Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bechorot 21b

The Gemara takes it for granted that the typical [Talmudic] sage will be unable to derive necessary physiological information about an animal by examining the discharge from its womb; only a shepherd is expert enough to ascertain the required information.

תלמוד בבלי, בכורות כא, ב (פרוייקט השו"ת, אוניברסיטת בר-אילן, 2008); ז"ל

היכי דמי טינוף? אמר רבא: כדאמרי רעותא דצלתא אצר חיותא, ושמואל אמר: בעבועי דדמא. וצריך להראותו לחכם; חכם מנא ידע? אמר רב פפא: רועה חכם. עכ"ל

What is the discharge [from the womb] like?—Rab said: As the shepherds of Zaltha said: The womb closes up. Samuel said: Casting up blood. And he is required to show it to a wise man [Sage] [to ascertain whether there was an embryo and thus to be exempted from the law of the firstling]. How does a wise man know?—Said R. Papa: [What is meant is] a wise shepherd.

[Translation from The Babylonian Talmud, Seder Kodashim Vol. Bekoroth-`Arakin, R. L. Miller and Maurice Simon, trans. London: Soncino, 1948.]

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