Volume 43 Number 15
                 Produced: Tue Jun 22  6:13:25 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Mikva Night and Invitations
         [Chana Luntz]
Mikvah night, husband not home, invitations, etc
         [Chana Luntz]


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 22:10:06 +0100
Subject: Mikva Night and Invitations

>From: Matthew Pearlman
>I am also curious as to where this universal aversion to knowing when a
>women has gone to the mikveh derives from.

Rema, Yoreh Deah siman 198, si'if 48 "there are those who write that a
woman should be tzanuah on the night of her tevila and so is the custom
of the women to conceal the night of their tevila that they should not
go in a tumult or before any creature so they should not meet any person
and one who does not act in this manner on her it is said "cursed is the
one who lies with any kind of animal [Devarim 27:21]".

The quote about this being cursed comes from Eruvin 55b, "Rebbi Eliezer
says ... and on their daughters he said "cursed is one who lies with any
kind of animal", what is the reason, Rabbi Yochenan said "because they
meet one another in tevila" and Rashi explains when women go to toyvel
in a far place, they call to their friends to go with them and they meet
the neighbours, and the Rokeach learns from this that women are to be
careful to hid their tevila so that they do not meet anybody.

While, as noted, this is only brought by the Rema, and not by the
Shulchan Aruch itself, which might suggest that Sephardim have a
different minhag from the Ashkenazim in this matter, Rav Ovadya Yosef,
in Taharat Habayit siman 15, oit 6, brings this as halacha.  And he
makes it clear (as can be implied from the root sources) that it is not
just a matter of keeping it hidden from the men who live about, but also
from the women.  But, he does add that this concealment is only
necessary in cases where there is no need to tell, but if there is a
need (tzorech) (and he gives the example of needing even a man to
provide security, or if she needs help in her tevila as case of
tzorech), and he then goes on to say - and in any case, she should do
what she can to try not to put off her tevila even when it is impossible
to hide it (although he then immediately goes on to say, that if there
are banim gedolim (I presume he means by this grown sons and not
necessarily grown daughters) in the house and if by going on the night
of the eighth she will meet them and she wants to hide her tevila she
can push off going until the (following) eighth day and go during the
day so she should not meet them.  And he further says, and one should be
careful that the mikvaot should be in a tzanuah place, and not a place
where the many visit, because there is no higher attribute than tzniut

Kind Regards
Chana Luntz


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 13:33:58 +0100
Subject: Mikvah night, husband not home, invitations, etc

[I would like to thank Chana for her two excelent submissions in this
issue which go and carefully lay out the sources and build from
there. Avi Feldblum, Moderator]

There has been a fair bit of discussion on the question of mikvah night
on this list- but, as far as I can see, all in the complete absence of

And yet all of the issues discussed on this list are discussed in at
least some fashion in the halachic literature - and to understand what
is involved here, you really have to go back to the sources.

So, lets fill in some of the background...

There is a basic machlokus rishonim [dispute among the rishonim] as to
whether tevila b'zmana mitzvah he or lav mitzvah he [whether to go to
the mikvah at the first opportunity one can after finishing the count is
a mitzvah or not].  Amongst numbers of others, Rabbi Hannanel says it is
a mitzvah and Rabanu Tam says it isn't.  To further understand the
issue, you need to see the Yerushalmi that is brought as a proof text by
those who hold that going to the mikvah on time is a mitzvah, as well as
using various statements from the Bavli as support and how those who
disagree argue against this position argue against this Yerushalmi, and
how they interpret the various statements of the Bavli.

In any event the Shulchan Aruch poskens (siman 197, s'if 2) "If her
husband is in the city, it is a mitzvah to tovel on time, so as not to
be away from the mitzvah of pru urvu for even one night".

