Contemporary Issues In Halakha: Laws Of Family Purity, Sources Part 1

טהרת המשפחה

The Laws of Family Purity
Source Sheet I

1) ויקרא פרק טו

(יט) וְאִשָּׁה כִּי תִהְיֶה זָבָה דָּם יִהְיֶה זֹבָהּ בִּבְשָׂרָהּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תִּהְיֶה בְנִדָּתָהּ וְכָל הַנֹּגֵעַ בָּהּ יִטְמָא עַד הָעָרֶב:

(כ) וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁכַּב עָלָיו בְּנִדָּתָהּ יִטְמָא וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר תֵּשֵׁב עָלָיו יִטְמָא:

(כא) וְכָל הַנֹּגֵעַ בְּמִשְׁכָּבָהּ יְכַבֵּס בְּגָדָיו וְרָחַץ בַּמַּיִם וְטָמֵא עַד הָעָרֶב:

(כב) וְכָל הַנֹּגֵעַ בְּכָל כְּלִי אֲשֶׁר תֵּשֵׁב עָלָיו יְכַבֵּס בְּגָדָיו וְרָחַץ בַּמַּיִם וְטָמֵא עַד הָעָרֶב:

(כג) וְאִם עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּב הוּא אוֹ עַל הַכְּלִי אֲשֶׁר הִוא יֹשֶׁבֶת עָלָיו בְּנָגְעוֹ בוֹ יִטְמָא עַד הָעָרֶב:

(כד) וְאִם שָׁכֹב יִשְׁכַּב אִישׁ אֹתָהּ וּתְהִי נִדָּתָהּ עָלָיו וְטָמֵא שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וְכָל הַמִּשְׁכָּב אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב עָלָיו יִטְמָא:

1) Leviticus 15

(19) When a woman has a discharge, her discharge being blood from her body, she shall remain in her impurity seven days; whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.

(20) Anything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; and anything that she sits on shall be unclean.

(21) Anyone who touches her bedding shall wash his clothes, bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening.

(22) And anyone who touches any object on which she has sat shall wash his clothes, bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening.

(23) Be it bedding or be it the object on which she has sat, on touching it shall be unclean until evening.

(24) And if a man lies with her, her impurity is communicated to him; he shall be unclean seven days, and any bedding on which he lies shall become unclean.

(כה) וְאִשָּׁה כִּי יָזוּב זוֹב דָּמָהּ יָמִים רַבִּים בְּלֹא עֶת נִדָּתָהּ אוֹ כִי תָזוּב עַל נִדָּתָהּ כָּל יְמֵי זוֹב טֻמְאָתָהּ כִּימֵי נִדָּתָהּ תִּהְיֶה טְמֵאָה הִוא:

(כו) כָּל הַמִּשְׁכָּב אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁכַּב עָלָיו כָּל יְמֵי זוֹבָהּ כְּמִשְׁכַּב נִדָּתָהּ יִהְיֶה לָּהּ וְכָל הַכְּלִי אֲשֶׁר תֵּשֵׁב עָלָיו טָמֵא יִהְיֶה כְּטֻמְאַת נִדָּתָהּ:

(כז) וְכָל הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּם יִטְמָא וְכִבֶּס בְּגָדָיו וְרָחַץ בַּמַּיִם וְטָמֵא עַד הָעָרֶב:

(כח) וְאִם טָהֲרָה מִזּוֹבָהּ וְסָפְרָה לָּהּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וְאַחַר תִּטְהָר:

(כט) וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי תִּקַּח לָהּ שְׁתֵּי תֹרִים אוֹ שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי יוֹנָה וְהֵבִיאָה אוֹתָם אֶל הַכֹּהֵן אֶל פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד:

(ל) וְעָשָׂה הַכֹּהֵן אֶת הָאֶחָד חַטָּאת וְאֶת הָאֶחָד עֹלָה וְכִפֶּר עָלֶיהָ הַכֹּהֵן לִפְנֵי יְקֹוָק מִזּוֹב טֻמְאָתָהּ:

(25) When a woman has had a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity, or when she has a discharge beyond her period of impurity, she shall be unclean, as though at the time of her impurity, as long as her discharge lasts.

(26) Any bedding on which she lies while her discharge lasts shall be for her like bedding during her impurity; and any object on which she sits shall become unclean, as it does during her impurity.

(27) Whoever touches them shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes, bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening.

(28) When she becomes clean of her discharge, she shall count off seven days, and after that she shall be clean.

(29) On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.

(30) The priest shall offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering; and the priest shall make expiation on her behalf, for her unclean discharge, before the Lord.

