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I know that during the 7 clean days of the nidda / tahara cycle, a woman has to wear white underwear. However, in extenuating circumstances (such as spotting for many weeks), is it ever permissible to wear colored underwear? If yes, what is the source for that leniency?

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Who says you have to wear underwear? It only became common for women to wear underwear after the French Revolution. How could Chazal have made a halacha about this subject? –  Robert S. Barnes Sep 22 '13 at 20:55
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@RobertS.Barnes , welcome and sorry for the confusion. This is something like "firefighters wearing red suspenders." The practice found in books from several hundred years ago was "the clothing closest to your skin, which would pick up any menstrual-like stains, should be white." Today, that layer is underwear. In other times and cultures it would be something else. –  Shalom Sep 22 '13 at 22:38
    
@Shalom Great, thanks for the clarification. –  Robert S. Barnes Sep 23 '13 at 5:17

1 Answer 1

The short answer is yes there is room for leniency, but as always (and especially in something like this), a competent halachic authority should be consulted.

As I heard it from a rabbi who was offering a review shiur on the subject: The original practice was for a woman to wear libunim, freshly-laundered clothes. The idea was that often garments had all sorts of random stains on them, so a woman might see something and mistakenly think it was a nida problem when in fact it was yesterday's spaghetti sauce or the like. Hence, "wear cleaned clothes."

Over time, the custom evolved from libunim to levanim; not only must they be clean, but white as well. But there can be cases where a rabbi would rule a woman can wear a light color that wouldn't mask or seriously morph any stains, but would avoid the problem of a penny-sized spot on white garments leading to the status of nida.

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Whence the idea that l'vanim evolved from libunim? –  WAF Jun 7 '12 at 1:40
    
BTW, which rabbi did you hear the chazara shiur from? –  Adam Mosheh Jun 10 '12 at 22:12
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"Yesterday's spaghetti sauce"--this is the greatest –  SAH Mar 21 '13 at 20:07
    
Who wears underwear? –  Robert S. Barnes Sep 22 '13 at 21:01
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The idea of lavanim from libunim mentioned in the previous answer is found in footnote 171 on p117-118 in R. Shimon Eider's book, The Halachos of Niddah. One of his supports for this claim is that the Rema in OH 551:3 refers to not wearing lavanim in the 9 days, but clearly the issue is freshly laundered clothes, not specifically white colored ones. He also provides other proofs. –  ZachB Sep 1 at 17:05

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