When and by whom (and why) was the phrase "טהרת המשפחה" ("family purity") first used to describe the halachot relating to niddah?


There's a Sefer by that name from 90 years ago - תרפג/1923.

A search of HebrewBooks.org seems to show that the term was not used [much] earlier.

A search of Toras Emeth Software indicates that it's not used in any of the classics (Mishna, Gemara, Rambam, Shulchan Aruch) and the earliest it finds is from the קיצור ש''ע ילקוט יוסף - the 2nd half of the 20th century.

  • Great answer! I wonder why they began to use the term (I suspect it was to give niddah a new spin, but I perused the seferim and didn't find anything concrete)
    – user5540
    Dec 2 '14 at 22:19
  • The Yiddish sefer you mention from 1923, is, in fact, on topic, and may be the basis for the modern euphemism. It was written by Rabbi Mordechai Aharon Kaplan (d. 1951), who was the rav of Nachlas Zvi in Manhattan at the time.
    – Fred
    Jan 1 '15 at 5:55
  • Earlier, R' Shimshon Raphael Hirsch used this expression in a broader sense in his commentary to Gen. 6:6, regarding how the purity of Ya'akov's family was impinged when Dina was raped: "טהרת המשפחה נתחללה על ידי הנבלה שנעשתה באחות".
    – Fred
    Jan 1 '15 at 6:02

Certainly appears to be a term of recent vintage. R. Chaim Ozer Grodzensky used the term in a 1907 teshuvah to Australia, although he uses it to refer to conversion law, and not Hilkhot Niddah (Achiezer 3:27): הנה שמחתי לראות מכתב מנהלי עדת ישרון בק' פעסט כי לא אלמן ישראל גם בקצה ארץ הגולה אוסטרליא הנדחה והנעזבה מישוב ישראלי גדול מאנשים ישרים שומרי משמרת הדת אשר ישימו לב לעניני היהדות לדרוש ולחקור בדברים הנוגעים בעקרי הגרות אשר ע"ז תלוי יסוד טהרת המשפחה והיוחסין בישראל והנני למלאות מבוקשם ולהשיב כתורה על שאלותיהם

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