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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 60a

At what age?1  — Raba in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba who had it from Rab replied: Three months. Samuel, however, said: Thirty days; while R. Isaac stated in the name of R. Johanan: Fifty days. R. Shimi b. Abaye stated: The halachah is in agreement with the statement of R. Isaac which was made in the name of R. Johanan. One can well understand [the respective views of] Rab and R. Johanan since they are guided by the child's keenness of perception.2  According to Samuel, however, is such [precocity]3  at all possible? — When Rami b. Ezekiel came4  he said, 'Pay no regard to those rules which my brother Judah laid down in the name of Samuel; for this said Samuel: As soon as [the child]5  knows her'.6

A [divorced woman] once came to Samuel [declaring her refusal to suckle her son]. 'Go', he said to R. Dimi b. Joseph, 'and test her case'.7  He went and placed her among a row of women and, taking hold of her child, carried him in front of them. When he came up to her [the child]8  looked at her face with joy,9  but she turned her eye away from him. 'Lift up your eyes'. he called to her, 'come, take away your son'. How does a blind child know [its mother]? R. Ashi said: By the smell and the taste.10

Our Rabbis taught: A child must be breast fed for11  twenty-four months. From that age onwards12  he is to be regarded as one who sucks an abominable thing; these are the words of R. Eliezer. R. Joshua said: [He may be breast fed] even for four or five years. If, however, he ceased13  after the twenty-four months and started again14  he is to be regarded as sucking an abominable thing.15

The Master said, 'From that age onwards he is to be regarded as one who sucks an abominable thing'. But I could point out a contradiction: As it might have been presumed that human16  milk is forbidden17  since such [prohibition may be deduced from the following] logical argument: If in the case of a beast18  in respect of which the law of contact19  has been relaxed20  [the use of] its milk has nevertheless been restricted,21  how much more should the use of his milk be restricted in the case of a human being in respect of whom the law of contact has been restricted;22  hence it was specifically stated, The camel because it23  cheweth the cud [… it is unclean unto you],24  only 'it' is unclean; human milk, however, is not unclean but clean. As it might also have been presumed that only [human] milk is excluded25  because [the use of milk] is not equally [forbidden] in all cases26  but that [human] blood is not excluded27  since [the prohibition of eating blood] is equally applicable in all cases,28  hence it was specifically stated, it,29  only 'it' is forbidden; human blood, however, is not forbidden but permitted.30  And [in connection with this teaching] R. Shesheth has stated: Even [a Rabbinical] ordinance of abstinence is not applicable to it!31  — This is no difficulty. The latter32  [refers to milk] that has left [the breast]33  whereas the former34  [refers to milk] which has not left [the breast]. [This law, however], is reversed in the case of blood,35  as it was taught: [Human] blood which [is found] upon a loaf of bread must be scraped off and [the bread] may only then be eaten; but that which is between the teeth36  may be sucked without any scruple.37

The Master stated, 'R. Joshua said: [He may be breast fed] even for four or five years'. But was it not taught that R. Joshua said: Even when [he carries] his bundle on his shoulders?38  — Both represent the same age.39  R. Joseph stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Joshua.

It was taught: R. Marinus said, A man suffering from an attack on the chest40  may suck milk41  [from a beast] on the Sabbath.42  What is the reason? — Sucking is an act of unusual43  unloading44  against which, where pain45  is involved, no preventive measure has been enacted by the Rabbis. R. Joseph stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Marinus.

It was taught: Nahum the Galatian46  stated, If rubbish47  was collected48  in a gutter49  it is permissible to crush it with one's foot quietly50  on the Sabbath, and one need have no scruples about the matter. What is the reason? — Such repair is carried out in an unusual manner51  against which, when loss is involved,52  the Rabbis enacted no preventive measure. R. Joseph stated: The halachah is in agreement with the ruling of Nahum the Galatian.

