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ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Issurei Biah - Chapter Eleven

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Issurei Biah - Chapter Eleven

1

All of what was said with regard to [the laws of] niddah, zivah, and childbirth applies with regard to Scriptural Law. [The Jews] would follow these laws when the Supreme Sanhedrin held sessions and it included great sages who were familiar with [the types of] blood. If a doubt arose [for the lesser judges] with regard to the discovery of blood or the days of niddah and zivah, they could ascend to the Supreme Sanhedrin and ask them. As the Torah promised concerning them [Deuteronomy 17:8]: "If a matter of judgment is unknown to you concerning one type of blood or another, or one judgment and anotherו [you shall ascend to the place that God shall choose]."1

["Concerning one type of blood or another"] means "between the blood of niddah and the blood of zivah. In that era, Jewish women would be careful concerning this matter and would pay attention to their monthly patterns and would always count the "days of niddah" and the "days of zivah."

א

כָּל שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ בְּנִדָּה וְזָבָה וְיוֹלֶדֶת הוּא דִּין תּוֹרָה. וּכְמִשְׁפָּטִים אֵלּוּ הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין כְּשֶׁהָיוּ בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל מְצוּיִין וְהָיוּ שָׁם חֲכָמִים גְּדוֹלִים שֶׁמַּכִּירִים הַדָּמִים וְאִם נוֹלַד לָהֶם סָפֵק בִּרְאִיּוֹת אוֹ בִּימֵי נִדָּה וְזִיבָה יַעֲלוּ לְבֵית דִּין וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִבְטִיחָה תּוֹרָה עֲלֵיהֶן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז ח) "כִּי יִפָּלֵא מִמְּךָ דָּבָר לַמִּשְׁפָּט בֵּין דָּם לְדָם בֵּין דִּין לְדִין", בֵּין דַּם נִדָּה לְדַם זִיבָה. וּבְאוֹתָן הַיָּמִים הָיוּ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל נִזְהָרוֹת מִדָּבָר זֶה וּמְשַׁמְּרוֹת וִסְתוֹתֵיהֶן וְסוֹפְרוֹת תָּמִיד יְמֵי הַנִּדָּה וִימֵי הַזִּיבָה:

2

It is very difficult to keep track of the counting of the dates. Many times doubts will arise. For even if a woman discovered bleeding on the day she was born, she must begin counting the "days of niddah" and the "days of zivah," as we explained.2 Therefore a girl cannot become impure as a zavah until she is ten days old. For if she discovered bleeding on the day that she was born, she would be a niddah for seven days. [Then to be a zavah, she would have to discover bleeding] on the three days directly following the "days of niddah." Thus [she would be] ten days [old].

Thus we learned that she begins counting the "days of niddah" and the "days of zivah" from the first time she discovers uterine bleeding throughout her entire life. [This applies] even if [the first time] she discovers bleeding is when she is a minor.

ב

וְטֹרַח גָּדוֹל יֵשׁ בְּמִנְיַן הַיָּמִים וּפְעָמִים רַבּוֹת יָבוֹאוּ לִידֵי סָפֵק. שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ רָאֲתָה הַבַּת דָּם בְּיוֹם הַלֵּדָה מֵאוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם מַתְחִילִין לִמְנוֹת לָהּ יְמֵי נִדָּה וִימֵי זִיבָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא תִּטָּמֵא הַבַּת בְּזִיבָה אֶלָּא בַּת עֲשָׂרָה יָמִים שֶׁאִם רָאֲתָה בַּיּוֹם שֶׁנּוֹלְדָה הֲרֵי זוֹ נִדָּה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים סָמוּךְ לְנִדָּתָהּ הֲרֵי עֲשָׂרָה יָמִים. הִנֵּה לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁמִּתְּחִלַּת רְאִיָּה מַתְחֶלֶת לִמְנוֹת יְמֵי נִדָּה וִימֵי זִיבָה כָּל יָמֶיהָ וַאֲפִלּוּ רָאֲתָה וְהִיא קְטַנָּה:

3

During the era of the Sages of the Gemara, many doubts arose with regard to the appearance of blood3 and the reckoning of the pattern of menstruation. For it was not within the potential of all women to calculate the "days of niddah" and the "days of zivah." Therefore our Sages ruled stringently concerning this matter and decreed that a woman should consider all her days as "days of zivah" and consider any bleeding that she discovers as zivah bleeding because of the doubt.4

