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מסכת בבא קמא:





 

Steinsaltz

who never saw a single hour of life in a state of fitness, as he was born infertile. The Gemara asks: How do we know that one was born this way and was never capable of having children? Abaye said: Anyone who passes water and does not form an arch with his urine, but rather his urine dribbles out downward, never had sexual capacity.

Incidentally, the Gemara inquires: From what does this defect arise? What is its cause? The Gemara answers: It results from his mother baking bread at noon and drinking strong beer [shikhra marka] while pregnant. The excessive heating of the mother’s body causes her child to be born with defective reproductive organs. Rav Yosef said: This is the meaning of that which I heard Rabbi Ami say: Anyone who is impaired from his mother’s womb, and at the time I did not know what he was referring to. Now I understand that he was speaking about a man who was infertile from birth.

The Gemara asks: Let us be concerned that perhaps he was cured for some period in the meantime, without our having known about it, in which case he would have had an hour of fitness at some point. The Gemara answers: Since both his beginning and his end are impaired, i.e., he was born with a defect and he presently suffers from the same condition, we are not concerned about such a possibility.

Rav Mari raised an objection from the following mishna (Bekhorot 38b): Rabbi Ḥanina ben Antigonus says: One examines a firstborn animal that developed a blemish in its eye three times within eighty days to see whether the defect is permanent. This shows that no presumptions are made in such a case; rather, there is concern that the animal may have been cured in the meantime, even if it had the defect at the beginning and at the end of the period.

The Gemara answers: With respect to a blemish affecting a single organ, e.g., an eye, we are concerned that the blemish might have passed and then later redeveloped, but with regard to a defect affecting the entire body, we are not concerned about such a possibility. A eunuch is not impaired in a single organ; rather, he has a defect that affects his entire body. Consequently, there is no concern that, though he was born with the defect and presently suffers from it, he might have regained his potency for some time in the middle.

§ It is taught in the mishna that Rabbi Eliezer says: No; rather, a eunuch by natural causes performs ḥalitza, whereas a eunuch caused by man does not perform ḥalitza. The Gemara raises a contradiction from the following mishna (Nidda 47b): If a twenty-year-old man has not grown two pubic hairs, a sign of sexual maturity, the relatives of the widow who wish to exempt her from ḥalitza and levirate marriage must bring proof that he is twenty years old, and he, having been established as a sexually underdeveloped man, does not perform ḥalitza or levirate marriage with his yevama. If a twenty-year-old woman has not grown two pubic hairs, the relatives of her deceased husband’s brother must bring proof that she is twenty years old, and she, having been established as a sexually underdeveloped woman, does not perform ḥalitza or enter into levirate marriage with her yavam. This is the statement of Beit Hillel. And Beit Shammai say: With regard to both this and that, males and females, the relevant age is eighteen years old, not twenty.

The mishna continues: Rabbi Eliezer says that for a male the halakha is in accordance with the statement of Beit Hillel, and for a female the halakha is in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai, because a woman reaches maturity more quickly than does a man, and therefore, if she fails to develop the signs of maturity by the age of eighteen it is assumed that she is a sexually underdeveloped woman. In any case, it is clear from this mishna that even Rabbi Eliezer agrees that one who lacks sexual capacity from birth may neither perform ḥalitza nor enter into levirate marriage.

Rami bar Dikulei said that Shmuel said: Rabbi Eliezer retracted his opinion. A dilemma was raised before the Sages: Which statement did he retract? Did he retract what he said here in the mishna, that a eunuch by natural causes performs ḥalitza with his yevama and his brothers perform ḥalitza with his wife? Alternatively, perhaps the mishna here reflects his final view, after he retracted what he said in the other mishna. The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a resolution to this question, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer says: A eunuch by natural causes performs ḥalitza with his yevama and his brothers perform ḥalitza with his wife, as such type of men are cured in Alexandria of Egypt. This additional source and its reasoning suggest that Rabbi Eliezer did not retract what he said in the mishna here. Rather, he retracted his statement with regard to the dispute between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai in the other mishna.

Rabbi Elazar says: Actually, he did not retract anything at all. And when we learned Rabbi Eliezer’s ruling in that mishna with regard to the age of a sexually underdeveloped individual, that ruling was stated with regard to punishments, i.e., the age at which such an individual is considered an adult so that he is liable to receive punishment, and not with regard to ḥalitza or levirate marriage.

And it was stated that the amora’im disagreed on this issue: With regard to one who ate forbidden fats or performed any other transgression for which one is liable to receive lashes or karet, when he was between the age of twelve years and one day and the age of eighteen years, and he developed the signs of one who was a eunuch by natural causes, as explained below, and afterward he grew two pubic hairs, Rav said: He is retroactively considered a eunuch by natural causes. In other words, these hairs are not viewed as a sign of maturity. Rather, he lacked sexual capacity from the outset, which means he became an adult at the standard age of thirteen and is held liable for his actions from that point in time. And Shmuel said: No, he was a minor at the time he committed his offense, as the two hairs are a sign of his maturity, albeit delayed.

Rav Yosef strongly objects to this: If so, according to Rav, a sexually underdeveloped woman according to Rabbi Meir should be entitled to the fine paid by a rapist. Rabbi Meir maintains that a rapist is liable to be fined only if he raped a young woman between the ages of twelve and twelve and a half, but not if he raped a minor. And furthermore, a sexually underdeveloped woman is not entitled to the fine because she is considered a minor, as she never showed the signs of maturity. But according to Rav she should retroactively be viewed as an adult and would therefore be entitled to the fine.

Abaye said to him: A sexually underdeveloped woman passes directly from minority to full adulthood. In other words, she is first considered a minor and then immediately an adult, without passing through the intermediate stage of young womanhood, and an adult woman is not entitled to the rapist’s fine.

Greatly impressed with this answer, Rav Yosef said to Abaye: Would that all such excellent matters be stated in my name. As it is taught in a baraita: A sexually underdeveloped man is not judged as a stubborn and rebellious son, as a boy is judged as a stubborn and rebellious son only when he has the mark of his lower beard, i.e., when his pubic hair begins to grow in. At that point he has reached the age of maturity but is not yet a fully developed man, a stage that parallels young womanhood for women. A sexually underdeveloped man never passes through this intermediate stage between minority and full adulthood. And similarly, a sexually underdeveloped woman who was betrothed and raped is not judged in accordance with the laws governing a betrothed young woman (see Deuteronomy 22:23–27), as she passes directly from minority to full adulthood without the intermediate stage of young womanhood. Therefore, the baraita fully corroborates Abaye’s view.

Rabbi Abbahu said: If one has the signs of a sexually underdeveloped man; or the signs of a sexually underdeveloped woman; or the signs of a child born during the eighth month of pregnancy, whose survival is uncertain; no action is taken in their regard, i.e., the sexually underdeveloped male or female is not treated as an adult and the child born during the eighth month is not deemed viable, until they are twenty years old.

The Gemara asks: Can a child born during the eighth month of pregnancy survive? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: A child born during the eighth month is like a stone with regard to the halakhot of set-aside [muktze] on Shabbat, and therefore it is prohibited to move him on Shabbat, as it may be presumed that he is not viable at all. However, his mother may bend over him and nurse him,

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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