'If he ceased, however, after the twenty-four months and started again he is to be regarded as one who sucks an abominable thing'. And for how long?53  — R. Judah b. Habiba replied in the name of Samuel: For three days. Others read: R. Judah b. Habiba recited54  before Samuel: 'For three days'.

Our Rabbis taught: A nursing mother whose husband died within twenty-four months [of the birth of their child] shall neither be betrothed nor married again

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'until how much?' i.e., at what age is a child assumed to know its mother, and to refuse in consequence to be suckled by another woman?
  2. Lit., 'every one according to his sharpness'; the former fixing it at the age of three months and the latter at that of fifty days.
  3. That a child should know its mother at the age of thirty days.
  4. From Palestine to Babylon, v. infra 111b.
  5. Whatever its age.
  6. May a mother be compelled to suckle it, even after she has been divorced. She is only entitled to a fee from the child's father.
  7. To ascertain whether the child knew its mother.
  8. Cur. edd. [H], (fem.). Read with Bomb. ed. [H] (masc.).
  9. Af. of [H], 'to look up with joy' (Jast.). 'to gaze longingly'.
  10. Of the milk.
  11. Lit., 'a baby sucks and continues until'.
  12. If he is still breast fed.
  13. Lit., 'he separated'.
  14. Lit., 'and returned'.
  15. Cf. Tosef. Nid. II.
  16. Lit., 'those who walk on two (legs)'.
  17. V. Rashi; lit., 'unclean'.
  18. Of the unclean classes enumerated in Lev. XI, 4ff and Deut, XIV, 7ff.
  19. By a human being.
  20. Contact with a live animal, even of the unclean classes (v. supra n. 10), does not cause uncleanness.
  21. It is forbidden for human consumption (v. Bek, 6b).
  22. Contact with a menstruant, for instance, causes uncleanness.
  23. Emphasis on 'it' ( [H]) (v. infra n. 20).
  24. Lev. XI, 4.
  25. Lit., 'I take out', sc. from the prohibition of consuming it.
  26. The milk of a clean beast being permitted.
  27. From the restriction of consuming it.
  28. Even the blood of a clean beast is forbidden.
  29. The second 'it' ([H]) in Lev. IV, 11. Cf. supra n. 14. According to another interpretation the exclusion of blood is derived from the expression [H] (E.V. these) at the beginning of the verse (Rashi).
  30. Cf. Ker. 22a and v. infra n. 6.
  31. I.e., human milk is not only Pentateuchally, but also Rabbinically permitted. How then is this ruling to be harmonized with the previous Baraitha cited from Niddah which regards human milk as an 'abominable thing'?
  32. Lit., 'that', the last mentioned Baraitha which permits the consumption of human milk.
  33. And is collected in a utensil.
  34. Which, regarding the milk as an 'abominable thing', forbids it to one older than twenty-four months.
  35. As long as it remains within the body it is permitted; but as soon as it leaves it is forbidden as a preventive measure against the eating of animal blood.
  36. I.e., which has not been separated from the body.
  37. Ker. 21b.
  38. I.e., even at an age when the child is capable of carrying small loads he may still be breast fed. How then is this to be reconciled with the Baraitha cited from Niddah (V. supra note 5)?
  39. Lit., 'one size' or 'limit'.
  40. [H] (rt. [H] 'to groan'), one sighing painfully under an attack angina pectoris. V. Jast.
  41. Goat's milk which has a curative effect (v. Rashi).
  42. Though the release of the milk from the animal's breast resembles the plucking of a plant from its root, or the unloading of a burden, which is forbidden on the Sabbath,
  43. [H], lit., 'as if by the back of the hand'.
  44. [H] (rt. [H] Piel, 'break down', 'detach'). Milking an animal with one's hands is regarded as direct unloading (or detaching) which on the Sabbath is Pentateuchally forbidden (cf. Shab. 95a); releasing the milk by sucking is an unusual or indirect unloading or detaching which is only Rabbinically forbidden.
  45. V. supra p. 357, n. 11.
  46. Of Galatia or Gallia in Asia Minor,
  47. Lit., 'small pieces of straw',
  48. Lit., 'that went up'.
  49. And thus prevents the proper flow of the water.
  50. [H] lit., 'privately'.
  51. V. supra p. 357. n. 14.
  52. Were the gutter to remain choked up the overflow of the water would cause damage.
  53. Must the break last for the child to be regarded as having ceased to suck.
  54. A Baraitha, His statement was not merely the report of a ruling of Samuel who was but an Amora.

