At the same time, I believe there's a great benefit to knowing about the chiddush from Rabbi Daniel Travis (which isn't actually a chiddush, but an illuminating fact of biology he wisely rediscovered).
So I'll try to discuss things as discreetly & appropriately as possible.
So let me first start with the issue:
When learning taharat hamishpacha, one comes across discussions of "hargasha."
What on earth IS it?
The descriptions of it ring unfamiliar and prove hard to understand.
People don't seem to know what it even is (although Rabbi Travis does, as you'll see below).
For a man learning the masechet or for women taking the Yoetzet course, it makes sense to learn about it.
But the topic is brought up in pre-wedding kallah classes (or it was we were getting married, don't know if it still is) while teaching the girls what they need to know in order to keep taharat hamishpacha properly throughout marriage.
My personal subjective opinion is they shouldn't even bring it up in kallah classes because it's just confusing without contributing anything useful.
Especially because it's introduced for no apparent purpose; it's acknowledged as being unrelatable and not understood—so what is the point?
It's like: "Here's something no one really understands, but we're just going to throw it in anyway for absolutely no useful purpose! And any confusion you feel or any questions you have will not be addressed—or even discussed—because, heck, I haven't got a clue! No one does, no one understands this at all, and it has nothing to do with anything that practically relates to what you need to know. Okay, now that I've discombobulated you with completely unnecessary and confusing information, let's go on now with all the myriad details you actually NEED to know..."
Furthermore, some of the greatest Torah minds concluded the phenomenon of hargasha no longer exists, so it's just extraneous and confusing for a young woman already struggling to understand & embrace a whole new area of halacha (and doing so during a very tumultuous phase in her life).
After all, it brings up doubts; like if no one understands it, then maybe women really are experiencing it, but no one is able to pinpoint it?
For example, people say things like, "We're not sensitive enough today to feel it." That simply does not make sense, especially when you learn that hargasha is the womb opening up so painfully that it awakens the woman in the middle of sound sleep, or it's accompanied by severe trembling, and other extreme sensations.
Very murky, indeed.
In addition, the idea just sits in one's mind as yet another significant part of Torah filed away into the "nishtaneh hateva" abyss.
Unfortunately, the whole "nishtaneh hateva/things have changed" concept (a very valuable & necessary concept when applied correctly) gets way too overused and even abused, with major and still-applicable aspects of Torah dismissed with a wave of this "magic" phrase by people who either lack understanding or allow their emotional inclinations to interfere with proper Torah hashkafah.
Having said that, in the case of hargasha, it is actually true that the nature of the monthly cycle has changed.
But the lack of explanation creates a problem where there doesn't need to be.
To me, this abstract dismissiveness pricks at one's emunah, even without that being the intention—and even without one being conscious of it.
How Exactly Did the Teva Change? Now It All becomes Clear...
How Radical Physical Changes Affected Hilchos Niddah
(Disclaimer: I did not listen to the whole shiur beyond the practical revelation because it got very lomdusy & technical...which is perfect for the fellows learning the topic, but just not for my individual learning needs.)
Rabbi Travis explored this topic in Torah scholarship and looked at the writings of the top poskim over the past couple of centuries, plus he spoke to a woman named Dr. Merel (whom I don't know & don't even know if I spelled her name correctly) and Dr. Merel, in addition to being an expert in the area of women's health, also spoke with older women who remember their grandmothers' descriptions of things & learned how they experienced the monthly cycle in their time.
So the big chiddush is this:
That time of the month occurred all at once within 1 hour, and not over the course of several days.
As Rabbi Travis states, it went from being a 1-hour process to an approximately 168-hour process.
So the opening to the womb opens up (sort of like when giving birth) and that's why women of yore even woke up in the middle of the night from the pain or experienced severe trembling and the like—in other words, major undeniable hargasha.
It was a serious event. As Rabbi Travis states, "It's a major shock to the body." (minute 8:31)
So it's not that we lack sensitivity or randomly don't experience hargasha; the entire monthly experience is now completely different.
No one feels hargasha because the cycle no longer causes hargasha.
