Chapter Thirty-one

About the Woman's Uncleanness, and how Jewish Women conduct themselves in this regard

A woman who is [menstrually] unclean must not go to shul, not pray, not mention the divine name, not touch any holy book, as it is written Lev. 12.4: She shall not touch any holy thing, and shall not come into the Sanctuary. However, some rabbis have permitted such things. But the most holy write that the woman who is careful about these matters prolongs her life.

As soon as she ascertains that she is unclean, she separates herself from her husband for seven [actually five, longer if the period is prolonged] days. She must not

If one of them wishes to give something to the other, they must not throw it at each other, but place it on a bench or table, so that the other can take it from a distance.

If a man sleeps with his wife at the wrong time, they say that leprous children will result. (They say that this is one of the main reasons that there are so many lepers among the Christians, and they write many venomous and bitter words on this point against the Christians, which I shall maintain silence about in this place.)

After seven days of uncleanness, she counts again seven days of cleanness, and when she finds herself completely clean, she dons white garments, takes another woman with her, and has to go completely naked into cold water, and not bathe in a shirt. (In some places they are accustomed in wintertime to pour warm water into the bathing pool, but in other places they bathe winter and summer in cold water.) She must immerse herself totally, so that not a single hair on her head remains outside. When she dips, she must not close her mouth and eyes completely, so that the water can enter them too. She should separate her fingers, and bend her body in such a way that her breasts do not touch it. She must separate the hair of her head by combing. She must have no ring on her finger, so that there is no place on her body where the water fails to reach. If she has a plaster on a sore, she must remove it. Her nails must be cut. No other woman may touch her while she is immersed, even if she has a fainting fit, unless that woman has washed her hands and they are clean. If she finds something between her teeth after she has bathed, she must bathe again, etc.

Much more might be written about this, but it is not proper to reveal all the secrets of the Jewish women. The Jews themselves have a special book in the German language in Hebrew characters about the practices of the women. It is called Frawenbüchlin [The Woman's Book]. You can read it if you are able, and it is to be found among the Jews in Frankfurt.


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Alan D. Corré
corre@uwm.edu