Single women should be allowed to use Mikvah

This article “let single women immerse in mikvah” discusses whether all Israeli mikvahs should allow ANY woman, regardless of marital status, to immerse herself in the holy waters. This all came about because of a divorcee being require to show proof of marriage in order to use the mikvah. One can only assume she had her own reasons for wanting to go – let’s not judge her. (Read the article for more details on the mikvah issue)

Now, we have discussed mikvah many times on this blog and it’s always a lively discussion. I have never been asked to show proof of marriage or Jewishness when going to the mikvah. I know there are some who have, and I find that abhorrent.

If a woman wishes to purify herself – whatever her reasons – shouldn’t she be allowed to do so without having to face an inquisition? But then again, if there is a blanket permission for any woman to use the mikvah, are the rabbis condoning its use by single women who are engaging in premarital sex?

I know many women – not necessarily Orthodox – use the mikvah for commemoration of lifecycle events. Once they have been healed from sickness, after the death of a parent etc. Truly, going to the mikvah after my recent surgery was a deeper spiritual experience than usual.

What do you think? Is it ok to be asked for proof of marriage when entering the mikvah? Or is it out of line?

96 responses to “Single women should be allowed to use Mikvah

  1. Sarah Klinkowitz

    VERY complicated. Several years ago, there were a group of single women (early 20’s) that wanted to use the mikveh before Yom Kippur. The Rav of the town said no. If you are single, and want to immerse, I suggest going to the ocean, not the mikveh. A woman should not be subjected to harassment to do any mitzvah, but at the same time the mitzvah should be kept for the truest sense. Mikvah w/ attendant, preparations are FOR MARRIED WOMEN. Let’s keep in in prespective, ladies.

  2. This does not make any sense. If I want to keep Shabbos on a Monday, can i do so? Can i Shake a Lulav and Esrog with a Brocha today because it signifies our connection to Hashem and recieve zchar for it? But it makes me feel good? Mikvah was created and commanded by Hashem for something VERY specific. This is not a do good thing. Torah is much deeper than that.

    • Men go to Mikveh before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, some every Friday, and there’s little halachic basis for them to do so in this day and age. (As far as I know, there is no custom today for men to immerse every single time they become a baal keri). So if men can go when there’s no halachic need, why can’t women? I admit it seems odd to me, but I’m trying to get past that feeling of “it seems odd to me, therefore it shouldn’t be done”.

      If the concern is that single women are going to be having sex, well, that concern exists with and without mikveh. One can argue that it’s better for them to have sex after immersing (therefore it’s better to go to mikveh), and one can argue that immersing makes them feel like it’s permitted (therefore it’s worse for them to go to mikveh). Really, it’s only speculation. We can only spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing in the bedroom.

      • For men it is a ritual. Woman are specifically commanded to go under certain circumstances. One can make the argument you made. But you are making a argument on a biblical commandment, it has got be stronger than that.

        • Rather not say – Woman are specifically commanded to go under certain circumstances.

          Where exactly does it say that women are commanded to go each month? (I can’t recall where)

  3. It’s none of the pompous, self-important mikva lady’s business. Thankfully I go to a mikva where the mikva lady’s job is minimal, and a woman’s business there is basically between her and G-d. No interrogations, no humiliating checks. I can’t believe I ever put up with that.

    • I agree with Laura. You should NOT be interrogated or humiliated at the mikvah. I know MARRIED WOMEN who have been asked very intrusive questions before using the mikvah–everything from questioning their Judaism to asking whether they’d have children to unseemly comments about their bodies [both of the latter after seeing them naked] among other things I won’t list so I will leave it to your imagination.

      I’m sorry if some are using the mikvah for other purposes but it’s not up to the mikvah lady to check anything other than what a mikvah lady goes to check. I live in such a large city, I’ve never been asked if I’m married. Women come in with their hair uncovered all the time. How would you know? Even in small towns where I have just been visiting, I have never been asked!

  4. I don’t think there should be huge interrogations or harassment over this, but I think it’s reasonable for an Orthodox mikvah to be reserved for the limited purposes that are accepted in the Orthodox community. It takes work and money to build and maintain a mikvah, and the people who put in the effort did so assuming that the mikvah would be used in specific ways. If women want to immerse for others reasons, they should open a new mikvah.

    • I agree with Sarah that the community Mikvahs were built to encourage & facilitate MARRIED women to observe the laws of family purity. They are not there for unmarried women to use so that they can feel less guilty about sleeping around with either married or unmarried men. Besides, even sleeping with a man before marriage, will not guarantee what life will be like once they get married so the excuse that “we should just try it out first before we commit to marriage” is pointless b/c a couple will not truly know one another UNTIL they get married anyhow.

