The wartime situation in Israel poses many challenges and raises unique halachic questions in the realm of taharat hamishpacha. Families are facing rockets, relocation, and extended separation because of the massive mobilization of the reserves, but everyone is affected in different ways. Feelings of tension, fear, and mourning may mix with faith, resolve, and hope for the future.
On this page, we offer guidelines for women in Israel, which we hope will be helpful in a difficult and unpredictable situation. We will continue to update this page as the situation develops.
As always, Yoatzot Halacha are available to support you and respond to your questions.
Hefsek Taharah, Shivah Neki'im & Bedikot
A hefsek taharah is essential before beginning the clean days.
Because a soldier might come home at any time, a woman should attempt a hefsek taharah as soon as possible. Our site’s Rabbinic Supervisor, Rav Kenneth Auman, permits women who usually perform a hefsek taharah only as of day five to perform it as early as day four, where military service affects (or is likely to affect) the couple’s time together. If a woman in this situation may be able to attempt a hefsek taharah earlier than day four, she should ask a personal halachic question, providing more specific details.
We recommend performing a bedikah first thing in the morning of the day a woman plans a hefsek taharah. A morning bedikah can serve as a back-up hefsek taharah in case she is unable to do one later in the day.
A woman who missed her moch dachuk may count her clean days as planned. If performing the moch dachuk is logistically difficult or overwhelming, a woman may omit it in most cases. (Learn more here.)
Soldiers can return home unexpectedly. Therefore, even if a woman expects to be separated from her husband for an extended time, she should make sure to count the clean days, ask any halachic questions, and get to mikveh as soon as possible.
If a woman does not have access to clean white underwear, she can wear clean underwear of any color as long as she keeps in mind that she is continuing to count the seven clean days.
Women concerned about staining may wear disposable white pantyliners during the clean days. We follow the view that a stain on a disposable pantyliner does not invalidate the clean days. We also recommend reviewing our discussions of stains and toilet paper.
A woman may unexpectedly find herself in a situation where she cannot perform a bedikah, or she may forget. We recommend performing a bedikah first thing in the morning during the seven clean days, in case a woman is unable to do one later in the day.
If a woman misses bedikot on days 2-6, she may continue counting her clean days. It is essential to perform at least one bedikah on the first day and one on the seventh. It is also highly recommended to perform a bedikah on at least one intermediate day, which can enable a bedikah on the eighth day to stand in for a missed bedikah on the seventh. Please see here for a more detailed explanation, and ask a question in any unclear situation.
If a woman has no bedikah cloths available, her best option is to use some other clean, soft, absorbent, white fabric. For example, she could cut up a cotton t-shirt or undershirt.
If no white fabric is available, a sturdy white tissue, doubled up, can be used for a bedikah. A bedikah performed with a tissue is valid so long as a woman is able to perform a thorough bedikah with the tissue remaining intact.
A baby wipe could also be used in this situation as long as excess moisture is squeezed out. The dryer the better, halachically and health-wise, and women with vaginal health issues in particular should avoid using moist wipes for bedikot. A wipe can be rinsed and then wrung out to remove soaps and perfumes as well as moisture.
Any questionable stain or bedikah should be brought for evaluation as soon as possible. If there is a delay in asking a question, a woman should be sure to hold on to the undergarment or bedikah cloth until she can ask.
Women who have a pressing question about a stain or bedikah cloth and cannot reach a local halachic authority may wish to try the Tahor App, which uses special color calibration technology to enable stains to be assessed online by a team of rabbis. Though this is usually a fee-based service, the fee can be waived at this time for those in Israel by contacting the app.
Timing of Immersion
If possible and safe, we recommend making an effort to immerse in the mikveh on the scheduled night (even if it falls out on Shabbat), or as soon as possible afterwards. This is the case even in communities that have a custom for a woman not to immerse when her husband is away. In emergency situations, soldiers may be able to visit home unexpectedly, sometimes only for a few hours. Even if a couple do not plan on having relations, immersion will allow for other forms of physical contact, which can be no less important.
For some women, mikveh can also be an opportunity to pause, to focus on themselves, and to connect to God. It is also traditionally considered a time to recite personal prayers.
In areas where it is not possible to go out at night for security reasons, one should check with the local mikveh and halachic authorities regarding daytime immersion, on the eighth day or later, taking care not to be secluded with one’s husband until nightfall. In very extenuating circumstances, if there is a specific need to immerse on day seven of the clean days, an individual question should be asked.
If immersion is scheduled for Shabbat and walking to and from the mikveh is dangerous, a woman may arrange to immerse shortly before Shabbat so that she can drive both ways. In this scenario the couple should preferably not see each other–and should be sure not to be secluded alone together–between immersion and nightfall.
If a woman needs to delay immersion, she completes her seven clean days as usual. After the clean days, there is no need for any further bedikot and it is advisable to change to colored underwear.
We recommend performing all preparations at home, possibly starting more time-intensive ones earlier in the day to relieve pressure on mikveh night. Long-lasting preparations like cutting nails can be done a day or two in advance. A woman preparing at home with no safe room in her apartment can shower fairly quickly, taking care to wash herself thoroughly.
With any potential chatzitzah that may be difficult to remove, it is best to consult a halachic authority as soon as possible. You can learn more here.
Natural hair growing from the body is not considered a chatzitzah. If a woman is normally careful to remove hair before mikveh, but is unable to do so for any reason, she should immerse as scheduled.
Widespread practice is to remove nail polish prior to immersion. Since polish is worn for beautification, a woman who would skip or postpone immersion rather than remove her nail polish is typically allowed to immerse with a well-maintained manicure, after cleaning her nails well.
A gel manicure is difficult to fill in or remove on one’s own, and scheduling can be a challenge during wartime. We recommend planning an appointment well in advance of mikveh, and considering changing to a different type of polish. Slightly grown-out gel is not considered a chatzitzah.
Logistics may seem daunting. It is completely permissible to tell others about the timing of one’s immersion so that they can help facilitate immersion. Many communities have organized support for families where a parent has been called up, so it may be possible to find a babysitter, ride, etc., even without providing details.
A woman should check in advance if her mikveh has a safe room or shelter accessible from the mikveh (see the list here) and that other safety precautions (e.g., keeping a radio on over Shabbat) are being taken, in coordination with local security protocols.
Where there is concern for sirens, we recommend taking steps to expedite immersion. A woman can bring essential items with her to the edge of the mikveh pool, in case she needs to get to them quickly, and is permitted to immerse in a loose robe or tee shirt in order to enable her to reach a shelter in time. It is also permissible to dip only a single time in the mikveh (in which case, Ashkenazi women should recite the bracha following that dip).
While there is halachic discussion of refraining from relations during an et tzarah, a time of trouble for the Jewish people, this is widely considered a voluntary act of piety and is not a fundamental halachic requirement. Couples seeking to conceive, or on mikveh night, should certainly not refrain. Even for other couples, our tendency would be to recommend focusing energies first on prayer, tzedaka, and chesed.
While the ideal time for relations is at night, relations are permitted during the daytime so long as the room is darkened (as with heavy curtains or blinds). The room does not have to be pitch dark. Relations are permitted when there is a sleeping child in the room, and in the presence of a baby who does not yet speak even if he or she is awake. If necessary, it is permissible to have relations while clothed.
Conduct During a Veset: If a spouse’s brief military leave falls out over an onat veset, the prohibition of relations on a veset remains in place, but stringencies related to vesatot do not apply. Couples who usually observe an extra onat perishah (either the onah before the veset or to fill out a twenty-four hour onah beinonit) are permitted to have relations at those times, just not on the veset itself. Couples who are usually stringent to refrain from sexually affectionate touch on an onat veset may engage in it, as long as they do not have relations.
Precautions for Staining:
Bedikot on Onot Veset:
Manipulating the Cycle:
Due to the uncertainty of wartime, some couples may be interested in pursuing hormonal cycle manipulation. This is halachically permissible when medically safe.
A woman can consult her healthcare provider about possible methods for adjusting her cycle. If she is already using combined hormonal contraceptives, she may be able to extend her cycle by continuing the active hormones for longer. A woman is also permitted to begin hormonal contraceptives for this purpose if war-related stress is high. Alternatively, progesterone can be used to push off an expected period for a limited amount of time. Learn more here.
