Many become disconnected with the idea of menstrual separation due to the English words and concepts found in our translations of the bible. In order to understand the essence of this commandment the Hebrew concepts need to be explored for its meaning.
Two important terms are used when referring to Niddah, these terms are “tumah” and “taharah.” Tumah means ritually impure whilst taharah means pure, purification or clean.
Ritual impurity in Ancient Israel
What is ritual impurity?
Wikipedia describes ritual purification in the following way; “Ritual purification is a feature of many religions. The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity.”
In order to worship Yahweh the Israelites were required to be holy, this included physical purity as well as moral purity.
There are many examples of this found in the Bible, let us examine the example we found in 2 Chronicles 30:1-3, it states the following; 1Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel. 2 For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month. 3 For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem.”
When King Hezekiah ascended the throne he inherited a kingdom idolatrous to the core, however Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh and instituted reforms into the kingdom. He reintroduced torah to a society devoid of the worship of Yahweh even though the temple still stood.
In the chapter above we note that Hezekiah ordered the people to come up and worship Yahweh at the time of Passover however because of ritual impurity neither the people nor the priests could partake in the Passover feast until they were ritually clean. Therefore the Passover celebrations were moved to the second month of the biblical year instead of the first. So important was the state of ritual purity to the Israelites and to Yahweh that even the Passover festival of God was moved till the time they people were cleansed!
There are a number of ways that an individual could become “tumah” according to torah they are:
Contact with a corpse (dead body of a person Num 19:11-22 and also carcasses of dead animals (Leviticus 11))
Certain skin diseases such as tzaraat (Leviticus 13-14)
Woman’s bleeding at childbirth (Leviticus 12) differing times for boy and girl. With a boy a woman is tumah for 7 days and in the purification process Taharah 33 days. For a girl the woman is tumah 14 days and in the purification process Taharah 66 days.
Contact with objects that’s are sanctified such as the red heifer (Numbers 19:1-10)
Regarding the torah instructions found in Leviticus 15:24 we note that a man who has intercourse with a Niddah woman bares her uncleanness for seven days. This would have been a severe problem for a man living in the time of Ancient Israel. A man who became unclean could not attend the morning and evening sacrifices held in the temple; similarly he would not be able to present the prescribed offerings for sin, the burnt offerings or any voluntary offerings. The Shabbat offerings he would not be permitted to offer, nor would he be permitted to partake in a new moon festival (1 Samuel 20:24-26) or one of the festivals of Yahweh. This was undesirable state for someone who feared God, however though for many who lost the fear of God in Israel this temptation could easily be divulged into.
For individuals today that accept the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their God and Yeshua as their saviour, how should these individuals view matters in torah relating to ritual purity? As our Jewish brethren do, as real and as significant for us today as it was when it was given at Mount Sinai!
A woman’s perspective of Niddah
Many women find themselves offended when approaching the Laws relating to menstruation however we need to understand that it is not only women who become tumah. A man who has a discharge of semen also becomes “tumah” unclean and remains that way for seven days
He is then commanded to bathe in water (mikveh) and wash his clothes. Once he has done this, he is once again permitted to enter the camp after he has offered two turtledoves on the eighth day. There are different ways of becoming ritually unclean (as mentioned above), uncleanness is not an evil thing and should not be viewed as such. If we read Leviticus 15again it states in verse 18that when a man and woman have sexual intercourse both become unclean until evening, then they are to bathe in water. Does this mean that lovemaking is an evil activity that should be discouraged?
Of course not! At Yahweh’s creation of Chavah (Eve) He brought to her husband Adam and Adam declared “for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” (Gen )2:24Yeshua repeats these same words in Matthew 19:5-6the bible is full of references to marriage, Yahweh in no way declares that intimacy is a sin or an evil thing. As women we must not be offended by the ordinances of Niddah, when we menstruate God is not judging us by separating us from our spouse and by definition others but rather Yahweh is teaching us a lesson in worship and in holiness.
