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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 72a

and if you prefer I might say: Because the North wind1  did not blow upon them. For it was taught: In all the forty years during which Israel was in the wilderness the North wind did not blow upon them. What was the reason? — If you wish I might say: Because they were under divine displeasure.2  And if you prefer I might say: In order that the clouds of glory3  might not be scattered.

R. Papa said: Hence, no circumcision may be performed on a cloudy day or on a day when the South wind4  blows; nor may one be bled5  on such a day. At the present time, however, since many people are in the habit of disregarding these precautions,6  The Lord preserveth the simple.7

Our Rabbis taught: In all the forty years during which Israel was in the wilderness8  there was not a day on which the North wind9  did not blow at the midnight hour; for it is said, And it came to pass at midnight, that the Lord smote all the firstborn etc.10  How is the deduction arrived at? — By this we were taught that an acceptable time11  is an essential.12

R. Huna said: A mashuk13  is Pentateuchally permitted to eat terumah but has been forbidden to do so by Rabbinical ordinance, because he appears to be like one uncircumcised.

An objection was raised: The mashuk requires to be [re-] circumcised!14  — Only by Rabbinical ordinance.

But he who raised the objection on what ground did he raise it, when it was definitely stated 'requires'!15  — He misunderstood the final clause: R. Judah said, He16  should not be circumcised because such an operation is dangerous in his case.17  They said to him: 'Surely many were circumcised in the days of Ben Koziba18  and yet gave birth to sons and daughters, [such circumcision being lawful] as, in fact, it is said in Scripture, Must needs be circumcised,19  even a hundred times. And, furthermore, it is said, He hath broken My covenant,20  which includes the mashuk'.21  What need was there for the additional text? — In case you might argue that Must needs be circumcised22  includes only the shreds which render a circumcision invalid23  [so he added]. Come and hear, He hath broken My covenant20  which includes the mashuk.24  He25  consequently thought that, as the Talmud26  made use of a Scriptural text, the law27  must be pentateuchal; but the fact is that it is only28  Rabbinical, and the Scriptural text is a mere prop.

An objection was raised: A tumtum29  may not eat terumah,30  but his women31  and slaves may eat of it. A mashuk32  and one born circumcised33  may eat of it. The hermaphrodite34  may eat terumah but not holy food35  while the tumtum may eat neither terumah nor holy food.36  At all events, it was taught here that the mashuk and one born circumcised may eat terumah; is not this a refutation against R. Huna!37  — It is indeed a refutation.38

The Master said,'A tumtum may not eat terumah, but his women39  and slaves may eat of it'. By what legal act could a tumtum acquire his wives?40  If it be suggested, by betrothing them; for it was taught. 'If a tumtum betrothed a woman, his betrothal is valid and if he was betrothed by a man his betrothal is also valid',41  it might be retorted that the validity was intended only as a restrictive measure;42  was it, however, intended also as a relaxation of a law?43  He44  is possibly a woman, and no woman, surely, may betroth a woman! — Abaye replied: Where his testes can be distinguished externally. Raba replied: 'What is the meaning of "his women"? — His mother'. But [is not the case of his mother] self-evident? It might have been presumed that only one capable of procreation bestows the privilege of eating terumah, but one who is incapable does not bestow it, hence we were taught [that even a tumtum may bestow the privilege].

Come and hear: A tumtum may eat neither terumah nor holy food.45  According to Abaye, this46  is quite correct, since the first clause speaks of the certainly non-circumcised person47  while the final clause speaks of the doubtful one; according to Raba, however, what need was there for the mention of the tumtum in the final clause? — The meaning of48  tumtum49  is 'the uncircumcised'.50  If, however, one whose status as a non-circumcised person is in doubt is not permitted to eat terumah,51  would any one who is definitely an uncircumcised person be permitted to eat it?52  — The final clause is an interpretation of the first:53  Why may not 'a tumtum eat terumah'? Because he might have the status of an uncircumcised person,54  and a man who is uncircumcised 'may eat neither terumah nor holy food'.

May it be assumed that this55  is a question in dispute among Tannaim: A mashuk,56  and57  a proselyte whose conversion took place while he was already circumcised,58  and a child, the proper time of whose circumcision had passed,59  and all other circumcised persons, this means to include one who has two foreskins, may be circumcised in the daytime only. R. Eleazar b. Simeon, however, said: At the proper time60

