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

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15-second wait

8 November, 2006


Hi, and thank you for your helpful site.
I was just wondering, in a recent conversation with my Rav regarding a certain stain after urination that he was matir, I asked him about the 15 second rule that you mention a few times in your site. He said he never heard of this rule, and that toilet paper is not mekabel tumah, so he can't imagine what it's about. He said there's a separate law about blood found after urinating, but not on toilet paper, which is always meikel because of the kabalat tumah issue. I also recently attended a refresher course and this was not mentioned. I was just wondering:
1. what rabbinic sources for this are, both for the waiting itself (which it seems your site is very into) and
2. specifically 15 seconds (and if she waits 10 seconds? or 14 ? Who set this parameter, and according to what?
Thank you so much, and keep up the wonderful work!


There is concern that urination may mask the sensation of hargashah, in which case we could not avail ourselves of any of the leniencies associated with staining, including that of toilet paper being a surface that is not mekabel tumah. 

If a woman waited fifteen seconds, we are confident there was no hargashah immediately prior to the stain on the paper. In that case, we can avail ourselves of the leniency that stains on a surface such as paper do not render a woman niddah

Sephardi halachic decisors are generally more lenient in this regard.

The source we rely on for this psak halachah is Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 4:17:13.  He requires enough time that any last drops of urine would have surely come out. The number fifteen comes from a comparison with the parallel laws pertaining to a woman who sees blood directly after relations, where fifteen seconds is definitely more than enough time according to some decisors.  (See for example, Pri Deah 190:7.)  In contrast, the Shevet HaLevi also would be lenient only when a woman waits, but the time he suggests is a full minute (Shiurei Shevet HaLevi 190:10:3).

In any case, we recommend to most women that they not look at their toilet paper to avoid this halachic issue.  If there is a question as to whether she waited fifteen seconds, we are generally lenient.  But if there was certainly no wait at all, we do not rely on this leniency.

One factor in this ruling is local custom.  This is a genuine debate among halachic decisors.  Your question has helped us realize that we could present more clearly that there is a range of views on this topic.  We will work on adjusting our site accordingly.

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. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.

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