ג

וּבִימֵי חַכְמֵי הַגְּמָרָא נִסְתַּפֵּק הַדָּבָר הַרְבֵּה בִּרְאִיַּת הַדָּמִים וְנִתְקַלְקְלוּ הַוְּסָתוֹת. לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה כֹּחַ בְּכָל הַנָּשִׁים לִמְנוֹת יְמֵי נִדָּה וִימֵי זִיבָה. לְפִיכָךְ הֶחְמִירוּ חֲכָמִים בְּדָבָר זֶה וְגָזְרוּ שֶׁיְּהוּ כָּל יְמֵי הָאִשָּׁה כִּימֵי זִיבָתָהּ וְיִהְיֶה כָּל דָּם שֶׁתִּרְאֶה סְפֵק דַּם זִיבוּת:

4

In addition, Jewish women accepted a further stringency upon themselves. They accepted the custom that wherever Jews live, whenever a Jewish woman discovers [uterine] bleeding, even if she does not discover more than a drop the size of a mustard seed and the bleeding ceases immediately, she must count seven "spotless" days.5 [This stringency applies] even if she discovered the bleeding during her "days of niddah."6

Whether the bleeding continued for one day, two days, an entire seven days, or longer, when the bleeding ceases, she counts seven "spotless" days as is required of a major zavah and immerses on the night of the eighth day despite the fact that there is a doubt whether she is a zavah.7 Or she may immerse during the day on the eighth day in a pressing situation, as explained.8 Afterwards, she is permitted to her husband.

ד

וְעוֹד הֶחֱמִירוּ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל עַצְמָן חֻמְרָא יְתֵרָה עַל זֶה. וְנָהֲגוּ כֻּלָּם בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁכָּל בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁרוֹאָה דָּם אֲפִלּוּ לֹא רָאֲתָה אֶלָּא טִפָּה כְּחַרְדָּל בִּלְבַד וּפָסַק הַדָּם סוֹפֶרֶת לָהּ שִׁבְעָה יָמִים נְקִיִּים וַאֲפִלּוּ רָאֲתָה בְּעֵת נִדָּתָהּ. בֵּין שֶׁרָאֲתָה יוֹם אֶחָד אוֹ שְׁנַיִם אוֹ הַשִּׁבְעָה כֻּלָּן אוֹ יֶתֶר מִשֶּׁיִּפְסֹק הַדָּם סוֹפֶרֶת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים כְּזָבָה גְּדוֹלָה וְטוֹבֶלֶת בְּלֵיל שְׁמִינִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא סְפֵק זָבָה, אוֹ בְּיוֹם שְׁמִינִי אִם הָיָה שָׁם דֹּחַק כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּהְיֶה מֻתֶּרֶת לְבַעְלָהּ:

5

Similarly, every women who gives birth in the present age is considered as one who gives birth while a zavah and she must count seven "spotless" days, as we explained.9

It is the commonly accepted custom in Babylon, in "the cherished land,"10 Spain, and the West,11 that if a woman discovers bleeding in the days after childbirth,12 she must count seven "spotless" days after the bleeding stopped. [This applies] even if she first counted seven "spotless" days and immersed [after giving birth].

We do not grant her any pure days at all. Instead, whenever a woman discovers bleeding whether it is bleeding associated with childbirth or "pure blood," it is all impure. She must count seven "spotless" days after the bleeding ceases.

ה

וְכֵן כָּל הַיּוֹלֶדֶת בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה הֲרֵי הִיא כְּיוֹלֶדֶת בְּזוֹב וּצְרִיכָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וּמִנְהָג פָּשׁוּט בְּשִׁנְעָר וּבְאֶרֶץ הַצְּבִי וּבִסְפָרַד וּבַמַּעֲרָב שֶׁאִם רָאֲתָה דָּם בְּתוֹךְ יְמֵי מְלֹאת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרָאֲתָה אַחַר שֶׁסָּפְרָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים וְטָבְלָה הֲרֵי זוֹ סוֹפֶרֶת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים אַחַר שֶׁיִּפְסֹק הַדָּם וְאֵין נוֹתְנִין לָהּ יְמֵי טֹהַר כְּלָל. אֶלָּא כָּל דָּם שֶׁתִּרְאֶה הָאִשָּׁה בֵּין דַּם קֹשִׁי בֵּין דַּם טֹהַר הַכּל טָמֵא וְסוֹפֶרֶת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים אַחַר שֶׁיִּפְסֹק הַדָּם:

