The Mikveh Attendant

Tevilah: Immersion in the Mikveh

Timing and Scheduling

Finding a Problem After Immersion

Mikveh Etiquette


Shabbat and Yom Tov

What is a Kosher Mikveh?

During immersion, your entire body and all of your hair need to be in simultaneous and complete contact with the mikveh water. Therefore, the ideal position for immersion is, in the words of the Talmud, as if you were "weaving or nursing a child" - relaxed, slightly crouched, arms extended, hands open with the fingers slightly separated - so that the mikveh water reaches every part of your body. Your feet can touch the floor of the mikveh.

If this position is difficult for you, you should wet all parts of your body with the mikveh water and then immerse in any position in which your body and hair are completely submerged. The custom in Chabad is to immerse while spread out horizontally "like a fish".

Your eyes and the inside of your mouth have to be free of chatzitzot, but don't need to come into actual contact with the mikveh water. Your eyes and mouth should be gently closed, but not clenched.

Because complete immersion requires relatively deep water (usually around chest height), you generally walk down stairs into the mikveh. If you have difficulty with stairs, arrangements can be made to assist you.

Upon immersing in the mikveh, you recite the bracha "asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al hatevilah" Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us on immersion." Many Sephardi women recite this bracha while wearing a robe, and then undress and immerse in the mikveh. This is in accordance with the general practice that a bracha should immediately precede the performance of a mitzvah. The prevalent Ashkenazi custom, however, is to immerse once, recite the bracha while standing in the mikveh with the water at least waist-high, and then immerse again. (This is similar to the immersion of a convert, who must immerse and become Jewish before he can recite the blessing.) Although one may not normally recite a bracha while undressed, in this case the water is considered a sufficient covering. You should not look down into the water while reciting the blessing. Some women also cross their arms below the heart to separate the upper body from the lower body, and some cover their hair with a cloth.

You need to immerse at least once after reciting the bracha. Some women have the custom to immerse additional times or to recite additional prayers. There are a variety of traditional prayers. One common practice is to say the brief paragraph that normally follows the Amidah: "Yehi ratzon mil'fanecha......uch'shanim kadmoniot." If applicable, you should follow your mother's custom. Some women also find tevilah to be an opportune time for spontaneous personal prayer.

According to many authorities, you should not shower again at the mikveh after your immersion. This ensures that you don't imagine that the shower, rather than the mikveh, made you tehorah.

When you come home from the mikveh, you should tell your husband verbally that you immersed.

Review Question

There are two different customs.

A common Sephardi practice is to recite the bracha while wearing a robe, just before entering the water of the mikveh.

The Ashkenazi practice is to enter the water, immerse once, and then recite the bracha and immerse again.

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Copyright © 2005 Deena Zimmerman and Ilana Sober. All rights reserved.

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