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

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Overly meticulous with mikveh preparation?

27 August, 2014

Question:

I feel that I may be too meticulous in my some of my mikveh preparations, maybe even a bit obsessive. I have a few specific questions:

When I wash myself, I use bleach to get out spots from my toenails and from my fingers (which are sometimes stained from food preparation. What is your view about this?

When I comb my hair in the mikveh before immersing, how much should I comb it? If I do something else (before immersing) after combing it, should I re-comb it to make sure that it didn't get knotted?

How does one know for sure that all dirt is removed from one's body (e.g., embedded dirt in feet, etc.)?

I am aware that there is therapy for OCD but am not keen on having to go through with that. How would I know if I require such therapy?

Kol tov and thank you for your wonderful work!


Answer:

Bleach should not be used for mikveh preparation.  Any stain that cannot be removed with soap and water does not pose a barrier to immersion, as it has no independent physical substance and most women are not particular about what is left after cleaning.

The hair should be combed through once to remove tangles.  It should be gone over one more time just prior to immersion.

If one takes a bath and goes over the whole body with fingers, a sponge, or a cloth, then that takes care of any dirt.  A visual inspection prior to mikveh serves as a double check on not missing anything.  What cannot then be seen on inspection does not interfere with immersion.

We appreciate the sensitive nature of your question regarding OCD.  Based on your questions, there would seem to be a possibility that you have some OCD tendencies in this area.  If you are able to accept our answers above, that could be an indication that your situation might improve without therapy.  If it is too difficult for you, that could be an indication that you might benefit from therapy.  

OCD can be very difficult to live with.  If a woman can overcome her initial reluctance to pursue therapy, she may succeed in reaping the benefits of the therapy for a lifetime. Short-term cognitive behavioral therapy is often effective for OCD.   

Please write back with any further questions. 


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