Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

  • Hebrew
  • English
  • Espnaol
  • Francais
Menu

Mourning & harchakot

22 June, 2005

Question:

As much as it is challenging and frustrating, my wife and I are extremely careful with Hilchot Nidah and I understand that they are applicable under even extreme circumstances, barring situations involving life and death or danger to health.

However, I have been wondering – what were to happen, G-d forbid, if a spouse experiences the loss of a close loved one – will the harchakot then still require that a comforting hug be delayed until after mikvah?


Answer:

Yes, if the wife is in niddah, the harchakot apply immediately after a loss, rachmana litzlan

If the husband or wife is sitting shivah, even when she is not in niddah, they are not supposed to hug or kiss or sleep in the same bed.  Here the idea is that mourning cannot be reconciled with sexual relations.  The aforementioned harchakot are instituted to take relations off the table.  Most important, the way the spouse gives comfort is by adopting all the practices and strictures of mourning in the mourning spouse's presence. 

Having been in a situation where I lost a loved one while in niddah, I can empathize with the desire for a hug in that situation.  However, my husband found many effective non-physical ways of expressing his love and solidarity at that time.  Since I understood the halacha and appreciated his efforts, I found this to be a real source of comfort and support.

In the autobiography of Glueckel of Hameln (17th-18th c.), there is a moving account of her husband on his deathbed when she was in niddah.  He tells her that they had observed the halacha all their married lives and shouldn't violate the harchakot now.  They are united by their mutual commitment to halacha.


This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.

For further questions or comments: 

The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.


Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.