This question is based on a few assumptions, which are based on a couple of Midrashim.

First of all, Shemos Rabbah 9:10 and Tanna D'Vei Eliyahu Chapter 6 say that the Egyptians were punished with the plague of blood because they prevented the Jews from going to the mikveh (Yefeh Toar says they must have kept the tradition of taharas hamishpacha from their ancestors). At the same time, Midrash Tanchuma Metzora § 9 says that the Jewish women, due to the dread placed upon them by the Egyptians, stopped getting their monthly cycles. I would add that there must have been a miracle that they were able to conceive in such large quantities, despite not getting their cycles.

I would say that there's no contradiction here, as the Egyptians were punished for their nefarious intentions, even though in the end no harm was done. However, Anaf Yosef ad. loc., quoting Gevul Binyamin, sees a contradiction, and therefore says that even though the Jews' monthly cycles stopped, they still needed the mikveh after giving birth.

במצרים לא היו רואות דם. והא דאיתא לעיל למה הביא עליהם דם לפי שלא היו מניחין בנות ישראל לבטול מטומאתן הרי שהיו רואין דם ונראה והנה כבר כתיב אשה כי תזריע וכו' ואפילו נפתח הקבר בלא דם אמו טמאה לידה וישראל היו פרים ורבים מאד לכן היו צריכות טהרה במקוה

Since this is all assuming the Jews kept halacha, and we see that the Jews had an unusually large population explosion, how can this be reconciled? Once they gave birth, seemingly they couldn't continue having children with their husbands, as the mikvehs were closed. This Gevul Binyamin created a new problem instead of just answering one (which I anyways feel wasn't a problem). He does give a different answer, but I'm curious according to this one.

  • 4
    Maybe they only kept the tradition for nidah and not dam leida?
    – Chatzkel
    Sep 21, 2022 at 18:05
  • 1
    Not sure why my comment was deleted. I wrote to @Chatzkel that that distinction seems arbitrary.
    – robev
    Sep 24, 2022 at 17:46
  • 2
    Perhaps they were able to use the Nile River Sep 28, 2022 at 21:39
  • @sabbahillel what does it mean then that they closed the mikvehs? Doesn't that mean they blocked access to the most obvious mikveh, namely the Nile?
    – robev
    Sep 29, 2022 at 12:20
  • 1
    The golus in Egypt was spread out of a few hundered years. It is likely that the dread stopping cycles, the mookvaos being shut and all the otehr events happened at different times, so when the mikvaos were closed they indeed did not multiply or did not need to use them
    – terryg
    Oct 27, 2022 at 8:58

3 Answers 3


Perhaps the Egyptians closed the Mikvaos but they didn't close the Nile River.

There is a machlokes between Rav and Shmuel in Shabbos 65b whether rivers are permissible as mikvaos. Rav holds the majority of water in a river (unless you know otherwise) is presumed to be rainwater. Because they water is moving (zochlin) it is therefore posul as a mikvah. Shmuel (in one version) holds that the majority of river water is assumed to be from underground acquifiers and therefore has the status of a mayan (a spring) and it permissible as a mikvah even though the water is moving.

Although we are machmir for Rav as a l'chatchila, in places without a proper mikvah, the Rama brings down that the minhag was to be meikel like Shmuel. יש על מי שיסמוכו.

So although the Egyptians shut down the mikvaos, the Jewish women would bathe in the Nile (or its tributaries) as a mikvah in order to be mutar to their husbands. The Egyptians thought that they were stopping Jewish families or causing sin but the nashim tzidkoniyos found a way to build the Klal Yisrael anyway.


Is it not because they were still considered bnei noach because the Torah had not yet been delivered on Mount Sinai? They often give this answer to other Jewish laws in Genesis like marrying a sister or legalizing prostitution like Tamar.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. An answer should be sourced, if not it might be construed as a comment and best placed below the question as such. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Sep 27, 2022 at 17:19
  • Thanks for the observation, really my answer was a simple comment and not an objective answer, I will be more careful from now on. Thank you again.
    – Thales
    Sep 27, 2022 at 18:14
  • Thanks for suggesting. As I mentioned in my question, the question is assuming they followed Jewish law.
    – robev
    Sep 27, 2022 at 19:30

I think this is a question where it's more fruitful to disregard the assumptions given for better assumptions that can withstand more scrutiny. Like you said, the premise of "the Egyptians were punished with the plague of blood because they prevented the Jews from going to the mikveh" seems hard to accept given the text of the Torah goes out of its way to describe how numerous the children of Israel were, and how our tradition goes out of its way to say how the children of Israel tried to keep the majority of halakhot.

I'm wondering if the reason you've accepted the midrashic assumptions is because it gives a nice reason for why the plague was to turn the nile into blood. So if you want an explanation for that I have one to offer you.

The reason for the first plague being the water turning into blood is because it symbolizes the earlier genocide of the Egyptians throwing the Israelite children into the Nile. Turning the water to blood serves as a symbol to the Egyptians that the genocide they committed didn't fade into history, and it foreshadows that more plagues and punishments will be coming because of what they had done to the babies. This interpretation also explains why we see the Egyptian populace siding with the Israelites from time to time throughout the plagues, because they saw the guilt of their hands, and recognized the righteous cause of the Israelites. The blood also served the purpose of showing the Israelites that God wasn't blind about what had happened to them. This was important as the Israelites in Exodus 5 had their work become harder due to Moses's and God's actions, so they were in need of seeing a symbol of hope for themselves.

  • 1
    I appreciate the effort but this doesn't try to answer the question, or justify throwing out its assumptions, which are based on authoritative sources. Difficulties doesn't make them wrong.
    – robev
    Sep 23, 2022 at 11:32
  • how our tradition goes out of its way to say how the children of Israel tried to keep the majority of halakhot. you arbitrarily accept this Midrash while denying the one I brought about the plague of blood. Why
    – robev
    Sep 23, 2022 at 11:32
  • 1
    @robev Who says I accept one but not the other? I accept that all traditions say what they say. That's different than believing them all. I believe each according to their merits
    – Aaron
    Sep 23, 2022 at 16:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .