Religion brainwashed me into doing irrational and emotionally self-damaging things that I would have easily recognized as primitive and harmful were it not for my indoctrination. Of all the practices I look back on with horror, this was the worst. By removing the veil of secrecy that keeps these practices from public knowledge, my hope is that women suffering within these communities will feel empowered to leave.
By Katia Aryeh | RDF
There are three key tenets of Orthodox Judaism, each associated with an array of laws that must be strictly adhered to. Of the three, people are generally familiar with two: the special dietary laws referred to as Kosher; and the rabbinical laws of the Sabbath, or Shabbat, that govern the do’s and don’ts during the day of rest between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.
The third pillar of Orthodox Judaism, family purity or niddah, is one very few people outside of that insular world are aware of. However, if broken, the laws accompanying it carry a far greater penalty in the next world than those related to the Sabbath or keeping Kosher. The laws of family purity apply to all spectrums of orthodoxy, including the modern ones that allow women to wear trousers and uncover their hair, like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example. Even the slightest deviation from these laws would compromise a couple’s standing as practicing Orthodox Jews in the eyes of a rabbinical court.
What are these laws, you ask?
The laws of family purity revolve around the color of a woman’s vaginal discharge.
You see, beginning on the days when she anticipates her period, a husband and wife are forbidden from having any sexual relations until seven days following the end of her period. Considering orthodox law states that a period’s duration is a minimum of five days, this typically spans about two weeks or longer, depending on whether her post-menstrual discharge cooperates. In short, this means that for about half of every month, all aspects of an orthodox woman’s life, relationship, sexuality, and emotional health, are dictated by her vaginal discharge.