Thursday, August 24, 2023

Is Tuma real?Rambam vs Ramban

Nida(31b): It was taught: R’ Meir asked: Why did the Torah decree that the impurity of menstruation should be for seven days? That is because if the husband is in constant contact with her he might develop a disgust for her. Therefore the Torah said that she should be impure for seven days in order that she should be as beloved to her husband as when they were first married.

Bereishis Rabbah[(17:8): Why was the mitzva of nidah given to the woman? That is because she shed the blood of Adam by bringing about death; therefore she was given the mitzva of nidah.

Bamidbar Rabbah (19:8) A gentile asked Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, "These rituals you do, they seem like witchcraft! You bring a heifer, burn it, crush it up, and take its ashes. [If] one of you is impure by the dead [the highest type impurity], 2 or 3 drops are sprinkled on him, and you declare him pure?!" He said to him, "Has a restless spirit ever entered you?" He said to him, "No!" "Have you ever seen a man where a restless spirit entered him?" He said to him, "Yes!" [Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai] said to him, "And what did you do for him?" He sad to him, "We brought roots and made them smoke beneath him, and pour water and it flees." He said to him, "Your ears should hear what leaves from your mouth! The same thing is true for this spirit, the spirit of impurity, as it is written, (Zachariah 13:2) "Even the prophets and the spirit of impurity will I remove from the land." They sprinkle upon him purifying waters, and it [the spirit of impurity] flees." After he left, our rabbi's students said, "You pushed him off with a reed. What will you say to us?" He said to them, "By your lives, a dead person doesn't make things impure, and the water doesn't make things pure. Rather, God said, 'I have engraved a rule, I have decreed a decree (chukah chakakti, gezeira gazarti), and you have no permission to transgress what I decreed, as it says "This is a chok (rule) of the Torah."

Rambam(Commentary to Sanhedrin 7:4): Our Sages have issued many warnings against sexual fantasy and have cautioned against things that cause it. They have gone into great detail in this matter in order to frighten and scare all those who deliberately fantasize and cause emission of semen. While these matters are clearly prohibited, they are not punished by lashes or similar punishments. Similarly lesbian behavior is disgusting and an abomination. However there is no punishment either from the Torah or Rabbinic…Even though there is no specific punishment it is included in the category of the abominations of Egypt…

Maharetz Chajes (Darchei Hora'ah #6): I disagree with the Chasam Sofer’s ruling that one should say that a Rabbinic prohibition is a Torah prohibition i.e., to upgrade the nature of prohibitions. Even though we see our Sages viewed it permitted to frighten with their descriptions of the seriousness of prohibitions as we see in the Rambam (Sanhedrin 7:4)…They said that certain things are equivalent to murder and worshipping idols. Many other things they have described as deserving of the death penalty. All this is only to frighten and scare. However to say that a Rabbinic prohibition is really a Torah prohibition - the Rambam (Hilchos Mamrim 2:9) clearly states that this itself violates the Torah prohibition of adding to the Torah. Such a practice also violates the Torah prohibition of lying - even if it is done for a good reason. Our Sages were always very concerned to identify and keep separate that which is from the Torah and which are Rabbinical legislation - even if there were no practical halacha involved.

Mishna Torah (Mikvos 11:12) It is obviously clear that the laws concerning defilements and purities are biblical decrees, and not things which the human mind can determine; they are classified as divine statutes. So too, immersion as a means of ridding oneself from defilement is included among the divine statutes. Defilement is not mud or filth to be removed with water, but is a matter of biblical decree; it depends on the heart's intent. Accordingly, the sages have declared: If a man immersed himself, but without a definite purpose in view, it is as though he had not immersed himself at all. Nevertheless, there is some ethical allusion to this: just as one who sets his mind on becoming clean becomes clean as soon as he has immersed himself, even though nothing new is produced in his physical being, so one who sets his mind on purifying himself from all the spiritual defilements, namely wrongful thoughts and evil traits, becomes clean as soon as he made up his mind to abstain from those notions, and brought his soul into the waters of reason. Indeed, Scripture declares: "I will pour clean water over you, and you shall be clean; from all your impurities and idolatries I will cleanse you" (Ezekiel 36:25).

