Specific harchakot apply when a couple eat together during niddah. They do not eat or drink from the same plate or cup, and agree on a private signal that reminds them of the niddah status.
If one imagines the intimacy implied by a table for two, one can understand the basis for these harchakot (restrictions). A couple should observe the following rules while the wife is niddah:
1) They should not eat at the same table without a reminder (heker) that she is niddah. This reminder may be an object that is not normally on the table and that is not used during the meal, or they may use separate placemats (if they do not usually do so). The reminder should be a private signal between the couple, which is not obvious to others. According to some authorities, the reminder is not required if they are eating with other adults, or with children old enough to be embarrassed by intimate behavior.
2) They should not eat from the same plate. They are both allowed to take from a central serving platter.
3) If the wife has drunk from a cup, her husband may not drink from that cup, although the wife may drink from her husband's cup. Some authorities extend this prohibition to food: the husband may not eat his wife's leftovers, but she may eat his leftovers.
4) The husband is allowed to drink from his wife's cup if:
- someone else drank from the cup after her;
- the drink was transferred to another cup (even if it was then returned to the original cup);
- he doesn't know that she has drunk from the cup (and she does not have to go out of her way to tell him);
- or she is no longer in the vicinity.
5) Restrictions on pouring drinks for each other, or serving each other food, are discussed in Showing Affection.
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