Breakthrough bleeding becomes more likely when beginning hormonal intervention, switching to a different formulation of hormonal contraceptives, or extending the cycle (especially with triphasic pills). Therefore, it is especially important in any of these cases to take precautions to prevent becoming niddah from staining.
The changes wrought by the war can be especially challenging for a couple planning to marry. Plans for the wedding and beginning of marriage may be suddenly upended, introducing new worries about the future.
A couple should not hesitate to reach out to a kallah or chatan teacher, Rav, and/or a Yoetzet Halacha for halachic guidance and spiritual support. We also recommend that kallot review the other sections of this page for general information about becoming tehorah during wartime and our guidelines for kallot.
Even if a wedding needs to be rescheduled, a couple should still try to marry at a time in which the kallah will not be niddah. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. In some cases, a wedding during niddah (chuppat niddah) may be the best option. (See more about scheduling the wedding here.)
When a wedding date is changed, a kallah who is using hormones to avoid a chuppat niddah should discuss adjusting her pill schedule with her healthcare provider and kallah teacher. (She can also consult a Rav, or a Yoetzet Halacha in her community or through our telephone hotline.)
If a wedding has been moved up to a time before a kallah had been planning to immerse, she should seek immediate halachic guidance to see if she can move up her immersion as well. When necessary, a kallah can arrange to immerse during the day.
Given the unpredictable situation, a kallah should perform a hefsek taharah and count seven clean days as soon as she can, on the chance that her wedding date might be moved up. Once the clean days are complete, she can switch to colored undergarments.
If a wedding is planned for more than four days after immersion, a kallah should also consult a halachic authority about the bedikot required from that point on. Our site’s rabbinic supervisor, Rav Kenneth Auman, rules that a kallah whose wedding is unexpectedly rescheduled in wartime should perform at least one proper bedikah every seven days (i.e., making sure that not more than six full days elapse between bedikot) between completing the clean days and the wedding.
If a kallah has staining and is concerned about performing a bedikah after she has been to the mikveh before her wedding, she should ask a specific halachic question.
Fertility Tests & Treatment
The stress and uncertainty of war and separation can be especially challenging for couples undergoing fertility evaluations or treatments, or considering whether to begin them. As of this writing, Israeli fertility clinics are continuing to operate as usual for the most part.
The question of whether to pursue fertility evaluation or assisted reproduction treatment cycles in the current climate is highly individual. Though time can be of the essence, stress levels must also be taken into account, as they impact emotional health and perhaps may affect the success of treatment. Yoatzot Halacha Fertility Counselors are here for you, offering free consultations and support.
Related Questions & Answers
There’s a possibility my husband will have a reprieve (24 hours) from miluim either during my “period” (I’ve had a hormonal iud for about 2.5 months and this is the first time I’ve had a strong enough flow that I’m considering it a period) or more likely the 7 clean days.
Is there any room for leniency regarding the harchakot because of the war? For my mental health and feeling of security, I cannot imagine finally having him home and not being able to hug and hold him. I have faith that he and I will be able to make sure that we do not have sexual relations.
Thank you for reaching out to us.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question and what it can mean to ask it.
These are very difficult times, and there is added complexity for husband and wife in finding common ground between the military front and the home front. Couples are challenged to broaden the range and depth of support that they can offer, including a listening ear, emotional comfort, and practical assistance. Hugs are one part of this bigger picture, and negotiating niddah at a time when touch seems so important brings its own challenges.
Generally speaking, sexually affectionate touch is prohibited to a couple even when they are certain that it will not lead to relations. According to Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, this is a Torah-level prohibition. Non-sexually-affectionate contact is prohibited rabbinically, even during wartime and even during the clean days.
As you point out, a hug can contribute to a sense of security and stability. On the other hand, for some couples, maintaining mutual commitment to standard halachic practice can provide its own sense of security and purpose, and finding the strength to refrain from contact can feel empowering.
It is hard for a couple reuniting in this intense situation to know exactly how they will feel and manage in the moment, to be certain that there would be no element of sexual affection in any contact, or to be sure of the consequences of a given course of action.
