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Kallah Educator Speaks Out Regarding ‘Tahor’ App

Rebbitzin Tzippy Weiss, Shlucha to Miami Lakes, FL, and a renowned Kallah educator, lent her voice to the brewing controversy involving the recently-launched ‘Tahor’ app, which allows women to submit Bedikah inquiries to a rabbi via photo.

by Tzippy Weiss

As a mother of 9, a Bubby of one, and married 23 years, the mitzvah of family purity is not new to me. Although I’ve been nursing or pregnant for the last 22 years, and I can count on my fingers the times I’ve gone to the Mikvah (ritual bath), it is a most beautiful mitzvah and one that creates and renews my marriage into a Godly and spiritual one.

Many might say this mitzvah is ancient and has no place in modern day life, but I disagree. I can share personal stories of many people who have started keeping this mitzvah on later in life and realized the immediate positive effects it has had on their families and marriage.

There is now an app that has been created to help women perform this mitzvah in an easier, more private environment. The app is called Tahor and without delving too much into the details, it enables women to ask private questions during their clean days while avoiding an “embarrassing” trip to the rabbi who’s an expert in these laws. While there is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s been going on for thousands of years (albeit very privately), today many women and even husbands would rather not visit the rabbi regarding these matters and would just rather ”wait another day, or find another way”.

From all of the women I have taught, new brides becoming more observant, women taking this on later in life, the mitzvah of mikvah has not been a challenge for them, but a welcome aspect in their lives. However, visiting a rabbi, or making a call regarding their spotting or staining has been challenging. When I teach them, most have said, “Tzippy, I love the whole Mikvah thing, but I’m just not going to be asking a Rabbi about such private matters. It’s way too uncomfortable.”

These women would rather wait the extra time, or justify on their own not going to the Rabbi, by way of saying it’s all fine, or this little stain makes no difference.

How many women can this help? Many. Especially these ladies who aren’t going to see a Rabbi.

I’m sorry to see that it has been under attack. Obviously the Rabbis do know what they are talking about and in an ideal situation this app wouldn’t be necessary, but in today’s world, it can be helpful, useful, innovative, and successful.

While Tahor has a number of Rabbonim who put out a Haskama and believe this app works, we, as a Chabad community need to give it a chance to iron out the issues and the Rabbis need to see, after much deliberation, discussion, and research if there are ways to make this work for the people who do not ask questions. If there’s a will there’s a way. There’s so much that can be done with technology, and somehow someway this can work.

80 Comments

  • 1. Very well said wrote:

    I understand why some people don’t want to use the app, but it is definitely needed, and it will help many people.
    My Rabbi answers questions by text when I can’t see him. After downloading and using the app, it does take a better picture than my regular camera. I think this app will improve what’s already going on…which is that Rabbis already respond through text messages. I also believe more women will keep taharas hamishpacha because the app is anonymous. Call me crazy, but I think it’s a good thing.

    Reply
    • 2. Pragmatist wrote:

      No, it will NOT help people because it is simply not possible to get consistently correct answers with it.

      It’s like trying to extinguish a fire with kerosene.

  • 3. Shouldn't be teaching wrote:

    I am sorry but you really shouldn’t be teaching Kalla’s. You obviously cannot distinguish between Halchic issues and feelings. The problem with this app is that one cannot get a psak from a picture taken on a phone, its nothing to do with how anyone “feels”, it just doesnt work.

    Reply
    • 4. You didn't read her article wrote:

      She wasn’t saying that it’s halachically ok. She was saying there is a big need out there. The fact that she can address that means that she SHOULD be teaching Kallahs. She is very aware of what they need.

      Also, how can you say that a picture can’t be good if the Rabbonim already use pictures by text for a psak?

    • 6. Someone wrote:

      Clearly you, dear sir or madam, don’t know much about psak, either. Don’t you know that if our rabbis deem something kosher it suddenly becomes kosher? It’s the rabbis ruling which determines the status because apparently, a rabbis word is magic.

  • 8. No-Brainer wrote:

    It seems like a no-brainer.
    If you trust the Rabbi you chose in the App, then he will tell you if you need to take the stain to a Rav. This is so much less intimidating for our mikuravim.

    Reply
  • 9. Women Erring wrote:

    The Rabbonim are not supporting the app (even though it has the ability to give women who are not currently asking Shalos a method for them to receive correct answers and guidance from a Rav) because they are worried that the woman might err and not follow the directions (to take in sunlight)

    Aren’t there an infinite number of ways that women can err? Why aren’t we we worried that the woman will calculate her vestos incorrectly (which they often do)? Or why do we sell women milk products and meat products in case she might accidentally eat one after the other?

    Of course, there is a little education required (in telling the woman that she MUST follow the instructions), but here is a way to help SO MANY more women keep Taharas Hamishpachah.

    The reality is that the majority of Modern Orthodox women are not asking shailos and very few of the newly observant. The Rabbonim who support Tahor (and there are many more than the few on their website who approve of the app and are quietly supporting it even though they do not feel ready to publicly support it) feel that even if they tell the woman “Show this to your Rav”, they have already opened the door for these women to feel more comfortable going to a Rav.

    Reply
    • 10. Teachers are strinking wrote:

      There are so many ways to determine if a stain is tahor or tamei, they include texture, color and other details. A rav can give a psak of tahor on a stain that can seem to be tamei and vice versa. He needs to stretch it, tilt it, and other methods to come to a definite psak. There is only so much you can see in a picture.

  • 11. The kangeroo wrote:

    Where there is a will there is a way. (That is said enough) Vhamavin yovin)

    Reply
  • 12. Stunned wrote:

    There is no reason any woman has to see the Rabbi. Many Rabbis have drop off boxes where the shailoh can be left. The women can send their husbands to the Rabbi. Heck, they can even mail it!

    It seems Mrs. Weiss is concentrating on women who are new to keeping Taharas Hamishpacha. Does that mean she doesn’t endorse this app for women who are frum for years, FFB’s or older women who decided that being machmir overrides any embarrassment?

    I am shocked that a “renowned” Kallah teacher thinks a photo, which is 1-dimensional, replaces the need for human scrutiny. It’s no surprise that Chabad is going to hell in a handbasket. I have no doubt that many women agree with her, but that doesn’t mean she is right. Quite honestly, if my daughter was going to her for Kallah classes I would send her to someone else. I wish Chabad poskim would come out and sign a kol koreh which either approves or disapproves of this app as a tool to check. If I am wrong, and recognized authorities say the app is fine, great. But if I’m right, thousands of children will be born to women who think their babies were conceived al pi halacha, and we know that leads to all sorts of problems.

    Reply
    • 13. In a hand basket? wrote:

      No dropbox, no rabbi, now what? Think about people outside of major Jewish centers, not “hell in a hand basket”.

      Be hopeful of who this might help, it may not be the end of Klal yisroel

  • 14. Shmuli wrote:

    The main issue with revolutionary halachic technology is that the developers often do not contact the leading poskim of our generation for opinions before developing the product. Two Modern orthodox/litvish rabbis and one Chabad rabbi who are not poskim cannot give an opinion, no matter how smart they are. It’s like going to a lawyer to decide an important supreme court decision. The supreme court decides, not any lawyer.

    The question here, is who are the leading Poskim who have authorized this app? If they are on board, Kol Hakavod! Everyone would love to use the app when needed!

    Reply
  • 15. Yakov Kirschenbaum wrote:

    BH

    This article does not address the crux of the issue – whether or not the app can accurately depict the stain (the lighting, color, etc.)

    The tremendous benefit of the app is obvious and agreed upon by everybody.

    Reply
  • 16. A thoughtful letter wrote:

    A thoughtful letter. Have the app creators sufficient defined who this is intended for? As long as it does not compromise Halacha, why not create entry points for more people?

    Reply
    • 17. I just checked their website. wrote:

      It looks like they made it clear that this app is ONLY for people who don’t ask questions. Look at their “about” and “FAQ” sections.

  • 18. Nobody wrote:

    If asking the rabbi about such things is your only problem then why not just have your husband do it?

    Reply
  • 27. Citizen Berel wrote:

    The Noda beYehuda has a brief appendix referencing the views of the contemporaneous kallah teachers promise.

    Reply
    • 29. Citizen Berel wrote:

      no just no it’s not true there has been no such appendix written in the history of ever.