6

This law was instituted in the era of the Geonim. They decreed that there be no concept of "pure" blood. For the stringency that women accepted upon themselves in the era of the Sages of the Talmud applies only to a woman who discovers bleeding that would render them impure. [In this instance, they accepted the custom of] waiting seven days. Blood which she discovers during her "days of purity" after counting [seven "spotless" days], by contrast, is not a matter of concern [according to Scriptural Law]. For the days of purity are not subject [to concern] with regard to niddah or zivah as we explained.13

ו

וְדִין זֶה בִּימֵי הַגְּאוֹנִים נִתְחַדֵּשׁ וְהֵם גָּזְרוּ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה שָׁם דַּם טֹהַר כְּלָל. שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁהֶחְמִירוּ עַל עַצְמָן בִּימֵי חַכְמֵי הַגְּמָרָא אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בְּרוֹאָה דָּם שֶׁהוּא טָמֵא שֶׁיּוֹשֶׁבֶת עָלָיו שִׁבְעָה נְקִיִּים. אֲבָל דָּם שֶׁתִּרְאֶה בִּימֵי טֹהַר אַחַר סְפִירָה וּטְבִילָה אֵין לָחוּשׁ לוֹ שֶׁאֵין יְמֵי טֹהַר רְאוּיִין לֹא לְנִדָּה וְלֹא לְזִיבָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

7

We have heard that in France,14 even today, relations are allowed [despite] "pure" bleeding as was the law in the Talmudic era after [the woman] counts [seven "spotless" days] and immerses herself because of the impurity resulting from giving birth in the zivah state. This matter is dependent on local custom.15

ז

וְשָׁמַעְנוּ שֶׁבְּצָרְפַת בּוֹעֲלִים עַל דַּם טֹהַר כְּדִין הַגְּמָרָא עַד הַיּוֹם אַחַר סְפִירָה וּטְבִילָה מִטֻּמְאַת יוֹלֶדֶת בְּזוֹב וְדָבָר זֶה תָּלוּי בַּמִּנְהָג:

8

Similarly, [stringencies were adopted] with regard to the laws of hymeneal bleeding in the present age. Even if a minor is below the age when she could be expected to menstruate and never discovered uterine bleeding, [her husband] must separate after engaging in the relations which are a mitzvah.16

Whenever she discovers hymeneal bleeding,17 she is impure. When the bleeding ceases, she must count seven "spotless" days [before immersing herself].

ח

וְכֵן דִּין דַּם בְּתוּלִים בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה קְטַנָּה שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ זְמַנָּה לִרְאוֹת וְלֹא רָאֲתָה דָּם מִיָּמֶיהָ בּוֹעֵל בְּעִילַת מִצְוָה וּפוֹרֵשׁ. וְכָל זְמַן שֶׁתִּרְאֶה הַדָּם מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה הֲרֵי הִיא טְמֵאָה. וְאַחַר שֶׁיִּפְסֹק הַדָּם סוֹפֶרֶת שִׁבְעָה יָמִים נְקִיִּים:

9

Moreover, whenever a girl is asked to marry and consents, she must count seven "spotless" days after she consents to marry.18 Afterwards, [she immerses and] becomes permitted to her husband.19 [The rationale is that] she might have desired a man and released a drop [of blood] without being aware of it. Whether she is a mature woman or a minor, she must wait seven "spotless" days after she consents to marry. Afterwards, she immerses and may engage in relations.

ט

יֶתֶר עַל זֶה כָּל בַּת שֶׁתְּבָעוּהָ לְהִנָּשֵׂא וְרָצְתָה שׁוֹהָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים מֵאַחַר שֶׁרָצְתָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּהְיֶה מֻתֶּרֶת לְהִבָּעֵל. שֶׁמָּא מֵחִמּוּדָהּ לְאִישׁ רָאֲתָה דָּם טִפָּה אַחַת וְלֹא הִרְגִּישָׁה בָּהּ. בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה הָאִשָּׁה גְּדוֹלָה בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה קְטַנָּה צְרִיכָה לֵישֵׁב שִׁבְעָה נְקִיִּים מֵאַחַר שֶׁרָצְתָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּטְבּל וְתִבָּעֵל:

10

All of these matters are additional stringencies that have been practiced by Jewish women from the era of the Sages of the Talmud [onward]. One should never deviate from it. Therefore every women who consents when asked to marry should not marry until she counts [these days] and immerses herself. If she marries a Torah scholar, she may marry immediately and then count after marriage and immerse. [The rationale is that] a Torah scholar will know that she is forbidden and observe [the restriction]. He will not approach her until she immerses.20

