3 February, 2003
What are the differences for Sefardiah women as opposed to Ashkenaziot in terms of harchakot (safsal hamitmadned, etc.)? What about taking a long shower instead of a bath before mikvah. Number of bedikot required during sheva nekiim? Waiting a minimum of four days instead of five before a hefsek tahara? Are there any others I should be aware of? Thank you in advance for your time.
The best known differences are as follows:
- Sephardim are not particular about the couple sharing a seat that moves.
- Any woman can take a shower rather than a bath if she assures that she washes all parts of her body and washes her hair and all body folds in warm water.
- The basic number of bedikot during the seven blood-free days is two each day. If there is a particular problem, the number may be reduced. A specific question should be asked how to best reduce them.
- Certain Sephardic communities require a four-day rather than five-day minimum before the hefsek taharah.
- Women of certain Sephardic communities generally shave pubic hair prior to mikveh use.
- In certain Sephardic communities, a woman makes the bracha on immersion while wearing a robe, before entering the water of the mikveh. She then disrobes and immerses.
However, "Sephardim" is a broad category that includes women from many different countries with different customs. Therefore, if trying to determine the correct behavior for a particular woman, it is best to ask a rabbi from the relevant community or provide us with more details. Furthermore, when dealing with a marriage of a couple of different ethnic backgrounds, there is room for asking questions as to which customs a wife must follow and which she can choose to do differently.
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