Harchakot of Niddah

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Please note that these halachot are from the Sefer Torat haTaharah of Rav Dovid Yosef, son of Rav Ovadyah Yosef, a Sephardi Posek.

Basic laws

  1. A man is required to separate from his wife during the time she is a niddah until she has a hefsek taharah, counts seven clean days and dips in a kosher mikveh. [1]
  2. This prohibition remains even if many years have passed since she became a niddah. It remains until she has a hefsek taharah, counts seven clean days, and dips in a kosher mikveh. [2]
  3. According to the opinion of many Rishonim, amongst them Maran hashulchan aruch, contact between a man and his wife who is a niddah is a biblical violation. Due to this fact, the Rabbis instituted many safeguards to prevent this. [3]
  4. One should be careful not to act in an overly frivolous and light-headed manner when his wife is a niddah, nor should they speak of intimate matters, in order that they not come to transgress. [4]
  5. A man is permitted to be alone (yichud) in a room or house with a wife when she is a niddah. However, a man may not have yichud with any other woman, married or single.
  6. If a bride is a niddah at her wedding, the bride and groom may not be alone together. The couple must have a constant chaperone. [5] Due to the sensitive nature of such situations and the severity of any misconduct, a competent Rabbi should be consulted for instruction.
  7. A man is forbidden to touch his wife even with just his small finger when she is a niddah. He may may not even touch her clothing, nor she his, even if the clothing hangs loosely off the body and the person will not feel the touch. They should be also be careful that the clothing of one does not touch the clothing of the other. [6]
  8. A husband and wife are permitted to touch each other's clothing when the wife is a niddah while the clothes are not being worn by the spouse. Similarly they are allowed to touch each other's bedding while their spouse is not lying on it. This applies even if the clothes or sheets are stained. A man is also permitted to remove his wife's sheet from her bed and put it on his own bed, even if the sheet is stained, as long as the sheet is not designated specifically for her use. [7]
  9. A man is permitted to dry his face and hands with his wife's towel when she is a niddah. He also may use her toothbrush. There is no need to set aside a toothbrush or towel for her exclusive use when she is a niddah. [8]

Passing Items when a woman is niddah

  1. A man may not pass an item directly to his wife when she is a niddah, nor may he receive an item directly from her, lest they come to touch. In order to pass an object, they must place the item down on a table or chair for the spouse to pick up from there. [9]
  2. Even if the couple are in public and do not want others to know the woman is a niddah, they may not be lenient. They must place the item down and allow the spouse to pick it up, and not pass it directly. [10]
  3. A couple may not even pass a long object, such as a bench to each other when the woman is a niddah. In extenuating circumstances though, there is room for leniency, if they can be sure to avoid touching each other in the process. For example, if a couple lives on a high floor and there is no elevator, and they need to carry a baby stroller up and down stairs, and it cannot be carried by just one of them, the couple may be lenient and have the husband carry the bottom of the stroller and the wife the top, or vice versa, as long as they can be sure they will not touch in doing so. The law is the same with getting a stroller on or off the bus, or other similar situations. [11]
  4. A man is permitted to throw an object to his wife when she is a niddah, as long as it is not done in a lightheaded, frivolous, playful manner. One who is strict and refrains from doing so is praiseworthy, however. This only applies for Sepharadim. For Ashkenazim, the strict ruling is the law, and according to them, a man is not permitted to throw an object to his wife when she is a niddah. Even Ashkenazim may be lenient if the man throws the object into the air, and the wife catches it on the way down. [12]
  5. During the wedding ceremony, the groom may place the ring on the bride's finger, even if she is a niddah, he does not have to throw it to her. However, it is proper that he be as careful as possible to avoid touching her when giving her the ring. He should place it on the tip of her finger, and allow her to let it slide down her finger. [13]
  6. At a berit milah (bris or circumcision) if the mother wants to hand the baby to her husband who is the sandak (or sandek, the person who holds the baby on his lap during the berit), it is the Sephardic custom to be lenient by having the baby placed on top of two pillows. The woman holds the baby by placing her hands underneath the bottom pillow, and the husband takes the baby from her by lifting the top pillow along with the baby, while the bottom pillow remains with the mother. (In this way they avoid touching).

This custom has deep roots among the great Sephardic sages and the Ge'onim. The Ashkenazim though, are strict in this matter. A woman who just gave birth may not pass the baby directly to her husband who is the sandak. Rather, another man should take the baby from her and hand him over to the father. [14]

  1. When a woman is a niddah, a couple is permitted to pass a child to one another, as long as they will not touch, and as long as the child is able to go from one parent to the other on his own, since he is essentially carrying himself (nose'ah et asmo). However, one who is strict and refrains from doing so is praiseworthy. This is for Sepharadim.

Ashkenazim though, who are strict regarding throwing an object to one another, should be particularly scrupulous in this matter as well. [15]

  1. However, even those who are lenient to pass a child when the wife is a niddah, should be strict if the child is extremely small, even if it can go from one to the other by itself (because its size increases the likelihood they will touch). Another case they should be strict is if the child is ill Gd forbid and too weak to go from one spouse to the other on its own. [16]
  2. Even when the baby is able to "carry" itself and go from one spouse to the other on its own, the couple should still pass the child to one another only when it is really necessary. For example, if the baby is crying and will suffer if the father does not take him from the mother. [17]
  3. Also, if the couple passes the child in a playful manner, that is prohibited, since doing so promotes intimacy. [18]
  4. It is preferable that a person be strict to not feed his baby while his wife who is a niddah is holding the baby. If necessary though, they may be lenient, if they are careful not to touch each other. [19]


  1. Torat HaTarah page 95
  2. Torat HaTaharah pp 95
  3. Torat HaTaharah pp96
  4. Torat HaTaharah pp96-97
  5. Torat HaTaharah pp 97
  6. Torat HaTaharah pp97
  7. Torat HaTaharah 97-98
  8. Torat HaTaharah 98
  9. Torat HaTaharah 98
  10. Torat HaTaharah 98
  11. Torat HaTaharah 98-99
  12. Torat HaTaharah 99
  13. Torat HaTaharah 99
  14. Torat HaTaharah 99-100
  15. Torat HaTaharah 100
  16. Torat HaTaharah 100
  17. Torat HaTaharah 100
  18. Torat HaTaharah 100
  19. Torat HaTaharah 100