      That said, I don’t think Mikvah ladies should be asking for proof that a woman is married in order to immerse in a Mikvah. I’ve never seen it done in America or Canada & there are no identification cards that we carry around here (like they do in Israel) that would prove our marital status anyhow.

  5. For those who argue that the mikveh is built for a specific purpose, how do we really know it’s being used for that purpose? Do we check that a woman has done her proper bedikos and waited the requisite number of days? If she hasn’t counted properly, the mikveh is not effective at making her tahor. We should require proof of every bedika so that we can ensure that the mikveh is used only for its “proper” purpose.

  6. Dear “Rather Not Say,”

    You are correct. Mikvah was commanded by Hashem for a specific purpose. That purpose is “Tahara,” commonly (and incorrectly) translated as purity.

    There are many reasons one might need to be tahor. It was, for example, prohibited to enter the bet Hamikdash when Tamei. The 12 year old daughter of a kohen would need to be Tahor to eat trumah.

    The fact that in modern times, mikveh is most closely associated with permitting a women to her husband sexually, in large part because we no longer merit to have a Bet haMikdash, is secondary.

    Many men perform this ritual daily to become tahor. Almost all Orthodox men do so before Yom Kipur. That a woman could not possibly want to perform this ritual without ulterior motives is preposterous.

    That said, it would be burying your head in the sand to deny that some women wish to immerse to permit sex.

    Sex without the mikveh is punishable by Karet, the most severe punishment in Jewish law. Once a woman has gone to the mikveh, there is a dispute among rishonim if sex is 1) permitted, 2) a rabbinic violation, or 3) in the case of a woman’s first time- if she is under the age of 13- a property damage violation, in which the man would owe the girl’s father damages amounting to roughly 3 month’s salary. #3 does not apply to subsequent intercourse.

    In other words, you correctly assert that mikveh has a specific purpose, and you advocate hijacking that purpose to punish people with Karet for behavior that is not as bad as telling lashon hara.


    • Don’t you think if Hashem wanted a mechanism for woman to “purify” themselves before forbidden sex could have made it ok to go the Mikveh? My point is that you can not do something that is assur by kosherizing it.

      • My point is that your editorializing.
        There is no prohibition biblical or rabbinic for any woman to go to the mikveh, and it was common practice in the time of the bet hamikdash.
        Now that we no longer have a Bet Hamikdash, it is common for only married women to use the mikveh. This doesn’t even rise to the level of custom, let alone prohibition, as the mishnah states, “לא ראינו אינו ראייה” that the fact that we have not observed a behavior does not serve to prohibit it.
        The torah, not your conscience, tells us what is an is not prohibited, and there is no prohibition for a single girl to use the mikveh.

        • Are you allowed to make a Bracha on a stolen lulav?

          • You are editorializing again.
            A stolen lulav is not analogous. Stealing is assur. One cannot make a bracha aon a stolen lulav b/c it is a “Mitzvah haba bi’aveira” a mitzva made possible by the theft. The bracha occurs AFTER and BECAUSE of the theft.
            Going to the mikveh is a mitzvah even if one doesn’t have sex afterword. Weather or not they do is irrelevant to the act of going to the mikveh. which occurs BEFORE and IRRESPECTIVE of any sex.

            • Having sex outside of marriage of is assur. Doing something to “lessen the burden” does not make sense. Can I be “makdish” money that i WILL steal?

              • You can’t be makdish money that you don’t own. See TB Avoda Zara 47B
                Again, stealing is the wrong analogy.
                You have asserted that having sex outside of marriage is assur. That is not so. Having sex while a nidda/with a nidda is assur irrespective of marital status.
                I agree that pre-marital sex is a bad idea. That doesn’t mean it’s prohibited.
                Everyone agrees that Pilegesh is permitted (though again a bad idea). Rambam holds that pre-marital sex with a non-nidda is permitted though in one place he seems to rule that it implies sex for the purposes of marriage unless explicitly state otherwise.
                The maharik suggests there may be a rabbinic prohibition, though his reading is somewhat flimsy and re rejected by the majority of early rishonim who point our (among other arguments) that the discussion of liability for pre-marital sex found in Devarim 22: 23-20 refers to engaged girl, where the sin involved is extra-marital sex once betrothed, as opposed to premarital sex.
                So again, please show a primary (ie, talmudic) source for a prohibition.

