By Chaya T. Halberstam

ISBN-10: 0253354110

ISBN-13: 9780253354112

"Adds an immense point to our knowing of rabbinic criminal considering in particular, in addition to to our realizing of rabbinic sensibilities and rabbinic piety in general." -- Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, Stanford collage

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Sample text

Can be made to disappear as if by magic. In the last chapter, we saw how the rabbinic rules of evidence could intervene in the relationships people have with their bodies, creating skepticism where the Bible defers to intuitive knowledge, and providing legal facts to resolve the resulting cases of doubt. In this chapter, another relationship is examined: the relationships between people and things, given legal significance through the concept of property. Specifically, this chapter will explore the question of whether and under what circumstances lost property must be returned.

At first, Mishnah Niddah appears to set up a standard of “reasonable doubt” to determine the ritual status of the stain and the woman herself. If it is reasonable to assume that the blood came from a source other than menstrual flux, the rabbis permit such an attribution to be made. The mishnah states: A. She may assign [the cause of the bloodstain] to anything she can possibly assign it to. B.  And she may assign it to her son or to her husband. C. If she had a wound that could open up and let out blood, she may assign it to that.

Aqiba to disassociate these two physical permutations of menstrual blood, creating, in essence, a legal dissimilarity if not a real one. While the bloodstain is, in a real and scientific sense, blood, in a semantic sense it is different from blood in that inherent in the term is an evidentiary nuance: the bloodstain is not blood in that it is the trace or residue of blood, the evidence or sign of blood. It is as if R. Aqiba, in noting that the biblical text writes “dam” and not “ketem,” recognizes that the Bible is indeed unconcerned with evidentiary issues, assuming direct knowledge of the thing itself—the Bible does not discuss the ketem, the evidence of blood, but instead dam, blood itself.

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Law and Truth in Biblical and Rabbinic Literature by Chaya T. Halberstam


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