  • 30. Thank You!!! wrote:

    Thank you so much for speaking out on this matter – and especially speaking out with your name public. Your brave words make a difference to so many and truly embody the attitude we should HAVE as Chabad.

    Reply
  • 31. Makshin wrote:

    Stunned, stunned me with a sweeping condemnation of Chabad.
    Heaven forfend! Chabad is not “going” where he thinks it’s going.
    Chabad is growing in everything good

    Reply
  • 32. ? wrote:

    With all the new technology why do we need the opinion of the Rav. Why can’t we program the computer to decide.

    Reply
  • 33. it simply does not work wrote:

    Anyone who knows the first thing about camera’s knows that as a general rule the color of picture is not exact.
    Anyone who know the first thing about about Maaros knows that even a slight change in color can make all the difference.
    So this app simply cannot do what it was created to do.

    Reply
  • 34. Gman wrote:

    If a send a picture of kosher meat can I eat pork?

    It’s more available in my town and will save me from being embarrassed

    Reply
  • 37. Moishe pipek wrote:

    #19 yes you can! Bnei Israel are rachmanim baichonim vgomei chasidim yiu seem to lack those quolities

    Reply
  • 38. Pni wrote:

    Tzippy,

    I am not here to comment on the halachic validity of the app.

    I *am* here to say I am proud of you for taking a stand and being brave.

    You are doing it with a loving heart and in the zechus of taharas yisroel.

    For these alone, I am honored to know you.

    p.s. To all the naysayers, you can disagree with her politely and not bash her role as a kallah teacher. Veahavta l’reacha kamocha is as much of a mitzva as taharas hamishpacha.

    Reply
  • 39. Shlucha wrote:

    She spoke of “new brides becoming more observant, women taking this on later in life…” she’s a Shlucha- she helps people become observant. I think the app was introduced horribly wrong, to the wrong audience. I don’t think it’s for the Chassidishe/frum families and was posted out of place. I would never use it, I send my husband to the Rov. And it won’t make me lax about my standards just because it’s out there & available. But to those who aren’t frum, learning how to do things, they may feel more comfortable with this. There’s cholov stam but it doesn’t mean people who only use cholov yisrael are suddenly going to become lax about it just because cholov stam exists. There’s eruvs out there that are being used by other people but that doesn’t mean the chassidishe families will drop their standards and use it. I think all those type of arguments against the app are pointless. There are plenty of things out there that may or may not tempt us into leniency. I don’t think the majority of people in CH understand the people shluchim deal with. They are not, for the most part, ready to go on the highest mehuddar road. Why not have something out there for them to help them start if it’s technically sound. It’s not like the app has the last word- the rov on the other end does. Before you attack me, remember, this is just another opinion about use by non-observant people who are trying to learn, I’m NOT saying whether or not it’s halachically sound. But think of it this way, it’s not halachically sound for Yidden to eat non-kosher but there are plenty of people who do who come to shluchim’s chabad houses. If we’re going to knock down an app that will help non-observant Yidden come closer to taking on more Mitzvot, then why not knock down everything else out there that will lead Yidden astray? BTW Being embarrassed will not get in the way of Torah observant women. If this app leads a woman to become lenient then they were not strong in their values to begin with. That isn’t a sound argument against this app.

    Reply
  • 41. 1 rubashkin wrote:

    1st they attacked kashrus= Rubashkin, then2 education =R Balkany. Then 3 Bris Milla= metzitza bipeh. Then 4 Shabbos= eruv rave. then 5 they returned to education= forcing yeshivas to teach English (still in fighting now). NOW lets ruin Mikva = tharas hamishpacha.
    when are we as a united Jewish community going to rise up and fight this constant onslaught by our reformers. I say fi you wont keep the mitzvah, don’t ruen it for me!!!!!!

    Reply
  • 42. Well said! wrote:

    Thank you Tzippy Weiss for this article. You speak for so many of us women. To speak out so bravely, intelligently, and unapologetically on this matter, and to use your name as well, is so admirable. Hopefully people will hear your words and take your message to heart in seeing how much good this can do.

    Reply
  • 43. Those concerned about Halachah wrote:

    They say on their website that any stain which is of questionable size/color will be told to go to a Rav.

