Going to the Mikveh
Going to the Mikveh
- A woman who was Tameh as a niddah or zavah stays Tameh forever, even years later, until she goes to the Mikveh.
As soon as possible
- If her husband is in town it is a mitzvah for a woman to be tovel on the night when she is able to be tovel and not delay it to another night.
- It is forbidden for a woman to go to mikveh seven days after seeing blood before she counted her shiva nekiyim.
When husband isn't in town
- Some say that a woman shouldn't go to the mikveh if her husband isn't in town because of a concern of danger.
Intent to purify
- Initially, a woman should have kavana for tevilat niddah to purify herself. After the fact if she fell into the mikveh and didn't have intention for tevilah she is pure.
- As a matter of modesty (tzeniyut) a woman should be very careful that no one should know that she went to the mikveh.
- If the woman's Tevilah night is Friday night or Motzei Shabbat she is certainly permitted to go to the mikveh that night. However, if a woman could have gone to mikveh before Friday night or Motzei Shabbat and she didn't intentionally without a real reason, some poskim hold that she may not go to the mikveh on Friday night. Some are lenient even in such a case to let her go to the mikveh on Friday night. Nonetheless, a woman may not intentionally delay her tevilah night to Friday night.
- If a woman wasn't able to go to the mikveh before Friday night for some reason that made it impossible for her she is certainly allowed to go to the mikveh on Friday night.
- If a woman is going to the mikveh Friday night she should be careful not to squeeze out her hair. Some say is permitted to dry the hair by placing a towel on the hair gently so that the water is absorbed.
- A woman recite a bracha on going to the mikveh on Friday night as she would any other night.
- Many defend the practice of going to a mikveh on Friday night even though it is lukewarm. Sephardim should try to avoid going to a warm or lukewarm mikveh at night and instead go during Ben Hashemashot.
- A woman may only go to the mikveh on Friday night if her husband is in town.
Tevilah by Day
- It is forbidden for a woman to go to the mikveh by day whether it is her seventh day of Shiva Nekiyim or even the eighth day or later.
- A bride the day of her wedding can go to the mikveh by day if the Chupah of the wedding is at night. In a pressing circumstance it is permitted to have the Chupah by day as long as the yichud is at night.
- In cases where it is impossible to go to the mikveh during the night such as because of danger, a woman may go to the mikveh during the day on the eighth day of her Shiva Nekiyim but not her seventh day.
- After the fact, even though it is forbidden, if nonetheless a woman went to the mikveh during the day on the seventh or eighth day it is effective. Some say that it isn't effective if she went on the seventh by day. Even in such a case she should not tell her husband that she went to the mikveh and either way it is forbidden for them to be together until the night.
Bracha on Tevilah
- According to Ashkenazim, the bracha should be recited after she already immersed but is still in the mikveh. She should cover herself with a robe and then recite the bracha. According to the strict halacha she can recite the bracha while in the mikveh. It is more proper to recite it only after she walks out of the water such that her head and heart are out of the water but her lower body is in the water. Alternatively, she can wrap her arms around her chest while reciting the bracha.There is a practice to immerse before the bracha and again afterwards.
- According to Sephardim, the bracha should be recited while she is just wearing a robe outside of the room where the mikveh is and then immediately go into the mikveh without speaking or making any interruptions.
- A women should recite a bracha upon tevilah whether she was unclean because of seeing a regular period or an unclean stain. However, it was only a chumra then she shouldn't recite a bracha.
- Sephardic poskim hold that a woman may not recite a bracha in the mikveh or mikveh room if it is a warm mikveh. Rather they should make the bracha outside the room and then enter immediately and go into the mikveh. However, the Ashkenazic minhag is that they recite the bracha in the mikveh after dipping even if it is warm.
- According to those that it is forbidden to recite the bracha in the mikveh room it is forbidden to recite other prayers there or even think Torah there.
- See the Chatzitza page.
Requirements of the Mikveh
- The mikveh must have 40 seah of water at a minimum. Additionally, the woman must be able to completely go into the mikveh at once and 40 seah isn't enough the mikveh needs to have enough water to cover her entire body at once.
