Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Sponsored by Sharona, Josh, Dov, Moshe and Yehuda Halickman

in Memory of Bunny Leopold z"l


Towards the end of Parshat Metzora we read about some of the laws of Taharat HaMishpacha, family purity: (Vayikra 15:19, 28) “When a woman has a discharge- her discharge from her flesh being blood- she shall be in her state of separation (niddata) for a seven day period…If she ceases her flow (tahara mizova), she must count seven days for herself and afterwards she can be purified”.


According to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan: “The word “niddah” comes from the word “nadad”, meaning removed or separated. The word niddah therefore indicates that a woman must forgo all physical contact with her husband. This status can only be changed by her counting the seven days and by immersion in a Mikveh (ritual bath)”.


Rabbi Moshe David Tendler points out: “The woman is in full charge of all of the halachot (laws) concerning family purity. The Torah has assigned both responsibility and authority to the woman. Her statement of fact becomes Torah law. If a woman reports that she has become a niddah, her husband is bound to conduct himself accordingly. If she reports fulfillment of all of the requirements of marital relations, her husband may respond accordingly.”


A question is asked in Tractate Niddah 31b: Rabbi Meir said: “Why did the Torah require a niddah to be tmeiah (ritually impure) for seven days? Since her husband could become bored of her and tire of her. Therefore, the Torah declares, ‘Let her be ritually impure for seven days so that she will be as dear to her husband as when she entered the Chupah (marriage canopy).’”


The Rambam explains that the Laws of tahara (ritual purity) and tumah (ritual impurity) are decrees of the Torah that cannot be comprehended by human wisdom…”


What we clearly can learn from these laws is:

  1. The respect that the Torah gives to women: A woman is fully trusted in her declaration of a change in her status and in her observance of the Mitzvah.
  2. Thousands of years ago the Torah recognized what psychologists and marriage counselors are figuring out today: in the words of Tehilla Abramov: “Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”.