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Seven Tips for a Winter Hefsek Taharah

By Ilana Sober Elzufon

Winter is here and, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, the days have gotten short and sunset comes early – often when you are still at work, or in class, or commuting, or picking up your kids.  It can be difficult to schedule a hefsek taharah, and easy to forget to perform one until it’s too late.

Here are a few tips we’ve found helpful:

1. Do a “Back-up” Hefsek Taharah in the Morning

Try to do a bedikah in the morning as a “backup” on the day you are planning a hefsek taharah. A hefsek taharah should ideally be performed in the afternoon, shortly before sunset. However, if you forget, a morning bedikah can usually be considered a valid hefsek taharah bediavad (after the fact).

You should make an effort to do this “backup” bedikah after sunrise (henetz hachamah), or at least after halachic dawn (alot hashachar). Where this would be very difficult, you can even do it before alot hashachar.

2. Phone Reminders

Program two reminders on your phone: one for the morning to set aside what you need for the hefsek taharah and/or take it with you for the day (e.g., bedikah cloths and white undergarments), and one to remind you to do the hefsek taharah before sunset.  Both reminders can stay on for the duration of the clean days, so that you do not forget to perform bedikot.

3. Shower/Bathe  in the Morning

It is fine to shower or bathe in the morning rather than the afternoon. Alternatively, or in addition, you can use a wet wipe to clean yourself in the afternoon, even if you will be doing the hefsek taharah away from home.

4. Use a Pantiliner

Changing to white underwear is not always practical if you aren’t home. You can put on white underwear in the morning, with a pantiliner, and remove the pantiliner after the hefsek taharah. If you don’t have white underwear with you, you should still do a hefsek taharah, changing to white as soon as you have a chance.

5. Keep Your Bedikah Cloths Handy

Make sure to have a package of bedikah cloths in your bag on the day you plan a hefsek taharah, and throughout the shivah neki’im. Try to keep one in your bag at all times and a stock of a few packages at home. A few small plastic bags, in case you need to save a bedikah cloth for evaluation, are also a good idea.

6. Bedikah Cloth Alternatives

If you don’t have bedikah cloths with you, any clean soft white cloth can be used.  (If you have brought white underwear with you, that is a possibility.) A bedikah done with disposable paper that is sturdy enough not to fall apart during the bedikah, and soft enough to do a thorough bedikah entering the folds and crevices, may be valid bediavad (after the fact); a halachic question should be asked.

7. Moch Dachuk

The moch dachuk should be inserted shortly before sunset and removed shortly after tzet hakochavim (halachic nightfall). A moch dachuk left in for too long can cause irritation and bleeding. You should make every effort to perform a moch dachuk. However, a hefsek taharah is generally considered valid after the fact even without a moch dachuk. In some cases – for example, if it causes discomfort, or if you would need to leave it in for much longer than the recommended interval (e.g., a long commute or a work situation where you will have no opportunities for bathroom breaks) – it is permissible to omit it.

Please Note: Occasionally, you may need to do a hefsek taharah on the same day that bleeding began. This can happen if you experience a new flow of blood (not just a stain on a garment or bedikah cloth) during your shivah neki’im. In such a case, the bedikah must be done in the late afternoon, and the moch dachuk may not be omitted.

If you miss sunset, your shivah neki’im will be delayed by one day (e.g., if you do a hefsek taharah Tuesday night after sunset, you will go to mikveh only the following Wednesday night). If you are not sure whether you missed sunset, or if you missed it by only a few minutes, you should ask a halachic question.

For more on the topic, please see these Q&A’s from our site:

Missed sunset by seconds? 

Hefsek after sunset 

Preparing early for hefsek 

When does one change to white underwear? 

Questionable bedikah in public washroom 

Hefsek with toilet paper 

Omitted moch 

Special thanks to Yoetzet Halacha Laurie Novick for her contribution.

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