Friday, December 17, 2010

Halachic Discussion: Are Female Converts "Not Niddah" After the Mikvah?

This is the kind of question that could only come up after hours upon hours of undisturbed solo driving.

When a female convert goes to the mikvah to complete her conversion, does she become "not niddah" after the mikvah? Assuming the timing is right, of course. Not that it matters, but it was an interesting question. Because can you have two intents when immersing or is immersion just an immersion that has all possible effects regardless of intent?

And along those lines, my understanding is the conversion mikvah dip has to be planned to be at the right time for female converts. I don't remember very much about planning my first mikvah date, although I know I had to plan to miss the actual "red" days, though I don't remember if I was told to avoid "white" days as well.

On a related point, what's the opposite of niddah? I may be having a brain malfunction, but I can only think of "niddah" and "not niddah."



  1. I don't know, perhaps the opposite of niddah would be trumah, as in, impurity? :S But that's too much of a general term.

    Your question is an interesting one, very much within the style of questions that pop into my head from time to time :)

    Listen, assuming the 'white days' have passed, don't you think the woman is from then on automatically not-niddah, since she is no longer menstruating? Because with your reasoning, if one only stops being niddah if one immerses in the mikvah, then all unmarried women are in a permanent state of niddah since they don't visit the mikveh! Hmmm?


  2. In the case of being a ben/bat niddah, R. Moshe Feinstein ruled leniently in the case that she may have went swimming in the ocean or an outdoor swimming pool and was not actually niddah during the time of conception. Even with no intention to change your state of purity, a woman is rendered not-niddah. While swimming does involve clothing of a type, I guess then question then would become how breathable are the clothing, how easily can they be permeated with water?

    With that in mind, as far as I know a convert out of the mikvah is NOT niddah, as long as she is not menstruating. A mikvah is also valid regarding niddah if the woman immerses DURING the 7 clean days, as long as she waits until they are over to resume relations and as long as the final bedikah comes out clean. Sorry if this is worded poorly(brain doesn't work while fasting!) but this is how I understand it.

    The opposite of niddah would be tahorah I would guess, meaning purity. Niddah is a state of ritual impurity, so the opposite would be purity, right?

  3. In halachik literature, the opposite of a niddah is a tehorah. As far as your question, I think it depend on the application. I dont think that the tevila for geirus would work for niddah to permit activities that would normally be prohibited to a nidda (e.g. sexual relations), without completing the other requisite steps (the minimum amount of required bedikos, chafifa, etc). As I recall the teshuva of RMF that Leah Sarah referenced, the reasoning of the teshuva was the other way around (you'll see that I mean). In the teshuva, RMF writes that chazal tell us that a ben/bas niddda exhibits certain negative character traits. So, if we are confronted with an individual that does not exhibit these traits, it can be assumed that they are not a ben/bas nidda, perhaps b/c their mother went swimming prior to their conception. I think that it is very unlikely that RMF would rely on this swimming possibility to permit any activity that would otherwise be prohibited to a nidda.
    To answer Sophias comment, all single women that are of age are considered to be in a state of niidah, which is the primary reason for the prohibitions against "negiah" and "kol isha" for single women.

  4. Great questions, Chavi. Rambam says that if a person immerses without intention, it is as if he / she has not immersed at all. (See Mishneh Torah, Mikvaot 11:12.) I.e. a person's intent for the purpose of the immersion is very important indeed.

    That, and a convert's mikveh visit does not need to incorporate any checking that bleeding has stopped, counting of additional days. In fact, she can even convert while actively bleeding if she is comfortable doing so.

    Mishneh Berurah 606:21 teaches that if a woman immerses for a non-niddah reason (in this case in 606:21) it does not remove niddah status.

    Keep going on long undisturbed car rides - these are great questions & great conversation to have!

  5. I'm generally not inclined to offer an actual halachic opinion on line. It isn't my place to do so. But if one sees a statement that may misrepresent the halacha, it should be questioned. Carrie's citation of the Rambam *might* be misunderstood by some to mean that if a woman goes to mikvah for her nidah status, that intent is an irreplaceable condition for a valid immersion. This is not the case in applied halacha. Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 198:48 says, "A woman who is nidah and immersed without intent such as she fell into the water or went in to cool off, she is permitted to her husband." The Rema there says, "there are those who are strict to require she immerse again, and one should be strict ab initio."

    So we see that in applied halacha, the intent is preferred, but not a condition that would completely invalidate the immersion. To clarify this, Rav Wosner in Shiurei Shevet Halevi Hilchot Nidah writes that most early authorities (Rishonim) agreed that intent is not required. He further writes if the night has already passed, she certainly wouldn't have to go back, or similarly if the mikvah were closed.

    In fact, whereas the balanit regularly observes to see that a woman is fully immersed, I'm not aware that they regularly raise the issue of intent. That's because it isn't an absolutely necessary condition of the immersion as we apply the halacha, though all agree that ab initio it should be present.

  6. Thank you all for contributing! That was very interesting! Hahhaa, of course, I'm still not sure what the answer is!

  7. Interesting question! I'm really impressed with the wealth of knowledge in the comments. My only thought was that it's a different kind of experience. Mikveh for conversion is more like rebirth whereas mikveh for Tarahas HaMishpacha is more for being permitted. Now that I think about it, though, they're both about changing status. Hmmmm....

  8. I wanted to point out that since a convert cannot be a niddah before she converted (after all, only a Jewish woman could be a Niddah), then she is not a Niddah when she converts.

    Thus as long as she was not having a menstrual event at that moment of conversion, she is a non-Nidah after the Mikvah.

    Thus she is Tehorah.

    She would only become a Niddah at the moment of a menstrual event after her conversion.

    This is pretty self evident I think...

  9. Stop Coffee and worry about niddah when you are married. When you convert and go th the mikveh... well... if your intention is on deciding whether or not you are niddah...I would have those papers checked. If you are not married then don't worry?? Last if you are having relations out of marriage.. why worry about niddah...