This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
These halachot are specifically for married individuals.
Colors of Blood on a Bedika Cloth
A person certainly may NOT pasken for themselves on the appearance of a bedika cloth, whether it is tahor or tameh, without consulting a rabbi. The basic laws presented here are only for study purposes.
- Every shade of red or anything looking reddish is tameh.
- All shades of black are tameh.
- White, yellow, blue, and green are tahor according to most poskim. Many poskim are consider it tameh for the purposes of the hefsek tahara. A posek must be consulted about these questionss.
- Gray is tahor according to many poskim. Some poskim are strict regarding dark gray. A posek must be consulted about these shaylot.
- Brown is a major dispute and according to most poskim is tahor. However, one needs to be an expert in this area since sometimes there are highlights of red in the brown. Also, brown could be a result of red blood oxidizing, which is tameh. A posek must be consulted about these questions.
Wet or Dry
- According to many poskim, a woman need not wait until the blood is dry to inspect its color.
Looking at Night
- Some poskim say that you need sunlight to determine the color, and therefore cannot look at night. Others are lenient, if necessary.
Waiting for an Answer
- If a woman finds a questionable color, whether on an examination cloth or stain on a garment, it must be shown to rabbi. In the interim, until she receives an answer, she should conduct herself like a full fledged nidda.
Differences between a Bedika Cloth and a Ketem
- Unlike a ketem any blood even a minimal amount found on a bedika cloth renders the woman tameh.
- Becoming tameh because of blood on a bedika cloth can create a veset unlike blood found as a ketem.
If the Bedika Cloth Is Lost before the Rabbi sees it
- If a woman loses her bedika cloth that she is sure was a clean color, she is believed to say so.
- If a woman loses her bedika cloth that she was unsure about before she shows it to the rabbi, she becomes forbidden to her husband and must count 7 nekiim over again.
Who is Qualified to Decide
Getting a Second Opinion
- Once a cloth has been declared tameh by a rabbi, it may not be shown to a second rabbi without mentioning that it had been previously declared unclean.
- The Mishna Niddah 19a specifies 4 shades of red as tameh. Bet Shamay and Bet Hillel argue about another 2 shades of red. The gemara learns from pesukim that blood is tameh only if it is red, and subsequently derives from pesukim that this includes 4 shades of red. The Rosh (Niddah 2:4) holds like Bet Hillel that those other 2 shades of red are tahor, while the Ramban (Niddah 19a s.v. ha d'amrinan) holds like Tana Kama who says that it is a safek. Nonetheless, the Rosh (Niddah 2:4) writes that today we're not experts in how to determine which shades of red are tameh, and as such any shade of red or anything even looking reddish is tameh. His contention is supported by the fact that certain Amoraim even in the days of the gemara stated that they weren't experts enough to pasken on the shades of blood (Gemara Niddah 20b). The opinion of the Rosh is accepted by the Rambam (Isurei Biyah 11:12-13), Ramban (Niddah 19a s.v. ha), Rashba (Torat Habayit Hakatzar 2b), Ran (Shevuot 3a s.v. umaarot), Tur 188:1, and Shulchan Aruch YD 188:1. Shoshanat Ha'amakim 3:1 agrees that any color related to red is considered unclean. Rav Hershel Schachter (notes to The Laws and Concepts of Niddah by Rabbi Sobolofsky pg. 306) writes that although some poskim argue that only fire-engine red is considered red, this has not been generally accepted
- Mishna (Niddah 19a) states that black is tameh. The gemara explains that black is a result of red blood changing colors. This is codified by the Rosh (Niddah 2:4), Rif (Shevuot 3a), Rambam (Isurei Biyah 5:7), Tur and Shulchan Aruch 188:1, Shoshanat Ha'amakim 3:1. The gemara 20a explains that the black of the mishna is referring to black like black dye. The Ran (Shevuot 3a s.v umaarot) writes that even the lighter shades of black which the gemara considered tahor, such as the black of black olives, nowadays are tameh since we're not experts in the shades of colors. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch accept the opinion of the Ran that all shades of black are tameh. Badei Hashulchan 188:5 agrees.
- * The Gemara Niddah 21a clearly understands that white and yarok are tahor. Tosfot 19b s.v. hayarok explains that yarok is yellow like an Etrog and not green like a leek. Rosh (Niddah 2:4), Rashba (Torat Habayit 2a), and Ran (Shevuot 3a s.v. umaarot) agree and include gold in yarok. The Rashba adds that it is obvious that green is tahor. Mordechai (Shevuot no. 735) writes that yellow, blue, and green are all tahor.