                • Actually, Rambam himself is of the opinion that all pre-marital sex is banned by the prohibition on prostitution. If it’s not marriage, it’s “prostitution.”

                  • No. Rambam says we presume that biah is for the purpose of marriage b/c a person would not make his biah “beilat Znut.” he does not say you violate prostitution. Further Rambam permits pilegesh which is neither marriage nor prostitution.

                    • Ishut 1:4 לפיכך כל הבועל אישה לשם זנות, בלא קידושין–לוקה מן התורה, מפני שבעל קדשה.

                    • Kew gardener. it won’t let me reply inline. The rambam you are quoting is about one night stands. Rambam, Ramban, R’ Yaacov Emden, and Shuel ben Ari are all matir pilegesh or long term polygamy.

                    • Noah!! Long-term polygamy??? Have you heard of the cherem d’rebeinu gershom? And don’t get me started on the whole pilegesh thing. It is such a disgrace to the sanctity & beauty of a monogamous Jewish marriage. I wonder what your wife feels about your opinions on polygamy & pilagshim..

                    • Sorry. Batya. you are quite correct. That was a typo.
                      I meant lojng term MONOgamy outside of marriage.

                    • What do you mean by “long term monogamy outside of marriage”. Not sure I get your point. And in any event, I wonder what your wife thinks about your opinion on the whole pilegesh/concumbine issue…

                    • Monogamy outside of marriage. As in a long term relationship, not sleeping around.
                      R’Moshe has a tshuva that such a couple need a get anyway…
                      And my wife appreciates intellectual honesty in torah. I never said I wanted a pilegesh. No one could measure up to my wife, and I actually like my mother in law, so really there’s no upside. 🙂

                    • Thanks for clarifying about the monogamy outside of marriage issue & happy to hear that all is well in the Roth household & no pilegesh is needed there ;)! I find that guys who try to push the pilegesh issue to be most disrespectful to women & i feel they make a mockery of their marriages but again, I see that is NOT what you are advocating.. Also, please excuse my typo above. I obviously meant concubine not concumbine…

  7. While I agree it takes time, money and effort to build a mikvah, let’s remember that the original article was about Israeli mikvaot (which receive public funding and are in turn paid for by each visitor). So that’s a non-starter of an argument in my opinion…
    Mitzvot were created for a reason and in most cases with very specific guidelines for observance. That said, in response to Rather Not Say, above, the answer to most of your questions in my opinion is “YES!”
    No, shaking a lulav today won’t get you far halachically, but it’s a step in the right direction over doing nothing and not knowing what a lulav is. Lighting candles on Friday night an hour after Shabbos starts is missing the mark, but I’d encourage it any day to someone who would otherwise light nothing and plop down in front of the television with no mention of Shabbat in their home.
    People have to start somewhere down the road of observance. If mikvah is something that women connect with, G-d forbid that their first experience should be a response of a) you’re doing it wrong and b) we don’t want you here in the first place.
    Just my $.02.

    • I had US mikvaot in mind when I wrote my comment above. You’re right, that argument does not apply to Israeli mikvaot. I am very opposed to government funding for religious facilities, but given that it exists in Israel, those mikvaot should be available for wider use than mikvaot in other places. So I agree in the case of Israel.

    • Thanks, Kelli, for putting in your two cents. I don’t know. There’s something about this community and how we treat single people in general, particularly from the perspective of a married people, that disgusts me. And why do we always assume the worst?

  8. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are Messianic Jews who want to use Orthodox mikvaot for their conversions. When they gain access to Orthodox communal resources, they hold this up as evidence that their beliefs about Jesus are compatible with Orthodox Judaism. There are lots of Messianics out there claiming that they have rabbinic Orthodox approval for their practices.

    I can understand why mikvaot might want to ask for proof of Jewishness to avoid this.

    • But Sarah I’m not sure if the Mikvahs described in the article ask for proof of Jewishness but rather I think they want proof of the marital status.

    • Mikvaot definitely ask questions when they schedule the mikvah for a conversion, particularly because this happens during the day. They ask the rabbi, not the converts. And they’re fairly thorough. So I’m not sure where Messianic Jews are getting away with using Orthodox mikvaot for conversions when Conservative and Reform rabbis can’t use them for conversions.

      Still, this has NOTHING to do with whether or not everyone should be asked if they are married or anything at all upon arriving to use the mikvah. What is this the airport?

