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one who truly and innocently seeks wisdom
who checks halachot of niddah and blood
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The month of Elul, 5759
“Do not come near a woman during her period of uncleanness to uncover her nakedness.” (Leviticus 18:19) And she is as a viper who kills with its glance, all the more so shall it harm one to sleep with her, for her evil is a contagious evil, etc., her impurity will always be remembered, for she is as vermin and a leper, whose impurity is in their bodies (Ramban).
How many mistakes were made in halacha about the woman’s monthly cycle, how much evil has been directed at women and how much suffering has been decreed for men. After all, none of the halachot about menstrual impurity and the prohibitions based thereon have any basis in reality. They all were decreed due to the sages’ lack of knowledge about the processes of the monthly cycle and ovulation and because of superstitions which they learned from Gentile nations.
We have once again merited publishing, at a fortuitous hour, a new pamphlet, the seventh one, whose topic is the “impurity” of menstruation and the lack of understanding by Chazal, the Rishonim, and the Achronim on matters connected to women’s bodies and their processes.
The name “Family Purity” is given in books for the decrees of degradation, alienation, and ostracism (“niddah from the term nidduyi [ostracism]”) imposed upon the woman during the period of her monthly menstruation. The Torah’s prohibition of seven days was not enough for the sages, and they judged her as one suffering from a venereal discharge, forbidding her for 12 days; for 12 days a husband must distance himself from his wife, not only from regular sexual intercourse, but also from any touch and contact appropriate between a loving couple. Why was the woman decreed to be impure and forbidden to her husband one third of every month of her life? Because in the eyes of the Torah and Chazal menstrual blood was unnatural, mysterious, and harmful.
Today we understand the whole process of the monthly cycle precisely and see how much Chazal erred on these matters. All that they ruled has nothing on which to rely. The doctors’ and experts’ knowledge on these topics is so great that they successfully perform in-vitro fertilization, the growth of “test-tube babies,” and implanting of embryos in “surrogate mothers.” None of these would be possible without absolute understanding of all the processes of a woman’s cycle, ovulation, impregnation, and pregnancy. Rabbinical halacha, on the other hand, remains stuck in nonsense 1500 years old. In the name of this nonsense they decree ostracism on women and make both halves of the couple miserable, with an unwarranted separation, for nothing. And as we will see later, this does not even have a halachic reason.
We will first explain what is known: menstruation is a physiological phenomenon and is part of the woman’s monthly cycle. Each month the woman’s body prepares itself for the possibility of pregnancy. Each month an egg releases from one of the two ovaries (which every woman has) to the uterus. The body secretes hormones and as a result internal tissue (called the uterine lining) grows within the uterus. Blood vessels in this tissue widen and wait for the egg to arrive. In the framework of ovulation the egg reaches the uterus and attaches itself to the thickened wall. If, as a result of sexual intercourse, the egg is fertilized by the man’s sperm, pregnancy begins. But if there is no fertilization, the body discharges the egg and the tissue which held it. When the egg and the tissue surrounding it are dislodged from their place to be ejected from the body there is also a flow of blood, as there is with any injury to the body’s tissues. With every internal or external injury there is a flow of blood. This blood, created from the ejection of tissue, is the menstrual blood. This must be remembered well: menstrual blood is the body’s regular blood, flowing in the most usual manner from a wound (tissue damage) created in the uterus. It is as bleeding in the stomach or bleeding from the nose, and this blood has no special aspects, no special source, nor any special properties whatsoever. We will return to this issue. Our sages, from Chazal through to the Achronim, did not understand the reason for niddah (menstrual) blood at all but thought it was a special sort of blood which came from a special source, as the Rambam wrote in commenting on the Mishnah in Niddah, chapter 2:5, “To the concavity of the uterus, which is called the chamber, an artery is connected, through which the menstrual blood courses and flows through the uterus out to the cervix,” as though there were a special artery for the menstrual blood. There is no such thing and never has been.
A lactating mother does not ovulate and therefore has no menses. And what, according to the sages, is the reason why a lactating mother does not see blood? In Tractate Niddah page 9a, “the blood is disturbed and made into milk,” as though the menstrual blood does not appear because it is special blood which becomes milk…all this is nonsense.
