Rambam vs. Ramban on niddah and zivah
9 August, 2006
Was mainstream practice to follow Rambam or Ramban in interpretation of the 7/11 cycle – i.e. continuously from first menstruation or anew each month? If it was Rambam, is this a reason the bnot Israel took on the extra days, because counting was so difficult? ( I know they were before Rambam, but perhaps they followed the same shita). If the Ramban were the mainstream, why would bnot Israel have taken on the humra – it is not so hard to count starting with 7 days of niddah each month.
Are there any other repercussions to this machloket or reasons to introduce Rambam or explain him if his view is/was not mainstream (ie in Middle Ages)?
The Ramban's explanation was accepted, largely because it is difficult to be sure of what the Rambam really meant and how it would work in practice. The difficulties of counting on a d'orayta level, even according to Ramban, were compounded by the lack of expertise in assessing which colors of blood rendered a woman temeiah and which did not. A woman could bleed six days, thinking she had gone through six days of niddah when in fact she only began having blood that would render her niddah on day five. Counting and differentiating between niddah and zavah days would thus be more difficult. There could also be an issue in assessing zavah days with blood that was seen bein hashmashot.
The Rambam's view is most interesting on a theoretical level and in order to bring into relief the implications of the Ramban's view (for example, that one cannot be a niddah and zavah simultaneously). We would not recommend getting into it unless teaching in great depth.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.