      • Also, just a little point of information – women’s mikvaot aren’t often used for conversions in Israel and certainly not at the same time that women are using them. Conversion mikvaot are another thing entirely, run entirely by the Rabbinate – the only way a Messianic Jew would be able to use a mikvah for an Orthodox conversion in Israel would be if he/she also hoodwinked the entire Beth Din. To be sure, that happens – but it’s not really in the same vein as this discussion.

  9. There should be a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I’m sure even married women going to the mikveh don’t want to be harassed there either, and don’t need their business and menstrual/sexual activity public information either. Allowing something is not the same thing as encouraging it. It’s similar to condom distribution. It’s not meant to encourage or condone sexual activity, it’s saying, if you’re going to do it, be safe about it. I think it is a similar concept here.

  10. To the main question, of course women shouldn’t be asked their marital status. That’s their own business.

    As a side matter, these days, when women get married later, it’s unreasonable to ask them to be celibate in their 30’s and 40’s. It might be a technical violation according to some poskim, but it’s a minor one. If a 35 year old woman chooses to be celibate, that’s all well and good, but she shouldn’t HAVE to be. Or rather, the choice shouldn’t be between celibacy and having sex without mikvah.

  11. Hooo–eeee! This is an exciting ride! I would have to ask my Rav what to do, as I do with many things.

    That being said, I once lived in a small out-of-town community where the only mikveh was at the Jewish Federation. Because of that, plenty of wack-a-doodle stuff went on there. (Such as the reform woman “rabbi” of the town having groups there. Do they think it’s a hot tub?!) In this case, it was the only mikveh available to the orthodox community of this town, and my Rav at that time said to use it.

    • Dodi – Because of that, plenty of wack-a-doodle stuff went on there. (Such as the reform woman “rabbi” of the town having groups there. Do they think it’s a hot tub?!)

      It’s not that wacky. Some Sefardim have a kind of “party” at the mikvah when a women immerses for the first time before she is to be married.

  12. I wonder if any reputable, normal mainstream Orthodox rabbis would agree that unmarried women should be permitted to use the Mikvah so that they can Halachically sleep around when they are not menstruating…

    • Batya, why are you so concerned about single women “sleeping around”? You’ve used that language twice! I understand it’s not halachically approved, but your tone is too judgmental.

      • B/c I believe in marriage.

        • Not everyone is blessed to easily find a spouse.

          • True but I have issues with ppl. trying to rationalize their inappropriate behaviors. That said, I try not to judge my single/divorced friends who are sexually active b/c I am a firm believer in not judging someone until I am in their place but on the other hand I don’t believe that we can pretend that as long as they go to the Mikvah, it is acceptable & permissable & as I said above, I’d love to hear a widely respected Rabbi agree that it is.

            • I don’t think it’s any business what these or any other Jewish, married or not, women are doing behind closed doors, particularly on sexual matters! I don’t ask my friends. I wouldn’t ask strangers.

    • Batya – I wonder if any reputable, normal mainstream Orthodox rabbis would agree that unmarried women should be permitted to use the Mikvah so that they can Halachically sleep around when they are not menstruating…

      If a woman approaches an Orthodox Rabbi and tells him that she is planning on having sex, and further says that she knows it is a sin but would like to alleviate the effects of that sin as much as possible.

      I wonder what a typical reputable Orthodox Rabbi would say to her. Would he be honest and tell her that while it is a sin, to avoid the ultimate punishment of karet, she should wait until menstruation has ceased (plus 7 days) and then immerse, or would he throw her out of his office and refuse to answer the question?

      • Good question Mark! My guess is that he would try to counsel the woman not to engage in pre-marital relations & consider marriage instead…

        • Batya – My guess is that he would try to counsel the woman not to engage in pre-marital relations & consider marriage instead…

          Of course! I meant after the counseling has ended and the woman rejects the option of marriage at the current time.

        • Rabbi Hershel Shachter said, on the record, that if a woman is going to sleep with someone out of wedlock anyhow, that she should go to mikva. However, she should pose as married. Our public policy is that in normal circumstances, mikva is for married women only.

          • It does seem strange or even hypocritical for the unmarried lady to pose or pretend that she is married while visiting the Mikvah but I do understand why R. Schachter would give that psak in that specific case. I find it interesting that someone would even be comfortable asking a rav a question like that. If it were me, I’d be way to embarrassed to approach a rabbi as an unmarried woman & to explain my intentions to him.

  13. I’m disheartened that some of the comments seem to disparage different religious practices and the lifestyles of single women (“community Mikvahs … are not there for unmarried women to use so that they can feel less guilty about sleeping around with either married or unmarried men.”) I understand that for many the mikveh is a sacred space, but as others have pointed out, use of the mikveh may (practically) help single women avoid in issur kares, or bring women who are not strictly Orthodox closer to Judaism.

