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What kind of danger is posed to a woman who treads upon fingernails?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

Library » Life Cycle » Birth » Reproductive Issues | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The Talmud1   says that a miscarriage may occur if a pregnant woman steps on nails. Commentators offer various explanations for this phenomenon.


The following is one of them: According to the Midrash, when Adam and Eve were created, their entire bodies were protected from the elements by a keratinous shell-like covering which cleaved to their skin.


When Adam and Eve were created, their entire bodies were protected from the elements by a keratinous shell-like covering which cleaved to their skin
After they sinned and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, the protective shell was lost—remaining only at the edge of their fingers and toes.2  Since Eve bore primary responsibility for the sin, the (much diminished) fingernails became a means of retribution for her and her female descendants.


Interestingly, the Zohar3   says that men, too, should avoid stepping on nail parings.

Footnotes

  • 1. Niddah 17a (and Moed Katan 18a).
  • 2. For more information on this subject, see “What is the mystical significance of the morning hand-washing?”(http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/286,132974/What-is-the-mystical-significance-of-the-morning-hand-washing.html).
  • 3. Parshat Acharei.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Intimacy » Reproductive Issues
Women & Judaism » Women's Issues

Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.