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

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Sephardi customs

3 February, 2003

Question:

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.


Answer:

The best known differences are as follows:

  1. Sephardim are not particular about the couple sharing a seat that moves.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Certain Sephardic communities require a four-day rather than five-day minimum before the hefsek taharah.
  5. Women of certain Sephardic communities generally shave pubic hair prior to mikveh use.
  6. 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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