I wrote the bottom portion of this post on niddah back in 2012. Since then, my husband and I have grown in our understanding of niddah, and I want to show you what we have learned. But, I don’t want to delete those original thoughts because they were part of my journey, and I don’t regret them. Our understanding of niddah at that time taught us many valuable lessons, and I wrote about them below.
Our current understanding of niddah
I am thankful that YHVH is always teaching us. When I think that I have everything down and no longer need His correction and instruction, I am in a very dangerous place. I thought I had the niddah laws figured out. But my understanding was limited and focused in the wrong place. I thought the woman was niddah, but in the Hebrew, the flow itself is niddah. The emphasis should be on not coming in contact with the flow. Please take the time to print out and read this article by Steve Siefken. He explained everything quite well, so I will send you to him. My husband and I studied it together and found it very helpful. We have decided to change our approach to niddah as a result.
- We don’t sleep in separate beds, but my husband does sleep in a sleeping bag on the bed. We feel this sufficiently prevents him touching any flow.
- I kiss him goodbye and get a hug when I need it, but there is no intimacy.
- I keep sheets, towels, pads, etc. laundered.
- We do still sit in separate chairs, since those are harder to clean if there is any contamination.
- We are trying to at least rinse off in the shower every day, just in case.
For eight years we took a very conservative approach, and while I don’t regret being more conservative, it is a much harder road emotionally. We made a ritual out of simple sanitary guidelines. As I have said before, please test this out for yourself. I have decided to leave our previous approach at the bottom of this post so that you can study both out. I still feel this is a matter of heart. Are we willing to obey YHVH’s instructions, even if they seem hard or difficult to understand? Are we willing to admit when we are wrong and change how we do things? Are we showing love and meeting each other’s needs? If a command is burdensome to keep, we might need to check how we are obeying, since Torah is not a burden.
Our previous understanding of niddah
I was asked recently why we observe the niddah laws in the way that we do. I hadn’t set out to explain the details, since I assume I don’t know everything, and our observance is less than perfect. But it is a good question, and it was probably inevitable, so I’ll explain our personal understanding of the niddah laws. Please remember that this is our personal understanding, and not a declaration. My hope is that you will test it for yourself. Please don’t attack me or argue about it. Just test it and determine what action you need to take for yourself. We are doing the same.
“When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.
I realize we don’t have a temple and we aren’t in the land, but niddah still matters. When a person honestly seeks to observe the niddah laws out of love for YHVH, they are open to many lessons. I have learned many things from observing niddah; including self discipline, patience, a tiny peek at the heart of YHVH, and the value of life. Clean and unclean is not only relevant to the temple, but it teaches us appropriateness. It is also important to practice certain commands so we are prepared to keep them fully in the land. The niddah laws do lose some of their meaning without the temple, but when there is a temple, my heart will be ready to keep them fully because I have been practicing and trying to understand now. YHVH has also been showing me that He wants a people that are willing to turn over every part of their lives to Him. It doesn’t get more personal than the niddah laws, and He’s looking for those that are obeying in this area.
Our niddah observance
When I discover I am niddah, I simply tell my husband, “niddah,” which is our password. Then we set our plan in motion. Yes, we do not touch. We do not sleep in the same bed. We do not sit in the same chair. But why? In the verses above, you will notice that if anyone touches her, he is unclean. So we don’t touch. If anyone lies down where she has, he is unclean. So we don’t sleep in the same bed. If anyone sits in the same chair after her, he is unclean. So I sit in certain chairs and he does not sit in them. I think it goes without saying that there is no intimacy. So why doesn’t he just shower? After all, the verses say that if he touches her, etc. he must wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
Do you see the possible discrepancy here?
In chapter 15, if a man lies with a woman during her period, he is unclean for seven days. But in chapter 20, if a man lies with a woman during her period, he is cut off from the people. What makes the difference in punishment here?
We know from other places in Torah that there is a difference between intentional and unintentional sin. I would humbly suggest that we are dealing with intention here. If a couple decides to disregard the niddah laws and do what they please, they will be cut off. If a niddah observant couple are enjoying each other, and uh-oh, they accidentally violate the niddah laws, YHVH provides a solution. With this logic in mind, as we look at the rest of the niddah laws, intention is everything. If we purposely choose to disregard them, taking a shower is not going to fix it. But if we are humbly trying to do our best out of love for our Elohim, if we make a mistake, He provides a solution. (ie Doug might forget I’m niddah and sit on the bed to put his boots on. He asks forgiveness, showers, and moves on.) So we should do our best to follow the niddah laws, but the washing is there just in case something happens accidentally. Doug shouldn’t say, “I’m going to shower anyways, so I’ll touch her.”
Just as a side note, I don’t see opening the same fridge door, etc. as a violation of niddah. It seems to focus on my person directly, and those things that I sit or lie on.
Again, this is our personal understanding of the niddah laws, and how we carry them out. I hope this is useful to someone, but please don’t think we have it all figured out. As soon as we think we’ve got something down, YHVH shows us that we are still clueless, ever dependent on Him. The niddah laws have many layers, but I think willingness to submit, even in such a private area, is very important. In the shaky times we find ourselves in, I want to be searching in all the “closets” of my life, and submitting more to YHVH. I want to be ready when He returns for His bride.