Bath previous night
5 June, 2006
I have a question about preparations for Tevillah. After a season of regular Motzoei Shabos tevillahs, I realized that what I enjoyed most about the process was being able to prepare the day before and be relaxed on the day of tevillah. (I am usually very wound up because of logistical and family/work related commitments).
Is it acceptable to prepare the evening before and just shower at the Mikvah before tevillah? In my circumstances, a long leisurely bath at 11 pm makes more sense to me and my kids than a strangely timed bath in the middle of the afternoon.
There are two goals involved in mikveh preparation – one is to assure that you are clean, and the other is to meet the halachic requirements of chafifah and iyun. The latter needs to be performed either on the night of immersion or during the previous day (unless prevented by an intervening Shabbat or holiday). There is disagreement among the halachic sources as to which is preferable. Therefore, the custom is to attempt to satisfy both positions by doing at least a little of each. However, if either daytime or night time is precluded by outside factors (e.g., no access to water, small children underfoot), preparing during one time only is permitted as long as one does a careful and thorough job.
Taking a bath the night before mikveh immersion is too far removed from mivkeh preparation for it to fulfill the requirement of chafifah. However, it certainly assures that one is getting clean and can minimize the time needed to remove actual dirt the following day.
Therefore, we suggest as follows. For your own enjoyment, if you like, take your nice long relaxing bath the night before, and wash and comb your hair well. If you can do some minor preparation, such as cutting your nails, the following morning (this generally does not raise as many problems or questions as sitting in a bathtub), then you have also done some part of chafifah during the day hours. Arrive at the mikveh early enough that you can do the actual chafifah there. Sitting in the bath (or even standing under the shower) for a few minutes while making sure that the warm water has reach all the cracks and crevices and there is no dirt remaining, washing your hair with warm water, and combing it carefully fufills your obligation for chafifah. If you have any scabs, then you should soak them in water long enough for them to soften. A careful inspection of your body (most mikvaot have a mirror and checklist to help you along with this) completes your obligation of iyun.
Please do not hesitate to get back to us if the above suggestion does not meet your needs.
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