The Laws of Nida – Basic Concepts and Requirements

Yom 5, 21-10-65 — 21 Teveth 5773
This is a very frustrating mitzvah for me! Although we do keep it fully. I’m so confused about many things regarding Taharat Mishpacha. Isn’t it true that when a woman is Niddah (or a Zava?), the first seven days are d’oreita, and the seven clean days are actually a machloket? Why is it that women can forgo the first seven days but never the second? The seven clean days seems so excessive to me!
In your view, must a woman wait 4 or 5 days before doing a hefsek tahara?
Is a moch dachuk necessary? I learned that it was a chumrah and never did them, personally.
I realize some of these things are “Sephardi v. Ashkenazi” and I’d like to know where you stand.
I also tend to have issues with staining and have trouble getting clean bedikot the first few days of the seven, so I’m always seeking out ‘leniencies.’
Very good news…
Regarding your other Questions: Min HaTora, a menstruating woman (i.e. at the usual time for her menstrual cycle) is ttame for 7 days, whether she saw blood for 1 day or up to and including 7 days. She must then peform a b’dhiqa, and at night, i.e. the beginning of the 8th day, she goes to the miqwe. Those 7 days are known as Y’me Nida. Where the bleeding continued beyond the initial 7 days, see below no.3.
If, however, blood is seen during the 11 days following those first 7 days (which occurred at the time of her usual menstrual cycle), it becomes more complicated. If she saw blood for 1 or 2 days, she must wait one clean day for every day of bleeding, and then go to the miqwe after performing a b’dhiqa. If she saw blood for 3 consecutive days, she must wait for the bleeding to cease, perform a b’dhiqa, and count 7 Clean Days before going to the miqwe on the night of the 8th day. Min HaTora, it is only in this case that a woman must count 7 Clean Days. These 11 days are known as Y’me Ziva, because only during these days can a woman become a Zava. After those 11 Y’me Ziva, i.e. after 18 days from the beginning of the usual menstrual cycle, any bleeding is considered Nida and not Ziva. (This is the view of all Rishonim. The view often attributed to Rambam is based on a corrupt text (as found, for example, in the very inaccurate Vilna edition) and is quite impossible. For the correct text, see MT Hilkhoth Isure Biya 6:5).
All of the above is min HaTora. Due to the possibility of confusion, the Hakhamim decreed that all bleeding be considered to have occurred during the 11 Y’me Ziva, which means that normal, menstrual bleeding that lasts 3 or more days must be followed by 7 clean days.
In addition, the Talmud informs us that Jewish women took upon themselves the added stringency of always counting 7 Clean Days after seeing even a drop of blood and no matter for how long the bleeding lasted (TB B’rakhoth 31a, M’ghila 28b and Nida 66a). See Rambam’s MT Hilkhoth Isure Biya 11:4,
These humroth (strictures) are understood by many today to be problematic. The humroth mentioned above can frequently result in ‘Halakhic infertility’, i.e. the woman missing her window of opportunity for conception due to ovulation occuring during the Seven Clean Days. This is a very serious issue on a number of levels, not the least of which is the demographic future of the Jewish people. On a different note, I have heard serious, God-fearing Jews state that the lengthy abstinence (usually 12 days or more) from marital relations can have a negative impact on the marriage. These issues cannot be swept under the carpet. I assume that when a critical mass within ‘Am Yisrael wake up and establish a Beth Din Gadhol, as is our duty according to the Tora (see Rambam’s MT Hilkhoth Sanhedrin 1:4), these issues will feature prominently on the agenda.
It is not necessary to wait 4 or 5 days before performing an Hephseq Tahara and starting to count the 7 Clean Days. If the menstrual bleeding lasted only 1-3 days and a b’diqa is performed and found to be clean, one may begin counting the 7 Clean Days immediately. See Rambam’s MT Isure Biya 11:13 and Hilkhoth Nida of Ra’ah 1:2.
A Mokh Dahuq (see Shulhan ‘Arukh YD 196:1) – a humra based on the recommendation of the Rashba (but not a requirement) and not mentioned by Hazal or other Rishonim – is unnecessary. (This is one more example of R. Yoseph Karo z’l not following the rules that he himself laid down in the introduction to his Beth Yoseph commentary on the Tur, in which he states that he will follow the unanimous or majority opinion of three Rishonim: Riph, Rambam and Rosh. None of these Rishonim require a Mokh Dahuq.)
May HASHEM bless you in all things
Rabbi David Bar-Hayim