And here is Chazal’s suggestion to one who wants a male child should have relations and then do it again, as is said, “a woman who brings forth seed,” if the woman climaxes first she gives birth to a boy; a man who climaxes first sires a girl (Niddah 28a). It is clear that they erred. The gender of the child is determined by the chromosomes in the egg and sperm cells and the manner of sexual intercourse has no relationship to the matter.
Chazal even explained that a woman who is pregnant can be impregnated!In Tractate Ketubot 39a, “Three women may use cotton wool (as a form of contraception), and they are: a minor, a pregnant woman, and a lactating woman, etc. A pregnant woman lest her fetus become like a flat-fish.” Rashi comments that if she were to be impregnated with a second fetus, the second would reduce the form of the first until it resembled a flat-fish. They did not understand that during pregnancy there is no ovulation and an additional pregnancy is impossible.
Come and see how Chazal erred in all that relates to the anatomy of the woman and forbade or permitted in error. The Mishnah in Tractate Niddah 17b, “The sages said a parable about a woman—a room, a corridor, and an attic. Blood of the room is impure, blood of the attic is pure; blood found in the corridor is of doubtful purity.” The Gemarah explains that the room is within (near the back) and the corridor is outside (near the stomach) and there is an opening between the attic and the corridor. Halacha has ruled that blood which comes from the “attic” is pure, as it is not blood which comes from the uterus; there is no need to go into this further as these things have no hold in reality (see diagram).
What is the location of the “attic” and the “pen” in which Chazal say that if blood is found, it is pure??? [diagram 1]
In this drawing you see that there is no sense to what the sages say, “the woman who urinates and blood is found is impure, as the place is narrow, returning to the source (womb).” And they cite [Rama, Yoreh Deah 191, section 1]. And A. Sofer Avraham says in his book “Nishmat Avraham” that, “as a doctor, this is difficult for me, as nothing like this is possible in reality.” [diagram 2]
And from the diagram you will also understand that what the Rambam explained in his commentary on the Mishnah is not correct, when he writes that the Fallopian tubes (the tubes which connect the ovaries and the uterus) connect the uterus and the vagina, or, as he puts it, “and the cervix is a corridor and it has two additions which resemble two horns on the cervix.” It is not so. The tubes actually connect to the upper portion of the uterus.
And to show the amount of confusion we will copy the words of the Chatam Sofer, one of the greatest halachic arbiters, in his novella on Masechet Niddah page 18a, “What is the corridor and the room and the roof and ground and attic? After researching in books and among the wise scribes and surgical textswe cannot deny reality, which is not as the commentary of Rashi and the Tosfot and the Maharam of Lublin’s drawing. We have nothing but what the Rambam wrote, etc. Therefore I have not bothered with the commentaries of Rashi and the Tosfot as it is impossible to suit them to true reality; know this.” That is, according to the Chatam Sofer, one of the greatest halachic arbiters, Rashi and the Tosfot and others did not understand the reality of a woman’s body and all their commentaries are incorrect! We will continue and say that we have already shown that even his words, the words of the Rambam, the Gemara and the Mishnah cannot be suited to true reality at all, and they have no standing against true reality.
Here is another example of a halacha whose source is in error: it is the law about the source from whence issues drops of blood which make a woman impure, brought in the Mishnah, page 40a: “All women are made impure in their external receptacle, as is said ‘the blood shall be, a venereal discharge in her flesh’.” The Gemara, 41a: “It is the external receptacle, etc., Rabbi Yochanan said until between the teeth” (and Rashi commented that within the uterus there are mounds of flesh as a sort of teeth) “and Rabbi Judah said until the place that the janitor treads.” And though not all the “fingers” are equal, it is well known that there are no mounds of flesh in the continuation of the woman’s vagina. In the Chatam Sofer’s responsa, response 167, in explaining the location of the external receptacle, he wrote, “But in reality the Tosfot wrote all this according to their understanding, as did Rashi OBM, etc. all according to their understanding, but after asking forgiveness of our holy rabbis—their words were not correct.”