    Seems Halachically sound to me.

    Reply
  • 44. Someone wrote:

    Thank you! Finally someone openminded enough to actually consider how this can help so many people and brace enough to voice their opinion.

    Reply
  • 45. life in your hands wrote:

    Would you diagnose akin cancer with an app? Or dismiss a questionable mark on your skin that could be skin cancer, simply by texting a doctor a picture?

    Reply
    • 46. Technology exists wrote:

      Do you know that phone consultations and internet consultations are available by doctors and nurses? My health insurance offers such a convenience. And when they (dr. or nurse) can’t come to a conclusive diagnosis they tell the patient to see a doctor in person. same idea. Not everyone uses it, but then again these are choices people make on their own. And yes, I’ve text a dr a pic, and he told me to go see a dr in person. Same idea.

  • 47. Another solution wrote:

    If these things need to be checked in person then another excellent option is having more women who are halachicly qualified to pasken on these issues.

    Yes it is uncomfortable for a woman or her husband to bring these matters to a rav. Especially when the rav gives them a hard time about things and lacks the necessary sensitivity as has been my experience unfortunately.

    In israel there are qualified women as well as a hotline anwered by women which is excellent. everyone should know about and use if needed: yoatzot.org

    But around the world more women should become trained in this. And training should be facilitated by the rabbanim and the communities. I speak for myself but I’m sure many other women would agree they would feel much more comfortable bringing halachik questions of this nature to a female.

    Reply
  • 49. Photographer wrote:

    I am not at all versed in these halochos, but I do know a thing or two about cameras and color. I know that even the most expensive professional camera in the world can’t replicate what you see in front of you with true color accuracy. If a rov is looking for specific shades of color, no camera in the world will help. Screen also hugely impact color. Try viewing a picture on your phone and then printing​ it. The difference is often drastic, especially with red orange and yellow shades. A good example of this is printing a sunset picture.

    Reply
  • 50. Marketing wrote:

    It seems like their main problem was in how they marketed it. I sent them some questions on their website. They are just trying to get more people to ask questions. If the Rav doesn’t feel comfortable answering, he won’t answer.

    Reply
  • 51. Sorry wrote:

    If our chabad Rabbonim said we can’t back it how can a Shlucha take a public stand against rabbonim. Unless she’s not Lubavitch and follows modern orthodox rabbonim.

    Reply
  • 52. History tends to repeat itself. wrote:

    When Rivka Bloom created the calandar site, Mikva.org and all the Chabad Rabbonim came out saying its no good…Lo and behold 18 months later they had thier own “Chabad approved” calandar site.

    Rivka Bloom is a pioneer with a broad vision and should be commened for her efforts.

    Mark my words the Chabad Rabonim will soon find a way to make this work.

    Reply
  • 53. not sure wrote:

    Love this.

    IF the maker of this app really got the tech to get accurate colors, she should patent it and she may make some good money. This would have huge ramifications in the design/photography world.

    Now some other questions.

    If you want to help, maybe try to make it easier by having a box to drop it off, and let them call back.

    BTw why is this more uncomfortable then having a male doctor put his finger up…

    Anyways good to hear about this will/way business.

    Reply
  • 54. Embarrassment wrote:

    The people who developed this app had in mind to help Jewish women, which is a good thing. However, there needs to be a list of poskim of Lubavitch. The Rabbi asked seemed to be an expert in this topic. The Rabbonim who disapproved and the Chabad Rabbi who took away his haskama should have probably approached the developers of the app before maybe publicly embarrassing the developers .
    Women do feel embarrassed with going to a Rav, but should be told by a kallah teacher or mikvah attendant about alternatives, such as putting it in a mailbox with a phone number or email, giving it to a mikvah attendant to bring, mailing it, etc. and also being told that Rabbanim get these shailos all the time, and it is better to be embarrassed before a Rabbi than before Hashem in. Olam Haba.

    Reply
  • 55. You won't be able to completely avoid going to a Rav wrote:

    Looks like any real shailah will still have to be taken to the Rav. So you can’t avoid it completely.

    Reply
  • 56. Shmez wrote:

    Thank you for being a voice of reason. Unfortunately, that takes great courage these days.