י

וְכָל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ חֻמְרָא יְתֵרָה שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ בָּהּ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִימֵי חַכְמֵי הַגְּמָרָא וְאֵין לָסוּר מִמֶּנָּה לְעוֹלָם. לְפִיכָךְ כָּל אִשָּׁה שֶׁרָצְתָה כְּשֶׁתְּבָעוּהָ לְהִנָּשֵׂא לֹא תִּנָּשֵׂא עַד שֶׁתִּסְפֹּר וְתִטְבּל וְאִם נִשֵּׂאת לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם מֻתֶּרֶת לְהִנָּשֵׂא מִיָּד וְתִסְפֹּר מֵאַחַר שֶׁנְּשָׂאַתּוּ וְתִטְבּל. שֶׁתַּלְמִיד חָכָם יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהִיא אֲסוּרָה וְנִזְהָר מִזֶּה וְלֹא יִקְרַב לָהּ עַד שֶׁתִּטְבּל:

11

The laws applying to [the discovery of] stains in the present era [follow the principles] we explained.21 There is no innovation in this regard, nor are there any [new] customs. Instead, any stain which we ruled was pure, is considered pure. And when [a woman discovers] any of the stains which we ruled were impure - [even] if the stain was not of the size that would generate concern for zivut - she must count seven ["spotless"] days, after the day of the discovery of the stain. For the discovery of a stain is not identical with the discovery of bleeding.22

יא

דִּין הַכְּתָמִים בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְאֵין בַּדָּבָר חִדּוּשׁ וְלֹא מִנְהָג אֶלָּא כָּל כֶּתֶם שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ שֶׁהִיא טְהוֹרָה הֲרֵי הִיא טְהוֹרָה וְכָל כֶּתֶם שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ טְמֵאָה (אִם אֵין בַּכֶּתֶם שִׁעוּר כְּדֵי לָחוּשׁ לְזִיבוּת) סוֹפֶרֶת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מִיּוֹם שֶׁנִּמְצָא בּוֹ הַכֶּתֶם. וְאִם הָיָה שִׁעוּר הַכֶּתֶם כְּדֵי לָחוּשׁ לְזִיבוּת סוֹפֶרֶת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מֵאַחַר יוֹם שֶׁנִּמְצָא בּוֹ הַכֶּתֶם. שֶׁאֵין הָרוֹאָה דָּם כְּרוֹאָה כֶּתֶם:

12

All the statements we made concerning a woman who miscarried [and discharged a creature that does not resemble a human fetus]23 and [hence] is pure also apply in the present age.24

Similarly, when a woman discovers a white or green blood-like secretion25 or if she discharges a red mass of flesh that is not accompanied by bleeding,26 she is pure even in the present age. For the stringency involves only one who discovers impure bleeding and the above are not considered as impure bleeding.

יב

וְכֵן כָּל מַה שֶּׁאָמַרְנוּ בְּיוֹלֶדֶת שֶׁאִמּוֹ טְהוֹרָה הֲרֵי הִיא טְהוֹרָה בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה. וְכֵן הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁרָאֲתָה לֹבֶן אוֹ דָּם יָרֹק אוֹ שֶׁהִשְׁלִיכָה חֲתִיכָה אֲדֻמָּה שֶׁאֵין עִמָּהּ דָּם הֲרֵי הִיא טְהוֹרָה אַף בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה. שֶׁלֹּא הֶחְמִירוּ אֶלָּא בְּרוֹאָה דָּם טָמֵא [וְאֵין זֶה דָּם טָמֵא]:

13

Similarly, if she had a wound from which blood was flowing27 or blood was released with her urine,28 she is pure. Innovations [in practice] were made only with regard to all women who discover impure bleeding as explained [above] and also that all different shades of blood are considered impure.29

יג

וְכֵן אִם הָיְתָה בָּהּ מַכָּה וְהָיָה הַדָּם שׁוֹתֵת מִמֶּנָּה אוֹ שֶׁבָּא הַדָּם עִם מֵימֵי רַגְלַיִם הֲרֵי זוֹ טְהוֹרָה. וְלֹא נִתְחַדֵּשׁ דָּבָר אֶלָּא סְפִירַת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים לְכָל רוֹאָה דָּם טָמֵא כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ וְשֶׁיִּהְיוּ כָּל מַרְאֵה דָּמִים טְמֵאִים:

14

In certain places, the practice is that a woman must consider herself a niddah for seven days even though her bleeding lasted only one day. [Then] after these seven, she must count seven "spotless" days. This is not a [proper] custom.30 Instead, it is an error on the part of the one who ruled in this manner and is not worthy of being given any consideration.31 Instead, [the law is that if a woman experiences] one day of menstrual bleeding, she should count seven "spotless" days afterwards and immerse on the night [following] the eighth day,32 which is the second day after her ["days of] niddah." She is [then] permitted to her husband.

