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

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Corona: Immersion in pool or bathtub?

24 March, 2020

Question:

I know you say the mikvehs are safe, but wouldn’t it be safer to allow women to immerse in an outdoor pool, or even a bathtub? Doesn’t this count as pikuach nefesh? Can’t you come up with some safer solutions?


Answer:

We appreciate your concerns.

Halacha certainly takes public health into account and obliges us to follow the recommendations of local health authorities. For that reason, if they were to determine that mikva’ot are unsafe, communities would be obliged to close them and women would be instructed not to immerse. As long as they remain open in line with public health guidelines, halacha permits immersion.

If there is a specific pikuach nefesh situation for a given couple, then the women may be instructed not to immerse. So, too, women who are not comfortable immersing at this time may choose to delay immersion indefinitely. Unfortunately, this can place a strain on a relationship because harchakot remain in place and relations remain prohibited until immersion.

As for the suggestions of immersing in a pool or tub, there are specific halachic requirements for the construction and set up of a mikveh, which even an outdoor swimming pool does not ordinarily meet. For example, water that travels through pipes has the status of “mayim she’uvim” drawn waters, which are not valid for mikveh use.

Halachically, there is no substitute for immersion. We simply don’t have another option to offer.


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