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New App Aims to Bring Privacy to Bedikah Inquiries

For the first time in history, women can anonymously send pictures of their Bedikah cloths to their Rabbi with a new app’s Rabbinically approved technology.

In a unique combination of tradition and technology, a Frum, Miami-based organization launches a new app that allows women to observe the laws of family purity — one of the most fundamental commandments kept in an observant Jewish home– without the usual embarrassment.

The app, called Tahor, (Hebrew for “pure”), addresses the time of “Niddah” when both husband and wife are forbidden from intimate relations. The prohibition on intimacy ends only after a woman has immersed herself in the Mikvah, or ritual bath.

The problem? The laws of Niddah are very extensive and most women cannot determine whether they are “Niddah” or not.  In those circumstances, they must present their undergarments to their Rabbi – a process many view as both embarrassing and stressful.  Indeed, many couples are too embarrassed to ask the Rabbi at all. The problem is compounded by couples who do not have access to a Rabbi in close vicinity.  These couples are faced with the responsibility of making spiritual and religious determinations without needed Rabbinical guidance.

The Tahor app now allows women a Rabbinically approved way to seek guidance without the usual embarrassment. Women can now utilize Tahor’s photo and color technology to take a snapshot of their cloths and send those photos anonymously to a Taharat Hamishpacha – family purity – expert. The user can follow the step-by-step, Rabbinically-guided instructions, hit “send”, and the image will go the designated responding Rabbi who can then determine the sender’s purity status.

“Best of all, the entire experience is anonymous,” said Zisa Levin, a social worker and co-creator of Tahor app. As a newlywed, she asked her friends which Rabbi answers their family purity questions. “When many of my friends answered that they were too uncomfortable to ask the Rabbi their questions directly, my husband and I knew we needed to do something about it.”

Zisa and Yitz Levin sought out Rivkah Bloom, an MIT computer science graduate and creator of www.MikvahCalendar.com.  “With the encouragement of Rabbis worldwide, we spent the next two years developing and testing color accuracy technology to achieve the necessary color match” explained Yitz Levin, an attorney and co-creator of Tahor app.

After incorporating unique lighting and white-balance technology, as well as advanced measurement tools, Tahor app became a reality. “We’re excited that technology has finally caught up with the demands of Halacha and more women can now be included in this Mitzvah,” said Rivkah Bloom. “This app addresses a critical need in our community.”

“Tahor app will help many women keep Taharas Hamishpacha”, said Rabbi Auman, Former President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and Dean of Nishmat American Program.

“I’ve worked extensively with the Tahor team and their attention to halachic detail and commitment to this mitzvah is unparalleled,” said Rabbi Davis, Senior Rabbi of Young Israel, Hollywood, Florida and responding Rabbi on Tahor app.

Tahor app is available for iPhone and will soon be released on Android.  You can download Tahor app here or visit www.Tahorapp.com for more information. If you have any questions, you can reach the Tahor team at info@tahorapp.com.

53 Comments

    • 3. Not Convinced wrote:

      Not convinced this is halachically ok.
      No computer can replace daylight as prescribed in SHulchan Aruch for bedikos to be examined. Would like to see the approval of many more CHAbad poskim and not one who is a nogeya bedavar in this endeavor.

    • 5. Anonymous wrote:

      its enough for obvious cases of kosher mare
      meaning instead of going to the rabbi for something that isnt bichlal a shalo just send a pic
      now if its more complpicated then daylight is needed

  • 6. Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t know if it a good thing because a picture can change the color of the kasam

    Reply
  • 8. Sarah wrote:

    This is incredible!!

    Thank you so much for helping women keep this important Mitzvah with dignity!

    Reply
  • 10. This is great! wrote:

    This is amazing! I have had the uncomfortble experience of needing send in a shaalo and this is so much better!

    Reply
  • 11. RB wrote:

    What a beautiful way to help people keep the laws of Taharas Hamishpacha properly in an easy, accessible and anonymous manner. many women are embarrassed to bring their shailos to a rav, do not have a rav they feel comfortable asking, or live out of town. However, they really would like to keep the laws and often end up paskening for themselves. This app is groundbreaking and will be helpful to so many. I look forward to using it. Kol Hakavod!

    Reply
  • 12. Rivkah Bloom wrote:

    Hi! I am the creator of MikvahCalendar.com and also created this app Tahor. I can tell you that the technology and white balance options built into Tahor with an iPhone 5 or above we ensures that the color match is almost identical. We have thoroughly tested this app with Rabbonim who were able to accurately pasken if the stain rendered one in Niddah. In cases where it was questionable, the Rabbi just answers back to send the cloth to a Rabbi (he does not guess).