יד

זֶה שֶׁתִּמְצָא בְּמִקְצָת הַמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁהַנִּדָּה יוֹשֶׁבֶת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים בְּנִדָּתָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא רָאֲתָה דָּם אֶלָּא יוֹם אֶחָד וְאַחַר הַשִּׁבְעָה תֵּשֵׁב שִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים אֵין זֶה מִנְהָג אֶלָּא טָעוּת הוּא מִמִּי שֶׁהוֹרָה לָהֶם כָּךְ [ג.] וְאֵין רָאוּי לִפְנוֹת לְדָבָר זֶה כְּלָל אֶלָּא אִם רָאֲתָה יוֹם אֶחָד סוֹפֶרֶת אַחֲרָיו שִׁבְעָה (נְקִיִּים) וְטוֹבֶלֶת בְּלֵיל שְׁמִינִי שֶׁהוּא לַיִל שֵׁנִי שֶׁלְּאַחַר נִדָּתָהּ וּמֻתֶּרֶת לְבַעְלָהּ:

15

Similarly, in certain places, the practice is - and support for this is found in the responsa of some of the Geonim - for a woman who gives birth to a male not to engage in relations until the conclusion of forty days and for one who gives birth to a female [to refrain] until after eighty days33 even though they discovered bleeding only during the [first] seven days. This is not a [proper] custom. Instead, these responsa are in error and indeed [the observance of this practice] in these places is of a heretical nature.34 They learned this interpretation from the Sadducees.35 It is a mitzvah to compel [these people] to remove [this improper custom] from their hearts and to return them to [the observance of] the words of the Sages who require only the counting of seven "spotless" days as explained.

טו

וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁתִּמְצָא בְּמִקְצָת מְקוֹמוֹת וְתִמְצָא תְּשׁוּבוֹת לְמִקְצָת הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁיּוֹלֶדֶת זָכָר לֹא תְּשַׁמֵּשׁ מִטָּתָהּ עַד סוֹף אַרְבָּעִים. וְיוֹלֶדֶת נְקֵבָה אַחַר שְׁמוֹנִים. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא רָאֲתָה דָּם אֶלָּא בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁבְעָה. אֵין זֶה מִנְהָג אֶלָּא טָעוּת הוּא בְּאוֹתָן הַתְּשׁוּבוֹת וְדֶרֶךְ אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסוּת בְּאוֹתָן הַמְּקוֹמוֹת וּמִן הַצְּדוֹקִין לָמְדוּ דָּבָר זֶה. וּמִצְוָה לְכוֹפָן כְּדֵי לְהוֹצִיא מִלִּבָּן וּלְהַחֲזִירָן לְדִבְרֵי חֲכָמִים שֶׁתִּסְפֹּר שִׁבְעָה יָמִים נְקִיִּים בִּלְבַד כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

16

A woman does not ascend from her state of ritual impurity and cease being considered as an ervah until she immerses herself in a mikveh that is halachicly acceptable while there are no substances intervening between her flesh and the water.36 In Hilchot Mikveot, we will explain what defines a mikveh as acceptable and what disqualifies it, the manner in which one should immerse, and the laws concerning intervening substances.

If, by contrast, she washes in a bath - even if all the water in the world passes over her - her state is the same after washing as before washing [and a man who engages in relations with her is liable] for kereit. For there is no way of ascending from a state of ritual impurity to one of purity except through immersing in the waters of a mikveh, a spring, or a sea which is like a spring, as will be explained in Hilchot Mikveot.