What this means, in terms of the machlokus referred to above, is that 
the Shulchan Aruch holds like Rabbanu Tam, that going to the mikvah on 
time is not a specific mitzvah (because if it were, whether her husband 
was in the city or not would not make any difference, she would be 
obligated to go on time) - and this is the position we generally follow 
(because, for example, if you hold that going to the mikvah on time is a 
specific mitzvah, then you would also go if the time to go to mikvah 
fell on the night of Yom Kippur or Tisha B'Av, even though you could not 
be with your husband at that time). {For more on why the Shulchan Aruch 
takes this position see his commentary on the Tur on this siman).

Now, given this position, a further question arises - even if we hold 
that it is not a specific mitzvah to go to mikvah if one cannot be with 
one's husband that night, and so we don't open the mikvah on Yom Kippur 
and Tisha B'Av etc, if it is a normal night, maybe it is better for a 
woman to go on time when her husband is not in town (after all the 
Shulchan Aruch does not say she should not, only that it is not a 
mitzvah to go), or maybe she should wait.  In certain places a minhag 
seems to have arisen that women did not go when their husbands were not 
in town (and the Beit Yosef himself refers to this custom) - but the 
Achronim are divided on this issue. At the one extreme there are 
Achronim (eg the Shvut Ya'akov) who say that it is a sakana [danger] for 
a woman between the time that she goes to mikvah and the time that she 
has relations with her husband - and therefore she should not go until 
her husband is definitely around.  At the other extreme, the Tiferet 
Tzvi is extremely against this minhag of women not going to the mikvah 
arguing that it is against the plain meaning of the mishna, that it is a 
minhag taut [mistaken minhag] etc etc.  You also find reference to 
different minhagim that try and reconcile these positions, so that they 
have the woman going to mikvah on time, but sleeping with a knife until 
her husband comes home (to deal with the danger issue).

For a fuller discussion setting out who says what on this issue, I 
highly recommend Taharat Habayit (by Rav Ovadyah Yosef shlita) volume 2, 
siman 14,  oit 2).

In his conclusion Rav Ovadyah takes the view that if women want to wait 
until their husbands get back from a trip they may, especially since the 
Beit Yosef brings this minhag of waiting, although it also seems clear 
that he holds that if they want to go on time, they also may.

Note (and this may well surprise you), Rav Ovadyah Yosef also holds in 
Taharat Habayit (siman 14,  oit 5 on page 499) that if a husband comes 
suddenly back from a business trip in the middle of the day, and the 
woman has finished her full seven days of count, but has just delayed 
going to mikvah because her husband was not in town, that may well be 
sufficient justification to allow her to go to mikvah *during the day* 
and not wait until night!.

However, and we should be clear about this - this whole discussion 
(amongst all of the Achronim) about delaying mikvah is all about doing 
the full count of the seven clean days, and then waiting to go to mikvah 
itself. Nobody suggests that because a husband is not in town, the woman 
should not count - and the entire discussion is predicated on the 
assumption that she has done the count, and hence is able to go at the 
next opportunity (whether it is night or day).  I cannot find any source 
that suggests that if a husband is not in town, a woman should delay 
starting or finishing the count, only that she should delay the mikvah 

Now this leads logically on to the further discussion on this list about 
going during the day of the seventh (ie if she would normally go on a 
given night, going *before it  gets dark*).  To understand the 
discussion about night and day, again you have to go back to the basic 
sources and understand why we count, and what it means.

