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

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Is a bath required?

26 April, 2012

Question:

Why is it more desirable to take a bath (instead of a shower) in preparation for the mikvah? (There is a sign at my mikvah that says "some authorities hold that a bath is a REQUIRED part of mikvah preparations"). Which authorities rule this way and why? Also how long does the bath need to be to satisfy the requirement?

I have no bathtub in my apartment (only a shower) so I have to take one at the mikvah.

Can you please tell me what the sources are so I can decide for myself if I think a shower is sufficient to speed up the time spent at the mikvah.

Thanks. And thanks for your website.


Answer:

There is a preference to take a bath as part of the chafifah (and this is cited by halachic authorities as the accepted custom), since soaking will allow the water to reach into all the folds and crevices of your body better than showering, it will help loosen any dirt better, and it will help soften scabs and other hardened/rough areas.

One source we found that explain the requirement of a bath is the Maharam Brisk (as quoted in Taharah K'Halacha by Rav Yekutiel Farkash, p. 368, fn. 25) who compares the chafifah process to removing the blood in the kashering process of meat, which requires soaking in water, and not simply rinsing off.

However, according to most authorities, thorough showering is acceptable if there is a need (unavailability of a bath, difficulty with a bath, medical reasons, etc.). You should just take care to shower very thoroughly, paying close attention to all the folds and crevices of your body.

There is no minimum duration for the bath or shower. You have to determine what is the normal time it takes for you to thoroughly clean yourself without feeling rushed. 15-20 minutes seems to be reasonable; however, it may take longer or shorter for you depending on how long it takes you to wash and comb your hair, whether you have to shave, how clean your nails and feet are, etc.

Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.


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