טז

אֵין הָאִשָּׁה עוֹלָה מִטֻּמְאָתָהּ וְיוֹצֵאת מִידֵי עֶרְוָה עַד שֶׁתִּטְבּל בְּמֵי מִקְוֶה כָּשֵׁר. וְלֹא יִהְיֶה דָּבָר חוֹצֵץ בֵּין בְּשָׂרָהּ וּבֵין הַמַּיִם. וּבְהִלְכוֹת מִקְוָאוֹת יִתְבָּאֵר הַמִּקְוֶה הַכָּשֵׁר וְהַפָּסוּל וְדֶרֶךְ הַטְּבִילָה וּמִשְׁפְּטֵי הַחֲצִיצָה. אֲבָל אִם רָחֲצָה בַּמֶּרְחָץ אֲפִלּוּ נָפְלוּ עָלֶיהָ כָּל מֵימוֹת שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הֲרֵי הִיא אַחַר הָרְחִיצָה כְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיְתָה קֹדֶם הָרְחִיצָה בְּכָרֵת. שֶׁאֵין לְךָ דָּבָר שֶׁמַּעֲלֶה מִטֻּמְאָה לְטָהֳרָה אֶלָּא טְבִילָה בְּמֵי מִקְוֵה אוֹ בְּמַעֲיָן אוֹ בַּיַּמִּים שֶׁהֵם כְּמַעֲיָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת מִקְוָאוֹת:

17

In the present age, although the seven "spotless" days [are observed only because of] doubt,37 if a woman immerses herself during them, it is as if she did not immerse herself.38 If she immerses herself on the seventh day,39 the immersion is valid even though it is forbidden to do so at the outset, lest one engage in relations on the seventh day after the immersion.40 [The rationale is that] she immersed in the appropriate time even were she to have definitely been a zavah.41

יז

כָּל שִׁבְעָה יָמִים נְקִיִּים שֶׁבַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן סָפֵק אִם טָבְלָה בָּהֶן כְּאִלּוּ לֹא טָבְלָה. וְאִם טָבְלָה בַּשְּׁבִיעִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן לְכַתְּחִלָּה שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לִבְעל בַּשְּׁבִיעִי אַחַר הַטְּבִילָה. הוֹאִיל וְטָבְלָה בִּזְמַנָּהּ אֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה זָבָה וַדָּאִית הֲרֵי זוֹ עָלְתָה לָהּ טְבִילָה:

18

It is forbidden to a person to embrace his wife during these seven "spotless" days. [This applies] even if she is clothed and he is clothed.42 He should not draw close to her, nor touch her, not even with his pinky. He may not eat together with her from the same plate.43 The general principle is he must conduct himself with her during the days she is counting as he does in her "days of niddah." For [relations with her] are still punishable by kereit until she immerses herself, as we explained.44

יח

וְאָסוּר לְאָדָם שֶׁיִּדְבַּק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ בְּשִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים אֵלּוּ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא בִּכְסוּתָהּ וְהוּא בִּכְסוּתוֹ. וְלֹא יִקְרַב לָהּ וְלֹא יִגַּע בָּהּ אֲפִלּוּ בְּאֶצְבַּע קְטַנָּה. וְלֹא יֹאכַל עִמָּהּ בִּקְעָרָה אַחַת. כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר יִנְהֹג עִמָּהּ בִּימֵי סְפִירָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּנְהֹג בִּימֵי נִדָּה שֶׁעֲדַיִן הִיא בְּכָרֵת עַד שֶׁתִּטְבּל כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

19

A niddah may perform any task which a wife would perform for her husband except washing his face, hands, and feet, pouring him a drink, and spreading out his bed in his presence.45 [These were forbidden as] decrees, lest they come to sin.46

For this reason, she should not eat with him from the same plate, nor should he touch her flesh, lest this lead to sin. Similarly, she should not perform these three tasks for him during her seven "spotless" days. It is permitted for a woman to adorn herself during her "days of niddah," so that she does not become unattractive to her husband.

יט

כָּל מְלָאכוֹת שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה עוֹשָׂה לְבַעְלָהּ נִדָּה עוֹשָׂה לְבַעְלָהּ חוּץ מֵהַרְחָצַת פָּנָיו יָדָיו וְרַגְלָיו וּמְזִיגַת הַכּוֹס וְהַצָּעַת הַמִּטָּה בְּפָנָיו. גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לִדְבַר עֲבֵרָה. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה לֹא תֹּאכַל עִמּוֹ בִּקְעָרָה אַחַת וְלֹא יִגַּע בִּבְשָׂרָהּ מִפְּנֵי הֶרְגֵּל עֲבֵרָה. וְכֵן בְּשִׁבְעַת יָמִים נְקִיִּים לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה לוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ מְלָאכוֹת אֵלּוּ. וּמֻתָּר לְאִשָּׁה לְהִתְקַשֵּׁט בִּימֵי נִדָּתָהּ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּתְגַּנֶּה עַל בַּעְלָהּ:

Footnotes
1.

