Do not have sexual relations with a menstrually impure woman

The Literal Commandment

Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity. (Leviticus 18:19)

 

The literal commandment is that a man must not "uncover the nakedness" of a woman during her menstrual impurity.

"Uncover the nakedness" is a Hebrew idiom for "having sexual relations with".

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

Ritual uncleanness and sin are not the same thing. A person can be ritually unclean and not be in sin. For example, Messiah (like all babies) was unclean at birth. That is why we find this:

And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS." (Luke 2:22-24)

 

Both Messiah and His mother were impure as a result of the birth and had to bring a sacrifice at the end of their period of impurity. And yet we know Messiah was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

 

This commandment pictures spiritual relationship between Messiah and His spiritual bride, the assembly of the faithful. Messiah cannot approach us when we are unclean. But there is good news! We know that, if we confess our sins, Messiah is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Once He cleanses us then we are able to have spiritual intimacy with our Savior.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah never fulfilled this commandment because He was never married (the only context in which "approaching a woman" would not be sin).

 

Traditional Observance

The traditional observance of this commandment is found in its literal sense: men not having intercourse with their wives when they are menstrually impure.

There are extensive rules for determining when a woman is menstrually impure that are found in the Talmud tractate Niddah (the Hebrew word for a "moved" or "separated" as it applies to such a woman). The laws concerning niddah are also referred to as taharat hamishpacha ("family purity").

The general idea is this: a woman becomes ritually unclean once she becomes aware that blood has come from her womb, whether the bleeding is due to menstruation, childbirth, injury, or other reasons. She remains unclean for seven days and is then required to immerse in water once she stops bleeding. At this point she becomes ritually "clean".

In Orthodox Jewish communities, the matter can be much more complex.

 

Other Notes

We are able to fulfill this commandment today and men should not have intercourse with a menstrually impure woman.

 

It is important to note that engaging in intercourse with your wife when both of you are unaware she is impure ("niddah") is not a sin. It still results in uncleanness for both the man and the woman but absent the Temple there is not much in the way of consequence as a result.

If, however, a man or his wife knowingly and intentionally violates this prohibition then it is a sin for which a sin offering would be required if the Temple were present and a functioning priesthood were in place.

 

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Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 161
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 5
  • Mishneh Torah Book Holiness
  • Mishneh Torah Category 25- Forbidden Sexual Relations
  • Reference Leviticus 18:19
  • Scripture Book Leviticus
  • Chapter 18
  • Verse 19
  • English Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity.
  • Hebrew יט וְאֶל-אִשָּׁה, בְּנִדַּת טֻמְאָתָהּ--לֹא תִקְרַב, לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָתָהּ.
  • Greek 19 Καὶ πρὸς γυναῖκα ἐν χωρισμῷ ἀκαθαρσίας αὐτῆς οὐ προσελεύσῃ ἀποκαλύψαι τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.
  • Parashah 29- Acharei Mot
  • Positive/Negative Negative
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 207
  • Sef. Hach. Command The prohibition of conjugal intimacy with a menstruous woman
  • Category Forbidden Sexual Relationships
  • We can fullfill today Yes

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