I've been told that HaRav Mordekhai Eliyahu and HaRav 'Ovadiah Yosef ('Aleihem hashalom), have different shitot (approaches/conclusions) when it comes to Hilkhot Taharat HaMishpahhah for the Sepharadi home. I've been told that, at a high level, HaRav Eliyahu is more mahhmir (stringent) regarding what is/isn't mutar (permitted).

What specific differences exist in the shitot of these two Rabbanim? Ideally, answers like "this Rav waits M days for X type of stain while this Rav waits N days" would be the most useful.

Thank you in advance!

2 Answers 2


Mazal Tov, Lee.

The primary distinction between their psak is as follows: Rav Mordechai Eliyahu holds that your wife must count 5 days starting from the day she saw her period before making hefsek tahara. Rav Ovadia Yosef holds that your wife must count 4 days starting from the last day she had martial relations before making hefsek tahara. Most women bleed for 5 days anyway, so this is unlikely to make a practical difference in your life (though you may be able to take advantage of this leniency occasionally).

This generally applies regardless of the type of stain or bleeding that caused your wife to become tamei. Rav Ovadia has some leniencies that follow from the way he says to count, but you're also unlikely to be in a position to take advantage of those leniencies. (And if you are in such a position, your wife may nevertheless not want the pressure of doing bedikot right away.)

Some other examples of differences in their psak are in harchakot (the rules of separating husband and wife when she's not tahor):

  • Rav Ovadia permits you to listen to your wife's singing. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu does not.
  • Rav Ovadia permits you to go on pleasure trips with your wife. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu does not.
  • Rav Ovadia permits you to sit on a bench, couch, or swing with your wife. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu does not.

There are plenty of other differences in other aspects of niddah as well, but I don't know those so well, and don't want to list the ones I do know in detail. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu tends to rule more similarly to Ashkenazi poskim (following the Rema in many more places) than Rav Ovadia does.

If you're learning to prepare for your wedding, you need to ask your rav whom you should be holding by. I personally follow Rav Ovadia in everything (niddah, and other stuff, l'chumra and l'kula), because my Rav in Chicago is a talmid of Rav Ovadia.

If you're learning according to Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, the sefer to learn is Darchei Tahara (as Robert explained in his answer).

If you're learning according to Rav Ovadia Yosef, the sefer to learn is Torat HaTahara by his son, Rav David Yosef (it's in Hebrew, get the edition with the red cover). There's an English book according to Rav Ovadia's psak by another son, Rav Avraham Yosef named "Taharat Yosef," but I don't recommend learning from it. R' Avraham's coverage of the number of days your wife needs to count is so unclear as to be misleading.

If you're learning according to Rav Ovadia, you should also read Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's book, because Torat HaTahara doesn't have very good coverage of the calculations that you uses to know when to separate from your wife in anticipation of her period (vestot). Torat HaTahara also doesn't discuss conduct in the bedroom with your wife (nor have I found this in any of Rav Ovadia's other writings), while Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's book does. Both of these are things you'll want to know.

Regarding the former omission, my rav told me that Rav Ovadia wrote about vestot for his sefer Taharat HaBayit (on which R' David's book is based), but the chapters were lost before they could be published, and Rav Ovadia never rewrote them.

If you have the time, and are interested in a deeper understanding of all of the concepts and issues in hilchot niddah, I strongly recommend The Laws and Concepts of Niddah by Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University. I've only skimmed that sefer myself, but here is a review. (But don't read that as a substitute for the Sephardic rav who you'll be holding by. It's more important to know the halacha l'ma'aseh than it is to know the concepts.)

  • The version of Torat HaTahara that I found mentions only 4 days as one possible custom (along with 5, 6 or 7), and makes no mention of counting from anything other than when the bleeding starts. Although I have heard many times that this is his position, it isn't stated there (that I saw).
    – Yishai
    May 28, 2014 at 14:09
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    @Yishai: I don't know what edition you have, or if there's a difference between editions. My rav told me specifically which edition to get, and I have not looked inside any of the others. In that edition, R' David does mention the existence of other minhagim, and he takes seriously the question about switching if you already have a strignent minhag, but he doesn't say that you have to follow one of the stringent minhagim if you don't have a minhag to begin with.
    – Chanoch
    May 28, 2014 at 14:55
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    @Yishai: It may be that R' Avraham's book is based on an earlier edition of Torat HaTahara, and you're seeing the same unclear psak that I saw in Taharat Yosef. If so, then you should be able to infer that he holds you have to count from the last biah based on other psakim in the sefer (if you know what to look for).
    – Chanoch
    May 28, 2014 at 15:00
  • Thank you, @Chanoch, for your thorough answer and berakhah! B"H, we should all merit a bayit ne'eman be'Yisrael! Due to the vast and sensitive nature of these halakhot and their details, I will gladly accept your answer. Ashreikha 'Am Yisrael!
    – Lee
    May 28, 2014 at 18:56
  • Additionally, my Rav mentioned the same difference in the number of days to wait after bleeding and that it's somewhat academic due to the average woman's physiology. Hazaq!
    – Lee
    May 28, 2014 at 19:01

Rav Eliyahu requires waiting a minimum of 5 days before hefsek taharah, while Rav Ovadia Yosef follows the Shulchan Aruch's opinion and allows waiting a minimum of four days.

SO: Minimum Number of Days before Hefsek Tahara: Sephardi vs. Ashkenazi

Rav Eliyahu has a book available both in English and Hebrew on the subject, it's name in Hebrew is דרכי טהרה. It's called the The Paths of Purity in English and can be ordered from Amazon, among other places.

However, if you read Hebrew I would simply recommend reading the relevant sections from Rambam's Mishneh Torah, as personally I find it much clearer and easier to follow than most modern works.

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    Your explanation of the primary difference between Rav Ovadia and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu is too brief and only covers one of the two distinctions between these two poskim.
    – Chanoch
    May 28, 2014 at 12:23
  • @Chanoch It's just one example... May 28, 2014 at 12:53
  • I personally think that the halacha of the number of days, and the halacha when you should start counting are joined at the hip, and you should never mention one without the other.
    – Chanoch
    May 28, 2014 at 12:58

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