Therefore he explained, according to the Rambam, that the external receptacle is the external cervical opening (see the Achronim, who had many opinions on the words of the Rambam).
In short, all that Chazal said about a woman’s body and the matters of her cycle and ovulation and childbirth are not correct and do not match reality. So Chazal did not understand the true reality of a woman’s cycle, but why did they decree upon women ostracism, alienation, suffering, insult, and impurity? They did this because of all the superstitions which gave a menstruating woman magical powers of sorcery. As the Ramban writes in his explanation of the sentence Rachel our mother said to Laban, her father, in Genesis 31:35, “I cannot rise for the way of the women is upon me,” “the ancient ones in their wisdom knew that their breath harms and their sight makes a bad impression,” that is, even a glance from a woman at the time of her menstruation brings bad luck!
Even at the time of the writing of the Torah they related magical powers of evil to the natural cycle of blood.
And if these were not enough, the Ramban gives a reason why it is forbidden to have sexual relations with a menstruating woman, “And how shall he make of it [menstrual blood] a fetus as it is a fatal drug, will kill all living creatures who drink or eat of it, etc. and it is of the wonders of the Innocent of Judgment in nature that menstruation starts as a venereal discharge. If she [the menstruating woman] looks at a light brass mirror and continues to look at it, you will see in the mirror red drops as though drops of blood, for the evil nature which harms will give birth to rebuke and the evil air will infect the mirror” (Ramban, Leviticus 18:19). We must wonder if the Ramban actually tried this as a scientific experiment or if he merely copied this nonsense from the idol-worshipping Romans. (For the whole issue of superstitions about menstruation see the end of the Hebrew Encyclopedia entry Veset.)
But the worst of all is in the book “Yichve Da’at” by our rabbi Rav Ovadiah Yosef. In part three, section 8 he brings in the name of the Zohar that menstruating women should not enter the synagogue “for the impurity of menstruation is very grave until it repulses and drives out the Divine Spirit in all places where she walks.” This is a momentous innovation, that menstruation drives out the Divine Spirit; we should all change the Sabbath Kedusha; from now on, instead of saying, “His glory fills the world,” we shall say, “His glory fills part of the world, and in the other part there are menstruating women.” Where will superstitions take us?
Come and see how, according to halacha, menstrual blood does not impurify at all. Blood from a wound is called, in halacha, “blood of a blow.” According to halacha, blood of a blow does not lead to menstrual impurity! The Yorah Deah section 187, halacha 5 wrote, “If there is a wound in the same place we rely on the blood of the wound” and it is pure. And what is the difference between blood which flows because of the disintegrating mucus caused injury and one caused by the uterine blood vessels?!
And if you say that the Torah specifically forbade menstrual blood as it is seen once a month in a regular fashion and therefore is different from an ordinary wound—if so, why is the sight of blood in a female infant who still has not ovulated impure (Rambam, Prohibitions on Intercourse, chapter 4)? And an old woman who has reached menopause and sees blood—why is she impure (Shulchan Aruch 189, section 30)? Here there is no set cycle and it is obviously blood from a wound, yet it is not considered as from a wound, it impurifies.Therefore, the matter of a set cycle has no importance in halacha and menstrual blood is not unique. This blood is unique only because of superstitions.
