ד׳ באב ה׳תשע״ב (July 23, 2012)

Nidda 63a-b: The Effects of Onion and Garlic on Menstruation

 

We have learned that many women have an established veset kavu’ah – a regular menstrual cycle that allows them to predict with some accuracy when they will experience their menses (see daf 5). The Mishna on today’s daf discusses the concept of a veset ha-guf, where the woman knows to expect that she will menstruate because of some physical exertion that she performs. The Mishna teaches:

These are the symptoms of settled periods: If the woman yawns, sneezes, feels pain at the top of her stomach or the bottom of her bowels, discharges, or is seized by a kind of shivering, or any other similar symptoms. Any woman who established for herself one of the symptoms three times may be deemed to have a settled period.

In explanation of the Mishna’s statement that “any other similar symptoms” will also be considered a settled veset ha-guf, Abaye says “it was intended to include one who ate garlic and observed a discharge, one who ate onions and observed a discharge, and one who chewed pepper and observed a discharge.”

The Mishna needs to present a statement that includes eating these foods, since this experience is qualitatively different that the others listed in the Mishna. The Mishna describes involuntary physical events that cause a bodily reaction. Eating onions or garlic is a deliberate action that leads to a natural, albeit unintended outcome in this particular woman’s case. In this way, this veset ha-guf also differs from voluntary activities such as jumping, which may also establish a veset ha-guf under certain circumstances (see daf 11). In many contexts, the effects of jumping would be considered an ones – something that is beyond an individual’s control – while eating is such a natural event that any after-effects would not be considered an ones.

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