Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Role of mikveh lady

28 May, 2006

Question:

I read on your site: "The only criteria for a balanit (mikveh attendant) are that she must be Jewish and older than 12 years, and her job is to be sure all of your hair has gone underwater during immersion."

Shouldn't she also check that the woman has done everything necessary before immersing, check her hands, feet, and certainly back, make sure she isn't touching a railing, etc. while immersing, and know when a she'elah must be asked of a rav?


Answer:

You are correct that all of the items you list are ways in which a mikveh attendant can assist women who immerse.  Many women welcome such assistance and many mikveh attendants do a great service by providing it.  However, these functions are not a halachic requirement of the mikveh attendant. 

On a halachic level, the immersing woman is required and trusted to immerse only after thorough preparation, to immerse in the proper position, and to contact a rav when necessary.  Thus, it is her decision to what extent she wishes to be assisted by the mikveh attendant.  Most women are only too glad to have the help, but in some cases, unwanted assistance can discourage a woman from immersing. 

A mikveh attendant should be in close contact with the mikveh's supervising rav in defining her role.  We believe it is appropriate, whenever possible, for her to ask each woman if she may run through a checklist, check her feet, etc., before doing so.


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