THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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- HALACHAH: HOW LONG IS BLEEDING BEFORE BIRTH ATTRIBUTED TO LABOR?
The Gemara tells us that when a woman has labor pains and then gives birth,
she is not considered to be a Zavah, since her bleeding is attributed to
labor. For how long before birth do we assume that bleeding is due to
labor, if labor-like pains continues afterwards until the birth? Our
Mishnah expresses a number of differing opinions on this matter. How do we
- The RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 7:1) rules that the longest period
prior to birth that we assume a woman's bleeding is due to labor, is two
weeks. Longer than that, we do not ascribe her bleeding to labor and the
woman will be considered a Zavah.
- The RITVA, however, points out that this Halachah does not apply today.
He explains that labor only prevents a woman from becoming a Zavah, but it
does not prevent her from becoming a Nidah. At the time of the Gemara,
women were aware of whether they were Nidos or Zavos. Today, however, every
woman who sees blood takes on the stringencies of both Zavah and Nidah, and
therefore the fact that the bleeding was preceded by labor pains will not
make her Tehorah.
- THE ABSTINENCE OF THE "CHASIDIM HA'RISHONIM"
 OBSERVING TWO SHABBOSOS
The Gemara tells us that the Chasidim ha'Rishonim were of the
opinion that pregnancy lasts a fixed number of days. They therefore
abstained from their wives in the earlier part of the week in order to
avoid giving birth on a Shabbos, which would result in unnecessary Chilul
The MAHARSHA suggests that this is alluded to in another statement of
Chazal: "If the Jewish people would observe two Shabosos they would
immediately be redeemed" (Shabbos 118b). The Gemara cites a verse to
support this which associates "Sarisim (eunuchs) that observe the Shabbos"
with the return to Zion. Why does the verse specifically refer to
The Maharsha suggests that the Gemara is hinting to us that if a husband
abstains from his wife on particular days of the week (that is, he conducts
himself like a eunuch) in order to avoid having his child born on Shabbos,
he prevents the desecration of two Shabbosos (both on the day when the
child is born, and a week later when the child has his Bris Milah), and
through this will merit the final redemption.
 AVOIDING THE DESECRATION OF SHABBOS FOR "PIKU'ACH NEFESH"
There is an often cited Machlokes between the BA'AL HA'ME'OR and
the RAMBAN regarding embarking on a sea voyage within three days of
Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 19a) rules that it is forbidden to embark on a
sea voyage three days prior to Shabbos. According to the Ba'al ha'Meor, the
reason for the prohibition is because dangerous conditions may arise at sea
on Shabbos, requiring the voyager to desecrate the Shabbos for the sake of
saving lives (Piku'ach Nefesh). The RAMBAN argues that we do forbid
traveling due to such desecration of Shabbos since it is done for the sake
of Piku'ach Nefesh, and one is permitted to violate the Shabbos for
Apparently, the Ba'al ha'Me'or forbids entering a situation which might
cause Chilul Shabbos due to Piku'ach Nefesh, while the Ramban permits it.
The commentaries suggest (see Mishnah Berurah 328:39) that their argument
depends on the nature of the why one may violate the Shabbos for Piku'ach
Nefesh. If Shabbos is only "Dechuyah" in the event of Piku'ach Nefesh
(literally, it is "pushed off;" i.e. the prohibition against Shabbos
desecration is still intact, but it is overridden by necessity for the sake
of Piku'ach Nefesh -- see for example Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos 2:1), it
would be logical to accept the Ba'al ha'Meor's assertion; Chilul Shabbos
even for Piku'ach Nefesh must be avoided if possible. If Shabbos is
"Hutrah" in the event of Piku'ach Nefesh (literally, it is "permitted;"
that is, from the start the laws of Shabbos were never prescribed for
situations of Piku'ach Nefesh and therefore no desecration of Shabbos has
been done whatsoever -- see Bi'ur Halachah ibid. who cites ROSH and MAHARAM
MI'ROTENBURG who ascribe to this view), we ought to accept the Ramban's
The practice of the Chasidim ha'Rishonim seems difficult understand
according to both the Ba'al ha'Me'or and the Ramban. According to the Ba'al
ha'Me'or, the practice of the Chasidim ha'Rishonim should be required by
the strict letter of the law and not merely a practice of Chasidim.
According to the Ramban, not only is there no law requiring the Chasidim to
abstain from their wives, but there is no basis whatsoever for their
stringency, since it is totally permissible to enter into a situation
which might eventually bring about desecration of the Shabbos due to
- The BA'AL HA'ME'OR himself explains that the reason why it is forbidden
to embark on a sea voyage within three days of Shabbos is because the days
between Wed. and Shabbos are like one long Erev Shabbos (Pesachim 106a). If
so, the Halachah only requires that one plan to avoid desecrating the
Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh during the three days that precede Shabbos, and
not any time longer prior to Shabbos. This is why it was only a Midas
Chasidus for the Chasidim ha'Rishonim to abstain from their wives 270 days
before the Shabbos that would be desecrated.
- As for the RAMBAN, the following difference between our case and that
of the voyager may be suggested. The MISHNAH BERURAH (330:5) rules that if
Shabbos must be desecrated for a woman giving birth, if it is possible to
be Mechalel Shabbos with a Shinuy, then one should use a Shinuy. In other
cases of Piku'ach Nefesh, however, no effort is made to be Mechalel Shabbos
with a Shinuy. A Yoledes, the Mishnah Berurah explains, is a weaker degree
of danger since it is a naturally occurring and common situation which
normally does not result in death.
The RAMBAN might explain that even though there is no requirement to avoid
a situation which might require Chilul Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh,
nevertheless, the Chasidim ha'Rishonim avoided having children in Shabbos
since giving birth is a lesser degree of Piku'ach Nefesh. (That is, the
Ramban might agree that Shabbos is only Dechuyah when it comes to giving
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