Hefsek Betahara (The conclusion in purity)
Nowadays there are two stages of the niddah time of separation. The first
stage is the days in which she is actually menstruating. The second stage
is a seven day period in which she is completely clean of blood. Only
after the woman determines that seven days have passed without any
bleeding can she go to the mikveh resume sexual relations with her
1. When the woman feels she has stopped bleeding and staining she must
perform an extensive internal examination to determine absolutely that
she has in fact stopped menstruating. This internal examination is called
the “hefseq betahara.” The seven clean days preceding ritual immersion in
a mikveh begin after the Hefsek Betahara.
2. Before performing the internal examination of the hefseq betahara, it
is a good idea for the woman to bathe herself, or at least wash out the
vaginal area well. In any event, if it were impossible for her to wash,
it is still permissible to do a hefseq betahara. In this case she should
wipe herself clean before doing the examination.
3. The best time to examine herself is about 2 and a half hours before
sunset, but the closer to sunset the better. In any event even if she
examined herself from that morning, she can already begin counting the
next day (that evening) as the first of the seven clean days.
4. If a woman forgot to do the examination of the hefseq betahara before
sundown, she can still, under extenuating circumstances, perform the
examination within 10 minutes after sundown, and begin counting the first
day of the seven clean days from that evening.. However, one should
generally be careful to perform the hefseq betahara before sundown.
5. If she normally prays Arbit before sundown, she should check before
praying, since Arbit brings in the next day. However, if she neglected to
check or could not do it earlier, she may check after praying. This
applies even on Friday night if she already lit candles but it is not yet
6. This checking must be done with a clean white garment. If she only
had a colored garment she may check with it (excepting a red or black
7. A Hefsek Betahara should be done by inserting the cloth as deeply as
she can, reaching the place that her husband reaches during intercourse.
She should wipe all the folds and crevices, and then check to see if the
cloth has any impure reddish tint. A mere superficial wiping is not
sufficient for the hefseq.
If she checked well in all the folds and crevices, but did not reach the
above-mentioned depth, the checking is permissible, but not preferable.
Likewise a woman who finds it painfully difficult to check so deeply, may
check all the folds and crevices well. If even that is difficult for the
woman and itself causes bleeding she should consult her rabbi.
8. A suggested way to check is that the woman place one leg on a stool
leaving the other leg on the floor while she checks.
9. A woman who checked herself for the hefseq and found the cloth to be
bloody, can wash the area and check again until she has a good checking.
This can be done again and again as long as the sun has not yet set.
10. A woman who has a wound in her vagina and cannot get a clean check
because of the wound, should consult her rabbi about how to proceed.
11. The cloth used for the hefseq checking should be examined by
daylight. One can also use an electric light if the cloth was completely
clean. As far as determining the color of a stained cloth, one should do
that preferably by daylight. (The spectrum of normal fluorescent or
incandescent light bulbs can lead to a false determination.)
12. After the clean check the most preferable method to follow for a
Hefsek Betahara is for the woman to have a clean white cloth inserted in
her vagina near the cervix from just before sundown until after the
stars come out. This is approximately twenty minutes after sundown.
13. A woman who finds this difficult and is afraid that the inserted
cloth would cause her to bleed, can do the hefseq betahara without the
insertion of the cloth. She can rely on a thorough checking in all the
folds and crevices which is done just before sunset.
14. If a woman had her period for only one day and is making her hefsek
betahara that evening, it is mandatory for her to have this cloth inside
until after the stars come out. If she was mistaken and neglected this
she may rely on a check done before sunset (within 2 and a half hours
before sunset) but not one done earlier in the day. This is only if she
was niddah because of menstrual bleeding for one day. However, if she was
niddah because of a blood stain and checked herself and was found to be
perfectly clean it is enough for her to have checked in the morning to
count as a Hefsek.
15. After the woman has done a successful hefseq betahara, she should
wear clean, white underwear. She should also make her bed with clean
A woman who usually has problems with staining is allowed to wear colored
undergarments and use colored sheets, such that if there is a stain it
will not render her niddah.
16. On each of the seven clean days it is preferable that she check
herself and her undergarments twice, once in the morning and once in the
late afternoon before sundown.
Even if she checked only once a day she may still immerse at the proper
time. Even if she only checked the first and last days she may still
immerse on time. However, if the woman neglected to check on both the
first and the seventh days she must count another seven clean days.
If a woman has scabs or wounds or very sensitive skin such that the cloth
wounds her, it is sufficient for her to check only on the first and
seventh day. If she did her Hefsek, as discussed, and left the cloth
inserted until after the stars came out and she forgot to check on the
next day, the inserted cloth can count as her checking of the first day
and she need only check on the seventh day.
