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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is the Law of Niddah?

Maria Merola אריאל
 © Copyright Double Portion Inheritance, October 22, 2009

Often times I encounter people who are looking for loopholes to not obey the Mosaic Law (Towrah). These very same people think that have found their “legal loophole” when they try to divert the attention away from the obvious commandments in scripture to a vague misunderstanding about the laws surrounding a woman’s uncleanness (menstrual cycle).  

These very same people, in their attempt to debunk the validity of the Towrah for the New Covenant believer are constantly trying to bring up literal interpretations of scripture in order to somehow “prove” that nobody is able to obey the instructions of our Heavenly Father. They assume that he placed all those laws in the Towrah (the five books of Moses) as some kind of “test” to show us that none of us can obey it.

The goal of these people is to get us to see that the Towrah is too difficult for anybody to keep and therefore we should throw out the entire first five books of the Bible and simply relegate the entire thing to “antiquity.”

To those who would try suggest that men are not allowed to even “touch” a woman by giving her a hug or holding her hand during her menstrual cycle, let’s see what the Towrah actually says:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 15:19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.

Now, what we are about to learn from the above verse, is that the phrase whoever touches her” in the Hebrew translation is implying that anyone who actually touches the blood or touches her in a sexual way, shall be unclean until evening. This commandment is not prohibiting anyone from touching her in the literal sense. 

If this were the case, she could not change her baby’s diapers while on her menstrual period, she could not breast-feed her baby, iron her husband’s clothes, cook food, wash dishes etc. Basically, she would have to sit in a box for a week and do absolutely nothing for seven days! This would be the equivalent to what they call “solitary confinement” within the prison system. 

Why would YaHuWaH, our Creator create a woman in this way, only to punish her for seven days out of every month, whereby she would not be allowed to come near anyone or touch anyone? This makes no sense at all, unless we study these verses out in context, so stay with me on this. Let us continue:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 15:21 And whosoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.

In the above verses, the word for “touch” does not mean that a woman cannot receive a hug or a kiss when she is on her menstrual cycle. It means that she may not be “touched” in a sexual way, or have sexual intercourse with her husband during those seven days of her uncleanness  It also means that one may not touch the blood itself if it has spilled onto the bed or the surface where she sat. But how can we be sure of this? Well, let us take a look at the Hebrew word here for “touch:”

# 5060 naga` naw-gah’ a primitive root; properly, to touch, i.e. lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemism, to lie with a woman); by implication, to reach (figuratively, to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.):–beat, (be able to) bring (down), cast, come (nigh), draw near (nigh), get up, happen, join, near plague, reach (up), smite, strike, touch.

You will notice from the definition of this word for touch,that this is an ambiguous word, and it has multiple meanings. One of the definitions says “near plague,” and so means that one is not supposed to touch the plague itself, or the blood. It does not mean that we cannot touch the woman.

You will also notice that this means “a euphemism” for “to lie with a woman.

How does the dictionary define a “euphemism?” It means the following: the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt; the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.” 

An inoffensive phrase substituted for one considered offensive or hurtful, especially one concerned with religion, sex, death or excreta. Examples of euphemisms are “sleep with” for “have sexual intercourse with.” Other examples are: “departed” instead of “dead” or “relieve oneself” instead of “urinate.”

And so it is with the “laws of uncleanness” (niddah) that the prohibition for “touching” her is being used as a euphemism which means not to have sexual intercourse with her or actually touch the blood.

What does this word “niddah” mean?

Strong’s #H5079 – niddah נִדָּה

Impurity, filthiness, menstruous, set apart; impurity; of ceremonial impurity; of menstruation; impure thing; of idolatry, immorality.

This word for “uncleanness” is used in Ezekiel 36:17 referring to the uncleanness of the House of Yisra’el:

Yechezqel (Ezekiel) 36:

16 Moreover the word of YHWH came unto me, saying,

17 Son of man, when the house of Yisra’el dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.

18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it:

19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.

You see, the word “niddah” is specifically used to describe the uncleanness that comes from innocent blood being shed and idolatry. But the word used for “unclean” in Leviticus 15 for the woman’s menstrual cycle is the following word:

Strong’s #H2930 tame’ טָמֵא

To be unclean, become unclean, become impure; to be or become unclean sexually, religiously, ceremonially, to defile oneself, be defiled; sexually, by idolatry, ceremonially, to be regarded as unclean, to defile sexually, religiously, ceremonially, to pronounce unclean, declare unclean (ceremonially).

Let’s take a look at another scripture that uses this word for “touch” in the same context:

Mishle (Proverbs) 6:29 So he that goes in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever touches (naga) her shall not be innocent.

Once again, this Hebrew word for “touch” is referring to sexual intercourse. This is not a prohibition against accidentally bumping into a woman in a grocery store!

The Apostle Sha’uwl (Paul) uses the word “touch” in the same way here in his letter to the Corinthians.

1st Qorintiym (Corinthians) 7:

1 Now concerning the things whereof you wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Given the context of what Sha’uwl (Paul) is addressing in 1st Corinthians 7, we know that he is not talking about a father giving his teenage daughter a hug. He is talking about “touching” a woman in a sexual way or having intercourse before marriage.

Hence, when a woman is on her menstrual cycle she is able to hug her husband and children, but her husband may not have intercourse with her during this time.

