Interest/Origin Development Related to Niddah

Tkhines are prayers that were primarily developed for Jewish women, by Jewish women. They began in the seventeenth century and are now being reclaimed by Jewish women as a way to participate more fully in their religious tradition. Scholars are now researching the older tkhines to find out about the life of Jewish women in the seventeenth century. Jewish women today are writing new tkhines that can be used in a wide variety of situations.

Sample of a Modern Tkhine

Dear G_d, as I begin this paper, grant me the wisdom to uncover the hidden sparks of the Torah. Send me your angels to guide me on my way as I stumble through sentence construction and footnotes. Bless me with fertility of ideas as you have blessed my ancestors Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. Give me patience and endurance to finish this paper on time and the ability to enjoy my work in the process. See this effort as my humble way to draw closer to you and to bring humankind closer to redemption. May the wings of Shechinah hover over me as I work, keeping me safe from doubts and exhaustion. Grant me serenity in my endeavor and let me say, amen.

Geela Rayzel Raphel, 1993 (Weissler 149).

Interest and Origin

The tkhines are set prayers aimed mostly for a female audience. They first appeared in Jewish culture in the seventeenth century. They were intended for the intellectual middle class and are now published in anthologies. The tkhines have not always been deemed valuable by the authorities of the day. It was considered not worth the effort to attempt to compile the tkhines in some form of anthology for a while after the beginning of the tkhine tradition. Eventually women compiled prayer books that consisted of the most popular tkhines. These common prayers strengthen Jewish women's sense of community and offered them another opportunity for religious expression. Interest in the tkhines picked up as the Reform movement began to surface. This was the result of the Reformist's desire for Jews to pray in the language that they spoke, instead of in Hebrew. However, the leaders of this movement did not bother to acknowledge that these prayers had been primarily written for women.

Development of the Tkhine

At the end of World War II there was a shift in the types of prayers written. There were noticeably more prayers for the synagogue and fewer for the home. A trend juxtaposed with this shift is that women's religious life was moving more into the public sphere. This transition could very well have been the result of improvements in education for women. The tkhines are viewed as a way for women to reclaim their spirituality. In order to accomplish this goal new tkhines have to been written in order to keep the prayers as relevant to modern culture as possible. The trend that has brought us into this decade is a focus on emotional and psychological needs rather than material needs. "Preserving the text of the techinas would not have been enough. Presenting them as the obscure relic of an era long past simply increases our loss. These techinas are a formula for dialogue, a form of address with God. They are an opportunity for today's woman to find her voice and reconnect her emuna, her faith, as if reconnecting a severed limb. By attaching ourselves to the voices of our grandmothers, we can again become whole." (Weissler 159).

Conservative Approach:

There are different approaches to the resurgence of interest in the tkhines. In the Conservative movement a daily and Sabbath prayer book was published in 1985. This book has the dual purpose of giving women a voice and encouraging private prayer. The prayers included in this book recognize the importance of experiencing a private religious life as well as the public practice of religion which is usually stressed. The personal prayers published in this book resemble the tkhines in their content and literary style. In fitting with modern trends most of the concerns brought up in this prayer book are about finding meaning, hope, and love along with understanding in the family.

Orthodox Approach:

Recently, feminist prayers and rituals have become increasingly popular in Orthodox Judaism. New tkhines have been written to be performed at a strikingly diverse group of occasions. Rituals and prayers have sprung up around pregnancy, postpartum period, naming a daughter, infertility, hysterectomy, divorce, becoming a vegetarian, becoming "a woman of vision," Hanukkah, Sukkot, and more.

Traditional Tkhines related to niddah

In the observance of the women's mitzvot the tkhines are strongly linked to fertility. In general the tkhines stress the rewards that are promised to those who observe the proper commandments. They highlight the good that will come to those who follow the law rather than the punishment that would result if the commandments were not observed. Most tkhines that relate to niddah have themes of purity and impurity. The pure are most often promised offspring that will be studious and pious. The tkhines that were written specifically for childbirth sometimes look at the issue of how Eve's sin in the garden is affecting women's suffering in labor. The tkhines put forth the notion that it is God's form of justice and punishment that women suffer in labor and in their menstrual cycle. It is often recognized that this may seem like an injustice, but that thought is quickly followed with the reassurance that God's judgments are right and humans can simply not understand God's ways.


Weissler, Chava. "Mizvot Built into the Body: Tkhines for Niddah, Pregnancy, and Childbirth", in Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, ed., People of the Body. New York: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Weissler, Chava. Voices of the Matriarchs: Listening to the Prayers of Early Modern Jewish Women. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.

Images from:

Women of Reform Judaism