In cases of serious mental health issues, there is sometimes room for spouses to have non-sexually affectionate physical contact through clothing (i.e., no skin-to-skin contact). There is currently controversy over whether this type of contact could similarly be permitted in wartime, even when there are no acute mental health concerns, and Nishmat’s rabbis have a range of perspectives on the issue.
Rav Yaakov Warhaftig, a main Nishmat Posek in Israel, would permit such contact through clothing for soldiers on short leave who will be returning to dangerous positions on the front. He restricts this contact to outside the bedroom and to situations where the couple are not alone together.
Other Nishmat Rabbis in Israel and the US, including this site’s Rabbinic Supervisor, Rav Kenneth Auman, would not generally permit contact through clothing, even with these conditions. Rav Auman feels that it is legitimate for couples who usually consult with a halachic authority outside of Israel to turn to an Israeli authority with this type of question, because those in Israel have more direct understanding of the situation.
The proper course of action here depends on personal factors, and so our policy is to encourage couples in this situation to seek halachic and spiritual guidance. Key questions for a couple to ask themselves are what resources they can draw on to build their resilience and whether refraining from contact would lead to distress or anxiety that could negatively impact future functioning.
Sometimes a husband and wife might have different feelings about these issues. It’s important to make room for each spouse’s perspective to be heard.
If you’d like to follow up with a telephone consultation, please be in touch with contact information or call our telephone hotline.
We wish you strength, safety, and besorot tovot.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
I generally perform minimal bedikot during 7 nekiim (first day, last day, some time in the middle). This time I completed a hefsek tahara on Sunday. Forgot to do a bedika on Monday, but did a bedika on Tuesday. I am supposed to go to the mikva on Sunday night following a clean bedika in the morning, but I want to make sure that is still possible even though I didn’t officially do a bedika on day 1 (though I did do a hefsek tahara). Though my husband was not called up, I still have been exceedingly preoccupied with the war⁄taking care of kids at home, worrying about our people and our country. Does such a situation exempt from the requirement to do a bedika on day 1?
Thank you for reaching out to us.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question and your preoccupation with the current situation.
When no bedikah is done on the first day following the hefsek taharah, the clean days and mikveh immersion are typically pushed off by one day. The exceptions are usually extreme cases of shalom bayit or fertility concerns. Some uniquely pressing situations in wartime may also provide grounds for leniency, in consultation with a halachic authority. Please be in touch with more information if any of these (or something similar) might apply to you.
If you performed a moch dachuk and left it in until after nightfall, then that could count as a day-one bedikah in this case. If you did any other action akin to a bedikah on Monday (e.g. inserting toilet paper internally), then that also might be able to count, and we ask you to follow up with us with details. Otherwise, you should wait the additional night, even though the country’s situation makes waiting longer a greater challenge than usual.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
May we hear besorot tovot!
Could you please tell me more about the inyan of Eis Tzara? I find I am constantly thinking about the matzav and would feel inappropriate or guilty focusing on other things such as intimacy.
The halachic discussion of et tzarah (a time of distress) centers on famine (Ta’anit 11a; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayyim 240:12). Rema there extends it to other types of communal distress. Still, this is not considered a full-fledged prohibition and later authorities limit his statement and relate to it as a pious practice and not basic halacha. One key reason is that marital intimacy is itself a Torah level mitzvah, and when a difficult situation continues indefinitely, refraining from relations or other intimate touch that draws the couple together could have a detrimental effect on a marriage.
It is understandable to think about the current situation often. But it is important to be able to continue to engage in normal life as much as possible. This, after all, is what we are fighting to preserve. Engaging in marital relations can give us strength to redouble our practical efforts to help with the situation, whether through volunteering or prayer. Acts of chessed and prayer are usually more constructive ways to channel concerns about the situation.
If you find yourself unable to stop thinking about the situation, then you might find it helpful to seek short-term therapy.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance — and may we hear b’sorot tovot soon!
My husband is in the army and hasn’t been home in a week. Do I need to wait 4 days to do a hefsek or can I do a hefsek sooner as we haven’t been together? (We are Sephardi.)
Thank you for reaching out to us.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.
In a case in which they have not had relations within the past four days, women who usually wait four days in accordance with common Sephardi rulings are permitted to perform a hefsek taharah as soon as the bleeding stops.
In other words, you need not wait.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
We wish you and your husband strength and safety.