Niddah Diaries: Harchakot

I have’t published Niddah Diaries recently, perhaps because I’ve gotten complacent in my niddah practices.

My husband and I have been (sort of) keeping niddah for almost a year now, and I think it’s working. So much so, that when I went to a Q and A session on niddah run by several yoetzot halacha, I couldn’t think of anything to ask, and completely forgot to bring up the issue of strictly keeping the harchakot. I can’t remember if I’ve posted here before about the distinction between the harchakot and other niddah practices, so I’ll give a basic overview.

The “harcharkot” are rabbinic laws made to ensure that the husband and wife don’t even come close to having sex. These laws prohibit certain “romantic” acts between the spouses. Some are more “understandable” and what I call the “big ticket items”, like not sleeping in the same bed, and not touching each other. Others are more fine tuned, the smaller ticket items, like not eating from the same plate, or sitting on the same couch.

Even my kallah teacher acknowledged that the smaller ticket items can be hard to keep sometimes (and frankly, the big ticket items and the actual item, the no sex rule, can also be difficult to keep). She told me “not to fret” if I mess up on some of the harchakot, because it’s going to be a new halacha that I’ll be keeping for the first time, and will take some getting used to.

I wasn’t so convinced, and after a few months of getting frustrated with the harchakot (see my early Niddah Diaries posts), I decided that those just weren’t for me. Pretty much all of them. Definitely the small ticket items, and definitely sleeping in different beds. But the not touching made sense sort of and my husband was more insistent that we don’t touch, so we don’t. Sometimes we slip up and do, but it’s okay. We try to be very strict about the not touching at least the last day or two before I go to the mikvah, so that we can have that “mikvah night anticipation” that we both acknowledge as beneficial.

So, basically, we pretty much don’t keep the harchakot except the not touching rule, and thats fine. We may go back and forth about whether we should or shouldn’t touch, but we never go back and forth about whether we can serve each other food or sit next to each other. I just don’t even think about those things as relevant anymore. And I think that’s helped.

Back to the Q and A session. Not a single person asked about harchakot. I’m curious if this is because as couples get older, most of them sort of fickle out the way we did about being strict about them, or if all other couples are super complacent in their practices that they don’t need to discuss the harchakot at all, or if they all just had other pressing matters on their minds.

I understand that Niddah is supposed to be a private matter, and specifically because it involves couples’ sex lives, people are hesitant to talk about it. Still, I wish there was more dialogue specifically about the harchakot aspect of niddah, because it can really make the difference in being able to keep niddah at all or not.

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2 comments on “Niddah Diaries: Harchakot

  1. MB says:

    We do everything but sex, pretty much.

  2. Melissa says:

    I certainly understand your approach to the harchakot, and we have a similar practice. We do not pull our beds apart, and we do touch each other. To be honest, though, we have not always succeeded in keeping taharat hamishpacha because of this. Innocent touching, when we are alone in our room, can sometimes lead to much more, and then we don’t always keep the halacha. I suppose it’s a trade-off (and it’s nice that we are still attracted after many years of marriage), but it certainly isn’t easy. Of course, this is not supposed to be an easy mitzvah…

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