SINCE THE SAGES DID NOT ENACT THE LAW IN ORDER TO ADD RESTRICTIONS BUT IN ORDER TO RELAX THEM.
However, there is a counter text – a beritah – a text from the Mishnaic era which did not make it into the final text. None-the-less, it carries weight:
But was it not taught: “The Sages did not enact the law in order to relax restrictions but in order to impose them?”
Well, that’s not easy to reconcile! Oh, don’t give up so easily:
Rabina replied. The meaning is: Not to relax restrictions in connection with Pentateuchal laws but to add restrictions to them; the laws of the Sabbath limits, however, are only Rabbinical.
Fascinating distinction – Torah laws are to be maintained strictly, Rabbinic laws are subject to more “liberal” interpretation.
This is similar to a discussion in the Mishanah found on Nidah 58b. But here it is Torah law interpreted rabbinicly. The discussion is of a woman who finds a bloodstain but there is doubt as to whether it is menstrual blood or not. If menstrual, she would be “unclean” which carries several restrictions. How do we deal with the doubt? Assume the more restrictive to be safe, or the less restrictive to give her more flexibility?
MISHNAH. [A WOMAN] MAY ATTRIBUTE [A BLOODSTAIN] TO ANY [EXTERNAL] CAUSE TO WHICH SHE CAN POSSIBLY ATTRIBUTE IT. IF [FOR INSTANCE] SHE HAD SLAIN A DOMESTIC BEAST, A WILD ANIMAL OR A BIRD, IF SHE WAS HANDLING BLOODSTAINS OR SAT BESIDE THOSE WHO HANDLED THEM. OR IF SHE KILLED A LOUSE. SHE MAY ATTRIBUTE THE BLOODSTAIN TO IT. . .
A WOMAN ONCE CAME TO R. AKIBA AND SAID TO HIM: I HAVE OBSERVED A BLOODSTAIN’. ‘HAD YOU PERHAPS’, HE SAID TO HER. ‘A WOUND?’ YES’. SHE REPLIED, ‘BUT IT HAS HEALED’. IS IT POSSIBLE HE AGAIN ASKED HER, THAT IT COULD OPEN AGAIN AND BLEED?’ ‘YES’, SHE REPLIED; AND R. AKIBA DECLARED HER CLEAN.
OBSERVING THAT HIS DISCIPLES LOOKED AT EACH OTHER IN ASTONISHMENT. HE SAID TO THEM, ‘ WHY DO YOU FIND THIS DIFFICULT, SEEING THAT THE SAGES DID NOT LAY DOWN THE RULE IN ORDER TO IMPOSE RESTRICTIONS BUT RATHER TO RELAX THEM, FOR IT IS SAID IN SCRIPTURE, AND IF A WOMAN HAVE AN ISSUE, AND HER ISSUE IN HER FLESH BE BLOOD.(Lev. 15:19) ONLY “BLOOD” BUT NOT A “BLOODSTAIN.”