    Reply
  • 57. Boruch Sholom Wolf wrote:

    With all the condescending comments I can see that many are being posel their own mum. They are anything but Tahor, I don’t care if they’re the most machmir on the planet on maarehs. One commenter wrote (as response to one of the earlier articles on this) that if the person uses the app to ask a shaalo, his kids are going to be mamzerim. Derech eretz kodma letoirah. If someone is sending their shaalos and use the app al pi semach on a Rov, they’re obviously a Yorei Shomayim. If you refuse to use the app and keep every possible hiddur in tahara, tovei alecha brocha, but to demean users, defenders and the creators of this app is without question hepech hashulchan aruch and doesn’t bring nachas to your creator or kavod to Lubavitch. Fargin a tzvayter. V’ayn tzorich lhaarich bdavar hamitztayer.

    Reply
    • 58. P'sul wrote:

      Well said.
      Besides, the child wouldn’t be a Mamzer anyway even if the app was run by the reform movement.

  • 60. Need Change wrote:

    There is no acceptable reason as to why women can’t be in control of their shailohs. Even dropping off an envelope is embarrassing. You need to find out if the rav is in town. (Not everyone lives in CH!) Sometimes the rav needs to ask a question, so that means the woman is talking about very personal matters because not always is the husband available or able to communicate with the rav about this stuff.
    We need to equip women, maybe kallah teachers, to be able to judge on their own. No one judges a woman’s integrity in other aspects of taharas hamishpacha. In 2017, there are better ways than this archaic procedure.
    Signed by a woman married for 7 years who loves and appreciates Torah, chassidus, TH and tevilah but can’t stand talking to men about personal issues.

    Reply
  • 61. The kangeroo wrote:

    Reading the comments beats watching a b rated movie.Lubavitch at it’s best.

    Reply
  • 62. Isur Kares wrote:

    Using this app will cause many users to be transgress an isur kares. If you don’t see an issue with that you should not be on Shlichus.

    Reply
  • 63. rivka wrote:

    Sometimes a Rav will answer a shayla just over the phone (asking for example if the shade of brown is like coffee with milk, or coffee without milk etc.) and will paskun according to the answers, without even seeing a cloth. This is sometimes necessary for people living in far away places without a Rav available.
    There are Rabbonim who answer certain shaylas by wattsup pictures.
    So if someone sends a shayla through this app and the Rav feels he needs to see the cloth in person, he can say that.
    But there may be certain very obvious shaylas that a Rav can immediately tell, even with a picture, that it is tahor (or the opposite). And in that case the app could prove useful to certain people in certain cases.
    perhaps it is worthwhile to give further scrutiny to this matter, to see if a way could be found to utilize it , especially for those who may otherwise not ask at all!
    Again i am not pushing for such an app. But the reality is it may have a place, perhaps along with questions a Rav would ask the person (he may ask more details to determine more clearly the shade of color etc.).
    It does warrant further discussion and investgation before ruling it out entirely.

    Reply
  • 64. Bracha wrote:

    What I find interesting is most of the people voicing their opinions, and coming across the loudest – are men.
    A lot of them seem to be connected to Chabad. I am Chabad and am so embarrassed by what is going on with this program.
    There is a history behind this. It goes way back to the beginning when this Mikvahcalendar first came out
    There is a lot of anger and emotion
    Nobody has asked the women who have used it if it works or how they feel about this. This would not have been added if it had not been tested and proven to work
    Rabbis you are arguing amongst yourselves but no one has actually tested this I thought as leaders you would first doyiut own Research and then voice your opinions.

    Reply
  • 65. Shimush wrote:

    The comments section for this should have been closed. This should have been an internal debate between Rabbonim, not publicly aired for the laymen to share his “views”.

    But it’s now open and I will say this:

    After having Shimush from numerous Rabbonim including Rabbis Groner o’h and Farkash, I can tell you that many questions can indeed be answered be seeing a picture. I won’t go through this here because it’s irrelevant and lengthy. The only person who this is relevant for is the Rov who must decide whether to rely on the picture or to insist that it be send/brought it. If you can rely on the Rov to Pasken regarding a Mareh when he sees it, you can rely on him if and when he says that the picture suffices in a particular scenario. It’s for him to decide, not the layman.

