Behavior During Niddah
The time when the woman is niddah is a time of abstinence of all physical
contact. It is a time where the loving relationship between the couple
should find expression in non-physical ways, such as greater sensitivity
towards one another, consideration and giving. In addition to abstinence
from sex, the halacha dictates certain other practices from which the
couple should refrain, so as not to lead to temptation to physical
1. From the onset of a woman’s menstrual period certain behaviors which
cause the couple to be physically or passionately close together are
forbidden. Not following these laws is very serious as it is expressly
forbidden to come close to those with whom it is forbidden to have sexual
2. These rules apply equally whether she is actually bleeding or is
counting seven clean days–they apply as long as she has not properly
3. When the woman is niddah it is forbidden for the couple to behave
frivolously with one another. Joking around is expressly forbidden. Of
course, the couple should not be cold or nasty towards one another.
Arguments should be avoided if possible.
4. Even the slightest physical contact is absolutely forbidden.
Additionally, they may not pass each other objects from one hand to
another, as that might lead to inadvertent physical contact. One should
also not touch the clothes of their spouse (while they are being worn)
when the woman is niddah. (There is no restriction regarding clothing
which is not being worn.)
In situations where it is difficult for the couple to not work together
(eg. taking the baby carriage down from an apartment, etc.) the couple
might hold the long object together taking maximum precautions that they
will not touch.
5. It is permissible to throw things from one to another. However, it is
commendable to be strict in this matter, and not to throw directly from
one to another.
6. There are those posqim who allow the couple to pass their child from
one to another when the woman is niddah, and there are those who
disagree. It is commendable to be stringent in this matter.
7. It is permitted for the couple to give one another gifts during when
the woman is niddah, even though it increases the emotional attachment of
8. When the couple sits down to eat at their normal places they should
have a reminder on the table to remember that she is niddah. This is
similar to two familiar people eating milk and meat on the same table
where a reminder is used to prevent them tasting from one another’s food.
A cup which is not being used may be put in between them as reminder or a
small bowl of fruit. If one uses a place mat and the other does not it is
also considered a reminder. Basically, anything which reminds them that
they must not eat from one another’s plate is suitable.
Of course, this law only applies when the couple is dining alone.
However, if they are dining with other people there is no need for any
such reminders. Likewise, if they are eating alone, but on opposite ends
of a long table there is no need for the reminders.
9. He may not drink from what remains in her cup, since this is a sign of
affection. However, if the liquid were poured into another glass it is
permitted for the husband to drink it, even if he then poured it back
into the original glass. Additionally, if she drank half of the glass he
may fill it up and drink the remains.
10. If another person drinks from the cup after the wife drank, the
husband is allowed to drink from the cup.
11. If she drank from a glass and has left the room, the husband can
drink from her glass. He can continue drinking even if she returned to
the room, while he was in the process of drinking from her cup. This law
applies also if she turned to another side of the room and does not
notice him drinking rom her cup.
12. If a woman drank from a glass and her husband does not know, she need
not inform him. If, however, he knows that she drank from the glass but
he does not know that she has become niddah, she must inform him.
13. A woman may drink from the remains of her husbands glass.
14. Although ashkenazim are stringent concerning the remains of food of
the woman who is niddah, sepharadim allow the husband to eat his wife’s
leftover food, without any restriction.
15. It is permissible for a man to use the same towel as his wife when
she is niddah. Their is no need for her to have her own special towel.
17. One should not kiss or play with a baby being held by either him or
her, while the woman is niddah. It is also better to be strict not to
feed a baby being held by the other spouse, unless there are extenuating
circumstances where this is necessary and the couple is careful not to
18. They should not light each others cigarettes since this brings
closeness. However, it is permissible for a wife to hold the Havdalah
19. It is permissible for the husband or wife to blow away lint or a
feather from each other’s clothing while she is niddah, yet it is
commendable to be strict in this matter, if possible.
