Niddah 25 - Gravedigger

If a woman aborts an embryo full of water, full of blood, or full of multicolored matter, this is not considered birth, and she does not receive the impurity of childbirth. There is no need to suspect that perhaps there was a more fully developed child, but it got disintegrated. However, if the limbs of the baby began to be developed - but the gender cannot as yet be determined - she must observe the overlapping periods of childbirth impurity, then childbirth purity with the stringency of both a female and a male child.

Abaye said rhetorically, "How much wine does the mother have to drink for the child to dissolve?" He meant that it is impossible, and there was no child. Abba Shaul said, "I was a gravedigger, and I saw that bones of those who drink very strong wine get burned, bones of those to who drink overdiluted wine are dry, and bones of those who drink proper wine are well lubricated."

He continued with a fantastic story. "I was a gravedigger and once ran after a deer, and entered into a thighbone of a corpse. I pursued the deer for about ten miles, and I never reached the deer nor the end of the thighbone. I retraced my steps, and was later told that this was the thigh bone of Og, the King of Bashan, the last of the race of giants who lived in the Land of Israel in early Biblical times ." Talmud concludes that one should not think that Abba Shaul was a midget, for he was the tallest man of his generation. The Talmud then continues to recount previous generations who were even taller. There is allegorical meaning in all these stories.

Art: Charles Frederick Lowcock - The Grave Digger