This website was founded in 1999 to provide information about women’s health and halacha to women around the world. Rabbi Yehuda Henkin z”l was the founding Rabbinic Supervisor. Rabbi Kenneth Auman is the Rabbinic Supervisor as of December 2020.
Yoetzet Halacha Dr. Deena Zimmerman is the Site Director and Medical Supervisor. She is the author of the original articles and many of the earliest responses on the site. Yoatzot Halacha Fay Blashka and Laurie Novick are authors of most of the other responses. Ilana Sober Elzufon is site editor. She and Laurie are responsible for an ongoing project of revising and updating articles on the site.
Please read carefully: The goal of this site is to provide information and enhance the understanding of issues in Jewish law related to taharat hamishpacha (the laws of marital life) and women’s health, not to replace the personal contact needed to provide an actual halachic ruling [psak]. This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. For advice on obtaining a direct halachic ruling, we can be contacted via our Ask the Yoetzet service or Nishmat’s Golda Koschitzky Women’s Halachic Hotline.
Your privacy is very important to us. Particularly due to the sensitive nature of the communication, Nishmat respects concerns about maintaining strict privacy. Any information that you share with us is kept in strictest confidence.
We do not use personally identifiable information such as e-mail addresses unless requested to do so. When given information, we keep it confidential. All questions that are posted on the site are meant to be representative and not reflect a specific question. The questions are posted anonymously and after removal of any identifying information that could possibly be tied to the sender.
We do not sell, rent, share, or otherwise disclose mailing lists or other personally identifiable information. Email addresses are automatically and irretrievably deleted from our database after 30 days.
Security arrangements are in place to prevent others from gaining access to the information on this site. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this policy.
Why a Website?
The 21st century presents us with the opportunity to harness modern technology to increase awareness of halacha and alleviate many difficulties facing the Torah-observant Jew. Through its groundbreaking Keren Ariel Institute for Yoatzot Halacha, Nishmat has accepted the challenge of specializing in Hilchot Niddah as it interacts with modern medicine and modern life.
In November 2000, Nishmat inaugurated the Women’s Halachic Hotline, staffed by seven Keren Ariel graduates and supervised by Rabbi Yaakov Varhaftig and Rabbi Yehuda Henkin z”l. Women discuss with a Yoetzet Halacha problems they encounter while observing the laws of taharat hamishpacha(family purity). While the Yoatzot are not rabbis, many women who encounter problems while observing the laws of taharat hamishpacha feel they can talk more freely with a knowledgeable woman, and appreciate the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a Yoetzet.
The Hotline quickly reached its current volume of over 100 calls weekly, from Israel and abroad. Many questions concern medical issues, such as gynecological procedures, fertility treatments, and prolonged bleeding or spotting. Other questions – some from women who have been observing taharat hamishpacha for years – reveal significant gaps in basic understanding of the laws of niddah.
The urgent need for accessible information and guidance, demonstrated by the Hotline, has led us to our current project – the creation of an Internet site. Our goal is to make practical information on women’s health and halacha quickly and easily available to a wide international audience.
The site is designed for four audiences:
The general public: The site provides information on hilchot niddah, women’s health, and the interaction between them. It is not a substitute for consultation with a rabbi or medical professional, but the information should help women understand the issues better, so that their questions can be asked, and answered, more effectively. The full site is available in English, Hebrew, and French. The Ask the Yoetzet feature is also available in Spanish.
Our free Marriage Companion course provides a more structured presentation of the laws of taharat hamishpacha, women’s health, and the interactions between them. Versions of the course are also available in French and Spanish.
Health care professionals: Our sister site, www.jewishwomenshealth.org, provides information on the interaction between halacha and medicine in the broad area of women’s health. The site features articles written specifically for an audience of health professionals.
Brides and kallah teachers: Kallah Companion is a free comprehensive interactive online curriculum in taharat hamishpacha designed especially for brides.
Rabbis: This portion of the site, currently under construction, will provide rabbis with current medical and halachic information, enabling them to better address the needs of their congregants in an effective, up-to-date fashion.
But what about tzniut?
Modesty in speech is certainly a goal of halacha. Sometimes, however, the halacha must be spelled out clearly – otherwise, essential laws may not be correctly followed. Based on our experience with the Hotline, we believe that in the case of taharat hamishpacha the risks of silence generally outweigh the risks of insufficient verbal modesty. Nevertheless, certain topics, which we believe should not be discussed in public, will not appear on the site – although individual questions will be answered privately.