Immersing on Erev RH

Immersing in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah:[1]

It is a customary to immerse in a Mikvah on Erev Rosh Hashanah in order to purify oneself from the state of Keri.[2] [Today the custom is to immerse even if one is pure of Keri as purity of the body brings to purity of the soul.[3] This applies even if one is not accustomed to generally immerse in a Mikveh during the year.[4]

How many times should one immerse?[5] One should immerse three times in the water. [However based on Kabala one is to immerse eight times.[6]]

 

Importance of immersing in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah:[7]

In preparation for this awesome day one is to immerse in a Mikveh and rid himself of all impurities and foreign thoughts which one acquired throughout the year. If one is obligated to purify himself prior to every holiday then certainly it is required prior to Rosh Hashanah.


Q&A

Must one shower and remove Chatzitzas prior to immersion?

During the regular year: It is not required to remove a Chatzitza from the body prior to immersion, and so is the custom.[8] [Nevertheless some Poskim[9] are stringent.] Thus one does not need to cut his nails, clean them, brush his hair or wash other parts of the body.[10] However this only applies if it is found on minority of the body, however a Chatziza on majority of the body is invalid even for a Baal Keri.[11] [Furthermore, some[12] write that initially one is to remove from the body all items that one normally removes upon bathing, such as a watch and clothing as will be explained below.]

Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur: Despite the above, regarding the immersion of Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur one is to remove all Chatzitzas from the body. Thus one is to clean his body with hot water and comb through his hair prior to immersion in order to remove any intervals.[13]

A watch: Some[14] write that initially one is to remove from the body all items that one normally removes upon bathing. Accordingly one is to initially remove a tight watch from his arm prior to immersion [and so is the custom]. A loose watch however is not required to be removed.

Clothing: Some[15] write based on the above ruling that initially one is to remove tight clothing from his body prior to immersion [and so is the custom]. Loose fit clothing however is not required to be removed.

Bandage/Cast:[16] If one is unable to remove it then he may immerse with the bandage or cast on his body. [If it is prohibited to be immersed in water one may place a tight plastic bag over it.]

Ear plugs:[17] One who may not allow water to enter his ears due to medical reasons may immerse using ear plugs or cotton balls and the like. 

Dreadlocks in the beard:[18] Are not considered an interval.

 

Must one immerse his entire body in the Mikveh?[19]

Yes. Even one’s hair must be completely submerged within the water. If even one strand of hair was protruding from the water the immersion is invalid for Keri.

 

When on Erev Rosh Hashanah is one to go to Mikveh?

One is to only go to Mikveh after midday[20], or at the very least past the 5th hour of the day.[21] If one cannot immerse at that time then he may immerse anytime in the morning.[22] One is to cut his nails prior to immersing.[23]

 

Taking a shower after Mikveh:

It is permitted to shower after Mikveh[24], although some are stringent not to do so.[25] Nevertheless, on Erev Shabbos [and Erev Yom Tov] according to all it is better not to do so, in order so one not completely wash off the Mikveh water from his body, as will be explained next.

 

Drying oneself after Mikveh:[26]

Based on the teachings of the Arizal one should not dry the Mikveh water off his body after immersing.[27] Practically we are particular to dry ourselves with a towel after immersion and one who desires to follow the directive of the Arizal is to leave some part of his body not dried.[28] It suffices for one to leave his feet wet in order to fulfill this directive.[29]


[1] Rama 581/4; See Admur 606/11

[2] Keri refers to the impurity of a man caused by emission of seed, whether nocturnally or in the course of cohabitation.

Are women to immerse on Erev Rosh Hashanah? Some Poskim write that also women are to be careful to immerse in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah and that even the virgins are to immerse. [Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 3; Kaf Hachaim 581/84] They are to clean their body and comb their hair to remove any Chatzitza, however are not required to shave their private areas. [ibid] However some Poskim vehemently oppose unmarried women immersing in a Mikveh as doing so can lead to promiscuity. [Sdei Chemed, brought in Alef Hamagen 606/16] Practically the widespread custom today is that even married women do not immerse on Erev Rosh Hashanah and only do so on Erev Yom Kippur.

