Question: [Tuesday, 8th Sivan, 5782]
This past Shabbos, which was Erev Shavuos, a heated discussion erupted in our shul regarding whether one should or may immerse in the mikvah on Shabbos afternoon for the sake of the accustomed Erev Yom Tov immersion. Some stated that there is no need to do so being that one already immersed before Shabbos, and Shabbos is a higher level than Yom Tov and hence cannot be considered a descent when one goes from Shabbos to Yom Tov. Others took this a step further and stated that it is even forbidden to do so being that it is forbidden to prepare from Shabbos to Yom Tov. Others, however, state that it is permitted to be done, and that furthermore that one should do so, being that Yom Tov has its own level of holiness which requires its own unique immersion. Some even quoted a tradition from Rav Shlomo Chaim Kesselman and the Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe stating that this should be done. Can you please clarify this matter and give it some accuracy as to the Chabad Minhag?
Is there any halachic impediment: While there is no Halachic prohibition to immerse on Shabbos for the sake of Yom Tov, according to some opinions, one should not explicitly state that he is doing so for this reason, although from other opinions, it is evident that there is no issue with even stating this, and so is the implied ruling of Admur.
Practically, should one do so: Regarding if this immersion is something that one should do and is encouraged to do, or if one should simply rely on the immersion of Erev Shabbos, this will seemingly remain as an inconclusive debate, with some accustomed to doing so and others accustomed not to, without any final arbitration in this matter. There is likewise no known directive on this matter from our Rabbeim, and the rumors spread regarding this matter in the name of our Rabbeim have yet to be sourced. Practically, there is no set Chabad custom regarding this and therefore each should do as he sees fit. Although, the widespread custom indeed seen amongst Chabad Chassidim is not to be particular in this matter, and so I was told by Harav Eli Landa Shlita.
Baal Keri: All this, however, is regarding one who is not a Baal Keri. If, however, one is a Baal Keri then obviously he is to immerse on Shabbos for the sake of purifying himself from his state of Keri and to enter the holiday in a state of purity.
Explanation regarding the Halachic issue with preparing for after Shabbos: The act of immersion does not transgress the prohibition to prepare on Shabbos for after Shabbos, being that it is an action which one benefits from already on Shabbos and appears simply like washing dirt off the body and cooling off in a body of water, and does not look like a preparation activity for after Shabbos. In fact, the Poskim state that it is for this reason that it is at all permitted for one to immerse in a Mikveh on Shabbos and is why doing so does not contain the prohibition of Tikkun Keli, as to the onlooker it simply seems like he is bathing the body. In essence, entering the Mikveh for after Shabbos purposes, is no different than one who sleeps or eats on Shabbos in order so he have strength after Shabbos, which is permitted to be done. This is explicitly ruled in the Mishneh Beitza which states that one who is impure is to immerse on Shabbos afternoon for the sake of Yom Tov. Nonetheless, some Poskim write that explicitly saying the purpose of the sleep, and that it is for the sake of after Shabbos is considered a belittlement of Shabbos and the same would seemingly apply to one who says the purpose of his immersion. However, it is clear from other Poskim, including Admur, that they are not worried of this issue, and that it is permitted to even make this statement. So can also be proven from the teaching of the Rebbe Rashab [brought below] that one should immerse in a mikvah on Yom Tov afternoon for the sake of Shabbos, and that there is no Halachic issue with preparing on Yom Tov for after Yom Tov regarding this matter.
Explanation regarding if one should do so or not: The entire idea of immersing daily, and immersing twice on Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov, is a relatively new concept even amongst the Chabad and Chassidic movement and there is hence not much literature on the subject to be able to glean from and determine whether it should be done in our case as well, when Erev Yom Tov falls on Shabbos. Nonetheless, the subject of immersing on Erev Shabbos is recorded in works of Mussar and Kabbalah dating back several generations. Likewise, the concept of purifying oneself before the holiday also contains many sources in Poskim. Now, regarding immersing on Erev Shabbos [in the same should apply regarding also Erev Yom Tov] it states that one should immerse specifically after midday, or after the fifth hour of the day, so he can receive the holiness of the day, and hence the custom of Chassidim is to immerse twice on Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov, once before prayer and once after the day. Based on this, it can be argued that in order to properly receive the holiness of the holiday one must re-immerse in the mikvah after midday also when Shabbos falls on Erev Yom Tov, and so indeed is the custom of some. On the other hand, others argue that there is no better preparation of holiness for Yom Tov then Shabbos itself, and hence the morning immersion already prepares one to receive the holiness of Yom Tov. Furthermore, some say that while there is no Halachic legal prohibition to immerse on Shabbos for the sake of after Shabbos, nonetheless, it is a sign a belittlement and therefore should not be done.
