Thursday, January 25, 2007

concern for bracha l'vatalah: bracha on counting 7 neki'im vs. mikvah

Tosfos (Kesubos 72a) asks why a women who counts 7 neki’im until going to mikvah does not recite a bracha before each day’s count just as we recite a bracha before each day’s count of sefiras ha’omer. Tosfos answers that since it is possible that a woman might see dam during that week, forcing her to restart her count from the beginning, therefore “ain lah limnos”. The concluding line of Tosfos is every strange – the question was an issue of hilchos brachos, and we would have anticipated the answer to be that since there is the possibility of losing the count a bracha should not be recited. Tosfos concluding line implies that the possibility of being forced to restart means there is no mitzvah at all to count! The gilyon on the side of the page notes that the Shla”h corrected the girsa to read “ain lah levareich” – she should count, but not say a bracha. Based on this, some woman do have the chumra of verbally counting each day of the seven neki’im just as if counting sefiras ha’omer, albeit without a bracha. Many, however, do not articulate the count, in keeping with our girsa in Tosfos.

There is a gezeirah derabbanan that even after a woman finishes her count of 7 days, which happens the morning of the 7th day (since miktzas hayom k’kulo, part of a day counts as a day, the count is done at the start of the day), she does not go to mikvah until nightfall. Chazal were concerned for the off-chance that a woman would go to mikvah during the day and have relations with her husband and than discover dam before nightfall, rendering her count of the 7th day (and the preceding days) void. The exception to the normal rule is the case of a kallah. Since she is not yet married, there is no concern of the kallah being with her husband until after the wedding, therefore it is permissible for her to go to mikvah during the day (see meforshim on Y.D. 197:4 as I have ignored some details for the sake of simplicity).

The Badei haShulchan (based on an Avnei Nezer) asks: if a woman does not say a bracha on counting 7 neki'im lest she end up seeing dam and having to restart her count, why does the kallah say a bracha when she goes to mikvah on the 7th day before nightfall? There clearly is still a concern of seeing dam, as that is why we do not allow a regular woman to go to mikvah during the day. Why then are we not concerned lest the kallah see dam, rendering her bracha on tevila a bracha l'vatalah? What is the difference between these cases???


  1. Perhaps the count should be regarded as hechsher mitzvah

  2. yehuda R1:32 PM

    In the case of a kallah she was actualy toivel and therefore can make a brocah on tevila.By the onset of 7 nkeyim it is questionable if she is actually counting for real.

  3. Bill Selliger1:54 PM

    Isn't she 100% tahor when she gets out of that mikva? She completed her li if some unforseen circumstance can pasul her in the future?

  4. Bill, it is not a new psul going forward, but she is t'meya retroactively because the 7 days were incomplete. Same problem for Yehudah R's answer - what good is a tevilah if it does not make one tahor? (see below)

    I think the missing piece is provided by Ariella's answer, which is my favorite so far (and no, I'm not just saying that because of bias : ) Counting is a matir; if one does not become tahor, the exercise is meanligless. Tevilah is a mitzvah, not just a matir, and the act of dunking is mechayeiv the bracha, not just the state of tahara which is achieved.

    The obvious answer here is that the count over 7 days is more likely to be disrupted than the 1/2 a day left after tevilah. But I agree that lomdus is better!

    Bill's/Yehudah R's answer I think depends on how one understands the idea of 'retroactive' / l'mafreya -do we erase everything done by the woman for the past 7 days, or do we assume she did count and was toveil but the state of tumah that has now been created has a din as if it had existed from an earlier time period? This chakira is discussed in other places by R' Chaim, R' Shimon Shkop (e.g. by chacham being oker a neder m'ikara).

    Any other answers?

  5. Just something of interest: one of my books on the subject of Taharat HaMishpacha (Sephardi) has an entire seder of tefillot for each day of the counting and more. It is rather extensive. But, still no berachot on the count (counting orally isn't a chiyuv and only seems to serve the purpose of keeping track of the days. I prefer to keep it all in my electronic calandar on the computer. Much more reliable!)

  6. >>>has an entire seder of tefillot for each day of the counting

    This is interesting - I've never heard of something like this. Do you mind posting the name of the sefer? (I don't know if I can get my hand on it, but you never know). I thought the whole idea of techinos that cover all sorts of things was an Ashkenaz idea, but I guess I am wrong.
    I was actually wondering before I wrote the post (and then neglected to mention it) whether sefardim have any mihag to verbally count as it is only mentioned in Tosfos, but I don't think in Rambam.