- A mikveh with mud on the floor should be avoided if there's another mikveh available. If there is no other mikveh available a woman may go to that mikveh but must pick up her feet when being tovel.
- The water should be filled high enough so that when the woman stands it in the water reaches up to three tefachim above her navel. If this is impossible, one could be tovel in a shallow mikveh by lying down on the bottom of the mikveh, however, if another mikveh is available one should go there.
- A woman may not be tovel on top of a vessel. If the floor of the mikveh is made of slats of wood there is a major discussion if it is kosher mikveh, but many poskim defend such a mikveh since it was the practice of many communities to have such a mikveh.
- A woman shouldn’t be tovel on top of a step of the stairs if it is less than 4 tefachim wide because she might be afraid of slipping and not be tovel well.
- A woman shouldn’t be tovel in a place where she’s afraid that people will see her because she’ll be afraid of being tovel properly. After the fact if she knows that she did tovel properly it is effective.
After the Mikveh
Showering or Bathing
- There is an Ashkenazic minhag not to take a shower or bath after going to the mikveh until the next night. If she is fastidious and can't wait a whole day without showering after the mikveh he may do so.
What the Woman Sees when She Emerges
- A woman should make sure that the first thing she sees after coming out of the mikveh is something tahor and not a non-Jew or something tameh. If she did encounter something tameh first if she is a yareh shamayim she would repeat her tevilah.
Telling her Husband that she is Pure
- A woman who was known to be a niddah, cannot be with her husband until she tells him that she has been to the mikveh. The poskim debate if she needs to actually say that she is pure, or that if behavior dictates that she is pure, you can rely on that.
After the woman went to the mikveh and has not yet seen any blood there is time when she is expecting her next period during which she is forbidden to her husband. The determination of that time and the relevant halachot are discussed on the Veset page.
- Gemara Shabbat 64b explains that a Niddah remains tameh until she goes to the mikveh in her proper time. The Rambam Isurei Biyah 4:3 adds that she is a Niddah even years later until she goes to a mikveh. Shulchan Aruch YD 197:1 codifies this.
- Even though the pesukim for Zav (Vayikra 19:13) and Zavah (Vayikra 19:28) clearly indicate that they need to go to a mayan or mikveh, respectively for a Niddah the pasuk (Vayikra 15:19) doesn't indicate anything about needing to go to the mikveh. The Ramban (Chidushim Shabbat 13b s.v. biymey) actually argues that according to the peshat the purification process of the niddah is partially included in the zavah's purification process and the pasuk means that they both need to go to the mikveh. However, the other rishonim offer different derivations for this halacha.
- Tosfot Yevamot 47b s.v. bemayim discusses the source for the halacha that a Niddah needs to go to a mikveh in order to be tahora. Rav Yehudai Goan explained that the Niddah's tevilah is learned as a fortiori from the fact that the utensils she touches need tevilah. The Ri says that it is the pasuk וְהַדָּוָה בְּנִדָּתָהּ (Vayikra 15:33) as interpreted by the Gemara Shabbat 64b a Niddah remains tameh until she goes to the mikveh in the proper time. Rashba (Torat Habayit 4a) and Baal Haturim (Vayikra 15:19) agree. The Rabbenu Tam derives this halacha from במי נדה יתחטא (Bamidbar 31:23) as understood by the Gemara Avoda Zara 75b.
- Shulchan Aruch YD 197:2.
- Is it a mitzvah for a woman to go to the mikveh immediately when she is able to become tahora? The gemara Shabbat 121a, Niddah 30a quote a dispute between the tenayim whether there is a mitzvah to go to mikveh immediately when it is possible. Tosfot Niddah 30a s.v. ushma minah tevilah write that Rabbenu Chananel held like the majority opinion in Niddah that going to the mikveh at the first opportunity is a mitzvah. However, Tosfot argue that it couldn't be a mitzvah as we see the practice isn't for a Niddah, Shomeret Yom, or Zavah go to mikveh as soon as is possible.