    There definitely seems a desire to control the sexual or spiritual practices of others. I understand that in many cases Orthodox people built and support the mikvehs, but if an extra woman or two uses the mikveh each month, does it really mean more funds will be needed to be spent on maintenance?

    Finally, many mikvehs were built under Orthodox auspices, but non-observant Jews contributed greatly to the funding. (See some plaques in some mikvehs if you’re not sure).

  14. Hadassah,

    Imagine for the sake of argument that there were a questionable kashrut supervision called the QK.

    Rewrite your post, asking if people who would be comfortable eating QK supervised food, should be forced to choose between eating OU and eating pig, in order that the Orthodox world not sanction their “immoral behaviors,” and to prevent them from “overeating around.”

    I’m curious how many of your readers would support such an initiative. 🙂

    • But eating is not on the same platform as sex. It only involves one person! Now granted, just because you buy food does not mean you will eat it, but by the same token, just because you go to the mikvah does not mean you’ll have sex – premarital or not!

      • What does how many people are involved have to do with it?
        The question in both cases is should we force people to choose between ideal behavior and the worst behavior to avoid “sanctioning” the middle ground behavior.

  15. People here are making pragmatic arguments, unaware that this is a halachic issue: for the last 1500 years, single women have been rabbinically *banned* from using the mikvah. (Other than perhaps on erev yom kippur.)

    Rabbi Hershel Schachter was asked regarding a single woman who is going to have relations one way or the other, what should she do? He said pose as married, and go to the mikva. But if the mikva lady sees a clearly-single woman, she can’t allow her in. Not exactly “don’t ask don’t tell”, but a reasonable balance for this difficult situation.

    • Please provide a source for your assertion of a rabbinic ban.

      • Cited in Rabbi Henkin’s essay, quoting Be’er Heiteiv OC 303:1 and Rav Pe’alim, based on Ramban and Rivash.

        Rabbi Henkin is the posek behind the yoatzot halacha.

        • Rivash in fact does not state any prohibition.
          R’ Henkin cites a Rivash which discouraged the idea of having all mentruant girls go to the mikveh. He neither expressed a prohibition, not addresses the case of an individual who chooses to go.
          Since אין בית דין סותר בית דין חבירו אלא עם כן גדול המנו בחכמה ובמניין one must assume that even had Rivash expressed this view as a prohibition, it would be limited to Horaat shaa.
          There is not talmudic precedent for this “prohibition.”

          • I said “based on Rivash”; it’s still founded upon his logic — Rivash is saying that’s why Chazal didn’t encourage it. See the other sources cited in Henkin’s essay, especially Ramban. One way or another, Be’er Heitev, Rav Pe’alim, Yabia Omer all say it was prohibited based on Talmudic logic. I don’t see how סותר בית דין חבירו is relevant; since we stopped keeping Taharot, there was never an explicit Talmudic mandate nor license for single women to use the mikvah. If no posek in the past 200 years have allowed this and many notable ones have prohibited it; if this has become the standard practice and bears at least the weight of דבר שהציבור נוהגין בו איסור; then “don’t ask don’t tell” or “look the other way” is as far as a policy can be stretched in the name of Orthodoxy.

            • It’s a very fair question how much proof should be demanded of women at the mikva, or to what extent we can look the other way. But as far as official policy goes, we follow halacha.

              In Spain in the 1400s there were all-Jewish houses of ill-repute; pragmatically, if “the bachelors and the idiots” are going to get into trouble anyhow, better it be with those women than a married or Christian one. Some rabbis granted approbation to the institutions, some supplied them with communal funds. Akeidat Yitzchak wrote it’s one thing to have problems in your community; but when you turn them into officially legitimized public policy, that’s Sodom.

              • Thank you for inadvertently proving the point that there is a difference between halakha and policy.
                You cite R’ Shachter suggesting that single woman should lie to get access to the mikveh. Would he also suggest that someone determined to ssteal, lie to the gabbai tzedaka about his financial state rather than simply taking money from the kuppa? Of course not. because that is prohibited!
                In this case, there is no prohibition, and he asserting the need in his view for communal policy which can be violated by individuals without violating halakha.
                None of the sources you cited state a halkhic prohibition. They assert a policy. There are arguments for and against that policy.
                Defending against halakhically prohibited behavior isn’t one of them, and once we remove the moralistic argument of an “absolute evil” from the conversation, you can have the debate about what promotes the best public good.

