Baraita de-Niddah

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BARAITA DE-NIDDAH , ancient work on ritual purity of sectarian character, already known in the early geonic period. It is mentioned in Sefer ha-Mikẓa'ot (cited in Aggur, sect. 1, Or Zaru'a esct. 360), and in Naḥmanides' commentary (Gen. 31:35), and is referred to by German-French talmudists of the 13th century, who were probably only indirectly acquainted with it in a fragmentary fashion and were not clearly aware of its sectarian nature. It was published in 1890 by C.M. Horowitz. The baraita consists of aggadah and halakhah concerning the biblical and post-biblical laws of the menstruant woman (niddah; Lev. 15:19–33). There is no mention of any Babylonian scholars and the chronology of tannaim and amoraim is ignored. The tendency of the baraita is to oppose the lenient rulings of the school of *Hillel and of R. *Akiva. The account in the Talmud (Er. 13b; tj, Ber. 1:7, 3b) of a heavenly voice deciding in favor of the Hillelites is rendered in the baraita as follows: "Blessed be the strict. Both [Hillel and Shammai] speak the words of the living God; but we must regulate ourselves according to the teachings of the School of Shammai" (Horowitz, p. 21).

The baraita lays special stress on the laws of ritual cleanness, particularly with regard to food. B.M. Lewin (Metivot (1933), 108–12) points out that the stringencies referred to have no basis in the Talmud, but did exist among Jews in Ereẓ Israel. S. Lieberman, however, maintains that although some of the passages are difficult to understand and were not accepted as halakhah, a talmudic basis can be found for them (ibid., addition to paragraph 78, p. 115–8). He is of the opinion that the laws concerning ritual cleanness and uncleanness contained in the baraita come from a rabbinic source in Ereẓ Israel and not from the Samaritans or the Sadducees. There appears to have been a section of the community in Ereẓ Israel that laid great stress on the laws of cleanness, as is reflected in Samaritan literature. It is possible that this baraita originated within such a framework. However, there may also be Sabaeen influences reflected in it. Thus, Maimonides, who rejects several of the rulings listed in it, describes customs of the late Zoroastrians (Guide 3:47) which bear definite affinities to some customs mentioned in the baraita (cf. W.W. Malandra, An Introduction to Ancient Iranian Religion, 1986, pp. 173–75). Its exact authorship and date of composition remain uncertain to the present day.


C.M. Horowitz, Tosefata Attikata, 4 and 5 (1890). add. bibliography: S. Lieberman, Shekiin (1939); A. Aptowitzer, Meḥkarim be-Sifrut ha-Ge'onim, (1941), 166; Sefer ha-Ḥillukim, ed. M. Margaliot (1938), 135; M. Higger, Alim 3:3 (1938), 61–69; Y. Dinari, Tarbiz 49 (1980), 302–24; D. Sperber, Masekhet Derekh Ereẓ Zuta (1994), 136.

[Michael James Goldman /

Daniel Sperber (2nd ed.)]