Question:

I was recently told by someone that they’d heard the reason banot yisrael hechmiru to count sheva nekiim was not out of righteousness but because they were treated poorly by their husbands and were interested in more time of separation. I want to know if there’s any basis to this or if it’s a bunch of nonsense. I assume it’s a bunch of nonsense (and lashon hara against the nashim tzadkaniot and their husbands) and would like proofs of how to explain to my friend that this has no basis if that is the case. Thank you

Answer:

You can tell the person that what they heard is totally untrue and rediculous and whoever made it up is attempting to defame halacha or looking for an excuse not to keep it. There is absolutely no basis whatsoever for this and to be frank it is utter nonsense!

Let’s examine the sources where this minhag comes from. The Gemorah Nida 66b, and the Tur Yoreh Deah 183 explains that essentially Min Hatorah there are two distinct types of tuma when a woman sees blood. One is called Zava, and the other is called Nida. The way that it works is that there is a cycle of potential nida days and potential zava days, namely there are 7 nida days and then 11 zava days. Meaning, that if she sees on day 1 she is a nida, but if she sees on day 8 she will be a zava, if she sees on day 19 she is a nida, but on day 27 she is a zava. If a woman sees blood during “nida days” she is tameh for seven days, whether she sees just one drop of blood or if she sees for seven days straight. If she can make a hefsek at the end of the seventh day she can go to the mikvah that night and she is tahor. From day eight until day 18, if she sees even a drop of blood she is a zava. If she sees blood on three consecutive days, she has to watch herself for seven days and check to make sure that she isn’t bleeding anymore and only then may she go to the mikvah. This cycle of 7-11-7-11, continues until she has her next period, and then the cycle starts again.

It is very possible for things to get mixed up and she may make a mistake between day seven and day eight. For example if she sees something on day 7 and she isn’t sure if it is indeed blood, she may not know if her cycle starts again, and which day it really is. She can also get mixed up between the days for numerous reasons, and think that day 19 or 20 and it is nida days, when it is really day 16 and it is from the zava days. Or if she sees some blood on day 33 is she a nida or zava? She might get mixed up and think that she can go to the mikva, when she really had to count 7 days and without counting first going to the mikvah then will not help. Being that we are dealing with an issur kares, and a situation that can be potentially confusing therefore the woman- out of yiras shomayim, decided that it is worthwhile to be stringent, instead of chas v’shalom sinning. Therefore they decided that it is worthwhile for them to be machmir, and count seven days even if she sees only on drop of blood during nida days, in order to keep everything uniform without confusion. The sages, seeing that people would get confused agreed to the women and it became halacha. The reason that many are not familiar with these ideas is because this enactment negates the need to keep track of this cycle, therefore many people don’t even know that this idea exists. Getting back to our question; THIS is the reason why banot yisrael hechmiru.

Besides for this, it is totally unfounded that the women were treated poorly by their husbands. Who said that they weren’t happy? Who said that the ideas of the modern woman, and the Woman’s Liberation outlook on the world were shared by the women then? It is highly inaccurate for a person living in the year 2018, with a western worldview, to impose their worldview, and their preferences, and to assume that people that lived in a different country, and a different generation, (2000 years ago) that they also had their view. They lived under different conditions and had different goals in life.

If we try to understand the conditions of the olden day women, if anything, they would want to avoid being a nida at all costs. First of all, since a man could have more than one wife, each woman wanted as much time as possible with her husband, and not want to distance herself from him. Secondly, the women in olden times, for various reasons wore different clothing when they were a nida, and it is also doubtful that they would want to increase the time that she is a nida.

I hope that this has brought you a little more clarity on this topic.

Sources:

Sefer Hachinuch 207, Rabeinu Yona Brachos in pages of Rif 21b.

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