•Background: The Rabbis learn from the phrase ימים רבים “many days” that verse 25 refers to a זבה גדולה who experiences bleeding for at least 3 days. If the woman experiences bleeding for less than “many days,” in other words one or two days, she is a זבה קטנה and must wait one day if she bled for one day and two days if she bled for two days.

Questions: Read chapter 15 in its entirety. Verses 1-18 deal with the Israelite male and verses 19-30 (reproduced above) deal with the Israelite female. What are the two types of situations described regarding the male and what are the two types of situations regarding the female? How is each person rendered “pure” in each situation and how long does this process take?

ויקרא פרק טו

(לא) וְהִזַּרְתֶּם אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִטֻּמְאָתָם וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ בְּטֻמְאָתָם בְּטַמְּאָם אֶת מִשְׁכָּנִי אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹכָם:

(לב) זֹאת תּוֹרַת הַזָּב וַאֲשֶׁר תֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע לְטָמְאָה בָהּ:

(לג) וְהַדָּוָה בְּנִדָּתָהּ וְהַזָּב אֶת זוֹבוֹ לַזָּכָר וְלַנְּקֵבָה וּלְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב עִם טְמֵאָה:

Leviticus 15

(31) You shall put the Israelites on guard against their uncleanness, lest they die through their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle which is among them.

(32) Such is the ritual concerning him who has a discharge: concerning him who has an emission of semen and becomes unclean thereby,

(33) and concerning her who is in menstrual infirmity, and concerning anyone, male or female, who has a discharge, and concerning a man who lies with an unclean woman.

2) תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף סד עמוד ב

כדתניא: “והדוה בנדתה” (ויקרא ט”ו:לג), זקנים הראשונים אמרו: שלא תכחול ולא תפקוס ולא תתקשט בבגדי צבעונין, עד שבא רבי עקיבא ולימד: אם כן אתה מגנה על בעלה, ונמצא בעלה מגרשה. אלא מה תלמוד לומר “והדוה בנדתה” – בנדתה תהא עד שתבא במים.

2) Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 64b

As has been taught, “Concerning her who is in menstrual infirmity,” the early elders decreed that she may neither apply eye makeup nor rouge nor adorn herself with colorful clothing, until Rabbi Akiva came and taught: If so, you will make her repulsive to her husband and her husband will consequently divorce her! Rather, what does the Torah mean to say “Concerning her who is in menstrual infirmity”? The she remains in her niddah until she comes in water.

3) רש”י מסכת שבת דף סד עמוד ב

בנדתה – היו דורשין הראשונים כמשמעו, כדבר המנודה ומרחיקה מבעלה.

תהא בנדתה – בטומאתה.

עד שתבא במים – לטבול, ואף על פי שעברו שבעה שלה, ופסק מעיינה.

3) Rashi

In her niddah – the early (elders) expounded according to its literal meani, which is setting apart and distancing from her husband.

In her niddah until – in her tumah (forbid/impure)

Until she comes in water – to immerse, and even though seven days already passed, and her flowing ceased.


What does R. Akiva add that we wouldn’t have necessarily understood from the Torah? How does his understanding of niddah in this context differ from that of the early elders? How does each side learn their positions?

4) ויקרא פרק יח

(יט) וְאֶל אִשָּׁה בְּנִדַּת טֻמְאָתָהּ לֹא תִקְרַב לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָתָהּ:

4) Leviticus 18

(19) Do not come near a woman during her period of uncleanness to uncover her nakedness.

(כט) כִּי כָּל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה מִכֹּל הַתּוֹעֵבוֹת הָאֵלֶּה וְנִכְרְתוּ הַנְּפָשׁוֹת הָעֹשֹׂת מִקֶּרֶב עַמָּם:

(29) All who do any of these abhorrent things – such persons shall be cut off from their people.

5) ויקרא פרק כ:יח

וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת אִשָּׁה דָּוָה וְגִלָּה אֶת עֶרְוָתָהּ אֶת מְקֹרָהּ הֶעֱרָה וְהִיא גִּלְּתָה אֶת מְקוֹר דָּמֶיהָ וְנִכְרְתוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם מִקֶּרֶב עַמָּם:

5) Leviticus 20:18

If a man lies with a woman in her infirmity and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has exposed her blood flow; both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

Questions: Read chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus to see how these verses fit into the context. If Leviticus chapter 15 was about purity, what title would you give to these chapter? Why do you think the observance of niddah continue after Temple times, whereas the other purity rituals outlined in chapter 15 ceased to exist?