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Which in that part of the world brings fine, mild and wholesome weather.
  2. On account of the sin of the golden calf (Rashi). v. Ex. XXXII; or that of the spies (Tosaf. a.l. s.v. [H]), v. Num. XIII.
  3. Which surrounded Israel. Cf. Ex. XIII. 21f.
  4. Which brings unwholesome weather.
  5. By blood-letting.
  6. Lit., 'they tread in it'.
  7. Ps. CXVI, 6. Providence protects those who are unable to protect themselves.
  8. Though they were in disgrace. (Cf. supra p. 485. n. 22).
  9. Which in that part of the world brings fine, mild, and wholesome weather.
  10. Ex. XII, 29.
  11. Midnight.
  12. In respect of the plague of the firstborn which brought deliverance to the oppressed; and so also in respect of the blessings of the North wind without which life would be intolerable. Cf. Rashi, a.l.
  13. [H] (rt. [H] 'to draw'), a circumcised person whose prepuce has been drawn forward to cover up the corona. V. Glos.
  14. Tosef. Shah. XVI; presumably in accordance with Pentateuchal law.
  15. Which implies a Rabbinical provision only. A Pentateuchal law would have read, 'the mashuk is regarded as an uncircumcised person'.
  16. The mashuk.
  17. It might fatally injure him.
  18. Or Bar Kokeba, the leader of the Judean revolt against Rome in 132 C.E. In the course of the persecutions that preceded the revolt, many had their prepuces forcibly drawn in order to obliterate the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, and when liberation came they were again circumcised.
  19. Gen. XVII, 13, [H], repetition of the verb.
  20. Gen. XVII, 14.
  21. V. supra p. 486. n. 8.
  22. Gen. XVII, 13, [H], repetition of the verb.
  23. A second circumcision being required only when such shreds remained.
  24. Since the former case is covered already by the previous text.
  25. The student who raised the objection against R. Huna, supra.
  26. [So MS.M. Cur. edd. [H] ([H]) 'Six orders'. The term Talmud here denotes the discussion of a halachic statement with a view to elucidating the basis on which it is based. V. Strack. Introduction, p. 5].
  27. In respect of the mashuk.
  28. Lit., 'and it is not (so)'.
  29. One whose sex is uncertain. V. Glos.
  30. Though he is a priest. It is possible that an operation would reveal him to be a male who, prior to his circumcision, is forbidden to eat terumah.
  31. At present this is assumed to mean wives.
  32. V. supra p. 486, n. 8.
  33. I.e., without a prepuce.
  34. If he is a circumcised priest.
  35. This refers to the highest grade of holy food such, for instance, as the sin, and guilt-offerings which may be eaten by priestly males only. The hermaphrodite cannot be regarded as a male.
  36. Tosef. Yeb. X.
  37. Who stated that these are, at least Rabbinically, forbidden to eat of it.
  38. According to another reading (v. Rashi). the Baraitha is cited in support for R. Huna's view, it being interpreted that 'the mashuk etc. may eat by Pentateuchal law only' but is Rabbinically forbidden.
  39. At present assumed to mean wives.
  40. Lit., 'whence to him, to the tumtum, his wives'?
  41. In the latter case the man is forbidden to marry the tumtum's mother or sister; and in either case the betrothal may be annulled by a letter of divorce only. Tosef. Yeb. XI. Bek. 42b.
  42. To require, for instance, a letter of divorce. Cf. supra note 1.
  43. To allow an Israelite woman to eat terumah by virtue of the tumtum's doubtful manhood.
  44. The tumtum.
  45. Tosef. Yeb. X.
  46. The mention of the tumtum in this, as well as in the first clause.
  47. Where the testes may be externally distinguished.
  48. Lit.,'what is'.
  49. In the final clause.
  50. The rt. of tumtum, [H] also signifies 'stop up', 'closing up', sc. the foreskin.
  51. The case referred to in the first clause.
  52. Obviously not. What need then was there for the final clause!
  53. Lit., 'what is the reason, he said'.
  54. Lit., 'doubtfully uncircumcised'.
  55. The law concerning the mashuk in R. Huna's statement supra.
  56. V. Glos.
  57. V. Rashal. Cur. edd. insert here in parenthesis. 'and one born circumcised'.
  58. While he was still an idolater, the operation having been performed with no religious motive.
  59. I.e., after the eighth day of his birth. V. Gen. XVII, 12.
  60. On the eighth day. Cf. supra note 4.