    No more comments should be posted after this one because it’s not the place for laymen to have an opinion on such an issue.

    Reply
    • 66. Citizen Berel wrote:

      This is very special comment, it is the comment to end all comments.

  • 67. Just a thought wrote:

    This is a beautifully written article, thank you! However, perhaps the following sentence should be removed. It seems like information that should be kept private, and truthfully is not necessary for the points the author is trying to make. “Although I’ve been nursing or pregnant for the last 22 years, and I can count on my fingers the times I’ve gone to the Mikvah (ritual bath)…”

    Reply
  • 68. Still learning wrote:

    For many women beginning to go to mikveh don’t necessarily have their husband’s support. To say ‘just let the husband bring it’ just adds another stumbling block. Many women don’t realize that rabbonim see and do this all the time. Yet in a small town maybe the Rabbi there hasn’t.
    Also your OB isn’t usually in your grocery store, or shul, But your Rabbi is. Hence the concern of feeling exposed so to speak.
    The developer attended Lubavitch shuls and schools growing up. I shudder to think what this onslaught against her affects her.
    Now if you REALLY want to promote Halacha, go after our rabbis who have paskened by verbal and picture reports already, long before the app.
    PS I still don’t know if I’m supposed to retrieve my panties or does the Rav toss them.

    Reply
  • 70. Why here? wrote:

    Although the point may be a very good one, it should have adressed to the Rabonim you said that the app isn’t good enough. By writing an article here ou are just causing resentment of the Rabonim and you fail to take into account that they may be right.
    And one more thing, although our derech is to bring others close it can NEVER be at the expense of halacha!

    Reply
  • 71. The real problem wrote:

    If only the English “chabad” sites would disable commenting – just like the Israeli Chabad sites – half our problems would be solved.

    Reply
  • 72. What's App wrote:

    The computer is 100% full-proof. Whereas going to 2 rabbonim may get you 2 different opinions

    Reply
  • 74. A Rov wrote:

    The question can usually left in an envelope with a number so the phone call to the Rov is anonymous
    and there is no embarrassment. The Rov is highly trained to answer questions and has a lot of experience.

    Reply
  • 75. Anonymous wrote:

    Although in theory this app would’ve been a wonderful idea, and I totally umderstwnd how many would be uncomfortable (myself included) going to a rov with such shaiolos and this app would make it easier for them…

    Nonetheless- rebbe spoke very strongly that we should learn from Aharon: “love peace, pursue peace, love all creations and bring them close to Torah”. The rebbe emphasizes we bring JEWS CLOSE TO TORAH, and NOT c”v the TORAH CLOSE TO JEWS.

    It’s a very challangih place shluchim are put in to make Torah as comfortable and appealing to Jews as possible. However, We can never compromise Torahto make it more comfortable and appealing. We can’t modify Halacha in hopes that someone will start to follow it.
    It’s such a dangerous area, we must must be careful!!!

    Reply
  • 76. Great idea wrote:

    Here’s a way to make Taharas Hamishpocho much easier for all:
    Why bother schlepping to the mikvah, when there’s a perfect alternative right at home?
    Just take a nice relaxing bath!
    No need to embarrass yourself if front of those pesky Mikvah attendants anymore.
    After all, what is a Mikvah if not just a big bath?
    I’m sure Rabbi Sally would approve.

    Reply
  • 77. The kangeroo wrote:

    After all is said done,all is said nothing is done.The innocent suffer the most. This is just a farce.

    Reply
  • 79. anonymous wrote:

    No body should be posting anything like this on the internet. It is about time Judaism gives women status like the Rabbis to determine how to identify what women need to check. A woman should go to a woman and not to a Rabbi.
    I think it is sickening to send the pictures via any form or any media to a Rabbi.
    A most degrading and immodest aspect of Judaism.
    WAKE UP WOMEN.
    Have you even thought about the NSA CIA etc etc keeping all your personal data on files. I don’t care what App is created. I think the whole approach is truly inane.
    Wait a few extra days and do yourself a modesty favour.

    Reply
  • 80. anonymous wrote:

    I truly agree with the person who commented in comment number 78.
    I hope they post my comment as comment 79 and this comment as 80

    Reply
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