Split California King Adjustable Beds with Separate Bedding During Niddah

QUESTION

New York

Would a split California king such as that pictured be sufficient for separate beds during niddah (using separate sheets and blankets)? Would it make a difference if the head and feet of one side are at different levels than the other?

ANSWER

After a little research, it seems like this is something that is advised for couples who need different firmness in mattresses, different sleeping habits, don’t want to be disturbed by the other’s movements, etc. In other words—the experience of sleeping in separate beds, but very close together. Just what we are looking for…

So, the question is—does it work for the laws of niddah? Logically it should not be any worse than if these mattresses were next to each other on the floor, which would be fine. And they are not sharing the same base (at least not the base that is directly below), nor are they being pushed together by the frame to be made into one unit. Quite the opposite—the frame is structured to keep them as separate units.

There are 2 potential concerns/objections:
1. Tashbetz (3:42) deals with a case of separate mattresses and a shared bed frame. He prohibits it when the bed frame is moveable (versus affixed to the ground) not because of the two of them sharing a bed, but rather because it is a problem of the husband being on the wife’s bed when she is a niddah—a concern that derives from the world of tumah and taharah (and not hirhurim, which is the explanation usually given) and tumah only applies to something that is moveable. My response here would be that given the challenges that keeping the harchakot present to couples, we have no need to adopt the tumah vi’taharah approach to “her bed,” (which also raises all the taboo issues), and we can rather adopt the hirhurim explanation, weak as it is. From that perspective, I see no hirhurim concerns when he is not on her mattress, regardless of the shared bed frame. A bed frame does not hirhurim make.

2. The bigger concern is hergel davar—will this setup easily lead to them coming together at night (not even touch, rather just cuddling, etc.)? This is also a concern raised by Tashbetz who wants there to be a big distance, or a curtain hung between the mattresses (even in a case where the bed frame is attached to the ground). and, indeed, in yeshivish homes the beds are far enough apart to ensure that even were one to reach out their arm they would not touch the person in the other bed (see for example, Taharat Yisrael 195:27). That, however, is not our approach. The halakha only calls for separate beds, which provides enough of a heker (physical reminder), and anything done while you are unconscious you are not responsible for. (Rema SA YD 195:6, Pitchei Teshuva on Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 195:11, Taharat HaBayit Vol. 2, pg. 160)

But I do think some distinction between the mattresses or between the niddah and non-niddah period is required, especially since it could be seen as one bed otherwise. By a distinction between the mattresses, I mean if they were different shapes, heights, etc., which can be done to accommodate different sleeping styles. By a distinction between niddah and non-niddah, I mean—you would use one king sheet (or a split-king) on both mattresses during the non-niddah period, and separate twin sheets during the niddah period.

So—yes, it’s acceptable to use during niddah, if the mattresses are differently configured in a way that makes it clear that they are separate units, or alternatively, if a single king (or split king) is used during the non-niddah period, and two separate twins during the niddah period—and there is actual air space between the mattresses. If it feels too much like one bed, then use your imagination to come up with some other heker.

N.B.—The halakha would not be the same with a regular king frame and 2 twin mattresses. There, the structure is made for it to be one bed, and the two mattresses are just functionally taking the place of a single mattress. That case would be a problem, in my humble opinion.

To summarize, there are 3 scenarios:

1. Split king
This works, if you have a distinction of one sheet/two sheets and/or differently configured beds in terms of height and shape.

2. King frame, two box springs, two mattresses.
This is very similar to #1, but not identical, since in #1 the beds are even more separate, since the entire structure was created to allow them to serve as separate beds (and also, the beds can be configured differently). Nevertheless, I think this is ok as well, if you have the difference of one sheet/two sheets and the mattresses with sheets don’t touch. Although ideally, I would prefer another heker. Either a type of bumper between the beds during the niddah period (such as this), or something to make the beds more one unit during the non-niddah period (such as this).

3. King frame, king box spring, separate mattresses.
It is very hard, in my opinion, to call this two beds. B’shaat hadechak (in an exigent situation), whether one can use some of the svarot (lines of reasoning) above, it really depends on the case (degree of need, degree of separation/heker, is this a one-time thing or ongoing, etc.), and would require consultation with me or your local Orthodox Rabbi.

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