להחזיר טהרה ליושנה לרכישת הספר
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In the almost 2,000 years that have passed since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the separation period between husbands and wives, limited originally to the days of menstruation, has been extended. This additional period has been accepted by Jews everywhere as a Halakhic norm, but only today as we emerge from a centuries long exile, do we realize the grave implications it had for the Jewish people. We know now that tens of thousands of potential babies were not born because of this stringency as it is one of the main reasons for sterility in the observant community.

Not only that, this stringency of counting seven clean, or pure, days between each menstrual period, which was a decision of Jewish women in Mishnaic times, bred severe problems of values, nationality, religiosity and gender. The additional separation between husband and wife, twice the period HaShem commanded us to keep, hurts relationships, causes marital strife and leads many couples to transgress midoraytra –biblical prohibitions punishable by death.

The artificial “seven pure days” period has distorted the role and functions of women and has alienated them from themselves. She is separated from her husband at the peak of the sexual desireand she conducts intimate and unnecessary procedures to ensure that she is pure, procedures that cause her physical and emotional damage. Furthermore, many Jewish couples around the world reject the concept of family purity because of the threat of excessive abstinence on a monthly basis. The “Halakhic” roller-coaster suggested today as a “solution” to the problem of religious sterility by feeding perfectly healthy women hormones they do not need, while risking their health and lives is another facet of the moral and ethical value of this atavistic stringency.

We now live in Israel in a time of redemption and renewal. It is time to pick ourselves, with the Divine Providence, from the dust of the exile and restore the throne of purity to its glory. There a new-old paved way to maintain the Jewish family with its purity and wholesomeness. It is a path of Torah which accommodates more freely healthy marital relationships. It is a path which gives room to breathe, procreate, thrive and rejoice. It is a path that will lead many more women to the Mikveh each month, a path of merit and positivity enabling women to be purer.

On the brink of despair and giving up on the laws of family purity which characterized the Jewish people throughout history, we offer a gate of hope and a prospect of keeping the Jewish family purely intact, to live a life of joy and love, without abandoning the fountains of faith and law. The nucleus of the nation is the family cell – a husband and wife. We have to observe the purity of the Jewish home according to the commandment of the Torah, and to distinguish between the regular Niddah – menstruation, requiring a separation of only seven days from the beginning of the period and between the very rare law of Zivah- a sexual disease, which requires the counting of seven clean days. This kind of observance can create a positive shockwave that will reverberate through the whole nation and will bring people closer to Torah. In this manner the “Eighth Day” will regain its status as a day of reunion between husband and wife, a day of Joy, a constant celebration of the re-inauguration of the Jewish home.

The change, as always, should come through a grassroots movement. We should eschew fear and have confidence and faith as we develop the freedom of thought and take personal responsibility on life. This will open the door for making wise and courageous decisions and to a personal and marital determination that will project its positive influence on the whole nation. The voice of the original Jewish soul will sound louder and louder. The Master, the One who leads in the long and winding road of our growth, the One who created joy and happiness, groom and bride, will smile down at his followers who were afraid to rejoice as if saying: “My dear children, this is what I was waiting for all this time.

Let us rejoice, measure for measure for the days of our torment and years of suffering… (Psalms 90)

Enough with Halakhic sterility and the suffering of couples!

Restore the Glory of purity to the Jewish people!

We do not wish to harm Halakha but to fortify it.

We would like to open with a clarification: we do not intend to disrespect Halakha, God forbid, as we have deep respect towards the Torah and its scholars in each and every generation. It is incumbent, however, upon every honest man to have faith in his qualities and to strive to do what is best in the eyes of God and humans alike. The knowledge we possess today as “dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants”, obligates us to rethink the “R. Zeira’s Humra”. In this regard we are the representatives of the early Sages. It is obvious that the decrees of the rabbis were the best suited for their time and age, but it is also obvious that if they were aware of the medical knowledge we possess today they would be the first to cancel this specific Humra. Our rabbis pursued the truth always and if they would have known that R’ Zeira’s Humra causes numerous and grave problems they would have stopped it. Among the problems we can count: the loss of tens of thousands of potential Jewish lives, marital strife, missing the peak days of mutual conjugal attraction, failures in keeping the law which destructive guilt and remorse, and the alienation of the majority of the Jews from observing family purity which leads to a greater abandonment of Torah and religion.

