Photo Credit: Hana Levi Julian
Ancient mikvah (pool for ritual purity) from Second Temple era, uncovered at Qumran, overlooking northwestern shore of the Dead Sea

Technology has caught up with Torah on many levels, but for the first time ever, it has also reached the field of family purity.

A new app has been developed that enables a woman to anonymously send a snap of her “bedikah” – menstrual inspection cloth – to her rabbi.

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The Tahor app was launched with Rabbinically approved technology by a Miami-based organization dedicated to easing the some of the complexities involved in the laws of family purity.

“The word ‘tahor’ means “pure” in Hebrew,” explains Zisa Levin, one of the people involved in developing the technology. “The app is intended to address the time of “niddah” – an impure state caused by menstruation, when both husband and wife are prohibited from intimate relations – which is ended only after a woman immerses herself in a “mikvah,” a pool for ritual purity.”

Such ritual pools have been found in archaeological digs throughout Israel dating all the way back to the Second Temple era.

“Tahor app will help many women keep Taharas HaMishpacha,” said Rabbi Kenneth Auman, former president of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and dean of Nishmat America program.

“I’ve worked extensively with the Tahor team, and their attention to halachic (Torah legal) detail and commitment to this mitzvah is unparalleled,” added Rabbi Edward Davis, senior rabbi of Young Israel of Hollywood, Florida – the responding rabbi on Tahor app.

“Because the laws of Niddah are very complex, a woman often cannot determine whether she remains in this state or not. In such a circumstance, an internal swab cloth, or an undergarment, must be submitted to a rabbi with expertise in this area to determine her status – a process both husband and wife find uncomfortable and stressful. Moreover, there are couples who do not live in close proximity to such an expert, and thus faced with the responsibility of making the spiritual and religious determination without the needed rabbinic guidance.

The Tahor app now allows women a rabbinically-approved way to seek guidance anonymously, regardless of distance. Women can now utilize the app’s photo and color technology to take a snapshot of their cloth and send the photo to an expert in Taharat HaMishpacha (family purity). One follows the step-by-step, Rabbinically-guided instructions, hits ‘send’ and the image goes to the designated responding Rabbi who can then determine the sender’s purity status.”

The biggest advantage, adds Levin – a social worker – is that the entire experience is anonymous. As a newlywed, she asked her friends which Rabbi answered their family purity questions.

“When many of my friends answered they were too uncomfortable to ask the Rabbi their questions directly, my husband and I knew we needed to do something about it.”

The couple sought out Rivkah Bloom, an MIT computer science graduate and creator of the Mikvah Calendar.

“With the encouragement numerous Rabbis in various countries, we spent the next two years developing and testing color accuracy technology to achieve the necessary color match,” explained husband Yitz Levin, an attorney and co-creator of the Tahor app.

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

Tahor app is already available for iPhone and is soon to be released on Android. It can be downloaded here, or by visiting the website for more information. The Tahor team can be reached at info@tahorapp.com.

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