“Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you’ve conquered human nature.” -Charles Dickens
There is a commandment that is not spoken about frequently or openly due to its sensitive nature and as a result is also not well known amongst many people. It is the law of Family Purity (taharat ha’mishpacha).
In essence, what it legislates, is that a married couple cannot have any physical contact the days during which the woman experiences her monthly period of menstruation. The couple can only touch again after a suitable period of waiting and after the woman has gone to the ritual bath (mikveh).
This monthly cycle of separation and reunion can have a transformative effect on the couple’s relationship and marriage. The Netziv on Leviticus 12:2 explains that this is purposeful. By having a brief period of enforced separation from intimacy each spouse may become more attracted to the other. Besides increasing the physical attraction, it also frames the relationship as not just a physical one but also a spiritual one. It encourages the couple to talk to each other. It inspires the couple to find and do activities together beyond just the physical. Instead of focusing just on our bodies, we also focus on our souls.
Anyone wanting to know more about this important aspect of married Jewish life is invited to contact your local Rabbi or Rebbetzin.
To the Mikveh ladies who selflessly assist in this vital commandment.