What we are dealing with in hilchos tarahas hamishpacha [law of family 
purity] covers two types of "tumah" set out in the Torah, "nidah" and 
"zivah".  The best way of thinking of it is that dam nidah (blood of 
nidah) is the regular monthly cycle of the woman, and that dam zivah is 
an abnormal discharge.  The Torah prescribes two completely different 
ways of counting and dealing with these two, but we have kind of 
amalgamated them into one, and take the attitude that we don't know 
whether something is dam nidah or dam zivah, so we will treat it as 
being the most chumrah of the two.  In this case, it means waiting seven 
days after the end of a discharge (which is the requirement for zivah), 
just in case it may be zivah. BUT, part of the other aspect of the laws 
of zivah is that (just as people know from hilchos availus, when people 
get up from shivah after sitting for only a small portion of the seventh 
day) a part of a day technically counts as a whole day.  So in theory 
after doing a seven day count, one could go to mikvah on the seventh day 
(ie mikvah *works* on the seventh day).  On the other hand, there are a 
couple of big problems with doing this. The first is that if a woman 
went to mikvah, and then she has a further discharge still during that 
seventh day - that is considered to join up with the previous discharge, 
and would operated to retrospectively nullify the mikvah, and so if she 
had relations with her husband on that day, then there are big problems. 
(Once we actually hit night, this problem goes away).  The other problem 
is that because the rules of nidah do not allow for a part day to count 
as a full day, it can get confusing if you are really trying to 
understand the two systems.

Now because of this, primarily because of the first problem, the 
chachamim put a ban on going to the mikvah during the seventh day.  And 
not only that, they put a ban on going to the mikvah during day on the 
eighth and any subsequent day because one's daughter might see one going 
to the mikvah during the day, even on the eighth day, and think it was 
the seventh (with good reason, assuming she knows the halacha about part 
of a day) and go herself on the seventh day of her count.

However, because of the fact that going on the eighth or any subsequent 
day is only because of chinuch of the daughters, the halachic literature 
is full of special exceptions where women could not go on the night of 
the eighth, and have then been permitted to go during the day of the 
eighth.  Of course there needs to be specific reason for it, and some 
authorities are more lenient than others, but as you can see, Rav 
Ovadyah appears to hold that a husband cutting short his business trip 
may, in certain circumstances, be a reason to go on the eighth day 
during the day.

But that kind of leniency does not generally extend to going on the 
seventh - ie while there are cases of leniency on the seventh brought in 
the literature, they are much much more restrictive (although I could 
imagine that the case brought on this list, of a woman trying to 
conceive, the mikvah in town being broken, it being before a three day 
yom tov, might well fit into that kind of category).  However, the one 
further thing you should know is that Rabbanu Tam held that there was no 
problem l'chatchila going to the mikvah on the seventh day so long as by 
the time she got back to the house it would be dark.  While in general 
we do not hold that way, it may be that if there are particular 
circumstances ,and it can be done in a way that relies on this Rabbanu 
Tam, you might get a more lenient psak than you would if you are talking 
about going during the height of the day.

A further thing to be aware of is that there are gemoras and halachas 
relating to concealing the going to mikvah from one's neighbours.  I am 
running out of time here, and don't have the time to bring the sources 
through from the gemora through the halachic literature - but suffice to 
say that one of the reasons given for leniencies in the halachic 
literature for going to the mikvah during the day on the eighth or 
subsequent day is if going at night will attract the attention of the 
neighbours and make it public knowledge.

Thus the question about what one says on a Friday night, and how one 
handles it and the issues involved do involve significant halachic 
issues. On the one hand there is the concept of it being a mitzvah to go 
to mikvah on time when one's husband is in the city, as brought by the 
Shulchan Aruch, and on the other hand there is the halachic requirement 
to be discrete about going to mikvah.  I hope to have time to bring some 
of the sources on this soon (although no promises, I am pretty busy at 
the moment), but there is material in the literature that can give you a 
better flavour of the issues on both sides - the nature of the mitzvah, 
and the nature of the tznius issue.  How you weight these may also come 
down to how your Rav weighs some of  these questions - but don't forget 
there is another halacha involved- mi dvar sheker tirchok [the Torah 
obligation to keep far away from a falsehood].  There are times when 
this is trumped by various other issues, shalom bayis etc, but again, it 
is not necessarily a straightforward issue, so that flat out lying also 
has halachic implications.

Kind Regards


End of Volume 43 Issue 15