Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Laws of Separation and NFP

This is pretty nifty.

I found the following on a website about Jewish Law. Since many aspects of Christian tradition have their origins in Judaism, I always enjoy learning something new about how the two connect.

I have shortened the passage for the sake of space, but the entire article is available here.

Niddah: The Laws of Separation


According to the Torah, a man is forbidden from having sexual intercourse with a niddah, that is, a menstruating woman. This is part of the extensive laws of ritual purity described in the Torah. ...

The time of separation begins at the first sign of blood and ends in the evening of the woman's seventh "clean day." This separation lasts a minimum of 12 days. ... Weddings must be scheduled carefully, so that the woman is not in a state of niddah on her wedding night.

At the end of the period of niddah, as soon as possible after nightfall after the seventh clean day, the woman must immerse herself in a kosher mikvah, a ritual pool. ...

The fertility benefits of this practice are obvious and undeniable. In fact, it is remarkable how closely these laws parallel the advice given by medical professionals today. When couples are having trouble conceiving, modern medical professionals routinely advise them to abstain from sex during the two weeks around a woman's period (to increase the man's sperm count at a time when conception is not possible), and to have sex on alternate nights during the remaining two weeks. When you combine this basic physical benefit with the psychological benefit of believing that you are fulfilling G-d's will, it is absolutely shocking that more couples with fertility problems do not attempt this practice. ...

In addition, women who have sexual intercourse during their menstrual period are more vulnerable to a variety of vaginal infections, as well as increased risk of cervical cancer.

But the benefits that the rabbis have always emphasized are the psychological ones, not the physical ones. The rabbis noted that a two-week period of abstention every month forces a couple to build a non-sexual bond as well as a sexual one. It helps to build the couple's desire for one another, making intercourse in the remaining two weeks more special. It also gives both partners a chance to rest, without feeling sexually inadequate. They also emphasized the value of self-discipline in a drive as fundamental as the sexual drive.

Interestingly, Fertility Awareness Methods (Symptothermal, Creighton, etc) of Natural Family planning, require similar periods of sexual abstinence if one is avoiding pregnancy, or if one is attempting to achieve it deliberately. Catholic and Non-Catholic couples who practice NFP often experience very similar benefits to those described here, especially those psychological ones described in the last paragraph here. Yet another example of modern science and ancient wisdom coming together. :)

Like I said, pretty nifty stuff.

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