20. On a hot day they may not fan each other unless one of them is ill.
However, there is no restriction regarding turning on the fan or the air
conditioner for one another.
21. On a rainy day they may walk under the same umbrella as long as they
are careful not to touch.
22. It is permissible for the couple to read the same book together,
while the woman is niddah, provided they are careful not to touch.
23. A husband may not sit on his wife’s bed even if she is not around,
and he certainly may not lay on her bed. If the bed is not specifically
hers, for example, at times she lies on it and sometimes he does, then he
may sit on the bed when she is niddah. She may lay on his bed while he is
24. The sephardic minhag is to permit the couple to sit together on a
couch even if it is soft and moves as long as care is taken not to touch
each other. However, it is commendable to be strict and not sit together
if the couple is on a pleasure trip while she is niddah.
25. It is absolutely forbidden for the couple to lie on the same bed
together even if they are fully clothed. Similarly, they may not use one
blanket. Strictness should be applied not to lay on two separate beds
unless the beds are separated, even slightly.
26. It is permitted to sleep on beds which are separated even if they
have a common frame. It is not necessary to put a divider between the
27. When a woman is niddah it is permitted for her husband to gaze at her
beauty while she is fully clothed, since she will be permitted to him in
the near future. However, her husband should not look at the normally
covered parts of his wife’s body, while she is niddah.
28. A husband may be in the delivery room when his wife gives birth but
should not look at the normally covered parts of his wife’s body.
29. It is permissible for the husband to hear his wife singing even
though she is niddah. This applies also to singing shabbat songs.
However, it is commendable to be stringent.
30. A man should be careful not to intentionally smell his wife’s
perfume or flowers that she is wearing when she is niddah. However, if
she has removed the flowers he may even make a blessing on their
31. A woman should have special clothing when she is niddah, though
they may be just as nice as her regular clothing. This is so the couple
will constantly remember that she is niddah.
32. A woman may dress nicely and wear jewelry and cosmetics when she is
niddah, as is her custom when she is not niddah. Even if the husband
claims that it does not matter to him, if that is her normal way of
dressing up she should continue it when she is niddah.
33. If the woman normally works in the house she may do all of her
normal household chores, even those specifically done for her husband,
even in his presence. For example, she may cook or bake for him, set the
table or serve him food. Excluded from this is serving him glass of wine,
which is absolutely forbidden, unless it is done in a different way than
normal, like serving with the left hand. All other liquids may be poured
and served in the normal way.
34. Likewise, the husband may serve his wife food and make her coffee
etc. However, he should not serve her wine unless it is done in an
36. Although wine may not be poured or served, the Kiddush cup may be
passed around in the usual manner with the wife who is niddah drinking
from the cup directly after her husband.
37. She may not make his bed in front of him since this may be construed
as a sign of affection. However, heavy work like fixing and placing a
mattress is permitted. If he is not looking or not in the same room she
may make the beds, even if he knows that she did it. This is permitted
if it is done in the morning in order to straighten up the room.
Additionally, it is forbidden for him to make the beds in front of her.
38. When she is niddah a woman must continue to do all of her normal
religious duties, like blessings and prayers. She should continue
learning even with mentioning God’s name when learning the verses of the
Tanakh. One should not be lax during this time. Also the woman who is
niddah can go to synagogue. She may touch holy books and objects without
restraint. (Although there are some ashkenazim who are stringent about
39. If a husband is very ill and his wife who is niddah is the only one
who can take care of him she may do so: she may feed, clothe, straighten
him, and even hand him whatever he needs. She must, however, be careful
not to touch him. Washing him should be avoided unless it is absolutely
necessary. She must still be careful not to make the beds in front of
40. All the above is only permitted if the husband is very ill, but if
he only has aches and pains it is all absolutely forbidden.
41. These leniencies only apply if he is sick and she is niddah but if
she is sick he may not serve her. Instead a nurse should be hired to
assist her. Only when it is a life threatening situation can he be
lenient to serve her.