30 November, 2004
I read on the website that when preparing for mikveh, one must thoroughly clean all crevices (beit hastarim). How does one clean in the vaginal and anal areas? Is it sufficient to wash the outside of these areas with soap and water, or does one have to clean inside this way as well?
Also, if one is supposed to clean inside these areas: When a woman cleans inside during the daytime in preparation for mikvah, is she obligated to look at her finger that she used to clean inside, since she's still in the seven clean days? (I'm concerned that doing that may lead to problems or questions).
I very much appreciate your wonderful website–Thank you!
The anus and the vagina are not considered beit hastarim; that applies to external folds such as under the armpits, under the breasts, between the thighs, etc. The mouth is also considered an area that, while somewhat internal, is open to the outside and needs to be properly cleaned (e.g., teeth brushed and food removed from between them). The anus and vagina are viewed as more closed and anything within them is considered balua ("swallowed up"). Therefore, you do not have to insert anything into either the anus or vagina to clean them. There is a custom to use the bathroom prior to mikveh use to assure that one is not "holding in" either urine or stool. The external area would then need to be well cleaned – either do this prior to bathing or wipe the area again with a baby wipe.
The only thing that needs to be inserted into the vagina are the bedikah cloths for the required number of bedikot. You are correct that superfluous exams may lead to problems (scratches for example) or questions and therefore should be avoided.
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