Moreh Nevuchim (3:47) THE precepts of the twelfth class are those which we have enumerated in the section on "Purity" (Sefer tohorah). Although we have mentioned their use in general, we will here offer an additional explanation, and [first] fully discuss the object of the whole class, and then show the reason of each single commandment, as far as we have been able to discover it. I maintain that the Law which was revealed to Moses, our Teacher, and which is called by his name, aims at facilitating the service and lessening the burden, and if a person complains that certain precepts cause him pain and great trouble, he cannot have thought of the habits and doctrines that were general in those days. Let him consider the difference between a man burning his own son in serving his god, and our burning a pigeon to the service of our God. Scripture relates, for even their sons and their daughters they burn in the fire to their gods (Deut. 12:31). This was the way in which the heathen worshipped their gods, and instead of such a sacrifice we have the burning of a pigeon or a handful of flour in our worship. In accordance with this fact, the Israelites, when disobedient, were rebuked by God as follows: "O My people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me" (Mic. 6:3). Again, "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? Wherefore say my people, We are miserable; we will come no more unto thee" (Jer. 2:31); that is to say, Through which of the commandments has the Law become burdensome to the Israelites, that they renounce it? In the same manner God asks the people, "What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me?" etc. (ibid. 2:5). All these passages express one and the same idea.
Ramban(Vayikra 18:19): AND UNTO A WOMAN DURING HER SEPARATION FOR HER UNCLEANNESS, THOU SHALT NOT APPROACH TO UNCOVER HER NAKEDNESS. ....  The doctors have also told us in connection with it, a true experience, which is one of the wondrous works of Him Who is perfect in knowledge301Job 37:16. in creation, that if a menstruant woman at the beginning of her issue were to concentrate her gaze for some time upon a polished iron mirror, there would appear in the mirror red spots resembling drops of blood, for the bad part therein [i.e., in the issue] that is by its nature harmful, causes a certain odium, and the unhealthy condition of the air attaches to the mirror, just as a viper kills with its gaze. And surely it is harmful to have intercourse with her then, since physically and mentally she is attached to the man’s body and mind. Therefore Scripture prohibited it by saying, and her impurity will be upon him,302Above, 15:24. meaning that her condition is a contagious one. It is with reference to this that it states, the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity,303Ezekiel 36:17. always mentioning in connection with her the term “impurity,” which is like that used in speaking of a creeping thing and of a leper, in which cases their impurity is within their bodies. It is possible that this is the sense of the expression, he hath bared her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood,304Further, 20:18. for that blemished fountain should be covered, and not bared in order to draw its bad and extremely harmful waters. Thus intercourse has been prohibited to the holy seed305Isaiah 6:13. all the days of her impurity, until she immerses herself in water [i.e., in a ritual pool],306For no amount of washing the body can take the place of ritual immersion, where such is prescribed. for then she will be purified also in her thoughts,307This is obviously a reference to what Rambam wrote in his Mishneh Torah at the end of Hilchoth Mikvaoth, on the significance of immersion, that it is not merely a matter of removing mud or dirt which may be removed by water, but “it is a Scriptural decree, the validity of the act depending upon the disposition of the heart. It is for this reason that the Sages have said. ‘If he immersed himself without intention, it is as though he had not immersed himself at all’ (Chagigah 18 b) … Thus he whose heart intends to purify himself, becomes purified as soon as the [actual] immersion is accomplished.” It is clear, then, that since both body and soul must participate in the act of immersion, the effect and potency of the purification applies to both body and soul as Ramban here states, “for then she will be purified also in her thoughts, and become completely clean.” See “The Commandments,” Vol. I, pp. 117-119. and become completely clean [in body and mind].

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