Preparing for the Wedding
Together with all the planning and preparations for the wedding, both members of the couple should set aside time to learn the important and complex laws of niddah, which will now become relevant to them.
Bedikot before the Wedding
Women getting married for the first time are sometimes concerned about doing bedikot. These bedikot should be done carefully and need not penetrate as deeply as those after marriage. They are possible because the hymen has a hole that allows menstrual blood to exit. This hole is large enough to allow at least one finger to penetrate. The hymen is also somewhat stretchable. Therefore, doing a careful, gentle bedikah generally will NOT break the hymen.
A woman who finds blood on the bedikah cloth before her wedding, and suspects that the hymen may have been broken or stretched, should ask a halachic question. Hymenal bleeding (outside the context of marital relations, when it is subject to the laws of dam betulim) is considered dam makkah (bleeding from trauma) and would not make her niddah. Also, a woman whose hymen tore before her wedding would still be considered a betulah (virgin), as this term refers to never having had sexual intercourse and not to the status of the hymen.
It takes some time to get used to doing a bedikah comfortably. Women who have used tampons in the past often find it easier to do bedikot as the procedure is very similar. If one has never used a tampon, it is a good idea to practice doing bedikot a cycle or two PRIOR to the ones that will count for the wedding. This practice can help reduce the stress when doing them for real.
Mikveh Immersion before the Wedding
Two halachic principles must be considered when planning the mikveh immersion prior to a wedding. One is immersion to exit the niddah status. The bride must do a hefsek taharah, count seven blood-free days and immerse, as she is a niddah from previous menstruations even if years have passed since her last menses. If this were the only relevant principle, she could immerse as soon as she has completed the taharah process.
There is, however, an additional principle that affects the timing of her immersion. A woman who accepts a proposal of marriage is considered susceptible to bleeding from anticipation of the upcoming wedding (dam chimud). Since this bleeding may be so slight that it goes unnoticed, the rabbis decreed that such a woman is considered niddah even if she is unaware of any bleeding. Therefore, every bride, even if she is already past menopause, must count seven blood-free days and immerse in the mikveh prior to her wedding. Similarly, a previously married woman who has experienced no bleeding since her last immersion must also count seven blood-free days and immerse due to this decree.
Because of the concern about dam chimud, a bride should count her seven blood-free days and immerse as close to the wedding as possible. If this is a technical problem (e.g., she is getting married in a city far from a mikveh), then it is permissible to immerse earlier but consideration must be given to the issue of dam chimud. Thus, according to some halachic opinions, a bride who immerses earlier than the night before the wedding needs to do a bedikah on each intervening day to assure that bleeding has not occurred. According to other opinions, she may immerse up to four days before the wedding and need not do any more bedikot before the wedding. A bride should check with the rabbi performing the marriage, or with her kallah teacher, to determine which opinion to follow and thus the proper procedure.
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