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

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Mourning & harchakot

22 June, 2005

Question:

As much as it is challenging and frustrating, my wife and I are extremely careful with Hilchot Nidah and I understand that they are applicable under even extreme circumstances, barring situations involving life and death or danger to health.

However, I have been wondering – what would happen if, G-d forbid, we were to experience the loss of a close loved one – would the harchakot then still require that a comforting hug be delayed until after mikvah?


Answer:

Yes, if the wife is in niddah, the harchakot continue to apply immediately after a loss, rachmana litzlan. Though not having physical contact due to niddah can be an extra challenge during mourning, spouses can seek out non-physical ways of expressing love and solidarity and may find this to be a real source of comfort and support.

Even without the wife being in niddah, mourning cannot be reconciled with sexual relations, which are prohibited when one of the couple is sitting shiva. Indeed, mourning is a joint endeavor for a married couple, and even when only one spouse is in mourning, the non-mourning spouse gives comfort by adopting all the practices and strictures of mourning in the mourning spouse’s presence.

In the autobiography of Glueckel of Hameln (17th-18th c.), there is a moving account of her husband on his deathbed when she was in niddah. He tells her that they had observed the halacha all their married lives and shouldn’t violate the harchakot now. They are united by their mutual commitment to halacha.

May we hear besorot tovot.

This response was updated on 20 November, 2023.


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