Updated: Jun 26, 2022
We’ve spoke many times in the past about the tremendous power women
hold to elevate a man and Creation. Today we will talk about the Mitzvah of
family purity, which, as you already know, goes beyond the simple and deeper
Jewish women (and men) are obligated to refrain from physically touching
their husbands for the duration of her cleansing period. While according to Torah
Law, a woman could go to the Mikvah at the end of 7 days counting from the first
sighting of menstrual blood, the righteous Jewish women took upon themselves
to wait until full cessation of flow, when no stain is seen, to start counting. This
has been the law they established for themselves since Talmudic times and the
Rabbis happily accepted this stringency.
What is the meaning of this waiting period and why do we need it?
The Simple Meaning
Not all love is created equal. The love a parent feels for a child is eternal
and unchanging. Since the child is literally a part of the spouses in body and spirit,
this love is like a flame that is inextinguishable and doesn’t require too much work
to maintain. A normal, reasoning parent loves his child no matter what and will
naturally do his utmost to provide for him in all regards.
The same doesn’t apply with the love between a man and a woman. While
being soulmates on a spiritual level, they were separated physically at birth and
until marriage lived most of their days without each other. This love requires
constant tending, and doesn’t come naturally. It is in fact one of the most difficult
things to achieve in modern society.
Interestingly enough, many ancient cultures practiced this “abstinence
period” between spouses, in order to increase their desire for each other. The
separation also serves as a way for them to see beyond physical pleasure. Couples that are intimate on a constant basis may see their love for their spouse decline after some time. This is Hashem’s way of saying “there’s a soul behind that body”. It also gives the
spouses a break and a way to reconnect on a soul level, which is, more often than
not, one of the greater needs of women.
The Deeper Meaning
Kabbalistically, this all harks back to the ancient sin of the first couple who
ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This act caused a quantum
descent in spiritual consciousness that will only be reversed with the coming of
Mashiach, but for now, we are all parts of the effort to bring this rectification.
When this happened, the Zohar teaches that women were given the
Mitzvot of family purity, separating challah and kindling the Shabbat candles
(which we will explore in coming articles). As we know, this primordial sin is what
in effect made it needed to fulfil all the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah. And each of
these Mitzvot serve as a rectification for the sins of bloodshed (separating
Challah), immorality (family purity) and idol worship (kindly Shabbat lights). Since women have such great potential, she is able to effect these great tikkunim through these mitzvot, as Hashem gives us the Avodah to test us to our limits.This state of fragmented consciousness is the real meaning of tumah, which is often translated as some sort of spiritual impurity, and is seen in every facet of Creation. Women suffer from her periods, not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. Therefore, when the flow of blood (which is related to the
Sephirah of Gevurah) comes, it is a time for her to recharge and renew much like
the moon waxes and wanes. It also helps lower men’s yetzer harah and acquire
As many people might guess, the 7 “clean days” a woman must count from
cessation of flow allude to the rectification of the 7 sephirot of the Chessed
(lovingkindness), Gevurah (might), Tiferet (beauty), Netzach (victory), Hod
(splendor), Yesod (foundation) and Malkhut (kingship). Once this time passes and
the woman dips in the revitalizing waters of the Mikveh, a woman’s soul is healed
and relations can resume.
Many great Kabbalists also teach us that the Mitzvah of family purity is also
crucial to draw down a holy soul, as well as the whole sanctification process man
and women have been going through. This is why many of them have advised
barren women to take upon themselves this incredibly great Mitzvah as a
wondrous segulah to conceive.
What are your thoughts on this fascinating Mitzvah?