Already the Rishonim defined these laws as an “extreme Humra” and “Humra on top of Humra”

The holy Torah gives us a detailed guide of the family purity laws. Contrary to popular wisdom, the torah mandates a separation of only seven days from the beginning of the menstrual period, whereas for what is considered “Zivah Gedolah” (a bleeding of 3 or more days between the 8-18 of the menstrual cycle)a woman has to count seven clean days once the bleeding stops. Following a Humra created by women and introduced by R. Zeira in the Talmud, the practice today is to count seven clean days for any bleeding, not earlier than four days (for Sephardim) or five days (for Ashkenazim) after the bleeding started and provided that it has completely stopped. This ruling was defined by the early scholars (Rishonim, 11th-15th century) as an “extreme Humra” and “Humra on top of Humra”, but was eventually included as a final halakha in the Shulhan Arukh. Most observant people are oblivious to the fact that they keep the laws of “Zivah Gedolah” and not Niddah, which in turns doubles the length of the separation period between the husband and wife to two weeks every month.
In the past the consequences of this Humra were unknown. Today with the advancement of diagnostic tools we know that 22% of the menstrual cycles in the observant population are sterile cycles. In about 21% of these cycles ovulation occurs before the 12th day and if the first day when conjugal relationships are allowed is the 13th then the probability of non-pregnancy in that cycle rises to 41%. For 3-4% of the couples ovulation will always occur before the day of the Mikveh and they will forever remain sterile. This phenomenon is called Halakhic sterility, which is an artificial, self-imposed sterility which is the responsible for 25% of sterility problems in the observant community. An even higher percentage will have problems in starting a pregnancy which will cause the pregnancies to be further removed from each other and for the couple to have less kids then they had planned.
Besides the transgression of the first commandment in the Torah: be fruitful and multiply, there are other grave consequences of this Humra. Couples with short cycles can experience intimacy during only one third of their shared lives, which can be detrimental to Shelom Bayit. We must keep in mind that during these days the woman’s desire peaks because of the rising levels of estrogen and testosterone preceding ovulation. Not bringing conjugal intimacy to fruition specifically on those days is tantamount to castration for many women, which will also have a long term destructive implications on the couple’s life.
Not only that, the intimate check-ups during the seven clean days cause bruises, wounds and bleeding which require invasive gynecological procedures to locate the source of bleeding. These procedures further undermine the woman’s autonomy, her control on her body and her modesty, and add to the alienation between the spouses. Many couples also transgress grave prohibitions due to the lengthy separation period, either by forgoing the Mikveh completely or by having relations before the Mikveh. It turns out that the stringency in rabbinical laws lead to leniency in Biblical laws. Add to this the countless lives lost because of this stringency, all of their potential offspring, and the thousands of women who were divorced because of their “sterility” and the problem gains catastrophic dimensions.