And if you want to know how far the absurdity of mixing superstition, lack of practical knowledge, and determination of halacha goes, go to the Mishnah in Niddah, chapter 3, page 21a, “One who miscarries a sort of living animal or bird, be it impure or pure, if it is male it will be considered male and if female, female. The sages say that anything which has not the form of a human is not an infant.” The Gemara, page 22b explains Rabbi Meir’s reason, “as it is said about it, [in the Torah, a word] ‘fabrication’ [is used], like of a man.” See where the nonsense leads, that if a woman miscarries a fetus shaped like a crocodile she is not impure (since it says “And G-d created the crocodiles” with the language of creation), but had it said “And G-d fabricated the crocodiles” the rule would have been that even a miscarriage in the form of a crocodile would have impurified… The Gemarah concludes on page 23b, “Rabbi Yirmiyah Bar Abba said that Rav said, “All acknowledge [that had she miscarried] the body of a goat and the face of a person, it is a person. The body of a person and the face of a goat is as nothing.” See there the wonders of Chazal’s imagination on women’s miscarriages. The Rambam, who was aware of these oddities, wrote in his commentary on the Mishnah, “Let your mind not be in doubt whether nature forbids people to birth all the things I have mentioned, forit is possible, etc.” It appears from his words that he, himself, is not convinced. Know that all these things are not simple nonsense, as they touch upon a law of the Torah, the impurity of the new mother (Leviticus 12:1), “A women who brings forth seed and births a boy is impure seven days, as the days of her menstrual impurity, etc. and thirty days and three days she shall sit in the blood of her purity.” Therefore, according to halacha, if she miscarried “the body of a goat and the face of a person,” if she saw blood from the eighth day she is pure, but if she saw “the body of a person and the face of a goat” and saw blood from the eighth day she is impure. All this is the body of the law, and there is no end to the nonsense.
Woe to us for our rabbis in these days. The spirit of wisdom and understanding is widespread in the world; G-d wanted to grant Israel merit and gave wisdom to people so they should well recognize the process of the cycle and the creation of the fetus. Therefore it would have been appropriate had the halachic arbiters in our generation learned from scientific and medical texts instead of learning reality from the Gemarah or halachic arbiters who lived hundreds of years ago; had they done so they would not have forbidden what is permitted.
See what Rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Wozner, rabbi, head of the beit din, and head of the Zichron Meir-Bnei Brak yeshiva, one of the great halachic arbiters, who sees sights to distinguish between blood and blood, wrote in his book “Shiurei Shevet Levi,” authored by his students, in explaining the build of a woman’s uterus: “And inside of this, deep, on the side of the back, etc., and it is called the source for this is the source of the blood, and it is called the room or uterus; the blood gathers there during approximately a month and the opening is sealed. At the time of her menstruation the opening of the cervix opens and the blood exits. In the uterus the fetus is created and the source of blood is for the purpose of creating the fetus. Therefore, while creating the fetus the woman does not see menstrual blood, for then the blood serves the purpose of creating the fetus.” In only this small paragraph he made three serious errors which could easily have been researched.
- The blood does not gather in the uterus during the month and there is no sealed opening to stop it. The blood flows when the egg drops and the blood vessels in the uterine walls tear.
- The cervix is not sealed and does not open during menstruation. The opening is always open 3 millimeters or more.
- The reason given for the lack of menstrual blood, that it serves the purposes of creating the fetus, is utter nonsense. There is no blood because there is no ovulation. There is no connection between menstrual blood and pregnancy and the fetus.
And how are we to rely on Rabbeynu Wozner as a halachic arbiter when he does not know the reality which is taught to every twelve year old girl in public school?
And since we are dealing with Masechet Niddah, we will also cite the words of the Gemara on page 7b, “We do not derive halacha from the Talmud.” Rashi comments, “We do not derive halacha from Talmud taken from the Mishnah and Baraita in which halacha was learned according to so-and-so—we do not derive from that as the last Amoraim were exact in the reasons of the Tanaim and fully clarified halacha, but the earlier one were not exact one about another’s words,” end of quote. For some reason here they do not say that if the earlier generations were as angels then we are as men, but quite the opposite.
In Baba Metziah 36b Rashi says that this Mishnah was learned in the days of Rebbe “Since when the students of Shammai and Hillel multiplied, etc., from beneath the burden of the yoke of the authorities and the decrees which were imposed upon them, and since they could not give attention to clarify the words of the disputants until the days of Rebbe, etc., until his day there were not organized tractates, but every student who heard something from a great studied from him, etc.” From all said above you, the student who seeks true knowledge, see that not only is halacha a human creation, but even the transmission from teacher to student was distorted due to the difficulties of exile. And we, we have naught but what our eyes see and our intellect knows and our conscience dictates. We must each test and weigh and decide on each issue based on true knowledge and the appropriate action, to increase good in the world, to give respect to others, and to reduce evil and villainy. Let each look into his inner heart and do.
And you, the reader who seeks truth and knowledge, please contact us and we will answer to the best of our ability.