Yebamoth 72b

children may be circumcised in the daytime only; and if not at the proper time they may be circumcised both by day and by night,1  Do they not differ on the following principle: While one Master2  is of the opinion that the circumcision of a mashuk is a pentateuchal law, the other Master3  is of the opinion that the circumcision of the mashuk is only a Rabbinical ordinance?4  — And can you understand this?5  Is there any authority who maintains that the duty to circumcise a child whose proper time of circumcision had passed6  is only Rabbinical!7  But the fact is that both8  agree that the circumcision of a mashuk is a Rabbinical ordinance,9  and that the duty to circumcise a child whose proper time of circumcision had passed, is Pentateuchal. Here,10  however, their difference depends on the following principle: One Master11  holds that [the conjunctive in the expression]. And in the day12  is to be expounded;13  and the other Master3  is of the opinion that [the conjunctive in] And in the day12  is not to be expounded.14  [The exposition here is of the same nature] as the following:15  When R. Johanan was once sitting [at his studies] and expounding that 'nothar16  at its proper time17  may be burned in the daytime only,18  and if not at its proper time,19  it may be burned either in the day or in the night'. R. Eleazar raised an objection: I only know that a child whose circumcision takes place on the eighth day must be circumcised in the daytime only; whence, however, is it deduced that the case of a child whose circumcision takes place on the ninth, tenth, eleventh or twelfth20  is also included? Because it was expressly stated, 'And in the day';21  and even he22  who bases no expositions on a Waw does base his exposition on the basis of a Waw and a He!23  The other remained silent. After he went out, R. Johanan said to Resh Lakish: I observed that the son of Pedath24  was sitting and making expositions like Moses in the name of the Almighty. 'Was this his'? Resh Lakish replied.'It is really a Baraitha'. 'Where', the first asked. 'was it taught'? — 'In Torath Kohanim'.25  He went out and learned it26  in three days; and was engaged in making deductions and drawing conclusions from it for a period of three months.

R. Eleazar stated: The sprinkling27  performed28  by an uncircumcised person is valid, for his status is similar to that of a tebul yom29  who, though forbidden to eat terumah, is permitted to prepare30  the red heifer.31

The case of the tebul yom,29  however, might be different, since he is also permitted to eat tithe!32  — Are we speaking of eating?33  We speak only of touching: If a tebul yom who is forbidden to touch terumah is permitted [to occupy himself] with the red heifer,30  how much more so the uncircumcised who is permitted to touch terumah!

The same [law] was also taught [elsewhere]: The sprinkling34  performed35  by an uncircumcised man is valid; and such an incident once happened, and the Sages declared his sprinkling to be valid.

An objection was raised: If a tumtum36  performed sanctification,37  his sanctification is invalid, because he [has the status of the person whose uncircumcision is a matter of] doubt, and such a person is forbidden to perform sanctification.37  If an hermaphrodite.38  however, performed sanctification,37  his sanctification is valid. R. Judah said: Even if an hermaphrodite performed sanctification his act has no validity. because [his sex might] possibly be that of a woman, and a woman is ineligible to perform sanctification.39  At all events it was taught here that the uncircumcised or the person whose uncircumcision is a matter of doubt is forbidden to perform sanctification!40  R. Joseph replied: This Tanna is one of the school of R. Akiba who include the uncircumcised in the same prohibition as that of the unclean; as it was taught: R. Akiba said, 'What man soever41  includes also the uncircumcised'.42

Raba related: I was once sitting before R. Joseph when I raised the following difficulty: Then43  the Tanna44  should not have omitted to state.45  'The uncircumcised and the unclean', and one would at once suggest that the author was R. Akiba!46  — But does he not?47  Surely it was taught: The uncircumcised and the unclean are exempt from appearing at the Festivals!48  — There [the case is different], because he is a repulsive person.49

They50  follow their own respective views. For it was taught: All51  are permitted to perform sanctification,52  with the exception of the deaf, the imbecile and the minor. R. Judah permits in the case of the minor but regards a woman and an hermaphrodite as unfit.53  What is the Rabbi's reason? — Because it is written, And for the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the purification from sin,54  those who are ineligible55  for the gathering56  are also ineligible for the sanctification,57  but those who are eligible58  for the gathering56  are also eligible for the sanctification.59  And R. Judah?60  — He can answer you: If so,61  Scripture should have used62  the expression 'He shall take',63  why then, And they shall take?64  To indicate that even those who are ineligible there65  are eligible here. If so, a woman also should be eligible!66  Shall he put67  but not 'Shall she put'. And the Rabbis? — Had it been written, 'He shall take'68  and 'Shall he put'.68  it might have been assumed that only one individual must take69  and only one must put,70  hence did the All Merciful write, And they shall take.71  And had the All Merciful written, 'And they shall take' and also 'Shall they put'.71  it might have been assumed that two must take69  and two must put,70  hence did the All Merciful write, And they shall take68  and Shall he put.68  [to indicate that the rites are duly performed] even if two take69  and one put.70