The Chabad custom and teachings of the Rebbe Rashab: In the famed Chassidic discourse of Smaech Vav, the Rebbe Rashab states that whenever one goes from one level of holiness to another level of holiness, such as from the holiness of Yom Tov to the holiness of Shabbos, one needs to immerse in a Mikveh, in order to be incorporated in the higher level of nullification. From here it is clearly understood that when Yom Tov falls on Erev Shabbos, that one should immerse again on Yom Tov afternoon for the sake of Shabbos. Indeed, based on this it has been told that the renowned Mashpia Rav Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, would tell the students should immerse in a Mikveh on Friday afternoon which is Yom Tov. However, nothing can be derived from this teaching of the Rebbe Rashab regarding if one should immerse also in the opposite case when Shabbos falls on Erev Yom Tov, and on the contrary, from the wording it is implied that there is no need to do so, as the holiness of Shabbos is higher than that of Yom Tov, and the immersion is only needed when going from one level to a higher level and not to a lower level. Nonetheless, I have heard stated in the name of Rav Shlomo Chaim Kesselman that he would also tell the students to immerse in a mikvah on Shabbos afternoon when Yom Tov fell on Motzei Shabbos, and that so in turn directed his student Rav Moshe Orenstien OBM, to the students in his yeshiva. However, I have not found any source for this directive of Rav Shlomo Chaim Kesselman in the book that was published on his life and teachings in the chapter dealing with his instructions regarding immersion in the mikvah. Furthermore, I inquired from one of his esteemed and close students, Harav Eliyahu Landa Shlita, as to whether he ever heard such a directive from Rav Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, and he stated that he does not recall ever hearing such a thing, and that on the contrary the custom always was when Yom Tov fell on Motzei Shabbos to have in mind in the Shabbos morning immersion that it also counts for the Yom Tov immersion, and to immerse only once in the morning and not immerse again later in the afternoon for Erev Yom Tov.
The Rebbe’s directive: The Piskeiy Teshuvos quotes the Rebbe to have stated that it is permitted/encouraged to immerse on Shabbos afternoon on behalf of Yom Tov. There is no known record for such a statement having been said by the Rebbe, and seemingly this is either a typo or hearsay, of which nothing conclusive can be brought from. He himself does not bring any source from where he heard the Rebbe to say so.
Sources: See regarding immersing in the afternoon on Shabbos on behalf of Yom Tov: Beitza 17a [permitted]; Erev Pesach Shechal Beshabbos 12 footnote 54 that from Beitza 17b it is proven that there is no issue with doing so and that indeed some are accustomed to do so; Imrei Pinchas 799 [not to do so]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 290:4 and footnote 26 and 444:12 and footnote 85 and 528:3 [permitted, and some do so, but don’t say it]; Nitei Gavriel Yom Tov 56:7-8 footnotes 13-14 for different customs and opinions; Rav Moshe Freund in Ateres Yehoshua p. 93 127-128 and Kisvei Kodesh Ateres Yehoshua Michtav 21 and Mara Deshmaasisa 184 [that personally he and his father would not immerse in such a case as Shabbos does not cause impurity, however, those who want to do so may do so and there is no Halachic issue involved]; Divrei Yechezkal Hachadash in name of the Tzadik of Shinava that one should not do so due to it being a belittlement; See regarding immersing in the afternoon of Yom Tov on behalf of Shabbos: Hemshech Samech Vav end of page 387; See regarding not saying that one is doing the action for after Shabbos: Admur 290:6; M”A 290; 307:1; Sefer Chassidim 266; Shaareiy Teshuvah 290; Elya Raba 307:1; P”M 290 M”Z; M”B 290:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 290:4; See regarding the general immersing on Erev Yom Tov: Sefer Hasichos 5696 p. 129 and 5703 p. 74; Tur 603; Beis Shmuel E.H. 55:10; Pischeiy Teshuvah 55:4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 529:2; P”M 128 A”A 70; Tzelach Beitza 18; Shoel Umeishiv Mahdurah Gimel 1:123; Beis Efraim 242; Chayeh Adam 79:1; Mateh Efraim 625:14; Nitei Gavriel Yom Tov 11:6; See regarding immersing after midday on erev Shabbos: Mateh Efraim 625:14 in name of Shaar Hakavanos and Peri Eitz Chaim; 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; Chayeh Adam 138:5; Kaf Hachaim 581:82; Alef Lamagen 581:121; Likkutei Mahrich 2 p. 7b in name of Siddur Rav Shabsi