    Additionally, we have incorporated advanced measurement capabilities which the Rabbis use to see if the stain is more or less than a gris.

    This app will allow so many more couples to keep Taharat Hamishapachah properly (as right now many many couples do not ask these questions because of embarrassment.)

    Please let me know if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to answer.

    Reply
    • 13. not sure wrote:

      Sounds nice, but we would like to hear from Rabbonim what they say.

    • 14. Anash wrote:

      I’m just quoting what you wrote: “I can tell you that the technology and white balance options built into Tahor with an iPhone 5 or above we ensures that the color match is almost identical.”
      I’m sure you realize that you wrote that it is “ALMOST identical”, and in Halocho ALMOST doesn’t count.

    • 15. Rivkah Bloom wrote:

      It is identical enough that the Rabbonim have consistently given the correct Psak to the questions they have received. And any question which is borderline, they answer that the actual cloth must be taken to a Rav.

  • 16. Yeshiva of Pittsburgh Alumni wrote:

    Wow! Rivkah Bloom! You don’t stop!! Unbelievable work that you are doing! It is so great that you are making the complicated laws of taharas hamishpacha more accessible to everyone, no matter what their background is. Keep making a kiddush Hashem!

    Reply
  • 17. Rivkah Bloom wrote:

    This app needed to be released for the thousands of couples who are NOT ASKING their bedikah questions to a Rav because they are uncomfortable. This app has been verified to give them the proper psak under specific conditions.
    And again, if the stain is questionable, the Rav will tell the user to show the actual cloth to a Rabbi.

    Reply
    • 18. not sure wrote:

      Souds like the typical, mekarev rechokim, and merachek kerovim.

      Thanks, just what we need.

    • 19. Anonymous? wrote:

      The issue with encouraging anonymous Shaalos is that couples will not get a Psak tailored to their situation. Everyone who went through Yeshiva can open a Shulchan Aruch and tell you what to do but only a Rav who you develop a connection to can give you the Psak that’s tailor made to fit our situation. That’s the beauty of Halacha. It is black and white 100% but each person’s black and white can vary based on nuances in their personal life. I think rather than encouraging this anonymity we should encourage couples to find a Rav that they respect and feel comfortable with,

  • 20. Which Chabad Rabbonim Approve wrote:

    Why r ppl so blind to readily accept something wo the slightest bit of research as long as its the easy way out?

    A computer DOES NOT replace fleishig eyes, as Halacha requires, for paskening bedika sheilos.

    Who are all those “many” Chabad rabbonim besides JAcobs, who is nogeya bedavar? !!!!

    Reply
    • 21. DW wrote:

      You ask how people are so blind and accept things without the slightest bit of research…show me your research on how a screen cannot accurately display an image the way it appears in real life.

      Also, you’re still using your “fleishig eyes” to look at the screen. The screen just shows you the cloth, so there’s no stira to the requirement of “Fleishig eyes”

  • 22. Thank you! wrote:

    I am a woman who lives in ch and I don’t feel in the slightest bit comfortable going to see or even speak to a Rav regarding bedikas. This will be a life safer for me !

    Reply
    • 23. Zisa Levin wrote:

      Thank you for your honest support of Tahor app! As one of the creators of this app, I can relate to your experience!

    • 24. CH? wrote:

      Most of the time in CH you can just drop it off in a box with a phone number on it and have the Rov call you back. This is more needed for those small places where you see the Rov face to face or have no Rov anywhere nearby

  • 25. Amazing wrote:

    I live on shlichus and there are times when I call Rabbi Chaiken or a Rabbi on the Crown Heights beis din and just describe my color over the phone!
    (And yes, most Chabad rabbonim have asked me to do this.)

    This is SO much more of a better option.

    Reply
    • 26. Zisa Levin wrote:

      Thank you for sharing your positive feedback! This was created for women in similar circumstances! Of course, a picture is more accurate than a verbal description of the colors.
      Please email me at ZLevin@tahorapp.com as I’d like to ask you a question.

    • 29. Yudi Mandel wrote:

      No need, most rabbis today are worse than robots……….

  • 30. Looks Great! wrote:

    The developer of http://www.mikvahcalendar.com has done it again! Looks like a great service. Modern cameras are very effective and this can be a great tool for one not near to a rov for any number of reasons. As mentioned above, for anything questionable, people will still be directed to meet with a rov in person.

