A GUIDE TO THE LAWS OF
FAMILY PURITY

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Chapter Five

How a Nidah Purifies Herself

57. When a woman is a Nidah, what is the first step she must take in order to purify herself?

As soon as a woman sees blood (or a stain which is unclean), she immediately has all the laws applicable to a Nidah. In order to begin the process of purifying herself, she must first wait at least five days, counting the day she first saw blood as the first day. After waiting these five days, the woman can make her Hefsek Taharah examination in the late afternoon of the fifth day before sunset (see Question 63).

58. If a woman’s bleeding starts right before sunset, from when does she begin counting her five-day waiting period?

The five-day waiting period begins from the day the woman starts to experience bleeding, even if her period starts only a short while before sunset. Thus, if her period starts on Sunday in the late afternoon, Sunday is already considered as the first day. Sunday night would then begin Day #2, since according to Halachah the day begins with the previous evening. In this example, the woman could complete her five waiting days on Thursday in the late afternoon, before sunset.

59. If a woman only bleeds for a day or two, does she still have to first wait at least five days before she can begin the process of purification?

Yes. The custom among most Jews who are Ashkenazim is to wait at least five days. The custom among most Jews who are Sefardim is to first wait six days, and the custom among Yemenite Jews is to first wait seven days.

65. What is the Halachah if a woman is unable to complete her Hefsek Taharah examination before sunset?

If a woman is still staining and can not complete her Hefsek Taharah examination, some say that she can still examine herself up to a few minutes after sunset. However, there are many who say that an examination which is made even a second after sunset is invalid and has to be repeated the following day. It is, therefore, most advisable for a woman to make this examination at least 15-20 minutes before sunset. Since there are various opinions, however, if the woman does make the examination a few minutes after sunset, she should take note of the exact time and consult a competent Rav as to its validity.

In view of the above, it is obviously very important for every woman to know the time of sunset in her area. It should be noted that the time of sunset changes every day, and a chart should be obtained listing the exact time of sunset for each day in her local area.

73. How should the woman wash herself on Shabbos?
When washing herself on Shabbos, the woman may not use any kind of washcloth or sponge; she can only use her hands. In addition, she should not use a cake of soap; liquid soap may be used if desired. In case no warm is available, the woman may wash herself with cold water.
74. Is it permissible for a woman to go outside on Shabbos while wearing a sanitary napkin, a tampon, or while she has the Moch Dochuk inserted internally?
A woman is not allowed to go outside while wearing a sanitary napkin if she is wearing it for the purpose of keeping her cloths from getting dirty. Likewise, it is preferable not to go out with a tampon which is inserted internally if the purpose is to keep her cloths from getting dirty.

However, if her flow is heavy and the blood will dry up on her skin and cause pain, it is permissible to wear either a sanitary napkin or tampon outside.

It is permissible to go outside on Shabbos while wearing those sanitary napkins that are made with adhesive which stick to the woman's undergarments, even if the woman is wearing the sanitary napkin only to protect her clothing. It should be noted, however, that these napkins must be stuck onto the woman's undergarments before Shabbos, since it is prohibited to remove or to stick on new napkins on Shabbos itself.

While a woman has the Moch Dochuk examination cloth inserted, it is prohibited for her to go outside on Shabbos since it is considered carrying.

75. How should a woman make the Hefsek Taharah examination during the Nine Days?
During the nine days preceding Tisha BAv, bathing is normally prohibited. However, for the purpose of making a Hefsek Taharah examination, a woman is permitted to bathe herself in warm water and to make all the necessary preparations. However, on Tisha BAv itself, or on Yom Kippur, the woman should only wash the vaginal area, and a little between her legs.
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