Sensation of Menses (Hargashah)
According to Torah law, a woman does not become niddah unless a bodily sensation, or hargashah, accompanies her uterine bleeding. Under rabbinic law, which is fully authoritative, she can become niddah even with no sensation; however, the presence or absence of hargashah remains relevant in certain situations.
According to Torah law, a woman does not become niddah unless a bodily sensation, or hargashah, accompanies her uterine bleeding. Under rabbinic law, which is fully authoritative, she can become niddah even with no sensation; however, the presence or absence of hargashah remains relevant in certain situations. It should be mentioned that, according to many opinions, a sensation that qualifies as a hargashah is today relatively rare.
Talmudic or rabbinic sources describe three sensations:
- Her whole body shakes.
- She feels her uterus open.
- She feels liquid flowing.
The third type is complex; halachic authorities differ in their understanding of the precise nature of this sensation and how it differs from the external dampness that many women experience with their natural secretions. Our position is that a sensation of liquid exiting the body is not a hargashah, while a sensation of liquid flowing within the vagina is a hargashah.
In certain circumstances, when a woman brings about other strong sensations in the genital area, there is concern that she may in fact have had a hargashah but overlooked it or attributed it to the other sensations. These circumstances include:
- Sexual intercourse.
- An internal examination (bedikah).
Therefore, if a woman discovers a drop of blood or a stain, however small, immediately following urination or sexual intercourse, or on the cloth she used for an internal examination, the laws are stringent because she may have had a sensation which she did not notice at the time. Similarly, if she felt a hargashah and then discovered a stain on her clothing or another surface, she may be niddah – even if the stain does not meet the usual conditions needed in order to cause a niddah status.
If a woman has a hargashah, but detects no obvious bleeding, she should perform an internal examination. If she finds a forbidden color, she is definitely niddah. If she finds a discharge of a permissible color (such as clear, white or light yellow), she may attribute the sensation to that discharge, and is not niddah. If she finds a questionable color (such as brown) she should show it (or arrange to have it shown) to a rabbi. The most complex situation arises if she finds no discharge at all, and in such cases she should consult a rabbi.
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