Starting to learn about family purity
10 September, 2004
I was raised in a secular Jewish family and currently live in a small town where I am the only Jew. Recently I have started dating an Orthodox man, and we are both thinking of marriage. Family purity laws are very important to him, and as such I would like to learn as much as I can about what I must do, and how to follow these laws. To tell the truth I know extremely little in this area, and have never been to a mikvah. This makes me nervous, and a little embarrassed as I feel incredibly ignorant and know no one well enough to ask about the practicalities and personal issues involved. Can you help me? I'm not ever sure what questions to ask. Thank you in advance for your time and any direction you can give me.
We would be happy to help.
You may want to start with our list of some of the many English books written on the subject. You may find A Lifetime Companion to the Laws of Jewish Family Life, by Dr. Deena Zimmerman (director of this website), and The Marriage Covenant, by Rabbi Elyashiv Knohl, to be among the most accessible halachic presentations. We also recommend Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology, edited by Rivkah Slonim, as well as the website www.mikvah.org, to convey something of the experience of observing this mitzvah.
After reading any of these, feel free to browse through this site for further information and to ask us any questions, either online or through our telephone hotline. If you are particularly concerned about something that you read, ask about it. Not all possible answers are provided in books meant for the general public.
If you do get engaged, it is important to have at least some personal, individual guidance from a woman experienced in teaching these laws (a "kallah teacher"). No book or website can completely substitute for face-to-face interaction. You may find our online course, Kallah Companion, a helpful supplement to kallah classes.
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.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.