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

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Immersion when husband is away

15 August, 2006

Question:

I am in Israel for the summer but my husband had to travel back to the US. My mikva date is this Wednesday but he is returning next Thursday.

Next week I have a family wedding on Wed. and sheva brachot on Thursday and on Shabbat.

Do I go to the mikva on my date even though it's a week till I see my husband? Can I go next Tuesday so I don't have to run out in middle of smachot and raise many eyebrows?

Is the time I go a matter of my preference or halacha?


Answer:

Yes, you may delay your immersion until next Tuesday.

Although there are authorities who advise a woman not to immerse at all when her husband is out of town (or when she is out of town), the basic halacha is that immersion is permissible.

Thus, if there is no definite custom in your community or family to delay immersion in this situation – and certainly if there is any chance of your husband unexpectedly returning earlier than planned – it is a good idea to immerse as scheduled. Nevertheless, there is no mitzvah to immerse at the earliest possible time when your husband is away, and immersion may be pushed off if the scheduled night is inconvenient.

In practice, you can go to mikveh any time after the shivah neki'im are over. Note that, once the shivah neki'im have passed, you no longer have to wear white underwear or do bedikot. Immersion in this situation should not be on Friday night.

If you do plan to delay immersion until the time of your husband's return, our site's rabbinic supervisor, Rav Yehuda Henkin, has written that it is preferable to immerse a night prior to his return if immersion on the night of his return will lead to stress or delay intimacy.

Some communities have particular customs that apply if a woman immerses while her husband is away (e.g., sleeping with a knife under the pillow). In a community where such practices are customary, they would be appropriate. You could double check with your local rabbi where he stands on this issue. Otherwise, many halachic decisors, including our site's supervising rabbi, R Yehuda Henkin, deem such practices unnecessary.


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