- Shulchan Aruch YD 188:1 writes that white, yellow, and green are tahor. Taz 188:2 and Shach 188:2 say that off-white is also clean.
- Rama 188:1 adds that blue is also tahor.
- The Pitchei Teshuva 188:2 cites the Maharshal and Shlah who were strict about yellow. The Chochmat Adam 117:9 and Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe 4:17:6) were only strict about yellow on a hefsek tahara. Rabbi Mordechai Willig (Niddah Shiur 118) is lenient even on a hefsek tahara.
- The Shevet Halevi (5:106:6) writes that gray is tahor. Ta Chazi (p. 133-150) discusses this at great length. He explains that the distinction is and unlike black or even light black, which is an admixture of black dye and water. Gray is an admixture of black and white. Furthermore, pink is tameh since it has a reddish look because red is tameh in it of itself so we include any color with a reddish look. However, black is only tameh because it is red which changed and even though we say any shade of black is tameh, since gray is another color we can be lenient. His conclusion is that gray is tahor, even though some are strict about dark gray, but one needs to be a major expert in this area to know how to distinguish between gray and light black. Additionally, he adds that the posek needs to determine that the black or gray color are from the body and aren't result of something that stuck to the cloth which wasn't from the body at all.
- The Yavetz 1:44 writes that brown isn't similar to red or black and is a totally different color, and therefore it is tahor. The Pitchei Teshuva 188:1 and Sidrei Tahara 188:1 quote the Yavetz. The Badei Hashulchan 188:6 that there is a dispute about brown, but nonetheless, he is lenient. Badei Hashulchan 188:1 adds that a posek must have training to know what is considered brown and additionally there is a concern that brown is a result of red that oxidized. Rabbi Mordechai Willig (Niddah Shiur 104 and 118) added that in brown it is important to check for any red highlights which can only be seen in the sun. Furthermore, it is important to ask the woman if the color changed and was red earlier and now turned brown.
- Taharat Habayit vol 1. 6:2, Shoshanat Ha'amakim 3:3.
Shach 188:3 quotes the Bach that if it’s wet, you need to wait until it dries because it might turn red but the Shach himself disagrees and says we don't need to be concerned for that Taz 188:1 agrees.
- Rav Hershel Schachter (notes to The Laws and Concepts of Niddah by Rabbi Sobolofsky pg. 306)
- Taharat Habayit 2:13:7 says that artificial light can alter the appearance. Therefore it should be inspected it by light of the sun and not lamplight. At night however, she may do her inspection by artificial light, preferably fluorescent. If she finds color that might to be evaluated, she should check again in the morning by sunlight. Shoshanat Ha'amakim 3:2 agrees.
- Torat Hashelamim 188:1 says checking at night is ok because we don't distinguish between shades of red anyway. Badei hashulchan 184:53 is lenient
- Shoshanat Ha'amakim 3:4
- The achronim learn that blood found on a bedika cloth is like the woman actually saw blood and is certainly tameh. Most achronim consider the tumah on a bedika cloth to possibly be of Biblical tumah and not just rabbinic. One source that indicates that the tumah is Biblical is the gemara Niddah 14a which states that blood found on a bedika cloth renders the woman tameh niddah. Rashi s.v. tameh implies that this is a certain tumah. Regarding whether this is a Biblical concern, see the Pitchei Teshuva 183:1 who cites the Chavot Daat, Sidrei Tahara 183:2, and Peleti 190:1 who considers the blood on the bedika cloth to be Biblical. The Rambam (Isurei Biyah 9:1) is a strong proof that is of Biblical significance, while the Hagahot Maimoniyot (Isurei Biyah 4:20) implies that it is rabbinic. Shulchan Aruch Harav (Kuntres Acharon 183:2), Rabbi Akiva Eiger 1:62, Aruch Hashulchan 183:55, Badei Hashulchan 183:6, and Taharat Habayit v. 1 p. 17 hold that it is potentially Biblical even if she says that there was no hargasha. See Yabia Omer YD 8:16 where he clarifies that he agrees with the achronim that it is of Biblical concern unlike the Netah Shashuim who thinks that it is only rabbinic if there was no hargasha. Hear Rabbi Mordechai Willig (Niddah Shiur 83 at the end) who explains that according to his explanation of hargasha the bedika cloth is only rabbinic but nonetheless it doesn't have any leniencies of ketamim.
- Shulchan Aruch 190:54
- Shulchan Aruch 188:2
- Rav Hershel Schachter (notes to The Laws and Concepts of Niddah by Rabbi Sobolofsky pg. 306)
- Taharat habayit 1:6:5, Shoshanat Ha'amakim 3:7