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This question was inspired by the account in Matthew of the events immediately following Jesus' birth. According to Matthew, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but his parents took him away immediately after his birth.1

My limited knowledge of Jewish laws regarding the postnatal period leads me to believe that women who have just given birth are not allowed to travel until the period of impurity has ended, and if I'm not mistaken, this period lasts for a month in the case of a boy being born, or two months in the case of a girl being born.

The only scriptural evidence I was able to find is from a single translation of the bible, which I believe was written for Christians:

Leviticus 12:4

"Then she must stay at home for 33 days in order to be made clean from her bleeding. She must not touch anything holy or go into the holy place until the days needed to make her clean are over."

The obvious confusion this question has caused leads me to wonder if this is simply a misunderstanding/mistranslation. The only other source I found was a book about the nativity narrative, written by and for Christians, which increases my suspicions about a possible mistranslation.

Would it be permissible for a woman who has recently given birth to undertake a long journey before the period of impurity has ended?


1 If it makes a difference, it is widely accepted among most scholars that this account is incorrect, because it suggests that Herod killed thousands of babies over the course of a few days, which is not recorded in any other historical documents (and it is virtually impossible to imagine that scribes would fail to record such an atrocity), and it is generally believed that Jesus was actually born in Nazareth. Matthew probably invented the story of the birth in Bethlehem in an attempt to make Jesus better fit the expectations that the messiah would be from the house of David.

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    You should consider comparing Christian translations to Jewish ones (such as the one found here mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et0.htm) when you have questions. The phrase "at home" in that quote isn't found in the Hebrew as far as I can tell. – Double AA Aug 16 '15 at 4:13
  • @DoubleAA - I did check a few other translations, and I'd begun to suspect that this was a mistranslation problem. Thanks for the help! – Wad Cheber Aug 16 '15 at 23:43
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From the perspective of Jewish law, she can travel as long as her doctor is okay with it.

Leviticus was saying not to enter the Temple, because she's ritually impure. That status of ritual impurity wouldn't affect any other travel today.

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