  16. lady lock and load

    Please forgive me if I repeated anything anyone wrote but if single women went to the mikveh they should go during the day and not when married women go because of privacy and because of the added volume it would create. At some mikvaot the lines are long enough as it is. A single woman (who is not REQUIRED to immerse in a mikveh) should not make others uncomfortable or inconvenienced because she wants to use the mikvah for her spiritual growth. That would kind of defeat the purpose.

  17. lady lock and load

    Additionally, I think a single woman would be better off saving mikvah for when she is married….saving the experience for that special time that it was intended for. Going as a single woman might take away from her experience later.

    • LLL, I think it’s safe to assume that in most cases, a single woman would only want/need to go to the Mikvah so that she can feel that she is Halachically permitted to have sexual relations with a married or unmarried man…I think it would be VERY rare to find a woman who is just going for spiritual reasons without any ulterior motive. In fact, in my old neighborhood, I once bumped into a woman at the Mikvah who happened to mention in the course of our conversation that she wasn’t married & I couldn’t for the life of me understand WHY she would choose to go to the Mikvah if she was unmarried. Clearly, I was much more naive back in the day.

      • Didn’t Hadassah have a thread a few years ago about an intermarried friend who wanted to go to mikveh? Wasn’t the crowd largely supportive of her desire to have the spiritual experience, even though she shouldn’t be cohabitating with a non-Jew?

        • at least she was Jewish…

          • So are the single women you don’t want to go to mikveh.

            • Yeah, I know! But at least they were married & there is the hope that perhaps one day the husband might convert…

              • Do you think any widely respected Rabbi would say that it’s OK for a woman to be married to a non-Jew, much less have sex with him (with or without mikveh)? Maybe by going to mikveh she’ll think it’s OK!!

                • You’re right! Maybe I was wrong for supporting what she was doing & I let my emotions get in the way but I felt that at least they were in a committed married relationship even if it wasn’t sanctioned by Judaism.

                  To be honest, you will probably keep going in circles about these issues & I feel that we are each entitled to our respective opinions even though they differ from one another!

              • And if two single Jews who are permitted to each other used the mikveh and “at least there is some hope” they may eventually get married?? With much respect to my dear friend of whom you spoke, pretty sure that halachically speaking her situation is more problematic than the one I just posed…

                • In reply to “huh?”:
                  In my view there was a difference between your dear friend who H discussed who didn’t even know that she was Jewish (if my memory serves me correctly) when she married her non-Jewish husband. It was only AFTER she had married her wonderful non-Jewish husband, that she happened to find out about her Jewish roots & became more observant. To me there is a BIG difference between someone who was already married to a great spouse & then discovered Orthodox Judaism after the fact. Did I think that she should have to divorce him? No, that didn’t seem fair.

                  However, with regard to the situation at hand, we are discussing 2 allegedly observant adults who don’t want to get married (for whatever reasons) but they do want to “have their cake & eat it too” so to speak & I among others on this thread have issues with this matter. You don’t? That’s great. You have a right to your opinion & I have the right to mine! And I will add that my issues with an unmarried women using a Mikvah are specifically in the case of a woman who is interested in this mitzvah so that she can sleep with a man who is not her husband. I don’t take issue to what Kelli mentioned above about women who feel the need to do it for spiritual reasons etc. My only gripe is when a supposedly observant couple is trying to engage in pre-marital sex & thinks that by using the Mikvah they are doing the right thing. The right thing is to get married first & then they can feel FREE to use the Mikvah!!

                  • I think you are totally romanticizing the idea of an observant man/woman having pre-marital sex. realistically you CANNOT tell an older single (or divorced) woman to remain celibate just because they have not found the right husband yet. I am pretty positive that if an unmarried woman wants to go to the mikvah before having sex it is merely a means to an end. This is probably a very strong desire and internal conflict and they are choosing the lessor of 2 evils. personally, the older I get and the more single I remain I have a much harder time remaining observant do to the overall attitude to singles in the frum community. Batya – your attitude seems to say that singles have no desire to get married and would just like to sleep around when it may be just the opposite. Please show a little more respect to single people and maybe a little bit of empathy before you judge others. It is precisely because of voices like yours that singles feel judged and not part of frum communitys

                    • batya from NJ

                      SWF-It’s not as though I don’t feel for older singles. I happen to be a VERY caring & empathetic person but it doesn’t mean that I can condone these kinds of behaviors. In fact, I do care A LOT about my single friends & I wish for ALL of them to find their soul-mates & to be in committed, monogamous relationships. I think it’s sad that according to one of my divorced friends, “J-date is really “lay date” & frumster is the same thing, just with frum men”. To me this is a sad state of affairs-pun intended ;)!