    Rabbi Fishel Jacobs, the author of “Family Purity”, is one of the people in the background on this (just like on the mikvah site). As this is a book a great number of us use, and a site a great many of us use, this too may be of use to us.

    I’m not sure where all the internet-related doubting a great idea comes from. Have any of you used it yet or even looked at it or asked your own rov (instead of just posting)?

    Reply
  • 31. Out of towner wrote:

    Wow! Amazing app.
    Thanks to those who worked hard to create.
    Now women can fulfill the mitzvah without being “degraded”.
    And for those who have a problem with the App, DONT USE IT!. You don’t to put it down, just because YOU don’t believe in it.
    Times change and we need to update things, and this is a good way.

    Reply
  • 32. kol hakavod! wrote:

    Thank you to everyone involved with this app that will help so many fulfill this mitzva who might not otherwise do it. This is a brilliant use of technology and such a big mitzva. Again, thank you!

    Reply
  • 33. kol hakavod wrote:

    Thank you to all involved In the developement of this app that will help so many couples keep this mitzva, people who might otherwise not due to various reasons. This is such a huge mitzva and such an incredible use of technology!
    Thank you!

    Reply
  • 34. Might work some times wrote:

    Might work some times but the article is a bit misleading. if its obviously not a problem this might work but when you NEED SUNLIGHT to check there does not seem to be a way for this to work!
    I understand that probably the Rov will ask to bring it in then but the article makes it sound like you can do this on a app

    Reply
  • 35. Finally wrote:

    As a woman who speaks for myself as well as many others, thank you. This is something many women feel uncomfortable with and has at times prevented many from fulfilling the mitzvah fully. This app is taking our needs into account and for that I am so grateful.
    Additionally, I am so impressed by the extensive testing and cutting edge technology developed in the creation of this app. This is truly a prime example of how technology can aid us in living a frum and chassidish life!

    Reply
  • 36. Stumbling Block for Issur Kareis wrote:

    Rabbi Sholom Shuchat a renowned Lubavitch Posek issued a letter today stating that in his opinion this is NOT permitted. He writes that he hopes the creators of the app and the Rabbis that support it will take down the app immediately.

    Reply
    • 37. Funny wrote:

      I think this is funny because he probably never even looked at the app.

  • 38. Future app user wrote:

    Thank you so much! I’m so excited about this new and innovative way to get the answers I need in a respectful and kosher way!

    Reply
  • 39. What's the issue? wrote:

    From what is described in this article, this is an app that:
    – Is approved by respectable rabbonim
    – Will help many women that currently turn to less reliable ways of determining their status.
    – Will help women that currently do not check their status because it is embarrassing to them.
    – Allows one to CHOOSE whether they want to use this service or not.

    Chabad Rabbonim may or may not approve it in the end, but I would venture to say that this is a good thing.

    Please share your thoughts!

    Reply
  • 40. No way wrote:

    There is no way you can get an accurate color picture with the phone. You know darn well that the angle you hold the phone affects the results. Not to mention lighting in the room or outside. This app maybe better than nothing but it may also make things worse for others.
    BTW what color is the nail polish of the lady holding the phone at the top of this article?

    Reply
    • 41. Do your research wrote:

      As someone who initially had reservations and many of the same questions as you, I recognized that this issue must have been taken into account since it is after all, the first concern that comes to mind. I did some research and found that the picture has certain conditions it needs to be taken in (sunlight with bright lighting (the app will not allow you to take the picture without enough lighting). Then, the user can use a white balance technology to ensure that the color is an exact match.
      From my personal research, I feel this app is kosher and can confidently say that I will be using it in certain circumstances.
      It is really important that we do adequate research before criticizing something that has the potential to help so many.

  • 42. best mashpia wrote:

    Rabbonim today are the problems our community have faced. Eruv no good, restaurants no good, new app no good. Why are they scared?

    Reply
  • 43. Rabbi Farkashs answer... wrote:

    After showing it to Rabbi Farkash (from Yeushalayim of the original Taharas Hamishpcha book) he says it is absolutely NOT OK and should NOT be used in any circumstances as it is IMPOSSIBLE to get the correct answer through a picture, regardless of all the fancy filters built into the app. He agrees it a genius idea but one that is not halachikally ok.

    Reply
  • 44. Enabling So Much Good wrote:

    I think we have to all get away from the fear and rejection of new things and realize that Chabad rabbis and other rabbis tested this and said it is ok. This has the potential for so much good, and like so many other things, it’s becoming politicized instead of utilized.

