Preparing for the Mikveh

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Waiting Before Doing Hefsek Tahara

  1. A woman who sees her period needs to wait 4 days according to Sephardim or 5 days according to Ashkenazim and then she can perform a hefsek tahara in order to begin the shiva nekiyim. According to Sephardim, these 4 days are counted from the time when she was last with her husband. Nonetheless, a woman can never count her shiva nekiyim until she did a hefsek tahara and didn’t see any blood. However, according to Ashkenazim, these 5 days are counted from the beginning of her period whether or not she was with her husband recently and even if her husband wasn’t in town.[1]
  2. If a woman sees blood in the middle of shiva nekiyim she needs to start again, but she doesn’t have to wait 4 or 5 days before she can do a hefsek tahara. Rather she can do the hefsek tahara that day and then start counting the shiva nekiyim the next day.[2]

Sources

  1. The gemara Niddah 42a explains that a woman who emits semen is impure and can't count that day for her Shiva Nekiyim. Tosfot Niddah 33a s.v. roeh concludes that a woman can't begin her hefsek tahara until the fourth day after she began to see blood if she was with her husband right before she started seeing.
    • Shulchan Aruch 196:11 rules that a woman who sees blood needs to wait 4 days until she can do her hefsek tahara and on that fourth day she can the hefsek tahara. Also, those 4 days are counted from the last time she was with her husband. However, the Rama YD 196:11 rules like the Trumat Hadeshen who says that a woman who sees blood can only do the hefsek tahara on the fifth day and begin the shiva nekiyim the next day. Also, waiting these days applies whether or not she was with her husband recently or even if he wasn't in town at all. The Rama concludes that this is the Ashkenazic minhag and one shouldn't deviate.
    • Sephardic Minhag: Rav Ovadia Yosef in Taharat Habayit (v. 2, p. 392) rules like Shulchan Aruch. On p. 413, he adds that if a woman knew that she only needed to wait 4 days and was machmir to wait 5, if she wants to change her minhag she needs to do a hatarat nedarim. Ben Ish Chai (Rav Paalim 4:20) maintains that the minhag Baghdad was to wait 5 days and it should be maintained. Orot Hatahara 10:23-4 (Rav Zecharya Ben Shlomo) writes that some Sephardim wait 4 days and some 5 days. He adds that the Yemenites hold that immediately after she stops seeing blood, she should wash that area from shichvat zera if they had tashmish within the last 4 days, and then she could do a hefsek tahara.
  2. Shach 196:22, Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 419