- Question: [Wednesday 23rd Tishrei 5781]
I would like to build my own private men’s Mikveh at home to be used by me each morning before Davening, but people have told me that one is not allowed to have a private Mikveh. Can you please clarify this matter for me, as the company I was going to hire specializes in building private home Mikvahs and said that they had built private Mikvahs for many individuals including Chassidic Rebbe’s and prestige rabbis.
It is permitted for you to build a private men’s Mikveh in your home, and you do not have to pay attention to those who discourage you from doing so. The issue that some have with building a private men’s Mikveh due to the words of Rav Yehuda Hachassid is negated by most Poskim, is contrary to the custom today in which everyone has a private bathroom which was the essence of his warning, and is traditionally circumvented of any worry whatsoever by you giving other individuals access to use it besides for you. Meaning, that if you wish to escape any worry of the Tzavah, then it is customary to give at least one more individual access to the Mikveh, which he will use either daily or periodically. This can include your own relative such as your sons and the like. Some, however, are stringent to give three non-household members access to it.
Explanation: There is absolutely no Halachic impediment from the Talmud or codifiers against making a private Mikveh at home, and on the contrary one who does so increases in purity. However, in the Tzavah of Rav Yehuda Hachassid, he states that, “A person should not make a bathhouse within his home, and if he does so his house will be destroyed, unless he makes it with intent that it be used by the public for bathing.” This statement can be interpreted to negate the making of a private home Mikveh. However, aside from the general question of whether all of the warnings of Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid are relevant for all Jewry or were only given for his own descendants, it is unclear as to his intent in the term “bathhouse.” Does it refer to the typical bathhouses of back in the day which were in essence a spa room that contained a very hot body of water, such as a hot Jacuzzi, and a sauna or steam room, or does it refer to any room used for showering or bathing? Must it consist of the same definition of a bathhouse in the times of the Talmud, in which it contained three rooms in which one was used for entrance, the second for dressing and undressing, the third for bathing, as is found in all public Mikveh’s today. Furthermore, does it even at all refer to a Mikveh, which is used for the purpose of a Mitzvah, and can contain cold or warm water versus hot water? Also, how does one make sense of this warning with the fact that today every single home is built with a private bathroom? Indeed, the Poskim deal with these questions, and offer various solutions and explanations of the warning. Some Poskim rule that it only applies to an actual spa room, and not to a bathing room and certainly not to a Mikveh. Other Poskim suggest that although it applies to any bathing room, it does not apply to a Mikveh, which is used for the purpose of a Mitzvah. Other Poskim rule it only refers to a woman’s Mikveh to be used by one’s wife, as it may not be built properly. Other Poskim rule it only applies if one’s sleeping quarters is in the same room as the bathing room. The Rebbe Maharash in a letter gives various suggestions to the above dilemma including, 1) The warning does not apply to all the Jewish people but only to his descendants [although he later rejects this regarding this warning]. 2) It only applies to a shower and not to a bath or Mikveh in which the water remains stationary, and one sits his body inside of the water. 3) It only applies to a bathhouse of Talmudic times in which there were three rooms, as explained above. 4) It only applies to what is clearly and definitively defined as a Merchatz, and not to anything else under doubt. 5) It only applies to a bathing room that one cannot learn Torah in due to the great amount of perspiration. [This would negate an issue with a cold or warm Mikveh]. 6) It only applies to a fully equipped bathhouse with all the enmities [i.e. a spa room] Practically, based on all the above, the Poskim conclude that there is no issue whatsoever with building a private Mikvah at home, and if we are lenient to have a private bathing room at home, then all the more so should we be lenient regarding a Mikveh, and so was done by the Gedolei Haposkim and Chassidic Rebbe’s who built a private Mikveh at home. Thus, we concluded above that there is no issue with doing so whatsoever. Nonetheless, traditionally it is accustomed to give access to at least one other person to use the Mikveh in order so it be defined as a public Mikveh, and circumvent the warning under all circumstances. Even this, however, does not make sense to me, as there is much more of an argument to require this to be done to a private bathing room that every single home today includes, much more than to a Mikveh and if people are not careful regarding a bathing room to give it access to other people than why should they be careful regarding a Mikveh. Vetzaruch Iyun.
Sources: See Tzava Rav Yehuda Hachassid 21; Shivim Temarim ibid; Beis Lechem Yehuda Y.D. 179:5; Igros Kodesh Rebbe Maharash p. 45; Poskim who rule that the warnings only apply to his descendants: Shev Yaakov 23; Noda Beyehuda Tinyana E.H. 79; Brought in letter of Rebbe Maharash ibid Poskim who rule it does not apply to a Mikveh: Implication of Shivim Temarim ibid who says a public bathhouse is permitted because its considered a Mitzva, and certainly this would apply to an actual Mikveh which its entire essence is for the sake of a Mitzvah; Implication of Dazmesek Eliezer on Tzavah ibid; Implication of Chasam Sofer O.C. 18 that so was done by the family of the Gr”a; Sefer Zichron Lemoshe Michtav 22:3 that the Chasam Sofer had a Mikveh in his home; Implication of letter of Rebbe Maharash ibid due to all the reasons mentioned above; Beis Yisrael 175 that it only applies to a women’s Mikveh and that many Tzadikim built Mikvas in their home and there is nothing to worry against building a men’s mikveh at home; Divrei Yisrael 9; Yad Efraim on Tzavah ibid in name of a number of Tzadikim and that if even two people use it, it is considered a public Mikveh; Mishpatecha Leyaakov Y.D. 52:3 that the Rebbe of Tzans had a private Mikveh at home; Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:97; Cheshev Haeiphod 2:5; Betzel Hachochma 2:34; Ohel Yissachar 2; Tzitz Eliezer 11:57; Mishneh Halachos 5:145; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:849; Koveitz Mibeis Levi Y.D. p. 115; Taharas Yom Tov 326 that it applies to a private women’s Mikveh; Shut Hamaor 1:81; Shaareiy Chaim 1:103; Kovbeitz Beis Aaaron Veyisrael 38:56 that the Chazon Ish had a Mikveh in his home; Poskim who suggest having other people immerse in the Mikveh: Cheshev Haeiphod ibid; Neharos Eison 37 that so suggested Rav Wozner; Shaareiy Chaim 1:103 [three non-family members]; Rav Eli Landau responded to us that the explicit custom was to allow some designated people to also use the Mikveh, irrelevant of how many.