Thursday, March 29, 2007


Rav Shemen bar Abba said: I was once standing in front of Rabbi Yochanan in the Beis Medrash during Chol Hamoed and he was biting his nails and throwing them away. We can learn three things from here: One is allowed to cut his nails during Chol Hamoed; biting nails is not regarded as disgusting; one can throw fingernails into a public area.

The Gemora asks from the following braisa: One who buries nails is considered righteous; one who burns them is considered pious; one who throws them into a public area is regarded as a wicked person (since the sight of the nails can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry).

The Gemora answers: This is not a concern in a Beis Medrash since a woman is generally not found there.

The Gemora states: The nails are only dangerous in their original location, but if they have been moved from there, there is no concern any longer.

The Nimukei Yosef explains the reason why a woman might miscarry upon the sight of cut fingernails: Seeing the nails might be repulsive to her and can have a physical effect upon her, ultimately resulting in a miscarriage.

The Ran adds that it could also be on the account of supernatural means.

The Elya Rabbah (O”C 260:7) cites from the sefer Tola’as Yaakov an alternative reason: Prior to the sin of Adam HaRishon, he had a skin of nails which covered his entire body. (We remind ourselves of this at Havdalah on Motzei Shabbos when we use the light of the fire to view our fingernails.) Afterwards, the nails remained only by the fingers and toes. Since it was the woman who caused Adam to sin, we are concerned that the sight of the nails can result in a punishment to the women.