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Tosef. Shab. XVI.
  2. The first Tanna who restricts the time of the circumcision to the day only.
  3. R. Eleazar b. Simeon.
  4. Hence he permits its performance during the night also. Would then R. Huna's ruling agree with the view of one Tanna only!
  5. That the point at issue should be the one suggested.
  6. V. supra note 4.
  7. Certainly not. Being obviously a Pentateuchal law, the point at issue in the Baraitha cited cannot be the one suggested.
  8. Lit., 'but, that all the world', i.e., the first Tanna and R. Eleazar b. Simeon.
  9. In agreement with R. Huna's ruling.
  10. In the Baraitha cited.
  11. V. supra note 7.
  12. The Waw (and) in [H], Lev. XII, 3.
  13. Since the statement, In the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised (ibid.) would have sufficiently indicated that circumcision must be performed in the daytime, the addition of the conjunction Waw is regarded as an indication that even a circumcision that takes place after its proper time must be performed in the daytime only. And the case of the mashuk was, by Rabbinical ordinance. given the same force as that of the child.
  14. Nothing may be inferred from the use of the conjunctive Waw, not even the case of the child whose proper time of circumcision had passed, much less that of the circumcision of the mashuk, which is altogether a Rabbinical enactment. The circumcision of either may consequently be performed in the night also.
  15. In the objection raised by R. Eleazar infra.
  16. V. Glos.
  17. On the third day. V. Lev. VII. 17.
  18. Since the expression day was explicitly used.
  19. After the third day. V. supra n. 5.
  20. Day of its birth. V. Shab. 137a.
  21. Lev. XII. 3.
  22. R. Eleazar b. Simeon. supra.
  23. Both these letters are found in the word [H] And that which remaineth (ibid. VII. 17), and both are superfluous; which proves that even when burning takes place after the proper time it must be done in the daytime. How then could R. Johanan state that nothar, after its proper time, may be burned either in the day or in the night?
  24. R. Eleazar's father was Pedath.
  25. [H] 'the law of the priests', an halachic commentary on Leviticus, sometimes designated Sifra.
  26. The book, Torath Kohanim.
  27. Of the waters of purification. V. Num. XIX. 2ff.
  28. V. ibid. 19.
  29. [H], one who has performed his ritual ablution and is awaiting sunset, when his purification will be completed. V. Glos.
  30. And also to sprinkle the waters of purification. (V. Rashi).
  31. From which the water of purification (p. 490. n. 14) is prepared.
  32. As the law in his case was relaxed in respect of the tithe it might also have been relaxed in respect of purification. How, then, could the uncircumcised, whose case is more restricted, be compared to him?
  33. Of the red heifer. In such a case the objection might be justified.
  34. Of the waters of purification. V. Num. XIX. 2ff.
  35. V. ibid. 19.
  36. V. Glos.
  37. Of the water of purification by mixing the water with the ashes of the red heifer. V. Num. XIX. 27.
  38. Who had been duly circumcised.
  39. Tosef. Parah IV.
  40. How then could R. Eleazar maintain that the uncircumcised may touch terumah?
  41. Lev. XXII, 4, lit., 'man man'.
  42. Supra 70a. As he is included there, so he is also included in the prohibition to touch terumah. R. Eleazar need not adopt this view, since the Rabbis are in disagreement with it.
  43. If R. Akiba regards the uncircumcised and the unclean as having the same status in all respects.
  44. Whenever he deals with uncleanness caused by touch.
  45. Lit., 'and (he) should teach'.
  46. Since, however. the uncircumcised is always omitted. it follows that, with the exception of the case of the red heifer, he does not have the same status as the unclean. How then could it be said that according to R. Akiba the uncircumcised may not touch terumah?
  47. Mention the two side by side.
  48. Hag. 4b. Three times a year. on the occasion of the Festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, all males had to appear before the Lord in the Temple at Jerusalem. V. Ex. XXIII. 17 and cf. Hag. 20.
  49. It is revolting to have an uncircumcised man in the Temple. Hence the prohibition. This, however, supplies no proof that in all other respects also the uncircumcised has the same status as the unclean.
  50. R. Judah and the Rabbis, in their difference on the question of the hermaphrodite.
  51. Levitically clean persons, including a woman.
  52. V. supra p. 491. n. 9.
  53. Parah V, 4.
  54. Num. XIX, 17.
  55. Minors.
  56. Of the ashes of the red heifer.
  57. Since the mention of the latter rite, in Num. XIX, follows that of the former, no other rite in respect of the red heifer being mentioned in between.
  58. Women. V. Yoma 43a.
  59. V. p. 492. n. 17.
  60. How, in view of this deduction made by the Rabbis, can he maintain that an hermaphrodite is ineligible?
  61. That sanctification is to be compared to gathering.
  62. In Num. XIX, 17.
  63. The sing., as was done in the case of the verb referring to the gathering. V. ibid. 9.
  64. The plural.
  65. Minors.
  66. Since she is eligible for the gathering.
  67. And running water shall he put, Num. XIX, 17.
  68. In Num. XIX. 17. V. infra nn. 11 and 12.
  69. The ashes.
  70. The water.
  71. The plural.