BASIC MIKVEH LAWS AND REGULATIONS FOR SEPHARDIC WOMEN

FORMULATED BY THE SEPHARDIC RABBINICAL COUNCIL

  • All necessary body cleaning may be done at home prior to coming to the Mikveh. It is preferable to bathe but showering is acceptable.
  • At home and in the Mikveh body cleaning should be thorough; warm water and soap should be used.
  • Body cleaning should include:
     a) Hair to be combed well to assure no knots or clinging hairs.
     b) Make-up to be removed and eyes and surrounding areas cleaned. Contact
     lenses to be removed.
     c) Ears and nose to be cleaned.
     d) Mouth to be washed, teeth brushed and removable dentures taken out.
  • It is preferable and customary to cut the nails. However, it is acceptable to keep long nails providing the area under the nails is thoroughly cleaned.
  • It is preferable to remove nail polish. However, it is acceptable to leave it on providing it is in very good condition. If chipped or cracked, it must be removed altogether.
  • Tight-fitting jewelry should be removed.
  • Inspection by another woman is advisable prior to immersion to assure everything is in order. Supervision by another woman during immersion is required to assure all hair was submerged.
  • It is customary to immerse three times. In case of illness or hardship, one immersion is adequate.
  • The Sephardic custom is to recite the blessing prior to immersion wearing a robe and head covering. Some are accustomed to reciting it in the Mikveh before the second immersion with covered head.
  • The time for Mikveh immersion begins after sunset of the seventh clean day, such that by the time the woman arrives home it will have been seit hakokhabim'. Immersing before the seventh clean day does not count.
  • The proper and preferable time for immersion on Friday evening is between sunset and seit hakokhabim'. A woman who did not immerse during that time period may immerse after seit'.
  • A woman who will not able to immerse after sunset on Friday or on the eve of a holiday due to hardship or compelling circumstances should discuss her situation with her rabbi or ask her husband or the mikveh woman do so on her behalf. In some hardship cases it may be acceptable to immerse shortly before sunset. In such cases husband and wife should not be in private until seit hakokhabim'. (Women using transportation should arrive home by candlelighting time.)
  • In case of any question or difficult situation contact your synagogue Rabbi.


 REGARDING THE TIME FOR IMMERSION
 (Excerpted from the writings of Rishon LeSion Hakham Obadiah Yosef)
 

    • After her seven clean days, a woman immerses in a kosher mikveh that evening. She should immerse after sunset of the seventh day, such that by the time she gets home it will already be seit hakokhabim'. A woman should not immerse during the day of her seventh day. However, if she did, bedi'abad, it counts. If she immersed before the seventh day it does not count.
      (Taharat Habayit v. II, 14:4, p.467)
    • If her husband is in town, a woman should not delay her immersion beyond the set time, so as not to delay the misvot of intimacy and of procreation.
       (T.H. v. 2, 14:2, p. 445)
    • A woman who did not immerse the night following her seventh clean day should immerse the next day after sunset. If a hardship circumstance prevents her from going at night, such as when she is ill and going at night is difficult, and surely in cases of general hardship for the whole city, such as when women are afraid to go at night because of fear of thieves and muggers or because of cold, or... when there are pits and obstacles near the mikveh and there isn't adequate light and they are afraid of falling in a pit or well, in all these cases it is allowed to immerse during the day of the eighth or a later day, even early in the day.
      (Translated from T.H. v. II, 14:5, p. 492)
    • If a woman's grown sons are at home in the evening, and if she goes to the mikveh at night they will sense it, and she prefers to conceal her going from them, she may delay her immersion to the eighth day such that she would immerse in daytime and they won't sense her going.
      (Translated from T.H. v. II, 15:6, p. 547)
    • The above also applies to a woman who desires to conceal her going to mikveh from gossipy neighbors curious about her behavior in matters of modesty. Such cases are considered hardship circumstances and she is permitted to immerse during the day of the eighth or a later day.
      (Translated from T.H. v. II, 14:5, p. 492)
    • Under very pressing circumstances (sha`at hadehaq) - for example when a woman will not be able to immerse at the proper time after sunset and her husband is leaving for an extended trip that night or they are going somewhere where she will not be able to immerse the next day or the day after - she may immerse on the seventh day before sunset, and then only shortly before sunset. In such a case she should not return home (not to be in private with her husband) until seit hakokhabim'
      (T.H. v. II, 14:5, p. 492 and T. H. Haqaser v. II, 14:11, p. 50).
    • On Friday night, in a heated mikveh, it is preferable to immerse before seit hakokhabim'. However, if a woman could not do so, it is permitted to immerse after this time.
      (T.H. v. 2, 14:3, p. 452)
    • A bride may immerse on her seventh day during the day when the wedding is scheduled for that night
       (T.H. v. II, 14:4, p. 467)

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