- Application: One possible practical application is a concept the Smag (Lavin no. 111) mentions that if it is a mitzvah then a woman should go to the mikveh when she can become tahora even if her husband isn't in town.
- Halacha: The Maharil (responsa 196), Maharik responsa 35:3, Shach 197:3, Taz 197:2 in explaining the Rama, and Badei Hashulchan 197:10 in explaining Shulchan Aruch all hold like Tosfot that there is no mitzvah for a woman to go to the mikveh immediately when she is able to become tahora. Nonetheless, the Bet Yosef 197:2 adds that everyone agrees that there is a mitzvah for a woman whose husband is around to go to the mikveh at the first opportunity because of the mitzvah of Onah unless her husband doesn't care. Taz 197:2 and Taharat Habayit v. 2. 445 agree.
- The Rivash (responsa 425) and Ramban (Chidushim Shabbat 13b s.v. biymey) write that even though on a Torah level a niddah can go to mikveh 7 days after seeing blood the rabbis enacted that all woman are treated like a zavah and need shiva nekiyim (Niddah 65a). Therefore, even though in the days when taharot were relevant a woman could go to mikveh after the 7 niddah days and again after the shiva nekiyim, today the rabbis prohibited women from going to the mikveh 7 days after seeing blood because of niddah before the shiva nekiyim since that will lead people to sin (by being lenient about the shiva nekiyim and going to mikveh afterwards).
- Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 445 quotes the Shvut Yakov 3:77 that woman wouldn't go to the mikveh if their husbands weren't in town out of a concern for evil spirits and he supports this concern. Torah Lishma 216 in fact argues that there's no real basis for this concern but since people are worried it is good to be careful.
- The Gemara Chullin 31a records a machloket Rav and Rabbi Yochanan whether tevilat niddah needs kavana. Rambam (Mikvaot 1:8) holds that it doesn't need kavana and Rashba (Chullin 31b, cited by Bet Yosef) argues that it should. Shulchan Aruch YD 120:48 rules like Rambam. Rama 198:48 writes that initially one should be concerned for the Rashba.
- Rama YD 198:48, Aruch Hashulchan 198:91
- The Gemara Beitzah 18a states that it is permitted for a Tameh person to go to the mikveh on Shabbat and it doesn't appear as though he is fixing himself since observers will think he is just going to washing himself to cool himself off. The Trumat Hadeshen 255 based on the Mordechai explains that nowadays the Ashkenazic minhag isn't to bathe in cold water on Shabbat at all and therefore, someone who goes to the mikveh does appear to be fixing themselves (metaken) and so it is an issue to go to the mikveh on Friday night. However, this only applies if the woman going to the mikveh is going when it isn't her first chance to go. If it is her first opportunity then for the mitzvah of pru urevu it is permitted for her to go on Friday night.
- Bet Yosef 197:2 argues that it should be permitted just like it was in the days of the gemara and doesn't even quote the Trumat Hadeshen. The Darkei Moshe 197:3 concludes that if the woman couldn't have got to the mikveh for any halachic stringency until Friday night she can go then. Even this stringency he writes only applies in a place where this is the minhag.
- The Taz 197:4 holds that anytime a woman couldn't go to the mikveh before the 7th day because it was impossible she can't go on Friday night. If, however, her husband wasn't in town until Friday afternoon and she didn't go to the mikveh, she can not now go on Friday night as it was possible for her to go earlier. Bach 197:3 similarly is strict even if there's no minhag.
- The Rama 197:2 rules that unless there is a minhag otherwise if a woman didn't go to the mikveh since her husband wasn't in town she is allowed to go to the mikveh on Friday night. Bach 197:3 in understanding the Trumat Hadeshen and the Shach 197:3 agree. The Badei Hashulchan 197:29 quotes that the achronim agreed that our minhag today is to allow women to go to the mikveh Friday night if it was pushed off for any reason, based on the Rama and Shach. Additionally, even if it was pushed for no reason, the Badei Hashulchan writes one could be lenient to go to the mikveh Friday night even though some argue.