Kethuboth 60b

until [the completion of the] twenty-four months;1  so R. Meir. R. Judah however, permits [remarriage] after eighteen months.2  Said R. Nathan3  b. Joseph: Those4  surely, are the very words of Beth Shammai and these5  are the very words of Beth Hillel; for Beth Shammai ruled: Twentyfour months,6  while Beth Hillel ruled: Eighteen months!6  R. Simeon b. Gamaliel replied, I will explain:7  According to the view8  [that a child must be breast fed for] twenty-four months9  [a nursing mother] is permitted to marry again after twenty-one months,10  and according to the view11  [that it is to be breast fed for] eighteen months12  she may marry again after fifteen months;13  because a [nursing mother's] milk deteriorates only three months after [her conception].14

'Ulla stated: The halachah is in agreement with the ruling of R. Judah;15  and Mar 'Ukba stated: R. Hanina permitted me to marry [a nursing woman] fifteen months after [the birth of her child].16

Abaye's metayer once came to Abaye and asked him: Is it permissible to betroth [a nursing woman] fifteen months after [her child's birth]? — The other answered him: In the first place17  [whenever there is disagreement] between R. Meir and R. Judah the halachah is in agreement with the view of R. Judah;15  and, furthermore, [in a dispute between] Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel the halachah is in agreement with the view of Beth Hillel;18  and while 'Ulla said, 'The halachah is in agreement with R. Judah',15  Mar 'Ukba stated, 'R. Hanina permitted me to marry [a nursing woman] fifteen months after [the birth of her child]', how much more then [is there no need for you to wait the longer period] since you only intend betrothal. When he19  came to R. Joseph20  the latter told him, 'Both Rab and Samuel ruled that [a nursing woman] must wait twenty-four months exclusive of the day on which her child was born and exclusive of the day on which she is betrothed'.21  Thereupon he22  ran23  three parasangs24  after him, (some say, one parasang along sand mounds), but failed to overtake him.

Said Abaye: The statement made by the Rabbis that 'Even [a question about the permissibility of eating] an egg25  with kutha26  a man shall not27  decide28  in a district [which is under the jurisdiction] of his Master' was not due [to the view that this might] appear as an act of irreverence29  but to the reason that [a disciple] would have no success in dealing with the matter. For I have in fact learned the tradition of Rab and Samuel and yet I did not get the opportunity of applying it.30

Our Rabbis taught: [If a nursing mother] gave her child to a wet nurse or weaned him, or if he died, she is permitted to marry again forthwith.31  R. Papa and R. Huna son of R. Joshua intended to give a practical decision in accordance with this Baraitha, but an aged woman said to them, 'I have been in such a position32  and R. Nahman forbade me [to marry again].33  Surely, this could not have been so;34  for has not R. Nahman in fact permitted [such remarriage]35  in the Exilarch's family?36  — The family of the Exilarch was different [from ordinary people] because no nurse would break her agreement37  with them.38

