A woman immerses in the mikveh the night after she finishes counting her shivah neki’im. This generally comes out on the same day of the week as the afternoon of her hefsek taharah. For example, a woman who performed a hefsek taharah on Tuesday afternoon will go to mikveh the following Tuesday night.
Timing of Immersion
Halacha requires that a woman immerse at night, after tzet hakochavim (nightfall).
If there are pressing reasons to immerse after sunset but before nightfall, a specific halachic question should be asked. Even if a woman is permitted to immerse early, the couple may not resume their physical relationship until night time. Therefore, they should arrange not to see each other until after nightfall.
In certain rare situations, where immersion at night is not possible, a halachic authority may permit daytime immersion on the eighth day or later. It is exceedingly rare to permit daytime immersion on the seventh day of the shivah neki’im, but in extreme situations a question can be asked.
Tevilah Bizmanah – Going to Mikveh on Time
One should make every effort to go to mikveh on the appropriate night, even if it is inconvenient, so as not to delay the mitzvot of onah (marital relations) and peru urevu (procreation).
There are some circumstances when mikveh may be postponed:
- The mikveh is closed two nights of the year: Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av. Both bathing and marital relations are prohibited on these fast days. If mikveh falls out on one of these nights, one should go the following night.
- A woman who does not live within walking distance of a mikveh may not be able to immerse on Friday or Yom Tov night. But it is sometimes possible to find a solution. For example, the couple may be able to arrange to stay near the mikveh over Shabbat, or she can drive to the mikveh just before Shabbat and walk back.
- If a woman is sick, she may put off mikveh until she feels well enough to go. If she feels well but has an infection that she is concerned about transmitting to others, she should consult with her healthcare provider and call the mikveh in advance to discuss the situation. It is often possible to arrange to be the last one to immerse before the water is changed. If a woman is concerned about contracting an infection through the water because of a medical condition, she should consult with her healthcare provider. She can probably arrange to be the first one to use the mikveh after it is filled. In some situations, these precautions will be insufficient, and a woman will be medically required to delay mikveh. Relevant information for healthcare professionals can be found on our sister site, www.jewishwomenshealth.org.
- If one spouse will be out of town on mikveh night, there are different halachic opinions. Some authorities, for kabbalistic reasons, advise a woman not to immerse when her husband is out of town. Others permit and even recommend that she immerse in his absence. One should certainly do the hefsek taharah at the proper time and count the seven clean days, in case plans change unexpectedly and the couple are reunited earlier than anticipated. A woman should not go to mikveh on Friday night or Yom Tov night if her husband is out of town.
- If mikveh night is very, very inconvenient, and both spouses agree, immersion may be postponed. One should try to avoid this.
- In some circumstances (e.g., a hurricane or blizzard), it may be impossible to get to mikveh safely or to safely keep the mikveh open. Immersion on time is very important, but it does not override basic safety concerns.
- If one cannot get to mikveh during the regular hours, many mikvaot will arrange in advance for an appointment after the regular closing time.
- It is preferable not to postpone immersion so that it falls out on Friday night. A specific halachic question should be asked.
If one has finished counting the shivah neki’im but is postponing immersion, it is no longer necessary to wear white underwear and no further bedikot are needed.