- Going to the mikveh on Motzei Shabbat is a separate issue. Based on Rashi's reading of the gemara Niddah 67a it is less than ideal to do the preparations for the mikveh at night on Saturday night and then go to the mikveh as he holds that the preparations should be done by day. To be concerned for the opinion of Rashi, the Maharil (responsa chadashot 96) writes that a woman should go to the mikveh on Motzei Shabbat unless that was her first opportunity. The Rama 197:2 codifies this opinion but adds that it only applies where there is a minhag to be strict about this. Badei Hashulchan 197:38 writes that the consensus of the achronim is to be lenient to allow women to go to the mikveh on Saturday night even if they intentionally pushed off mikveh earlier.
- Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 452 writes that the Sephardic minhag is like the Bet Yosef who permits going to the mikveh on Friday night even if her tevilah night was earlier.
- Taharat Habayit v. 3 p. 254
- Rama 197:2, Taz 197:3 like the Trumat Hadeshen unlike the Bach
- Because of the concern of squeezing water out of hair the Raavad (Baalei Hanefesh Shaar Hatevilah p. 98) writes that a woman shouldn't go to the mikveh on Friday night. However, the Bet Yosef 199:6 argues that we shouldn't follow the Raavad against the majority of rishonim. This is also the ruling of Shulchan Aruch YD 199:5. Nonetheless, Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 452 adds that one must be careful not to squeeze out the hair on Shabbat.
- According to the gemara Shabbat 128a squeezing water out of hair isn't considered sechita (squeezing) that is prohibited on Shabbat. The Rambam Shabbat 9:11 codifies this. The Maggid Mishna Shabbat 9:11 and Bet Yosef 330:1 explain that even though there's no biblical prohibition there still is a rabbinic one. Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 452 shows that the minority opinion of the Sefer HaEshkol is that there is no rabbinic prohibition either. In any event, the Maadenei Yom Tov (Mikvaot no. 37 fnt. 10) explains that the rabbis didn't prohibit going to the mikveh on Friday night because of this concern of squeezing out hair because of the mitzvah of pru urevu.
- Ben Ish Chai (Pekudshei II no. 8), Taharat Habayit v. 3 p. 279
- Biur Halacha 323:7 s.v. yimalenu asks how it is permitted to recite the bracha for going to the mikveh on Friday night if it will be clear that the woman is going to the mikveh for a mitzvah and not for just cooling off, which is a problem of appearing like fixing oneself (see Gemara Beitzah 18a). He answers that perhaps since in the action of going into the mikveh itself she doesn't appear to be doing a mitzvah it is permitted to recite the bracha beforehand (Sephardim) or afterwards (Ashkenazim). Nonetheless, he concludes that this is a dispute between Tosfot Yevamot 46b and Rambam. Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 458 quotes the Kol Gadol 15 who answers that the woman should recite the bracha quietly so that no one can tell she's reciting a bracha.
- Pitchei Teshuva 197:2 quotes from the Chacham Tzvi 11 that it is forbidden to go to the mikveh Friday night if the mikveh is heated but it is permitted if it is just heated enough to remove the chill. Nodeh Beyehuda OC 2:24-5 holds that it is permitted to go into a mikveh even if it is lukewarm. Lastly, the Korban Netanel (Bameh Madlikin 22:100) believes it is permitted even if the water is warm. Nonetheless, the Mishna Brurah 326:17 proves that there is a prohibition to bathe in lukewarm warm on Shabbat. Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 460-6 agrees.
- The Mishna Brurah 326:7 writes that there is what to rely on to go to a lukewarm mikveh on Friday night. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (ch. 14 fnt. 4) cites the Divrei Chayim who says that the minhag is that the women go in a warm mikveh on Friday night. However, Rav Yosef Henkin (Edut L'Yisrael p. 154) holds that the water should only be lukewarm and not hot.
- Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 452 suggests going to the mikveh during ben hashemashot so as to avoid the prohibition of bathing in hot water on Shabbat. He cites the Bnei Binyamin p. 104 as saying that it was the minhag yerushalayim to go to the mikveh during ben hashemashot. He explains that since it is only a derabbanan prohibition to go to the mikveh during the day it is permitted during ben hashemashot. He concludes that if it isn't possible to go during ben hashemashot she may go at night and not delay her night of tevilah.
- Rama 197:2. Badei Hashulchan 197:23 explains that when her husband is in town it is permitted to go because of the mitzvah of pru urevu but if not then it is forbidden as it appears like she's fixing her status of tumah (metaken). This is based on the Trumat Hadeshen 255. See Madenei Yom Tov (Mikvaot no. 37 fnt. 10).
- The gemara Yoma 6b explains that the biblical law is that a Zavah can go to the mikveh on the seventh day of her Shiva Nekiyim but the Niddah may not go until the night. Nonetheless, Rabbi Yochanan in Gemara Niddah 67b establishes that a woman may not go to mikveh during the day even if it is the eighth day or afterwards so that her daughter doesn't see this and mistakenly learn that it is permitted to go to the mikveh on the seventh day during the day (serach bita). Tosfot 67b s.v. mishum understands that this prohibition applies both to a Niddah and to a Zavah even nowadays after the institution of Rabbi Zeira's chumra.
- The gemara continues to ask why nowadays with the chumra of Rabbi Zeira a woman can't go to mikveh during the seventh day. It answers that the rabbis prohibited it lest the couples is together that day and then she sees blood, retroactively invalidating her tevilah. Tosfot s.v. aval explains that the gemara means that it is forbidden to go to mikveh during the day lest they are together afterwards. Rashi s.v. liydei implies this as well. The Baal Hameor (Baalei Hanefesh Shaar Hatevilah ch. 1 no. 1), however, understands that the gemara means that it is forbidden for them to be together on the seventh day but it is permitted to go to the mikveh. The Ramban (Niddah 67b s.v. ubevaday), Rashba (67b s.v. ubenemukei), and Rambam (according to the Bet Yosef 183 s.v. veyesh) understand the gemara similarly to the Baal Hameor but nonetheless say that because of the prohibition for the couple to be together it is also forbidden for her to go to the mikveh during the day.
- Shulchan Aruch YD 197:3 rules like all of the rishonim besides the baal hameor that it is forbidden for a woman to go to the mikveh nowadays during the day.
- Rama 197:3, Dagul Mirvavah 197:3, Taharat Habayit v. 2 p. 467
- Badei Hashulchan 197:48 based on Rabbi Akiva Eiger responsa 2:71
- Gemara Niddah 67b, Shulchan Aruch 197:4
- Shulchan Aruch YD 197:5
- Rama YD 197:5, Badei Hashulchan 197:67
- Rama YD 200:1
- Shach 200:1
- Mishna Brurah 74:16
- Badei Hashulchan 200:13 citing the Shlah
- Shulchan Aruch YD 200:1, Taharat Habayit v. 3 p. 202
- Aruch Hashulchan 200:1.
- If the Rabbi wasn't sure if she is tameh and was strict to decide that she is tameh, the Aruch Hashulchan 200:1 nonetheless allows her to go to the mikveh with a bracha, however, Taharat Habayit v. 3 p. 90 argues that if there's a dispute if it is unclean she shouldn't make a bracha upon the tevilah.
- Can you make a bracha in the mikveh room if the mikveh is hot?
- Rabbenu Manoach (cited by Kesef Mishna Kriyat Shema 3:3) asks why it is permitted to say a bracha in a mikveh room since it should be similar to a bathhouse where it is forbidden to make a bracha in the inner room where people bathe. He answers that one can't recite a bracha in a bathhouse because it is hot with steam and sweat but the mikveh is cold. The Taz OC 84:2 quotes Rabbenu Manoach and adds that he considers the mikveh only like the middle room of a bathhouse but still it is only permitted to say the bracha for going to the mikveh since that is necessary and there's no other option. Magen Avraham 45:2 and Eliya Rabba 84:1 also cite Rabbenu Manoach. The implication of Rabbenu Manoach is that if the mikveh was hot then it would be like a bathhouse and it would be forbidden to recite a bracha in the room.