      • How funny – I would have argued just the opposite, that women who were looking for a halachic approval of extramarital relations were probably a very small minority. I would have assumed that people who were concerned enough about their status prior to relations were mutually exclusive with those having relations outside of marriage. Ah well, so it goes…
        Meaning no disrespect, but I’ve known dozens of women who went to the mikveh as single women with no ulterior motives – myself included.
        For some, it was meant as a spiritual cleansing after physical abuse, for others it was after recovery from a serious illness. And for some, it was a bit of a litmus test before they truly pursued Orthodoxy – either as converts or BT – and wanted the full picture of what they were getting themselves into, what they were committing to on a possibly monthly basis for the long term.

        • Thanks for sharing Kelli! I’m curious to know whether or not the Mikvah attendants who assisted you, knew that you were not married or did they just assume that you were?

          • Eh, sort of. I was actually married at the time, I just wasn’t Jewish – but both my husband and I were converting. I wanted to see exactly what I was getting myself into before I was in over my head (sorry – couldn’t resist). But no, I did not disclose my status as I didn’t think it was right to put the attendant in an awkward situation.

            • It makes sense that you would want to see what it was all about especially since you were already married & both you & your husband were in the process of converting, which I will add amazes me! I am always in awe of people who choose to convert especially when it’s not just for the sake of marrying a Jewish spouse! Wow, kol hakavod to both of you!

              • Side note: Comments like this tick me off. “just for the sake of marrying a Jewish spouse.”

                Converts have to jump through dozens and dozens of hoops over usually more than a year to get their Jew card. Even when people get married after a conversion, it doesn’t necessarily mean they did it for someone else. You don’t know what’s in someone’s heart and if a cart came before a horse. Converts have to prove their sincerity to a Beit Din over the course of months or years. To feel like they have to prove it again and again later is against what conversion’s supposed to be all about.

                • Bethany, sorry if a hit a nerve but I meant when people convert solely for the purpose of pleasing their partner or their partner’s family without any other interest in Judaism.

                • Bethany – Converts have to jump through dozens and dozens of hoops over usually more than a year to get their Jew card.

                  This is certainly true for Orthodox converts. And often way more than a year! At least for Orthodox converts without huge wealth (I recall reading about a recent case in which the time period was less than typical).

  18. In Israel, a single woman might want to go to mikvah so she can go up to Har Habayit. Right now, only men and married women are able to go up according to halacha (and yes, I know there are rabbanim who don’t approve of Jews visiting Har Habayit. That is not relevant here). Many kallot go on the morning of their wedding day, having gone to mikvah the night before. Is it fair that single men can go to mikvah and har habayit but single women cannot?

    • When men go to mikveh for the purpose of going to Har Habayit, do they remove chatzitzot just like women do before they immerse? I’d assume they have to. As far as I understand, (virtually all) men who immerse as a custom before Shabbos and RH and YK do NOT bother to remove chatzitzot.

  19. Yes, a man who immerses before Har Habayit needs to follow all the halachot including removing chatzitzot. Using the mikvah before Shabbat, chagim, etc. is minhag, but going before aliyah to Har Habayit is halacha (my husband guides tours on Har Habayit, so he is the source of this info).

  20. Very interesting discussion here.

  21. For the life of me I have never understood those who would want to take on the mitzvaot they are not required to do but refuse to follow all the ones they are obligated to do.
    Just because you toivel a pot, cooking traif in it doesn’t keep it kosher.

    • I like the analogy, Z!

    • Please, Z!, for the love of God, if you ever consider going into Kiruv, don’t.

      • I’ve actually mekareved alot of people because of my frank and honest opinions and some knowledge about what is considered appropriate and what is not.
        Sugar coating doesn’t help unless it’s medicine you’re taking.

        • Noah, if you haven’t realized, Judaism is a lot about “roles”. Women have obligations, men have obligations, sometimes both have the same obligations. Judaism is a neat and organised way to satisfy the spiritual needs of either sex, if followed properly. ( I think G-d knew what he was doing here.)
          Because of the times we live in, meaning without the Bais Hamikdash, the primary reason for women’s mikvah immersion is to have permissable relations with your spouse. Therefore, the reason I go to mikvah, though it has spiritual benefits, is mostly for the physical benefit that the ritual brings to my marriage. Mikvah makes the physical connection with your spouse more spiritual.
          What these single/divorced ladies hope to acheive by going to mikvah could probably be replaced by a mulitude of other permissable mitzvahs which would arguably bring them more comfort.
          If the mikvahs see a rise in participation/use before Yom Kippur, this I can understand as many women who are post menopause will go, like the men, and immerse for the purpose of being pure for the Judgement Day, but a monthly visit by an unmarried woman, whether divorced or not, is unusual and should be discouraged.

