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Unclear ruling from rabbi

16 March, 2009

Question:

Hello,

I recently stopped birth control, after about 2 years. I stopped the pills about 3 months ago, and have been pretty irregular ever since (I got my period 4 days after my active pill, then 37 days after that, then 67 days after that.) I got my period last Monday.

I tried to do a hefsek on Friday night which was unsuccessful, and then tried again on Shabbos evening. I usually get brown on my hefseks, so we often show them to a rav. Today my husband showed the hefsek (which had a lot of dark brown), the moch, and my bedikah from this morning (which was much better, but had some very small questionable spots) to the Rav who we usually ask our questions to.

The rav asked which day they were from (the 6th) and asked if I always got brown. My husband responded not all the time but sometimes. The rav took a look at the moch and the bedikah from this morning, and said that we can be meikel.

When my husband called me right afterwards, I asked him to please find out what we should do, because I didnt know what it meant that "we can be meikel."

My husband called the rav to make sure that I should go motzai Shabbos. The rav responded, "Listen, if she's not bothered by waiting another day, then let her go Sunday night."

I am emailing you because I still feel unsure about what to do. We certainly do not want to be over on any issurim and would not want me to go to the mikvah if it were the wrong time, chas vshalom. That said, my cycle so far is completely unpredictable, and I dont want to miss our chance to conceive, if that were the case. Would it be possible for you to give me an answer about when I should go to the mikvah?

Thanks so much for your guidance.


Answer:

Sometimes the ruling on a bedikah, hefsek taharah, or moch dachuk is clear cut, either to permit or prohibit.  Accordingly, when a cloth is clearly unacceptable, a reputable rav would never allow a woman to immerse.  No matter how well trained a rav is, however, some cloths will fall into the middle ground, where either a stringent or lenient ruling is possible.  In such cases, one of the halachic factors in making the ruling is how pressing the circumstance is.  In a "she'at hadchak," or pressured situation, halacha often may be decided on more "meikel" (lenient) grounds.

That is to say, when the rav suggested you could be "meikel", what he probably had in mind was: "This is not a totally clear cut case. Additionally, she has struggled to become tehorah, which creates a she'at hadchak.  Therefore, there is good halachic support for leniency." 

When your husband called the rav back, you might have meant the call as double-checking that immersing as the rav had stated was indeed permissible.  The rav might have understood the call as a statement that you did not perceive the situation as a she'at hadchak.  If that were the case, you could "wait another day".  (Nowadays, timing of immersion on Motzaei Shabbat is not usually in itself cause for delay.)

If our understanding of your question and his answer is correct, then this is a she'at hadchak, since you've had such unpredictable cycles.  There is the additional halachic factor of your desire to conceive.  Being too 'machmir' (stringent) on hilchot niddah could lead to being 'meikel' on peru urevu!  In both of his comments, the rav expressed that you need not delay immersion.

All that being said, we are not mind readers.  The best way to resolve your questions would be to communicate with the rav directly, being sure to express your concerns about your irregular cycle and conception. You should also ask your rav about whether you may omit the moch dachuk for your next few cycles.


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