Halakhic Passiveness

Halakhic authorities ignore the problem, and roll the ball to the medical field by recommending estrogen hormones under the pretext that the woman suffers from “early ovulation” (as opposed to late Mikveh, God forbid…). Another solution offered to these unfortunate couples is artificial insemination. Beyond the question whether the Torah should requires such artificial tools to guarantee simple observance there is the problem of medical intervention in the lives of perfectly healthy people which distorts the miraculous apparatus of the woman’s body. Estrogen is defined by the World Health Organization as a potential carcinogen (especially for breast cancer). Additionally this “treatment” can cause other side effects including brain tumors, blood clots in the legs and lungs, headaches, abdominal pain, mood swings and general discomfort.
In light of all this it is obvious that we are dealing with a non-moral solution which is diametrically opposed to the biblical commandments of “protect your life” and “do not put a stumbling block in the path of the blind”.Artificial insemination is not life endangering but here also the question is whether the Torah mandates masturbation for procreation and is it fitting to use such an invasive procedure, with all the physical and emotional pain involved, not to mention the assault on the woman’s intimacy?
But this is not the end of the story. Newly wed couples who find that they cannot have children sometimes will wait for months and even years before realizing that their sterility is not real but rather Halakhic and stems from going to the Mikveh after ovulation. A similar situation is widespread among couples in their thirties who want to have more children and could spend years waiting until their Halakhic problem is clarified. It is important to emphasize that the frequency rises in women over 35 years old who have much shorter cycles. The Talmud clearly states that it is forbidden to make decrees and follow stringencies which might cause diminution of fertility, and it is even allowed to avoid fulfilling another mitzvah in order to keep the “greater mitzvah” of be fruitful and multiply. According to the Talmud Joshua was punished for preventing the Israelites from procreation for one night, and his punishment was to die childless. How many nights do tens of thousands of Jews spend without being able to procreate because of this stringency!

Grassroots Movement is the Answer

At the present the clamoring for acknowledgement of the new reality and the demand to restore the glory of purity by distinguishing between Niddah and Zivah according the biblical law is hitting a brick wall erected by most Halakhic authorities. Their arguments are the “slippery slope”, “undermining the faith in the Rabbis”, “inability to distinguish between different emissions” and a “minhag that took root”. These are all serious arguments but they can be dealt with by using Halakhic tools, an approach thoroughly explained in ”Tahorah LeYoshnah”. It is well known secret rabbis allow many couples to go to the Mikveh earlier for several reasons. Among them are those where one spouse is less observant than the other, those rediscovering Judaism, couples who suffer long separation periods because of the husband’s military service and those who suffer from Halakhic sterility. Halakhic authorities also agree that when the Temple will be rebuilt the Humra of R. Zeira according to which all women are Zavah will be cancelled because a Zavah has to bring a sacrifice following the seven clean days and it is inconceivable that all women will bring a sacrifice every month. The sad and inevitable conclusion is that the inability of Poskim to deal with this important issue with all the pain and suffering it causes stems from fear and from political consideration.
Great Poskim in recent times addressed the Humra instituted by Jewish women and to the Halakhic sterility and marital strife caused by it. The author of Galya Masekeht writes: “the origin of R. Zeira’s Humra is not Halakhic… you could clearly override it with ease… whenever there is a reason to be lenient”. Rabbi A.Y.H. Kook writes: “all these seven days are mere stringency and a rabbinical prohibition of a much lesser degree because it is known to be a minhag initiated by Jewish women, therefore lacking rabbinic authority”. Rabbi Y.Z. Gustman writes: “where this Humra causes sterility… and marital strife, it is obvious that the Humra excluded from its inception those cases… Maimonides also considers this minhag an excessive stringency which insinuates that where there are problems of sterility it does not apply…” It is hard to understand why the determined voice of these great rabbis remains unheard and why don’t contemporary rabbis use their rulings to alleviate the pain and agony of tens of thousands of families.
Reality teaches us that we face a decree the public cannot keep up with. Greta numbers of good people absolve themselves from keeping the laws of family purity because of the difficulties involved. Even observant couples who endure the decree feel intense emotional pain and many of them report physical and spiritual problems. Our Torah is a Torah of life and joy! It is true that the Mitzvoth can entail a concept of burden, yoke and responsibility but not to the extent of causing women depression for lack of a physical, human and supportive touch of her husband. It is also an extreme approach which breeds sterility, fights, anxiety of emissions and compulsive obsession with intimate cleansing. We are not dealing with lustful desire but with a basic need of loving and supporting intimacy between spouses, even more necessary in our detached generation.
The additional separation cannot be compared to stringencies such as waiting between meat and dairy or not eating legumes on Pesach. These will cause no harm if we keep the way our forefathers did, and they teach us restraint. The Humra of Jewish women regarding Niddah, o the other hand, is not about restraint, it goes against the Torah’s intention! Niddah is a normal physiological phenomenon worlds apart from Zivah which is a natural anomaly requiring caution, isolation and diagnosis.
Why is it that today as the Halakhic world is being exposed to the full scope of the problem the rabbis choose to ignore it, pass the burden to other disciplines, idolize a terrible historical error and attack those who ask for reevaluation? An honest person will identify here fear and hypocrisy, because only those who are not secure in their ways will reject an opposing opinion and will not enable his students to hear it. As we have seen, in order to bring marital harmony a mitzvah can be cancelled and even erase God’s name. Why is it that even those who are willing to honestly help the agonized couples must do so in total secrecy and “personal Halakhic ruling”?