17. If a woman was niddah because of a stain (without any other physical
sensation of menstruation) and she did a proper hefseq betahara (even
without the inserted cloth until after the stars come out), if she
inadvertently only checked one time during the seven clean days, she can
still immerse on the seventh day.
18. Although It is praise-worthy for a woman to check herself often even
when she is not expecting her period, it is not recommended that she
check before and after having relations because this will cause her
husband to worry that she is niddah and could lead to his refraining from
having relations with her. Additionally, if such checks cause her
irritation and could cause her to bleed she should refrain from excessive
19. If she saw even a tiny amount of blood during the seven clean days
she must do a new hefseq betahara and start counting a new “seven clean
20. During the seven clean days blood stains found on garments or on
anything else have the same rules and leniencies as any other stains.
(see the above chapter on blood stains) 91. (In this law Ashkenazim are
more stringent, not relying on any leniencies for the first three of the
seven clean days, whereas sepharadim, treat all the seven days equally,
relying on leniencies throughout.)
21. Vaginal discharge of viable semen precludes the proper counting of
the seven clean days, since the semen remains viable for only 72 hours
after ejaculation, the woman would not be able to count until she does a
hefseq on the evening following the 72 hours after sexual intercourse.
For example, if a woman had relations Saturday night 11:30 p.m. and then
had her period (any time before Wednesday night) she must wait 72
complete hours (six whole 12 hour periods) before making a hefsek
betahara. In this example the 72 hours end on Tuesday evening 11:30 p.m.
and if she has stopped bleeding she may make a hefseq on Wednesday close
to sundown and count Thursday as the first of the seven clean days.
n d n d n d n d n |-m-|---|---|---|---|---|-72|--H| followed by 7 clean days Sa Su Su M M T T W W 1 2 3 4 5 6 d=day; H=hefseq betahara; m=menstruation; n=night
22. Of course, this only refers to a woman who’s period has ceased but
if she continues bleeding she may only do a hefsek after she has stopped
(The above is the law according to the Shulhan Arukh, which is followed
by most sephardic congregations. However, some sepharadim follow the
ashkenazic custom of adding another day and only allowing the hefseq in
the above example to be done on Thursday close to sunset. Some even wait
seven complete days before allowing a hefseq. In these issues it is
better to allow the misvah of normal sexual relations to resume as early
as possible, and ultimately there is no absolute benefit in delaying the
hefseq, which would thereby delay the resumption of normal marital
relations. Taharat Habayit vol.2 pp. 392-393)
23. A woman who stop bleeding before six periods have passed since having
relations, (for example, if she had relations Saturday night and had her
period for a very short time on Sunday) may, if she wishes, take a hot
bath and clean herself with a cloth, thereby flushing out any residual
semen. She may then do the hefsek that evening.
24. According to the Sephardic custom, it is only necessary to wait the
72 hours if the woman has had sexual intercourse with her husband. If it
happened that the woman saw blood in a situation where she did not
previously have relations with her husband, she may begin counting as
soon as she stops bleeding. (The ashkenazic custom is to wait five days
before counting the seven clean days regardless of whether the couple had
previously had sexual intercourse.)
25. If a woman found a stain which rendered her niddah, she may rely on
the opinion that says that she does not have to wait 72 hours before
doing the hefseq, even is she had previously had sexual intercourse
(since this is a only a blood stain and not real menstruation). Instead
she may do a hefsek that evening and start counting seven clean days.
(Ashkenazim should count the full five days before counting the seven
clean days even for a stain.)
26. If a woman made a mistake in counting and immersed one day early and
had relations with her husband since, as discussed, ejecting semen
cancels one’s count, she must wait six periods which are four days and
count one clean day then immerse again. However, if she does not want to
wait these five days she may wash herself as discussed, in order to flush
out the semen and then wait one day. 2.
27. If she immersed in the right time but not properly (due to an
intervening object, etc.), even though she subsequently had relations,
she may go back to the mikveh and immerse without counting the 72 hours.
28. If a woman mistakenly immersed on the seventh night of her seven
clean days instead of the eighth and she had relations with her husband
only on the following day, she may immerse on the eighth night since part
of the seventh day past without her having relations, it is considered as
the whole day and she can immerse on the eighth night without waiting 72
29. If a woman travels internationally she may count seven clean days
wherever she is and need not wait until seven days have passed in the
place that she left.
30. A blind woman should show the cloth of her examinations to a friend.
A mentally incompetent woman should have a friend present when she
2. All Ashkenazim are strict not to do a Hefsek Betahara until the sixth
day after a woman’s period has started, this is regardless whether she
had relations with her husband or not. Additionally, some women are
strict to wait seven days, “one who is lenient will be rewarded for doing
a mitzvah earlier”.