  22. I think this might be a first, but I don’t have a strong opinion. I avoid my community mikvah because the attendant is way too in my business, and I would be pissed if I were confronted to prove my Jewishness and/or my marriedness at a mikvah.

    If you want to mikvah even though you don’t have to, more power to you I guess. But if you’re doing it just to have extra-marital sex you need to get your religious priorities in place in a major way first.

  23. Mikvah is a private ritual between a woman and G-d. Interrogating women about their lifestyle, minhag, Jewish or marital status. (I have friends who had had to use OOT mikvot and have been told their minhag is not kosher or who have had nit combs dragged roughly through their long hair) is not in keeping with the spirit of the mitzvah. I have met women who have never been and rather too many women who went once and never again as a result of instrusive/offensive behaviour. These women were all nominally orthodox (halachically Jewish, married under mainstream orthodox auspices here in the UK)

    As an halachically Jewish woman I will be honest and say that I would go if I did not think I would be judged or quizzed about my status. I even obtained instruction about what to do as I am married out but I am nervous about being quizzed or refused. The biggest irony is that my nearest mikvah is Chabad and the rebbetzin there said no when I inquired if I could, the instructions I have are from Chabad’s own online Shaila service. End result no mikvah for me at the moment and even if my husband were to convert the way I feel about this means I would be unlikely to bother thank you. Hampstead women’s pond is kosher when you have nowhere else to go

    • STECH, Seriously? -“unlikely to bother”? I just don’t get it! Most Jewish minhagim (traditions), laws and Mitzvahs have CRITERIA that must be met for them to be performed correctly. (kashrus, clothing/tznius, shabbos) Just because they are difficult, should we ignore them? Why should mikvah be any different? Had a bad experience- ok, these things happen. I think we’ve all had at least one bad experience that makes us uncomfortable with a mitzvah or two. THEY AREN’T ALL EASY.
      I’d also like to point out that many unobservant Sephardi women take the mitzvah of Mikvah VERY seriously. I have never seen one of them turned away in their pants and uncovered hair.

      • “I just don’t get it”? Really? Mikva may make you feel more spiritual, but that’s not the case for everybody. I go every month with anxiety and resentment in my heart, and come home relieved it’s all over for another month – an improvement I suppose. I certainly don’t feel any more spiritual or closer to my husband because of it, just the opposite actually. And that’s despite my local Mikva being relatively new & pleasant, and the ‘Mikva ladies’ being wonderful and kind – I can’t fault them at all. However, the whole ritual can be tied up with strong emotions, even distress sometimes (not just a bit of inconvenience), and I know that a really bad experience would have put me off going back for a very long time. In my view, if anyone is willing to go through this when they don’t have to, for whatever reason, then I have nothing but admiration for them! And I also know that if I’d got used to the experience before I got married, it would have saved a lot of tears, fear and distress afterwards.

  24. Z! – I would love to go to a mikvah but the reality is I am a married out woman who is not prepared to lie outright and is uncomfortable lying by omission, If I am quizzed I am likely to be refused judging by what I read. Please note my marriage is a civil one as my synagogue does not marry mixed couples. Should my husband convert he is in all honesty unlikely to convert Orthodox – one well meaning kiruv rabbi has already suggested that he should divorce me for the sake of my soul, then proceeded to suggest that if he was not going to divorce me then we needed to separate until he converted Orthodox . This at a close family and respected family friend’s Matzevah where he felt honour bound to bite his tongue. What sort of message does that send about Judaism to a person who agreed to live in a Jewish home and give up many things he was used to.

    He is comfortable in my UK Reform synagogue where I am on the orthoprax end of things but refuses to attend any Orthodox events unless there is a very good reason – such a bar mitvah, wedding, funeral or matzevah.

    In a world where many “Orthodox” Jews spend their time sitting in judgement on each other’s orthodoxy and disputing each other’s conversions I will stick to natural ponds and the sea (a naturist beach is ideal) and pass on the official mikvah with all the judgement that goes with it. No politics, no judgement, just a natural G-d given body of water.

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