Is it ever ok to dip in the Mikvah with a fresh manicure/pedicure? I am leaving for vacation early the next morning after my mikvah night and would really like to have my nails done for the trip.
Thanks so much!
This is a complex question.
For something to be considered a chatzitzah, barrier to immersion, on even a rabbinic level, it needs either to cover most of the body’s surface or to be something that women are particular to remove. For hundreds of years, widespread practice has followed the view of Rema to remove everything possible prior to immersion, even when an item is small and women are not particular about it. This includes strong customs to trim and thoroughly clean the nails, though there is some extra halachic leeway regarding toenails, about which women are usually less particular. Therefore, preferred practice is to remove all nail polish prior to immersion.
On the other hand, early halachic authorities argue that dye such as henna on the body is not a chatzitzah, for two reasons: it is in place for beautification and it does not have an independent physical substance. It’s not clear whether a potential barrier needs to share both of these properties, or whether one is sufficient. One could argue that nail polish has its own independent substance, but its being there for the purpose of beautification might still suffice to allow for immersion with polish so long as it is fully intact (as after a fresh manicure).
For this reason, a woman who would prefer to skip or postpone immersion rather than remove her nail polish is typically allowed to immerse with a well-maintained manicure after cleaning her nails well.
In your case, if your custom has been to remove polish prior to immersion, it would be best to keep to that. There could be room for extra leeway with a pedicure, perhaps scheduling a manicure at your destination. If it is very important to you, however, there are grounds to immerse with the manicure as well. Should you choose to do so, please be aware that mikveh policies differ, so you may need to explain this ruling in advance to the attendant.
We wish you a great trip! Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.