I.e., to the Temple in Jerusalem. See Hilchot Mamrim, chs. 1 and 4, which discuss the authority of the Supreme Sanhedrin and how it served as the final governing body for Jewish Law.

2.

Chapter 4, Halachah 4.

3.

As stated in Chapter 5, Halachah 7-12, in the Talmudic era, our Sages felt capable of distinguishing between different shades of red and were able to identify some shades as pure and others as impure. In the Rambam's era and certainly in later ages, the Rabbis felt incapable of making such distinctions.

4.

The Maggid Mishneh relates that the Rambam did not clarify his statements concerning this Rabbinic ordinance because it was only a temporary measure. It does not reflect Scriptural Law, nor does it reflect Rabbinic Law as practice, because it was later supplanted by the stringency Jewish women accepted upon themselves as stated in the following halachah.

To explain: Niddah 66a relates that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi ordained that any woman who discovers uterine bleeding should wait six "spotless" days before immersing herself . If, however, she discovers bleeding for three consecutive days, she must wait seven "spotless" days. Thus if the bleeding had come in her days of niddah, she would have waited the seven days required by Scriptural Law (the day she discovered the bleeding and the six "spotless" days). And if the bleeding had come in her days of zivah, all that is required by Scriptural Law is for her to wait one spotless day. This is the ordinance to which the Rambam referred.

5.

The stringency implied by this practice is that even if bleeding is sighted for only one day, the woman counts seven "spotless" days.

6.

According to Scriptural Law, there is no need for her to count seven "spotless" days in such a situation. Instead, she may immerse after the seventh day regardless. Nevertheless, women accepted this stringency upon themselves.

7.

I.e., according to Scriptural Law, a zavah may immerse herself during the day on the seventh day. She need not wait until evening. Nevertheless, since a niddah is required to wait until the evening to immerse herself, women standardized their conduct and ordained that all immersion be performed at night unless there are extenuating circumstances. Note, however, Halachah 17.

8.

Chapter 4, Halachah 8.

9.

Chapter 7, Halachah 5.

According to Scriptural Law, if a women is not a zavah when she gives birth, she may immerse herself after seven or fourteen days, even if she was bleeding the entire time. In the Talmudic era, however, it became customary to observe the stringency described by the Rambam. The rationale is that since every discovery of bleeding renders her a zavah, she is always considered as having given birth in that state (Maggid Mishneh).

When quoting this law, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 194:1) emphasizes that this practice does not supplant Scriptural Law. Thus if a woman counts seven "spotless" days directly after giving birth to a girl, she must still wait the fourteen days required by the Torah before immersing.

10.

Eretz Yisrael.

11.

Morocco and North Africa.

12.

The Hebrew term used by the Rambam has a specific meaning, the days between the seventh and fortieth days after a woman gives birth to a male or the days between the fourteenth and eightieth days after she gives birth to a female.

13.

Chapter 7, Halachah 7.

14.

Whose halachic tradition differed from that of the Sephardic community in many particulars.

15.

The Rambam is referring to one of the principles mentioned in his introduction to the Mishneh Torah: Laws ordained by the Sages of the Talmud must be accepted universally throughout the Jewish community. Laws ordained by later authorities are subject to the halachic review of the local authorities.

The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 194:1) writes that it has already become universal Jewish practice to forbid relations when a woman discovers bleeding during her days of purity.

16.

I.e., the first time the couple engage in relations. As explained in Chapter 5, Halachot 18-25, according to Scriptural Law, hymeneal bleeding does not represent any difficulty for it is not at all related to niddah or zivah. Hence, according to Talmudic Law, when the wife is a minor, the couple may engage in relations until the hymeneal bleeding ceases. Even a girl who gets married at the age of twelve is granted certain leniency. The later Rabbis, however, required all couples to separate because of hymeneal bleeding.

The Maggid Mishneh emphasizes that the groom may complete relations and withdraw while erect even if he knows that bleeding has commenced. Although our Rabbis ordained this stringency, they did not apply it to the first time the couple engaged in relations.

He also states that even if no bleeding is discovered, if the bride was a virgin, we assume that there was a slight amount of blood that was not noticed and rule that she is impure. These laws are quoted by Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 193:1).

17.

I.e., if all the hymeneal blood was not released during the first time the couple engaged in relations and bleeding was discovered after subsequent relations.

18.