    Reply
  • 45. Tested And Approved wrote:

    Despite being approved and rigorously tested by Chabad and other orthodox rabbis, there are rabbis out there deliberately not following the app’s instructions and seeking to invalidate it by posting deceptive results.

    Reply
    • 46. Pragmatist wrote:

      Exactly how was this rigorous testing done? I find it rather strange, in fact, that there is NO description of the rigorous tests done.

      Someone with a CompiSci degree should know better….

  • 47. You do you wrote:

    Nobody is forcing anyone to use this app. This just might be a useful service to those who are using unreliable ways to decide or not. If someone is more comfortable going to a rabbi, by all means, go to a rabbi!

    Reply
  • 49. Pragmatist wrote:

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but for starters, here are some things that the article doesn’t even begin to address:

    1. If a woman is somewhere without access to a Rov, she has a problem. Giving her incorrect answers doesn’t solve the problem.

    2. If a woman has issues with TH, giving her incorrect information is not going to solve the problem.

    In both cases, I am reminded of what the Frierdike Rebbe said – When you are putting out a raging fire, you may not care if the water is pure, but you don’t use kerosene.

    3. She claims that Rabbi Shuchat didn’t follow instructions. What makes her think that the people who are using this app will follow instructions? It’s not even necessarily deliberate, justs people not realizing.

    4. “Daylight” can mean many different things, and the kind of daylight you are using makes a difference, as does where you are -eg in a lit room by a window, or out on the porch etc. When a Rov is holding the bedika, he knows what his lighting is like.

    5. The settings make a difference – the app does not automatically standardize the settings, nor are there any instructions for the user.

    6. Lastly, even within the iPhone series, the camera results can be significantly different. Look at this page for some examples: http://www.imore.com/camera-tests-battle-royale-four-inch-iphone-6-6s-7

    Reply
  • 50. The Tahor App Team wrote:

    To clarify (as this seems not to be clear):

    “Tahor” is meant to serve as a halachically approved “filter” for a majority of Shailos (many of which are straightforward and simple to determine). It is meant to allow those who may not have access to a rov, or who may not feel comfortable going to a rov, to have an option, when halachically viable, to send in their sample anonymously.

    What this app is not:
    This app IS NOT meant to be an umbrella replacement for the process of showing questionable bedikah cloths to Rabbonim. Rabbonim were all able to pasken correctly because of our advanced white balance technology and Rabbinic measurement capabilities. The ones which are borderline or questionable, will be told to show the actual cloth to a Rabbi.

    It is obviously preferable to take the cloth directly to the Rabbi when possible, but many many women are not doing it! This will allow them to keep Taharat Hamishpachah and get accurate answers.

    We know that anything new is scary, but this app is not at all lenient and halachah will not be compromised.

    Reply
  • 51. Big Fan wrote:

    I think that you have something pretty good going on over here. Just a few things.
    1- Why has there not been any mention of any Rabbis other than Davis and Aumann? What about “Bigger Names” in the Jewish world? It doesn’t exactly sit well with many that one of the only two Rabbis involved is the Director of the Yoatzot Halacha Program, one that has not exactly received acclaim amongst the greater religious population. I think you would have more influence if you can add some names to your list.
    2- Just because you are purportedly helping people out doesn’t condone what you are doing. The fact that many women struggle with their tzeniut, kashrut, or Shabbat observance doesn’t allow us do create some sort of quasi-heter to allow them to carry on what they are doing all for the sake of “Well, if we don’t allow them who knows what they will do”.
    My hope is that you can tweak this and enable all across the spectrum to make the most of it.

    Reply
  • 52. Mixed emotions wrote:

    Although I am a fan of your new app, how can you honestly say that the Halacha will not be compromised when Aumann is the Director of a program that even to a casual observer seeks to do exactly that?

    Reply
  • 53. Response to 22, 29, 31 and more wrote:

    Its a shame that you seem to be commenting with such negativity to our hallowed tradition of thousands of years. Even if you had an unpleasant experience with a Rabbi, (which I will assume you did because if not, why all the hate) why rope all Rabbis together?
    Further, if you are embarrassed to show your Mareh to a Rabbi perhaps you are the one with the problem? As opposed to running away and hiding behind the camera you should face your issue head on and deal with it in a mature responsible fashion.
    I like the Idea of this app and would like to see it become more accepted in a more pleasant way.

    Reply

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