Taking a shower versus a bath for Chafifa

Shower versus bath:[1]

It is not required for one to specifically soak in a bath as part of the Chafifa process, and it suffices to take a hot shower.[2] [Nevertheless, the widespread custom today is for women to soak in hot water in a bathtub as part of the Chafifa process.[3] One is to initially respect this custom, although in a time of need, such as one does not have a bathtub easily available, or the Mikveh is overcrowded, it suffices even initially to take a shower.[4] Likewise, a pregnant woman or any other women for whom it is unsafe to soak in hot water, is even initially to take a shower rather than a bath.[5]]

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[1] Shevet Halevi Y.D. 2/101; Taharah Kehalacha 19/10

[2] Michaber 199/1 “Tishtof Bemayim Chamin”; See Admur 326/1 “To pour water on the body which is called Lihishtateif, and is not Derech Rechitza”; See Rashi Shabbos 147 that Lihishtateif means a shower; See Shevet Halevi Y.D. 2/101 “Only of late the custom became to take a bath and it is a custom of Tzadikim”; In Hebrew the term bath means Rechitza while the term shower means Lihishtateif. Nowhere is it mentioned in the Poskim that Rechiotza is required and rather the term used is Chafifa. Furthermore, majority of Poskim rule, and so is the final ruling, that from the letter of the law one is not required to wash the body at all, and hence certainly there was never an obligation to bathe and even the shower of the body is a stringency. [See Shach 199/2]

[3] Darkei Teshuvah 199/13 “Sit in a bathtub”; Maharil Hachadashos; Maharam Brisk 3/12 that this is similar to soaking meat prior to salting of which we do not suffice with mere washing; Shevet Halevi Y.D. 2/101 that so became the custom today

[4] Shevet Halevi Y.D. 2/101

[5] Shevet Halevi Y.D. 2/101; 3/129; Shiurei Shevet Halevi 199/8; Taharah Kehalacha 19/10

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