Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 301:13, and commentaries state that if a woman wears something only in order that her clothes don't get dirty from her menstrual blood, then that thing is not considered clothing (it doesn't protect her, only her clothes) and she may not go outside with it on the sabbath without an eruv; but that if she is wearing it also so that the blood doesn't go on her own skin and dry and cause her pain, then it's considered clothing (it protects her) and she may go outside with it.

I've never heard of this distinction made practically. As far as I know (which I'll admit is not very far), no woman hesitates to go out of doors on the sabbath with a pad or tampon or liner, thinking first whether there's enough flow to pain her when it dries. Rather, women go outside.

My question is why this is so.

  • Is it because it's accepted that all flows are enough to pain people? (Perhaps people nowadays are less pain-tolerant.)
  • Or is that (to the extent I'm right that women aren't careful) the women are simply wrong and should be more careful?
  • Or what?
  • 1
    Is the SA talking only about physical pain, or can the language there include other discomfort like (significant) embarrassment (which I can testify would occur without the protections in question)? – Monica Cellio May 28 at 19:55
  • Surmising some "historical" aspect going on, perhaps. I don't think that many of the types of women's protection products used today were available at the time this halacha was written. – DanF May 28 at 20:00
  • Are brides not always taught not to go out with a Mokh Dachuk without an Eruv? I'd guess 2. – Double AA May 28 at 20:02
  • @MonicaCellio, it seems to me like it's referring to physical pain. It specifically excludes dirtying clothes (which I'd think could be assumed to cause embarrassment, though maybe those days were different). – msh210 May 28 at 20:08
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    @double the moch dachuk is a bigger problem not for clothes and not for bleeding because the flow has ceased – kouty May 28 at 20:56

At Yoatzot.org here, they answer as follows:

If the sole purpose is to protect the woman's clothing, the sanitary napkin should not be worn. But generally speaking, most women are also concerned about discomfort or irritation. Embarrassment may be construed as a type of discomfort.

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