We are strict and not lenient!

After weighing all the arguments and evidence here presented it is obvious that to be strict on “Seven clean days is to be lenient on “be fruitful and multiply”. To be strict on bleeding caused by unnecessary intimate check-ups is to be lenient on Shelom Bayit. To be strict on an issue that is questionably rabbinical is to be lenient on issues of purity and transgressions that bear that death penalty. We, who demand a change, are the strict ones. We are strict on issues the people really need: fertility, marital harmony, intimacy and love between spouses, women’s dignity and bringing everyone closer to Judaism. All these will help us achieve the lofty goal of serving God with joy and happiness as we are commanded in the Torah.
The Jewish people and especially Jewish women have healthy life energy which create and shape reality. Renewed thinking and understanding on this matter slowly permeates the public consciousness. Many women, meticulously observant are sick and tired of feeding harmful to their body or enduring artificial insemination. Many others, observant and God fearing as ell are incensed by the ongoing corrosion of marital harmony and the clinging to unnatural methods which contradict the Torah and the human condition. When they realized that there is no leadership they took matters into their hands with their spouse and reclaimed responsibility to their life and health.
We want to issue a call to the Halakhic leadership: be true leaders! Solve the problem with appropriate religious and Halakhic courage! It is time to defend Torah and Judaism! The Torah empowers humans to lead processes and to constantly reflect and improve in light of changing reality. The question is whether the change will come through courageous Halakhic leaders or through the public and conscientious lay leaders.
Tehora website, introduced with love, enables every Jewish family to fully learn and analyze the matter and to make the right decisions that will benefit us, the Jewish people and the Jewish faith.

Who Are We?

Dr. Daniel Rosenak

Daniel RosenakDr. Daniel Rosenak is a father and a grandfather who serves for over 20years as a senior Ob-Gyn, first in Bikkur Holim and then in the Mount Scopus Hadassah Medical center. During all that time he dedicated his time to community medical work, especially among the religious and orthodox public. As part of his medical expertise in which he specialized, especially ultrasound and systems research, he dedicates time and efforts to the issue of Halakhic sterility and has published articles on the subject in medical publications and general media. As a religious Ob-Gyn Dr. Rosenak has been exposed to the suppressed cry out of the numerous couples who wish to be observant but fail in confronting the many stringencies. He also learned of the devastating consequences of the Halakhic sterility stemming from going to the Mikveh after the ovulation, the damage caused by taking unnecessary hormones recommended by rabbis, the destructive feelings of shame and guilt among those who could not keep up with the religious pressure, the erosion of marital harmony and to the diminishing self-dignity of women. His research and engagement with the subject in the medical and public arena help raise awareness to the suffering and agony caused to many couples because of certain stringencies and Halakhic sterility.

Tehora07@gmail.com

Rivka Shimon

Rvka ShimonRivka Shimon is a rabbanit, a mother and grandmother who guides brides before their marriage on Halakhic and marital harmony issues. She is a publicist and a volunteer in Yoshfeh organization. She aspires to restore to its glory the purity observance among Jewish women

rivkash6@gmail.com.

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