As a young girl learning about menstruation for the first time, my favorite book on the subject featured a double-page spread that displayed cartoon illustrations of different women and their bodies. Each woman was a different age, a different shape, each wearing a different facial expression. There must have been over two dozen, lined up right next to one another. I remember being in awe at how incredible it was that each of those people on that colorful page were so different.
Whenever I teach Hilchot Niddah to a couple or a class, I think about this diversity of life experience, and of what a book like that might be like if it were about Niddah. It would be easy to assume that a book about this subject would focus narrowly on one kind of experience or observance. But the truth is, if you opened this book, the Niddah practices depicted in the double-page spread would not just look one way; not even close! There would be dozens, hundreds, of iterations and traditions. [Read more…]