An Introduction to Rabbi Zera’s Reporting of Jewish Women’s Enstringing Upon Themselves
Eight years ago, in my second year of rabbinical school, I got very fascinated by a particular topic and subsequently endeavored in much research. While I had hoped (and still hope) to write an article on the topic, it seems that is not in the cards at the moment. However, the general topic of laws surrounding menstruation in the Talmud and Jewish law is fascinating and I have decided to publish various of these thoughts here.
Many of these posts center around one particular text, the following (bNiddah 66a):
אמר רבי זירא בנות ישראל החמירו על עצמן שאפילו רואות טפת דם כחרדל יושבות עליה שבעה נקיים
Rabbi Zera said: “Daughters of Israel have enstringed upon themselves that, even seeing a drop of blood like a mustard seed, they sit upon it seven clean ones.”
While, in and of itself, it may not seem a particularly noteworthy statement, it ends up being pointed to as the most massive rupture to Jewish practice concerning menstruation(/menstrual impurity). In forthcoming posts, I hope to deal with various elements of not only the statement, but also its precedents and reception.