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On the Rag

On the Rag

On the Rag

a collection of representations of blood mysteries and sexual/reproductive bodies consciously subverting the use of bedika cloths

  Bedika  cloths - which literally means "to check" - are 4 x 4 pieces of muslin used in the practice of   taharat ha'mishpacha  , a set of  halacha,  Rabbinic Jewish law, that outlines legal codes and customs for menstruation and sexual contact. One of the laws dictates that a woman put a  bedika  cloth inside her vagina and wipe the cloth around her cervix. The cloth is then examined in natural light to ensure that the menstruation phase of the cycle has completed. This is repeated for seven days following, to confirm readiness for immersion in a  mikvah , ritual bath. There is a catalogue of colors, of yellows, browns, red, and black, that correspond with various actions to take, including when in doubt, to put the cloth in an envelope take it to a Rav, Rabbinic judge, who is almost always a man.

Bedika cloths - which literally means "to check" - are 4 x 4 pieces of muslin used in the practice of taharat ha'mishpacha, a set of halacha, Rabbinic Jewish law, that outlines legal codes and customs for menstruation and sexual contact. One of the laws dictates that a woman put a bedika cloth inside her vagina and wipe the cloth around her cervix. The cloth is then examined in natural light to ensure that the menstruation phase of the cycle has completed. This is repeated for seven days following, to confirm readiness for immersion in a mikvah, ritual bath. There is a catalogue of colors, of yellows, browns, red, and black, that correspond with various actions to take, including when in doubt, to put the cloth in an envelope take it to a Rav, Rabbinic judge, who is almost always a man.

 I learned this set of laws when I studied in a yeshiva for 1 year and practiced them for 4 years. In my scholarly and personal experience, the overall atmosphere in which these practices and laws were taught, spoken about, and legally ruled on was one of secrecy, shame, silence and invisibility. It was centered on Rabbinic legal authority and determination, which devalued and delegitimized personal and bodily autonomy and self-determination.

I learned this set of laws when I studied in a yeshiva for 1 year and practiced them for 4 years. In my scholarly and personal experience, the overall atmosphere in which these practices and laws were taught, spoken about, and legally ruled on was one of secrecy, shame, silence and invisibility. It was centered on Rabbinic legal authority and determination, which devalued and delegitimized personal and bodily autonomy and self-determination.

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