Said R. Papi to them:39  Could you not have inferred it40  from the following? It has been taught: [A married woman] who was always anxious41  to spend her time42  at her paternal home,43  or who has some angry quarrel at her husband's home,44  or whose husband was in prison,44  or had gone to a country beyond the sea,45  or was old or infirm,44  or if she herself was barren, old,46  incapable of procreation or a minor,46  or if she miscarried after the death of her husband, or was in any other way incapacitated for propagation, must47  wait three months.48  These are the words of R. Meir. R. Jose,49  however, permits betrothal or marriage forthwith.50  And [in connection with this] R. Nahman stated in the name of Samuel: The halachah is in agreement with R. Meir in respect of his restrictive measures!51  — 'This', they52  answered him, 'did not occur to us'. The law is [that if the child] died [remarriage by his mother] is permitted [forthwith], but if she has weaned him [her remarriage] is53  forbidden. Mar son of R. Ashi ruled: Even if the child died [the remarriage of the mother] is forbidden, it being possible that she has killed it so as to be in a position54  to marry. It once actually happened that a mother strangled her child. This incident, however, is no proof.55  That woman56  was an imbecile, for it is not likely that [sane] women would strangle their children.

Our Rabbis taught: If a woman was given a child to suckle57  she must not suckle together with it either her own child or the child of any friend of hers. If she agreed to a small allowance for board she must nevertheless eat much.58  Whilst in charge of the child59  she must not eat things which are injurious for the milk. Now that you said [that she must] not [suckle] 'her own child' was there any need [to state] 'nor the child of any friend of hers'? — It might have been assumed that only her own child [must not be suckled] because owing to her affection for it she might supply it with more [than the other child] but that the child of a friend of hers [may well be suckled] because if she had no surplus [of milk] she would not have given any at all. Hence we were taught [that even the child of a friend must not be suckled].

'If she agreed to a small allowance for board she must nevertheless eat much'. Wherefrom? — R. Shesheth replied: From her own.60

'Whilst in charge of the child she must not eat things which are injurious'. What are these? — R. Kahana replied: For instance, cuscuta,61  lichen, small fishes and earth.62  Abaye said: Even pumpkins and quinces. R. Papa said: Even a palm's heart63  and unripe dates.64  R. Ashi said: Even kamak65  and fish-hash. Some of these cause the flow of the milk to stop while others cause the milk to become turbid.

A woman who couples in a mill will have epileptic children. One who couples on the ground will have children with long necks. [A woman] who treads66  on the blood67  of an ass will have scabby68  children. One who eats66  mustard will have intemperate children.69  One who eats66  cress will have blear-eyed children. One who eats66  fish brine70  will have children with blinking eyes.71  One who eats72  clay73  will have ugly children. One who drinks72  intoxicating liquor will have ungainly74  children. One who eats72  meat and drinks wine will have children

