1

There is a Talmudic term I've heard mentioned in passing but have not been able to locate. It relates to the concept of a person who is especially sensitive to physical discomfort in situations such as fasting; I think such a person was referred to as an "istus."

Could anyone help me locate sources on this concept? Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    I think the term you're looking for is 'Istenis'. A search of the word on Sefaria brings quite a few results, you'll have to be more specific on what you're looking for if you want something more specific: sefaria.org/… – Salmononius2 Jul 15 at 1:13
  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Can I recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works? Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Jul 15 at 4:14
6

I am not aware of an istus but there a closely related concept word: an istenis is indeed a delicate person. It appears in a number of different contexts in the Talmud, for instance

  • someone who is disgusted by drinking from a cup where someone else drank (Tamid 27b)
  • someone too delicate to work (Sotah 11a)
  • someone too delicate to bathe in cold water (Yoma 31b and Yoma 34b)
  • an overly sensitive person whose days are made worse from constantly encountering unpleasant situations (Sanhedrin 100b and Bava Batra 145b)

I did not find a use of this term in relation to difficulties in fasting though.

4

An example of this occurs in the Mishnah in Berachot 16b:

רחץ לילה הראשון שמתה אשתו אמרו לו תלמידיו למדתנו רבינו שאבל אסור לרחוץ אמר להם איני כשאר בני אדם אסטניס אני

[RABBAN GAMALIEL] BATHED ON THE FIRST NIGHT AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE. HIS DISCIPLES SAID TO HIM: YOU HAVE TAUGHT US, SIR, THAT A MOURNER IS FORBIDDEN TO BATHE. HE REPLIED TO THEM: I AM NOT LIKE OTHER MEN, BEING VERY DELICATE.

(Soncino translation, capitals in original)

This translation more or less accords with Rashi's explanation:

והוא אדם מעונג ומפונק

Rambam, however, in his commentary to that Mishnah explains that "istenis" refers to someone whose body is cold:

ופירוש אסטניס שגופו מצונן נגזר מן צנה אע"פ שנכתב בסמך וזה מצוי הרבה בשפות

In most cases the term seems to be used more along the lines of Rashi's definition, but Rambam's interpretation is perhaps supported by the Mishnah in Yoma 31b which says that if the Kohen Gadol is old or an "istenis" we warm up the cold water for him:

אם היה כ"ג זקן או איסטניס מחמין לו חמין ומטילין לתוך הצונן כדי שתפיג צינתן

0

There is an effect for being an "istanis" during a fast, but not on fasting itself.

During Tisha Be'ev fast, one may not wear leather shoes. Some Poskim forbid all comfortable shoes because they are like leather shoes, But Rabbi Shlomo Oiyrbach allows because nowadays we all "istanis" (הליכות שלמה ה, טז-יז).

  • Shalom Alaychem, welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Jul 17 at 12:30
  • @mbloch. I read that now... can explain why is the hate for my answer? – Alaychem Jul 18 at 5:33
  • I didn’t downvote but I think those who did felt you didn’t answer the question. The question asked for Talmudic sources for istus (or istanis). Your answer is related but doesn’t provide what the original poster was asking for. At least that is how I explain the downvotes – mbloch Jul 18 at 5:36
  • @mbloch The OP didn't ask for Talmudic sources, He just said that the term is Talmudic – Alaychem Jul 18 at 5:38

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