- Chatom Sofer OC 18 writes that if the mikveh is hot one can’t make the bracha in the mikveh or the room. Maharam Shik OC 162 wrote that the punctilious women make the bracha outside the mikveh room like the Chatom Sofer wrote. Rav Ovadia Yosef in Yabia Omer YD 2:14 and Taharat Habayit v. 3 p. 202 agrees. There he cites a handwritten teshuva of Rav Yakov Sofer as holding that it was forbidden to recite the bracha in the mikveh room. (The Yavetz in Mor Ukesiah 84:1 writes that the woman should always recite the bracha outside the room of the mikveh even if it isn’t hot.)
- Pri Megadim E”A 45:2 writes that even the hot mikveh’s aren’t so hot and aren’t like a bathhouse and so it is permitted to make a bracha in the room. Mishna Brurah 84:4 quotes the Pri Megadim as a possibility and in 45:5 he leaves it unresolved. Teshuvat Shay 2:96 writes that the minhag relies on the Pri Megadim. Aruch Hashulchan OC 84:2 and Tzitz Eliezer 6:25 agree. Shiurei Shevet Halevi 200:8 (cited by Dirshu 84:6) writes that the minhag is acceptable but should only be relied on for the bracha of tevilah and not other brachot even tevilat kelim. Rav Elyashiv (Mishmeret Hatahara 2:17:15) explained that it is permitted to recite the bracha in the mikveh if the mikveh is only lukewarm (heb. פושרים; trans. poshrim) and not actually hot.
- Taharat Habayit v. 3 p. 232, 236
- Shulchan Aruch YD 201:1
- Pitchei Teshuva 198:20 quoting the Nodeh Beyehuda
- Shulchan Aruch 198:33 writes that a woman shouldn't be tovel in a mikveh with mud on the body because according to some opinions, such as Rashi and Raavad, the tevilah will be ineffective. The Shach 198:47 explains that really this is only an issue with three types of thick mud, but most mud isn't a chatzitza after the fact. Nonetheless, even regarding regular mud the Pitchei Teshuva 198:20 points out from the Shach 198:40 one must pick up their feet if there's mud on the bottom of the mikveh.
- Shulchan Aruch YD 198:36
- Sidrei Tahara 198:75
- Shulchan Aruch YD 198:31
- Shach 198:45, Taz 198:31
- Shulchan Aruch YD 198:31 based on the Rashba (teshuva 828) and the conclusion of Niddah 66b.
- Shulchan Aruch 198:34, Sidrei Tahara 198:70
- Rama YD 201:75. Igrot Moshe YD 2:96 explains that really since the idea of taking a shower making a person tameh is only a new tumah and not invalidating the last one it shouldn't be relevant to niddah. In any event, he argues that the cutoff to when there is an issue to take a shower immediately after going to the mikveh is the halachic day.
- Igrot Moshe YD 2:96 concludes that since the Rashbat's opinion is a minority one and it is only a minhag for a woman who can't stand waiting a day without showering may do so.
- Rama YD 198:48, Aruch Hashulchan 198:91
- Shulchan Aruch 185:1
- Pitchei teshuva 185:1 quotes Chavot Daat that even if her behavior dictates that she’s clean, you need to hear it from her. However, Taharat Habayit vol. 1 pg. 153 is lenient if she merely lies down next to him, indicating that she is pure. Badei Hashulchan 185:7 writes that even if one requires a woman to make some sort of verbal indication, she does not have to actually say the word "טבלתי"; if he asks her “Did you go to the mikveh?” and she says “Yes” or nods, then obviously that is enough. He says that it would even be enough if she has a standard, albeit non-verbal way of indicating to him that she has gone to the mikveh, such as handing him the car keys when she returns. The point is that, even according to those who are machmir, it is sufficient if he receives some clear indication that she has gone to the mikveh.