Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Must a Prospective Bride Inform the Groom regarding her Absence of Blood?

The following question was posed to Reb Moshe Feinstein: There was a girl who was over twenty years old who had pubic hairs; however, she did not commence menstruating yet. Some doctors told her that when she gets married and cohabits with her husband, she will begin her cycle and she will have the ability to bear children. Is it permitted for her father to arrange a match for her without informing the groom of the situation? Is there a concern that this will be regarded as a mistaken kiddushin or not?

Reb Moshe (E”H, III, 27) addresses the question and cites proof from our Gemora (Kesuvos 10b).

There was a man who came before Rabban Gamliel the Elder and said, “Rebbi, I have had marital relations but did not find any blood.” His wife said, “Rebbi, I am from the Durkati family who does not have either menstrual blood nor virgin blood.” Rabban Gamliel investigated regarding her relatives, and found that she was correct. He said “go and take your purchase (wife, as she indeed was a virgin), praised are you who have merited (a wife) from the house of Durkati.” What does Durkati mean? A cut-off (from these bloods) generation.

Rabbi Chanina said that Rabban Gamliel comforted this man with illogical comfort. This is because Rabbi Chiya taught that just as yeast is good for dough, so is blood is good for a woman (as it causes her to become pregnant quicker).” The Braisa also says in the name of Rabbi Meir that any women who has much blood, has many children.

It is said that Rabbi Yirmiyah bar Aba stated (that the phraseology of go and take your purchase in the case immediately above means) “acquire your purchase,” he said to him. Rabbi Yossi bar Avin says “you are obligated in your purchase,” he said to him. The opinion that he meant “you are obligated in your purchase” is understandable according to the words of Rabbi Chanina (that this wasn’t great as his wife couldn’t have so many children, nor get pregnant quickly). However, according to the opinion that says “acquire,” what kind of meritorious acquisition is this (that he should use a term referring to both acquiring and implying that it is a great merit to do so)? The Gemora answers, that the husband will never have a doubt whether or not his wife is a Nidah.

We see that even according To Rabbi Yosi bar Avin who holds that the absence of blood can prevent a woman from bearing children, nevertheless, the kiddushin is valid, and not regarded as a mistake even though it is detrimental to him.

It is evident that the possibility exists that a woman without blood can give birth, although she will not bear many children. Since she is fit to have children, and many men are not particular to have many children and they are also not particular if she becomes pregnant immediately or not, it is not regarded as a mistaken kiddushin.

In our case, where there are doctors that say that her menstrual cycle will return and she will have the ability to bear many children, the father is not obligated to reveal her blemish to the groom’s family. Reb Moshe adds: The father and the bride should resolve that if four years goes by and she doesn’t become pregnant and she does not begin to menstruate, she should accept her bill of divorce without a hassle and without and monetary claims on the husband.


Anonymous said...

Another one of your magic mystery medical cases. If the girl is cycling she can get pregnant. This would show up in the blood test even back even in ancient times like the 1950's. If she is not cycling, no doctor in the world will say that she willl get pregnant until they have an idea of why she isn't cycling. The amount of menstrual blood is totally not revalent. So Reb Moshe did not ask the doctors the correct questions (highly unlikely since Rabbi Tendler at least would know to ask) or this shut doesn't make any sense.
Of course there is nothing particualraly unusual about a woman not having menstrual blood before age 20. This use to be close to the average age about 100 years ago.

Avromi said...

Firstly, Rem Moshe brings a proof from the manner in which most of the Rishonim learn this Gemora that this particular family did not menstruate, and nevertheless, they had children.

I do not know how that is possible, but it is clearly the way the Rishonim are learning the Gemora. (The woman claimed she was from the Dartiki family, which does not have blood, but yet, she exists.)

Secondly, Reb Moshe was presented with this case in his times, and he based his conclusion on the opinion some doctors who said that after cohabitation, she will begin to menstruate. He is not saying that this woman will bear children without cycling; he is stating that there is some connection between cohabitation and the commencement of her menstruation cycle.


Anonymous said...

If anyone would like to look at the actual text of the relevant Igros Moshe, I posted images of it on my blog.

See here:

Avromi said...

Thank you, do you have any insights on the biological facts? Thanks

Anonymous said...

not really. I need to read the teshuva in a lot more depth first, and would need to do a lot more research.

my first inkling would be that these doctors were saying that there was something hormonal involved, and so having intercourse would make various hormonal conditions different, so as to spark menarche. For an example of how environment can impact menarche, I found this article:

"Girls who grow up in households with an unrelated adult male reach menarche earlier than peers, a
finding hypothesized to be an evolutionary strategy for families under stress."

Anonymous said...

Dear Rabbi Waxman:

The analysis supplied regarding the women of the Dorkati family in your blog “Must A Potential Bride Mention She Has Not Yet Experienced Menarche?,” while perhaps sensitive to the issues addressed, is almost assuredly incorrect from a biological perspective.

The women of several generations of the Dorkati family do not menstruate (suggesting a genetic link); Dorkati, of course, means "cut off generation" suggesting they are also unable to bear biological children. By far the most probable explanation for this is that these women have Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), an X linked recessive medical condition. This means that they inherited the condition from their mothers (in one-third of cases AIS occurs spontaneously, but with the Dorkatis we see members of a single family unit all with the same condition and therefore it would be inherited).

These women are chromosomally XY. This explains why their mothers (who are XX and carriers) do not have AIS while their daughters can. Women with complete AIS do not develop as males because their bodies are completely insensitive to the effects of androgens. They are female in appearance and, more importantly, female in psycho-sexual orientation. They do not have ovaries, do not menstruate, and cannot conceive-no current reproductive technologies can change this. Because you do not know me, you have no reason to accept or reject this explanation, but I invite you to raise the issue with any pediatric endocrinologist; they will confirm that AIS is almost assuredly what explains the situation with the Dorkati women.

Women like the Dorkatis should be regarded as female for purposes of marriage, although if known in advance disclosure of such a condition is, I believe, the only ethically sound approach, despite the potential of rejection, given that their infertility will impact their partners. I speak from personal experience: I have AIS and disclose this fact almost immediately to men I date so that they can make an informed decision about whether to date me. I certainly would never marry someone without disclosing it; this can only lead to eventual heartache for all concerned.

There are many roads to parenthood, and a member of the Dorkati family, like a woman born today with the same condition, will need to find a loving and tolerant partner who can accept these facts. Love and tolerance aren't tested when everything goes "right," but instead are measured when confronting any of life's many challenges.
Sherri G. Morris, J.D., LL.M.

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