה אין לה אלא בעילת מצוה ותו לא

What does this mean? It is where she saw menstrual blood before. But what does אין לה אלא בעילת מצוה ותו לא? We could read it that once she sees blood, she immediately separates. But it never said that she saw blood that night. So it might mean that she only gets that intercourse of precept ever, regardless of if she saw blood.

If so, we can read present practice into the gemara's words.

Whether this extra restriction is Talmudic {/stammaic} practice or post-Talmudic, we can find precedent with a certain incident in Ketubot 10a:
Some one came before Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi [and] said to him, 'My master, I have had intercourse [with my newly-wedded wife] and I have not found any blood.' She [the wife] said to him, 'My master, I was a virgin.' He said to them: Bring me that cloth. They brought him the cloth, and he soaked it in water and he washed it and he found on it a good many drops of blood. [Thereupon] he [Rabban Gamaliel] said to him [the husband]: Go, be happy with thy bargain.
Thus, the idea that blood may have been covered by semen is one already introduced in the gemara.

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