The Great Mitzvah of Family Purity: Bringing Heaven and Earth Together

Today, let’s dive into the Mitzvah of family purity, which has both simple and profound meanings.

Much of Kabbalah is built upon the concept of many spiritual systems called Partzufim, often having one inside the other. The uppermost and biggest of these systems is called the Nekuda and there are 5 of them, each corresponding to one Partzuf:

  • Nekuda Aleph: Arich Anpin
  • Nekuda Beit: Abbah
  • Nekuda Gimmel: Imma
  • Nekuda Dalet: Zeir Anpin
  • Nekuda Heh: Nukva

Men rectify the Nekuda Dalet, while women rectify Nekuda Heh. There’s a questions whether Yom Kippur has an effect on Nekuda Gimmel, but that’s a question for another time. This however goes to show that men and women have very different spiritual sources and each have their own work.

According to the Talmud, women are exempt from time-bound Mitzvot because they naturally have a deep connection with time through their bodies. However, Hashem gave women three special Mitzvot: separating Challah, family purity, and kindling Shabbat lights and each of them is a rectification for a different sin as follows:

  • Challah: Murder, since Adam was considered the “Challa portion” of the Earth
  • Family Purity: Sexual immorality, since this Mitzvah sanctifies the couple in this area
  • Kindling Shabbat lights: Idol worship, since guarding the Shabbat is equal to renouncing idolatry

The Significance of Family Purity

It’s a big Mitzvah for Jewish couples to refrain from physical contact during the woman’s purification period. The punishment for not doing so is called Karet (“excision”) in which the couple loses their Olam HaBah.

While Torah Law allows a woman to go to the Mikvah after seven days from the start of her menstrual cycle, righteous Jewish women have taken it upon themselves to wait until full cessation of flow before counting. This has been a tradition since Talmudic times, and the Rabbis have endorsed this stringency.

family purity

Why This Waiting Period?

The Simple Meaning of Love

Not all love is the same. The love a parent has for a child is eternal and doesn’t require much effort to maintain. A parent naturally loves and cares for their child. However, the love between a man and a woman is different. They are soulmates but lived most of their lives apart until marriage. This love needs constant nurturing and effort.

Men and women are spiritually different, so their love needs periods of recovery, reflection, and renewal. When we talk about “purification,” it’s not about some spiritual ” goo” in the woman. It’s a time for her to recharge spiritually and take it easy, especially when she’s undergoing an oft-painful physiological (and mental) process.

Interestingly, many ancient cultures practiced a period of abstinence to increase desire and remind couples to look beyond physical pleasure. Constant intimacy can sometimes lead to a decline in love, and this separation is a reminder that there’s a soul behind the physical body.

The Deeper Meaning

Kabbalistically, this all ties back to the sin of the first couple who ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This act caused a significant drop in spiritual consciousness, which will only be fully reversed with the coming of Mashiach. For now, we are all part of the effort to bring about this rectification.

The Zohar teaches that women were given the Mitzvot of family purity, separating challah, and kindling Shabbat candles as part of this rectification. The sin made it necessary to fulfill all 613 Mitzvot of the Torah. This state of fragmented consciousness, often referred to as “spiritual impurity,” affects all of Creation.

Women suffer physically, mentally, and spiritually during their periods. The flow of blood, related to the Sephirah of Gevurah, signifies a time for women to recharge, much like the waxing and waning of the moon. It also helps men develop self-discipline in controlling their urges. This is also in line with the injunction of not touching people also has the tangential benefit of teaching men (and often women) that there’s more to them than merely a body. During separation, it is a time to connect with the soul, or not to connect at all (which is also important for both).

The seven “clean days” a woman counts after her flow represent the rectification of the seven sephirot: Chessed (lovingkindness), Gevurah (might), Tiferet (beauty), Netzach (victory), Hod (splendor), Yesod (foundation), and Malkhut (kingship) of her particular Partzuf. After this period, when a woman immerses in the Mikveh, her soul is healed, and physical relations can resume.

The Power of Family Purity

Many great Kabbalists teach that the Mitzvah of family purity is essential for drawing down a holy soul and sanctifying the relationship between a man and a woman. We find this idea in the writings of the Ramban. This is why it’s recommended for barren women as a segulah (spiritual remedy) to conceive, and many have found it to be effective.

The Connection to Hashem

From a Jewish and Kabbalistic perspective, the Mitzvah of family purity is not just about physical separation; it’s a spiritual practice that connects the couple to Hashem by removing the anchor of physicality. By observing these laws, couples are reminded of their higher purpose and the sanctity of their union. The periods of separation and reunion are seen as mirroring the divine cycles of concealment and revelation, drawing the couple closer to Hashem and reinforcing their spiritual bond.

Family purity also enhances spiritual awareness and mindfulness. During the separation period, both partners have the opportunity to reflect on their relationship and their individual spiritual journeys. This time apart fosters introspection and personal growth, which in turn enriches the relationship when they come back together.

DALL·E 2024 03 07 12.26.05 In this new variation the scene unfolds with a large extended ancient Jewish family including the man with a turban his wife four children of var

The practice of family purity transforms the home into a sacred space.

By adhering to these laws, couples create an environment of holiness and sanctity within their everyday lives. The home becomes a miniature sanctuary where the presence of Hashem is felt more profoundly.

The Mitzvah of family purity places a significant amount of spiritual responsibility and power in the hands of women since they are the ones keeping the count. This empowerment is not just symbolic; it is a recognition of the vital role women play in maintaining the spiritual balance within the family.

Now, this might seem surprising, but from a holistic perspective, the observance of family purity is has positive effects on both fertility and overall health. There are a few explanations: generally the time a woman goes to the Mikvah coincides with the time she’s ovulating and thus has higher chances of getting pregnant.

Moreover, the emotional and spiritual benefits of this Mitzvah contribute to a reduced level of stress and an improved sense of well-being, which are essential factors for a healthy body and mind.On the men’s side, excessive spilling of seed, even “for the sake of a Mitzvah” decreases sperm quality (so it pays to wait). Finally, as mentioned, couples need some time apart to rekindle their love. Then Mikvah night is like a month mini-wedding.

This sacred space extends beyond the physical to the emotional and spiritual realms, promoting peace, harmony, and divine blessings within the household.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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