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Were she to marry sooner and happen to become pregnant, the child would have to be taken from her breast before the proper time.
  2. The shorter period is in his opinion quite sufficient for the suckling of a child.
  3. Var. lec. 'Jonathan' (v.Tosef. Nid. Il).
  4. The words of R. Meir.
  5. R. Judah's words.
  6. As the period during which a child must be breast fed. What then was the object of the repetition of the same views?
  7. Read [H] (v. She'iltoth, Wayera, III). Cur. edd. [H] (rt. [H], Hif. 'to over-balance', 'compromise').
  8. Lit., 'the words of him who says'.
  9. Beth Shammai.
  10. Not, as R. Meir ruled, twenty-four.
  11. Lit., 'the words of him who says'.
  12. Beth Hillel.
  13. And not, as R. Judah ruled, eighteen.
  14. For three months, at least, after her remarriage the child's breast feeding need not be interrupted. The views of Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel thus differ from those of R. Meir and R. Judah respectively.
  15. That a nursing mother need not wait more than eighteen months.
  16. In agreement with the view of Beth Hillel as interpreted by R. Simeon b. Gamaliel.
  17. Lit., 'one'.
  18. Who, according to R. Simeon b. Gamaliel's interpretation, require a nursing mother to postpone remarriage for no longer a period than fifteen months.
  19. Abaye, who was a disciple of R. Joseph.
  20. To consult him on the question his metayer addressed to him.
  21. Yeb. 43a.
  22. Abaye.
  23. In an attempt to stop his metayer from acting on his decision.
  24. V. Glos.
  25. That was found in a slaughtered fowl (v. Tosaf. s.v. [H] a.l.). The question of eating a properly laid egg with milk (v. next note) could of course never arise.
  26. A preserve containing milk.
  27. Though the answer is simple and obvious.
  28. Lit., 'solve'.
  29. Against the Master.
  30. When the question was addressed to him. MS.M. adds; 'because at that time I forgot it'.
  31. After her husband's death. She need not wait until the period for suckling mentioned above has expired.
  32. Lit., 'with me was (such) an event'.
  33. Before the expiration of the period prescribed for the breast feeding of the child.
  34. Lit., 'Is it so'?
  35. V. supra n. 12.
  36. The children having been entrusted to hired nurses. This actually happened in the case of his own wife Yaltha (v. She'iltoth, Wayera, XIII and cf. Golds. a.l.).
  37. Lit., 'return', 'retract'.
  38. Hence it was safe to allow their widows to remarry (note 12). In the case of ordinary people, however, the nurse might well change her mind at any moment and the child would consequently have to fall back upon the nursing of his own mother. Should she then happen to be in a state of pregnancy the child would be in danger of starvation.
  39. R. Papa and R. Huna.
  40. The decision of R. Nahman reported by the woman,
  41. Pass. particip. of [H] 'to pursue', 'be anxious'.
  42. Lit., 'to go'.
  43. And she was there when her husband died.
  44. At the time of his death.
  45. And there he died.
  46. When her husband's death occurred.
  47. Though in all such cases it is obvious that the woman cannot be pregnant.
  48. Before remarriage or betrothal. This is a precaution against a similar marriage or betrothal on the part of a normal woman who might be pregnant.
  49. This is also the reading of She'iltoth. The reading of Tosef. Yeb. VI, 6 and 'Erub. 47a is 'R. Judah'.
  50. After the husband's death. Cf. Yeb, and 'Erub. l.c.
  51. It is consequently forbidden for any widow to marry again before the prescribed period of three months has elapsed even where the cause of the prohibition, i.e., that of possible pregnancy, does not apply. Similarly in the case of a nursing mother remarriage would obviously be forbidden even where the child died or is otherwise independent of his mother's nursing. Why then had R. Papa and R. Huna to rely solely upon the aged woman's report?
  52. R. Papa and R. Huna.
  53. Since it is possible that her action was due to her desire to marry.
  54. Lit., 'and went'.
  55. Lit., 'and this is not'.
  56. Who strangled her child.
  57. Lit., 'behold that they gave her a son to give (him) suck'.
  58. Of her own (v. infra) in order to maintain a healthy supply of milk.
  59. Lit., 'with it'.
  60. Cf. supra n. 2.
  61. [H], v. Jast., hops (Rashi).
  62. Cf. infra p. 363, n. 4.
  63. Read [H] (cf. Rashi). Cur. edd. [H] (gourd).
  64. Lit., 'palm branch'.
  65. [H], 'curdled milk', 'an appetizing sauce made of milk', (cf. Fleischer to Levy, and Jast.).
  66. During her pregnancy.
  67. Read [H] (Aruk.). Cur. edd., [H].
  68. Or 'bald', reading [H] (cf. Rashi). Var. [H] 'gluttons', 'bibbers'.
  69. Or 'gluttons'.
  70. Or 'small fish' (Rashi) in brine (Jast.).
  71. Aruk (s.v. [H]), 'small eyes'.
  72. During her pregnancy.
  73. [H], a certain kind of reddish clay was believed to possess medicinal qualities as an astringent. Cf. Smith, Dict. Gk. Rom. Ant. s.v. creta, v. Jast.
  74. Lit., 'black'. Cf. Jast.