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

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Not looking

9 April, 2013

Question:

Hi, I am confused about the issue of toilet paper and "not looking." This seems almost like a joke to me – like if I don't look, it doesn't count as still having come from my body? I have been married 8 years and this still is confusing to me.

So I am now a niddah just because I looked, but if I hadn't, I wouldn't be? It just feels like pretending to me and is confusing. I guess this would be considered spotting, but I also don't understand how that would make you a niddah if it was only on colored underwear, for example, because there would be no hargasha. If you could shed some light on this for me I would appreciate it. Thank you in advance.


Answer:

On the level of Torah law (d'oraita), uterine bleeding that is not accompanied by a hargashah does not render a woman niddah. The laws of ketamim (stains) were enacted as a rabbinic stringency (d'rabbanan) on Torah law. Thus, under certain circumstances, bleeding or staining without hargashah will render a woman niddah according to rabbinic law.

When creating the laws of ketamim, the Sages built in a set of leniencies that allow for a normal marital life, which is also an important halachic consideration. You should not feel uneasy with following halacha properly – both in its stringencies and its leniencies – remembering that they were both imposed on us by the same halachic authorities. Staining that one does not notice is not subject to the stringencies of the laws of ketamim. Further, the Sages did not require a woman to look for staining or bleeding unless she experiences a hargashah or an actual flow, or during her shivah neki'im or on an onah day.

Toilet paper is a surface that is not susceptible to ritual impurity (tum'ah), so in theory stains on toilet paper may be disregarded (see our article on stains for an explanation of this principle). However, if one wiped within 15 seconds of urinating, there is a concern that the sensation of urination masked a hargashah, so we are strict with stains on toilet paper if one wiped within 15 seconds of urinating. Therefore, as long as you wait 15 seconds after urinating, stains on toilet paper may be disregarded and do not render you niddah.

For the future, you should take care to wait 15 seconds after urinating before wiping. Additionally, if you do find staining (in a manner that does not render you niddah), we recommend abstaining for 24 hours as a precaution, so your status may be fully clarified.

Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.


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