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

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Affectionate Service

During niddah, husband and wife may not serve each other in three ways which show special affection: pouring wine or other alcoholic drinks, making the spouse’s bed, and drawing his or her bath.

Pouring wine or other drinks:

One spouse may not pour a drink for the other in his or her presence or serve it. This prohibition includes wine and alcoholic beverages, and other drinks normally reserved for special occasions such as a festive punch, but not ordinary drinks served with most meals (such as water, juice, milk, tea or coffee).

Some authorities extend the prohibition to include food and ordinary drinks, except for plain water.

Pouring a drink or serving drink or food are permissible if done in an unusual way. For example, a right-handed woman could use her left hand, or a man could put the cup on the table at a clear distance from his wife’s place setting.

Making a bed

One spouse may not make the other’s bed in his or her presence. This does not apply to the hard work of putting on sheets or pillowcases, but to the more careful and affectionate arranging of the bed, such as turning down the comforter. All forms of bed-making are permitted if the spouse is not present.

See our article “Beds” for the laws of sitting or lying on each other’s beds during niddah.

Drawing a bath

One spouse may not draw a bath for each other in his or her presence, nor pour water for washing hands, face, and feet – even if they do not touch and even if it is not warm water. (Listening to the water running is considered to be in the other’s presence.)

It is permissible to bring water for one’s spouse to wash netilat yadayim (hand-washing before a meal) or mayim acharonim (after a meal).

Passing a cup of wine

There is an additional restriction that applies specifically to the husband. A man may not pass his wife a cup of wine or grape juice intended specifically for her, or even give it to someone else to pass to her.

If he has made kiddush, he can pour a number of small cups and pass them around the table, and she can take one of them. Alternatively, after he makes kiddush and drinks, he can place the kiddush cup on the table in front of him. She can pick it up and either drink from it directly, or pour from it into another cup. A third suggestion would be for the wife to have wine in her cup before kiddush is recited. She may drink that wine (as may all the other people present) in lieu of drinking from the wine in the kiddush cup .

This restriction is more severe than the others mentioned in this article in that, if he passed her a cup, she may not drink from it.

Updated 16 December 2020.

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