Bikkurim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two

 

Introduction

In this mishnah we learn in what ways a hermaphrodite is halakhically treated like a man.

 

Mishnah Two

In what ways is he like men?

1)      He causes impurity with white discharge, like men;

2)      He dresses like men;

3)      He can take a wife but not be taken as a wife, like men.

4)      [When he is born] his mother counts the blood of purification, like men;

5)      He may not be secluded with women, like men.

6)      He is not maintained with the daughters, like men;

7)      He transgresses the law of: “You shall not round” (Leviticus 19:27) and “You shall not defile for the dead,” (Leviticus 21:1) like men;

8)      And he must perform all the commandments of the Torah, like men.

 

Explanation

Section one: A zav is a man who has had an abnormal genital discharge. This discharge is white in color, like an egg white. The color of a woman’s abnormal genital discharge, which makes her into a zavah, is not white. A hermaphrodite becomes a zav if he has a white discharge, whereas a woman who had a white discharge would not.

Section two: The Torah prohibits a man from dressing like a woman and a woman from dressing like a man. The hermaphrodite must dress like a man.

Section three: When it comes to marriage, the hermaphrodite is treated like a man—he can marry a woman, but he cannot be married by a man.

Section four: When a boy is born, his mother is impure for seven days. After this seven day period, if she has discharges of blood during the next 33 days, the blood is treated as pure. These amounts are double for a girl (Leviticus 12:2-5). A hermaphrodite is treated like a boy and his mother counts the blood of purification for 33 days. Note that this is a stringency—after 33 days, any blood she sees is considered impure.

Section five: A hermaphrodite may not be secluded with women, just as men may not (see Kiddushin 4:12).

Section six: When a man dies, his daughters are maintained by his estate until they are either married or reach maturity. Boys, on the other hand, are not maintained. Since the hermaphrodite is not considered a female, he is not maintained.

Section seven:  The two prohibitions mentioned here, not to round the corners of one’s head and for priests not to intentionally become impure by contact with the dead, apply only to men. They apply to hermaphrodites as well.

Section eight: Men are obligated in all of the commandments, unlike women who are exempt from positive, time-bound commandments. Hermaphrodites are obligated for all of the commandments, like men.

 

 

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