Furthermore, you will notice that if her husband did accidentally “touch” her during her uncleanness (meaning that he touched the blood), he would be considered “unclean” ceremonially for Temple service. This means that he could not come before YaHuWaH in prayer as he had touched “death” because her egg (which was supposed to be fertilized into a human life) had died. Therefore, YaHuWaH cannot have death in his presence as he is the author of life. If a man accidentally “touches” his wife in a sexual way during her menstrual cycle, he has to wait seven days before he can approach YaHuWaH in prayer in the Temple. It is not a sin punishable by death.

Now there is a clear distinction between “touching” the surface whereupon the woman on her menstrual period sat versus touching the actual blood itself.

YaHuWaH was prohibiting anyone from actually touching the issue of blood. Otherwise, you may never sit on a bus or a train or an airplane for you would never know if a woman who had been on her period had sat there before you did!

Think about this logically. YaHuWaH obviously meant not to touch the blood. Let’s read it again with the proper understanding:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 15:21 And whosoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.

*Note: this means that whoever touches her bed, if the blood had spilled onto the bed, and they accidentally touched the blood itself, then they are unclean. If she is protected, and there is no issue of blood contaminating anyone, then the bed is not unclean. The bed only becomes unclean if the blood had spilled onto the bed.

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 15:22 And whosoever touches anything that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.

*Note: if you take this literally, then you would never be allowed to buy a new car, because a woman on her period may have test driven the car. If you sat in that driver seat later on, you would have to go home and wash your clothes every day, because you would never know if a woman on her period had sat in that passenger seat thereby making that seat forever and perpetually unclean. Now think about how ridiculous that sounds!

This would also mean that you could not buy a sofa at the furniture store without having to wash your clothes every time you sat on that sofa! Do you see how tedious this would be? It is obvious that YaHuWaH was forbidding us from actually touching the blood itself, not the woman. Today there are protective things for women to wear during her menstrual cycle. But back then in biblical times, they did not have such protection, and blood would get on everything. They had to make rags to wear and they were not very absorbent. Now let us examine the following verse to see what “it” means:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 15:23 And if it be on her bed, or on anything whereon she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until the evening.

You will notice in the verse above, that it says “if it be on her bed.” If what be on her bed?


If a woman wears tampons or sanitary pads and there is no blood on the bed or the sofa, or the bus, train, car seat, then you are not unclean if you happen to sit in the same seat whereupon she also sat. It is only if “it” (meaning the blood) is on her bed (chair, car seat etc.) and you touch that object where the blood is exposed, then you are unclean until evening. But if a man lies with his wife while she is on her period, then he is unclean for seven days, and he may not approach the “Holy Place” in the sanctuary for seven days. He would bathe literally (mikvah) or baptize himself in water, and also he shall “wash his garments” where upon the blood had been exposed.

If a man does lie with his wife during her uncleanness, then he should repent and go and sin no more. He may experience seven days where he will not be able to sense the presence of the Holy Spirit when he prays. He may then be in a sense under a “cloud” until those seven days are finished, and then he could experience “breakthrough” in the spirit.

What About a Man’s Uncleanness?

The same principle applies when a man spills his semen. If a man spills his seed, he is unclean ceremonially until evening. You will also notice in verse 17, that whereupon the semen is touching the skin or garment, that garment is unclean just as it is with the blood of the woman:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 15:

16 And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the evening.

17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the evening.

18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening.

This does not mean that if the man sits on a chair after he has spilled his semen, that the chair becomes unclean. It means that the object upon which the semen is spilled becomes unclean until it is washed off. The same thing holds true with the object upon which the woman’s blood is spilled. The object upon which the semen or blood comes into contact shall be unclean until it is washed off and there is a waiting period until evening.

The same Hebrew word is used for a man’s uncleanness in Hebrew which is Strong’s #H2930 tame’ טָמֵא

To be unclean, become unclean, become impure; to be or become unclean sexually, religiously, ceremonially, to defile oneself, be defiled; sexually, by idolatry, ceremonially, to be regarded as unclean, to defile sexually, religiously, ceremonially, to pronounce unclean, declare unclean (ceremonially).

If the man is also unclean if he spills his semen, why is it that men treat the woman’s uncleanness as if it is somehow worse?

Double Standards of the Rabbis?

If the rabbinic standards were true for not being allowed to touch a woman during her menstrual cycle, then men would also not be allowed to touch anyone for the rest of the day if he had spilled his semen that morning. This means he could not conduct regular business all day long at work and shake hands with other men, or touch the same hammer or pen that someone had touched.

In the final analysis, we can see that the laws for “niddah” are greatly misunderstood and often-times abused within Judaism. And they seem to be completely ignored within Christianity and used out of context as an excuse to negate the Towrah (Mosaic Law) entirely in the life of the Renewed Covenant believer. The laws of uncleanness as we can see, are not exclusive to women. The deceptive nature of HaWaH (Eve) in the Garden of Eden was nailed to the tree when our Messiah was sacrificed for us. The woman is no longer under the curse brought on by HaWaH (Eve), and thus the female gender is redeemed equally from all sin and uncleanness. 

Galatians 3:28 “…..there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Mashiyach Yahuwshuwa.


  1. Your Rabbinically approved guide to Mikvah observance Receive email and SMS reminders Ashkenazic, Chabad, and Sephardic Customs

  2. Hi Maria, how should we interpret the additional seven days of niddah after the period has ended and the need to go into a mikvah? (I'm referring to Leviticus 15:28-30). Is it ok for a wife to have sex with her husband after her period as ended, or does she need to wait another 7 days until she is clean?

  3. These ways are very simple and very much useful, as a beginner level these helped me a lot thanks fore sharing these kinds of useful and knowledgeable information.
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