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

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Why must immersion be at night?

10 May, 2014

Question:

Hi,

I have been trying to find an answer to this, but haven’t found anything significant – why does one have to go to the mikvah after nightfall?

As a working mother, it would be SO much simpler for me to go to the mikvah at the start of the day, on my way to work for example, as I often find myself missing my date by several days or even not being able to make it for a whole month because my son got sick, etc. and it makes no sense to me in cases like this why I should have to wait for such a long time until it is convenient to go to the mikvah again *at nighttime*, when I might have been able to easily go the next morning and then resumed relations with my husband (unfortunately, it is hard for me not to resent this aspect of the ritual, as I feel like it really prevents me from connecting to it as a positive thing).

Appreciate your time in considering my question.


Answer:

Thank you for reaching out to us.

We are sorry to hear that immersing at night is so difficult for you that you often delay immersion by days and have come to resent this aspect of the halacha.

We’ll begin by explaining the halacha, and then we’ll share some ideas that might help you observe it more positively.

Tevilah is permissible only after the seven clean days are complete, so a woman may not immerse before nightfall on the seventh day.

Daytime immersion is prohibited after that by rabbinic decree, out of concern that a woman’s going to the mikveh during the day on the eighth day or later could lead others to incorrectly conclude that daytime immersion is permitted even on the seventh day.

In very extenuating circumstances (such as when the mikveh is in an unsafe neighborhood and going after nightfall is dangerous) there is room to permit daytime immersion on the eighth day or later. More common logistical difficulties are usually not considered a sufficient reason to override this rabbinic decree.

It can indeed be very difficult to fit a nighttime immersion into a busy routine, especially when unexpected obstacles arise.

Often, a woman can save time at night and make mikveh easier to schedule by performing her preparations earlier. It is fully permissible to prepare for mikveh early in the morning, before leaving for work. Once at the mikveh, you would just need to shower, comb your hair, clean your teeth, and visually inspect yourself for any chatzitzot, before immersing.

It is also important for a husband to help facilitate his wife’s having time for immersion. Perhaps you could speak with your husband about arranging to be home early enough on mikveh night to take over childcare or other domestic responsibilities. Some couples arrange for a babysitter for mikveh night, or get dinner out to relieve stress in advance of immersion.

Sometimes, it is easier to get to the mikveh late at night (or very early in the morning, before dawn, which is still halachically considered nighttime). In that case, it might be possible to call the mikveh attendant to see if you can schedule an appointment outside of the usual hours (generally for an additional fee).

We hope that these suggestions can help simplify the logistics so that you can avoid the frustration of feeling forced to delay immersion.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch for more suggestions or with any further questions.

Behatzlacha!

This response was updated on 31 August, 2023.


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