We all have the same mother; her name is Chavvah (Eve). Bereshiet (Genesis) 3:20 says, “And the man called his wife’s name Chavvah, because she become the mother of all living.” Hebrew is amazing in that there is a distinct play on words here that English readers miss, the Hebrew name “Chavvah” means life or living, so in essence Chavvah (Eve) became the “life of all living!” Isn’t that remarkable! In the first chapters of Genesis we are told that YHWH brought all the animals to Adam so that Adam could name all that was alive upon the earth (later that would include his beautiful wife Chavvah). What we have missed is that Adam named each living creature according to the attributes he saw in each one, an example as postulated in Rabbi Hirschs’ dictionary is "khavar" כבר(to hide); add an עas a prefix, ע( represents a scurrying motion), and you have the Hebrew word "Akhbar," עכבר (mouse) as a mouse has the attribute of one always hiding and moves in a scurrying motion. So too with the naming of Chavvah, Adam her husband who knew her so closely recognized the attribute of life within her. This is incredibly deep and significant because only within Chavvah and her daughters (all of us!) is the ability for life to grow. YHWH Himself placed within women a womb, the uterus, ovaries and the like; this is the reality YHWH gave to women, the ability to carry life within her. This is a gift God gave to women, a man will never know or possess the ability to have a child grow within him, that was the gift endowed upon Chavvah and all women.
The Rabbi’s says that three people are involved in making a child, the husband, the wife and God. This is absolutely true. The husband like the wife, has life within him as well in the form of sperm, the wife has the egg and God brings life into being by uniting them together.
Keeping in mind what was mentioned above regarding the uncleanness of a man who has an emission of semen, if he has an emission he automatically becomes unclean until evening. Liken this to the story found in Bereshiet (Genesis) 38, Judah the son of Jacob took a wife for his first born son, however his first born son was evil so YHWH took his life. Judah then takes his sons widow and she married the second born son Onan. Onan is commanded to sleep with Tamar the widow and raise up children for his brother. The Torah tells us however that Onan did not wish to raise up children in his brother’s name and so “he spilled on to the ground.” YHWH then takes his life for he is likewise evil in the eyes of Yah. The sin of Onan was two-fold, he went against the Torah command of marrying his brothers widow and raising up children for his brother but he also spilled the seed of life on to the ground. He spilt sperm on to the ground and the chances of a life being born from Yah’s hand were diminished.
This is the reality of the Torah ordination regarding the uncleanness of a man who has had an emission of semen, when the emission is had; the chances of life being produced through the sperm is terminated, therefore there is uncleanness.
During ovulation, a woman’s body produces eggs that if reached by the sperm, will produce life however during menstruation the unfertilized eggs are released from the body and life cannot be brought forth at all during menstruation. However it is during a woman’s time of menstruation that she can ascribe to a life of greater holiness. I can guess you would never attribute menstruation as something that can have a holy status, but it does. How you deal with your body and lifestyle during menstruation can bring you closer to the command to be a royal priesthood and holy generation, set-apart to God. If a woman chooses to live in accordance with Yah’s instructions as given in His Word, this is holiness. It is the sacrifice of Yeshua and washing water of His Word that makes us clean, found within the pages of His word are the Laws of Niddah.
The Laws of Niddah form an important cornerstone for every woman of God, to diminish these Laws or to not teach them to women is to take away a woman-bound mitzvah that Yah ordained for each woman of Israel to follow. These Laws can lead to a greater degree of holiness, obedience, love and set-apartness to our King and with this specific instruction, there is great blessing! Remember without holiness and truth we will not see God! We also need to meditate upon what Yeshua sees when He sees you and when He sees me, He says “Hear, O daughter, consider, submit, and consent to my instruction: forget also your own people and your father's house; so will the King desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, be submissive and reverence and honor Him.” (Psalm 45:10-11, Amplified).
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Listen to me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek Yahweh: look to the rock whence you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him, and made him many.