Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ask the Doctors

The Gemora had inquired: May one cohabit with his virgin wife for the first time on Shabbos? The Gemora explains the inquiry: Is the blood (which is produced when the hymen is broken) in the womb stored up (and cohabitation would he permitted, since the blood flows out of its own accord, and not because of any wound), or is it the result of a wound (caused by the tearing of the vaginal walls when they separate from each other), and therefore be prohibited?

The Gemora’s inquiry is difficult to understand. This is not a question regarding a specific woman, but rather, it is relevant to all women in the world, including idolaters. This point of inquiry should be an established fact; let us inquire from the expert doctors in this field as to the facts?

Perhaps, one may counter and say that doctors are not believed regarding halachic issues. This is not the case. The Divrei Chaim (vol. II, 77) writes regarding a woman who bleeds every time that she has relations: Even if an idolater midwife will inform us that the woman has a wound in that area, she is believed because this is a fact that we can verify with another midwife. The Maharsham relied many times on two doctors, when we asked each of them separately. Certainly in our Gemora, where it is relevant to every woman in the world, why don’t we ask the doctors?

The Chasam Sofer sheds light on our Gemora by saying the following: The Gemora is not inquiring as to the facts. In truth, the blood is loosely stored in the womb similar to the manner which liquid is contained in a sponge. Our Gemora is uncertain regarding the amount of force necessary to release the blood.

The Rambam in Hilchos Shabbos writes that threshing, squeezing, wounding and milking are all liable on Shabbos, and are included in the same category of melachah. Accordingly, the Chasam Sofer asks: The husband should certainly be liable in this case because he is separating the blood from the womb?

He answers: If this would be performed by hand, similar to squeezing and milking, he would certainly be liable. However, the question of our Gemora is regarding the strength necessary to release this blood. If it requires minimal strength, it is considered as if the blood is coming out on its own accord, and he will not be liable. However, if a considerable amount of force is necessary, he then would be liable for such an act.

4 comments:

Aryeh Shore said...

The Gemora is not inquiring as to the facts. In truth, the blood is loosely stored in the womb similar to the manner which liquid is contained in a sponge. Our Gemora is uncertain regarding the amount of force necessary to release the blood
The Chasam.Sofer writes that he contradicted his Rav (who promply threw him out of the house as an apikusus) as the difference in structure between the cow and the human leg. (He was correct which his Rav finally admitted.) So I am sure he wouldn't mind if I pointed out this makes no sense. The blood is from the tear. There is no blood accumulated in the uterus. Why would there be if the blood can come out during the menstrual cycle it would come out and if it was massed as described it would be a very large clot.

Avromi said...

I do not profess to know the facts regarding this, but how would you explain the Gemora?

Anonymous said...

Aryeh Shore said: "The Chasam.Sofer writes that he contradicted his Rav (who promptly threw him out of the house as an apikusus) as the difference in structure between the cow and the human leg. (He was correct which his Rav finally admitted.)"

I would just like to remove this michshal from before the rabbim. This statement is entirely unfounded and historically incorrect. If one takes a look at the source of the story (T’shuvos Chassam Sofer, Yorah Deah #50. Here is a link: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1839&st=&pgnum=37 and http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1839&st=&pgnum=38&hilite=) one will see how the Chassam Sofer brought his chiddush to his Rebbe with all his proofs. But his Rebbe was uninterested in even hearing the proofs, for the chiddush appeared to him as apikursus since it undermined the tradition in that particular halacha. The Chassam Sofer’s eyes were than “lit up” by Hashem and he remembered a tosfos that negated his chidush. He then exclaimed “Blessed is He (Hashem) who chose and trusted in the Rabbis and their words/teachings!”

Aryeh Shore said: " So I am sure he wouldn't mind if I pointed out this makes no sense.”

Not only does Mr. Shore not have his facts straight, but he is a mechutzif to speak in this manner to the Gadol Hador of his time, and the Rebbe of all Klall Yisroal, the holy Chassam Sofer.

Aryeh Shore said: “The blood is from the tear. There is no blood accumulated in the uterus. Why would there be if the blood can come out during the menstrual cycle it would come out and if it was massed as described it would be a very large clot.”

If Mr. Shore would like to suggest that the Chassam Sofer didn’t know his biology, and that he himself knows better, then why doesn’t he quote a reputable scientific source? If his only criticism of the Chassam Sofer is based on his svara/opinion, I’d take the Chassam Sofer’s “opinion” over his, thank you.

aryeh shore said...

1. As for the Chasam Sofer being thrown out of his house because he argued with his father over the bones in the leg, my source is in the comments on the page in the book Sichat Cholin. I have no idea of the accuracy of his statement. In general, I found Sichot Cholin very accurate and in the case of the heart with three chambers quite insightful. However, he chickens out on explaining the half mouse/half dirt.
2. The Yerushalmi makes it quite clear it is tear the membrane and is assur to marry a virgin on Shabbat. Why the Jews of Europe became so fixated on weddings on Friday is something that is for psychologist rather than an halachic specialist. They even had weddings on the tenth of Tevet if it was a Friday (Lavush).

3. As for reproductive biology, I have a Ph.D. in Physiology and have published some 50 papers in reproductive biology. I have also published several paper in halachic journals on how poskim use scientific sources. As my peers have accepted for publication my explanations. I think I can safely say the Chasam Sofer two hundred years ago in Frankfort did not understand reproductive biology.
If you google "shore" "kimron" you can find 20,000 hits. (Some computer fluke, I have only 400 or so real hits.)