The day after she consents is the first of these seven days. If she becomes engaged and there is a considerable time between the engagement and the marriage, the days are counted from the time wedding preparations are made in earnest (Maggid Mishneh; Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 192:1-2).

19.

This stringency applies to a young girl who never menstruated or an older girl who already experienced seven "spotless" days after her last menstruation.

20.

The Kessef Mishneh and the Maggid Mishneh maintain that the Rambam would agree that not only relations, but also remaining alone with one's wife is forbidden in this situation. The Ra'avad and the Tur (Yoreh De'ah 192) infer that the Rambam is not paying heed to this prohibition. Hence, they differ with his ruling.

21.

In Chapter 9.

22.

The Rambam is saying that for a stain a woman is not required to make a hefsek taharah or count seven days. Instead, it is sufficient for her to count six "spotless" days as described in Halachah 3 and notes. For as he explains, the discovery of a stain is not the same as the discovery of bleeding.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam and maintains that the laws applying to the discovery of bleeding also apply with regard to the discovery of a stain. The Maggid Mishneh offers theoretical support for the Rambam's approach, but states that since other Rishonim follow the Ra'avad's view, we should be stringent and accept it. This opinion is followed by Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 188:3, 190:1).

23.

See Chapter 5, Halachah 15; Chapter 10, Halachah 8.

24.

The Rambam maintains that the Rabbis did not issue a decree concerning such a situation, nor was this included in the stringency which Jewish women accepted upon themselves. The Ra'avad differs, explaining that in the present era, we are not knowledgeable concerning the distinctions between the forms which our Sages made. Hence, because of the doubt, we rule that a woman is impure after any miscarriage.

In this instance as well, the Ra'avad's view is accepted by the Ramban and the Rashba and is cited as halachah by Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 194:3).

25.

See Chapter 5, Halachah 6. This ruling is accepted by all authorities.

26.

See Chapter 5, Halachah 13. This ruling is also disputed by the Ra'avad and other Rishonim. For they maintain that it is impossible for the uterus to open without there being any bleeding. This view is accepted by Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 194:2).

27.

See Chapter 4, Halachah 20.

28.

See Chapter 5, Halachah 17. Other Rabbis also do not require stringency with regard to these matters in the present age.

29.

As stated in Halachah 3, the later Rabbis felt incapable of distinguishing between different shades of red as the Sages of the Talmud were capable of doing.

30.

The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 196:11) also mentions the practice cited by the Rambam. He also negates it saying: "There is no reason for the practice. A person who is lenient earns a reward and hastens his [involvement in] the mitzvah."

31.

Although the halachic authorities are unanimous in their support of the Rambam's ruling. The custom he quotes has a Rabbinic source in Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Metzora, sec. 7.

32.

The Rama (loc. cit.) mentions that the Ashkenazic custom is not to begin counting seven until the fifth day after the woman discovered menstrual bleeding.

33.

By this practice, they distort the meaning of Leviticus, ch. 12, as interpreted in Chapter 4, Halachah 5.

34.

For as indicated by the association with the Sadducees, they undermine the authority of the Oral Law.

35.

A deviant sect which tried to sway our people from Jewish practice by denying the authority of the Oral Law.

36.

For an immersion can be disqualified when there are substances intervening between one's flesh and the waters of a mikveh. See Hilchot Mikveot 1:7 and the laws that follow.

37.

As explained in Halachot 3 and 4 and notes.

38.

Since a niddah or a zavah does not change her state if she immerses herself before the required time, we apply this same ruling to a woman in the present age.

39.

I.e., after sunrise.

40.

We fear that she may discover uterine bleeding after engaging in relations, but before nightfall, and thus nullify the entire seven "spotless" days. In that instance, her immersion is of no consequence.

41.

For according to Scriptural Law, a zavah may immerse at this time, as stated in Chapter 6, Halachah 11. And if the woman is a niddah, she may certainly immerse according to Scriptural Law, for the time of her impurity has passed.

42.

This and the following restrictions were imposed lest they lead to relations, as the Rambam states in the following halachah.

43.

The Ra'avad states: "Our custom is that [they may not eat] even on the same table." The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 195:3) quotes the Ra'avad's ruling, but offers the following leniency. One may place an object between the two to make a distinction.

44.

In Halachah 16.

45.

Implied is that if he is not present, she may make his bed. Outside his presence, making his bed is a household task. In his presence, it could suggest an invitation for intimacy. See Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah, ch. 195) and commentaries for a further delineation of stringencies that must be observed until a woman purifies herself.

46.

I.e., relations.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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