[3] Kaf Hachaim 581/82; Seder Hayom

[4] Seder Hayom brought in Shalah p. 213 for the reason recorded below under “The importance…”

[5] Beir Heiytiv 581/16 based on M”A 606/8 where two reasons for immersing are recorded. see also Admur 606/12

[6] Kaf Hachaim 581/83

[7] Seder Hayom brought in Shalah p. 213

[8] Eshkol [Tefila 1]; Mamar Mordechai [1790] 1-2, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 88/1; Biur Halacha 88 “Vechen”; Shulchan Melachim in Halacha Lemoshe Dinei Tevilas Ezra 12; Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8; Leaning opinion of Minchas Chinuch 180/4

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule that a Chatzitza invalidates the immersion of a Baal Keri. [Amudei Eish Kuntrus Beis Tefila 12; opinion of Gadol brought in Minchas Chinuch 180/4] The Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid leaves this matter in question. The Ashel Avraham Tinyana [Butchach] 88 implies that initially one should remove a Chatzitza [The statement brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 57 that the Ashel Avraham holds it does not even contain a Midas Chassidus is inaccurate] The Rashba [Yevamos 47] rules that a Chatzitza invalidates the immersion of a Baal Keri. Nevertheless this only refers to one who needs to immerse Biblically, such as in the times of the Temple. However for the immersion of Takanas Ezra even the Rashba agrees it is not necessary. [Shulchan Melachim ibid]

[9] See previous footnote “Other Poskim”

[10] Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8

[11] Biur Halacha 88 “Vechin”; Halacha Lemoshe Dinei Tevilas Ezra 12; as is implied from the Eshkol

[12] Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8; Vetzrauch Iyun on his source as the simple reading of the Poskim ibid do not imply that a differentiation exists between forms of Chatzitzas.

[13] Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 3; Kaf Hachaim 581/84; This is also required based on the teachings of the Arizal. [Kaf Hachaim 260/4]; M”E 606/8 regarding Erev Yom Kippur

[14] Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8; Vetzrauch Iyun on his source as the simple reading of the Poskim ibid do not imply that a differentiation exists between forms of Chatzitzas.

[15] Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8; Vetzrauch Iyun on his source as the simple reading of the Poskim ibid do not imply that a differentiation exists between forms of Chatzitzas.

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[17] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[18] Ashel Avraham [Tinyana] 88

[19] Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8

[20] The following sources state this regarding Erev Shabbos: Kanfei Yona 1/95; Mishnes Chassidim Yom Hashishi 7/1; Shlah p. 138a last line in name of Kanfei Yona; Likkutei Mahrich 2 p. 7b; See also Likkutei Dibburim 3/568

[21] Mateh Efraim 625/14 in name of Shaar Hakavanos and Peri Eitz Chaim; Chayeh Adam 138/5; Kaf Hachaim 581/82; Alef Hamagen 581/121; Likkutei Mahrich 2 p. 7b in name of Siddur Rav Shabsi

The reason: As from that time and on the radiance of Shabbos begins to shine. [Mateh Efraim 625/14 in name of Shaar Hakavanos and Peri Eitz Chaim]

[22] Mateh Efraim 625/14

[23] See Kaf Hachaim 260/1 and Mate Efraim 625/13; Shlah 138 that the nails are to be cut prior to Mikveh. To note however of the custom of the Rebbe Maharash which would cut the nails after Mikveh. His reasoning was because at this time the nails are softer. [Story heard from Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin]

[24] Sheivet Halevy 7/33; Piskeiy Teshuvos 88/8; Even regarding a Nidda the Rama Yoreh Deah 202/75 rules that only some opinions are stringent and so is the custom. However others argue on Rama and rule doing so is permitted even by a Nidda. [See Gr”a ibid; Darkei Teshuvah 202/332; Lechem Vesimla 122]

[25] Piskeiy Teshuvos 260/1 in name of Sheivet Halevy that so is the custom of the world to avoid doing so despite it being allowed from the letter of the law. See also Tiferes Adam 1/28 which rules one should never shower after Mikveh.

[26] Based on Kaf Hachaim 260/8

[27] As the water is considered holy with the spirit of Shabbos [and Yom Tov] and it is thus proper for the body to absorb it. [ibid] However see Kaf Hachaim 260/8 which writes that this only applies if one did not immerse more than once, otherwise he has already washed away the main Mikveh water. Nevertheless he concludes that even these second waters of the Mikveh has some holiness and is thus not to be dried.

[28] The holiness of that leftover water from the Mikveh will then subsequently spread to the rest of the body. [Rebbe Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1/131]

[29] Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1/131

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