This idea also explains the incredibly short time of niddah described after birth in the Torah—a phase so short, people can't relate to it nowadays.
So Rabbi Travis's research is incredibly helpful for getting closure on this issue.
Thank you, Rabbi Travis.
How This Revelation Impacts the Modern View of Older Research
For example, a woman recently wrote a book on the history of this topic, but she couldn't find information about the supplies used to deal with the monthly cycle.
So she made assumptions, which made their way into the standard explanations on this topic.
But they're not true.
Another female researcher discovered a method recommended for women of yore to deal with it, but dismissed the method as an outliers because the method assumed the kind of major 1-hour event described above. And that makes no sense to the modern observer who refuses to entertain the notion that, well, maybe things have changed.
Modern researchers work on the assumption that the monthly cycle operates the same way throughout the millennia, despite ancient writings showing it doesn't.
The problem is, the secular world doesn't acknowledge nishtaneh hateva so much, so they tend to remain narrow in their thinking, locked into their assumptions that however nature is today, that's how it always was.
(In this post, I'm picking on women's studies, but in past posts, I've picked on other branches of science. Narrow thinking and false assumptions run rampant throughout all branches of science & scholarship today.)
Knowing now how the monthly cycle was experienced by women, we see that women did not need our types of supplies & products to deal with just one hour. Furthermore, modern-day supplies are far too puny to deal with such an event. Nor did they just go about their business during that time; they simply could not.
Another interesting insight is how women's studies derides old observations, like those from Aristotle, for describing the flow of the monthly cycle as similar to the flow from a sacrificed animal.
But according to the research of Rabbi Travis via Dr. Merel, Aristotle's description was actually quite accurate!
Modern women's studies also criticize ancient texts for expecting that time of the month to be heavy & regular...even though it was.
Conventional medicine today assumes that the cycles of ancient women were lighter & less frequent, despite the complete opposite information found in ancient literature on the subject.
So of course, the modern minds assume all that medical literature must be wrong or the result of male bias & cultural attitudes.
Even certain sections of a book on the topic by a 17th-century midwife receive dismissal by modern women's studies female researchers as being influenced by male bias.
Women's studies also insist that ancient male researchers could not form objective observation of this common and natural biological process due to their cultural assumptions.
And the fact that such a diverse body of literature offering similar observations over the centuries & in different countries might be correct (at least as far as the actual physical process goes)?
Nope! Can't be. If it doesn't jive with modern observations, then all of them (including the female experts of yore) must be wrong. [sarc]
So who is really being biased here? Who is really the closed-minded "expert"?
In other words, women's studies dismiss centuries of observations simply because these observations do not jive with the modern norm...rather than opening their minds to the fact of nishtaneh hateva.
They also criticize the concern with which ancient doctors viewed a lack of regularity (to paraphrase their attitude: "Hey, it's a normal natural process, misogynist bozos!") and the doctors' perceived need to bring it on when it was missing.
But again, that all made sense in the context of what Rabbi Travis describes.
It was a major event and of course a medical professional would be concerned about what's happening in the body, what kind of build-up may be occurring, to prevent the such a major process.
I'm not saying that non-Jewish attitudes toward women were kosher or that ancient peoples were totally fine in their cultural mores.
Of course they weren't.
Nor am I saying that cultural or male bias doesn't exist within the records of women's health.
Of course there's cultural & male bias.
I just find it interesting how the narrow thinking developed within the secular, liberal, modern mind affects their ability to interpret science & history in a rational & accurate manner.
It's so clear that Rabbi Travis is correct and all these women's studies researchers are wrong.
The expanded thinking resulting from a Torah mind not only shed light on this whole issue (both halachically & historically), but enabled this ultra-Orthodox male rabbi to both seek out AND accept the experience & testimonies of a female doctor and the elderly women to shed light on male scholarship in this area—when self-lauding modern secular feminist thinkers prove themselves unequal to the challenge & unable to do the same.
So I'm not against women's studies per se, but the blinding truth-distorting agenda that has taken over the field is definitely something I can neither respect nor submit to.