Thursday, January 3, 2008

Class: Mikvah Use for Men

Below are Mareh Mekomot (references) for a class I expect to deliver this evening, on "Mikvah Use for Men." Our focus will be on weekday morning immersion, use before Shabbat and Yom Tov, and use before Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur.

I might post audio from the class; we'll see.

Mikvah for Men -

Mikvah before Shacharit in the morning
1. Talmud, Berachot 22a
R’ Yehudah ben Beteirah said: Words of Torah cannot become impure. Once a student was mumbling above R’ Yehudah ben Beteirah, who said to him, ‘My son, open your mouth and let your words shine forth! Words of Torah cannot become impure.’

2. Talmud, Berachot 22a
It is written: ‘And you shall make them known to your children, and to your children’s children. The day on which you stood before HaShem your Gd at Chorev.’ Just as that day was experienced with awe and fear and trembling and shaking, so now it should be experienced with awe and fear and trembling and shaking. Based on this, they taught… that a baal keri may not learn Torah.

3. Talmud Yerushalmi, Berachot 3:4
R’ Yaakov bar Avun said: They only enacted this immersion so that Jewish men would not be found with their wives like these roosters…
R’ Chiyya bar Va said: They only enacted this immersion for the sake of study. If you were to tell him it was permitted, he would say, “I will do my needs and then come learn as needed.” Now, because you tell him it is prohibited, he comes to learn as needed.

4. Talmud, Berachot 22a
A baal keri who has 9 kav of water poured upon him is tahor.

5. Rambam, Mishneh Torah Hilchot Tefilah 4:5
This enactment for prayer has also been annulled, because it did not spread through all of Israel and the tzibbur lacked the strength to uphold it.

6. Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah to Berachot 22a (13b in their pages)
All of the rashei yeshivot in Bavel expressed amazement at him for being lenient regarding the immersions of a baal keri, and he replied that he never missed that immersion, even for a moment, but that he couldn’t write anything in his Code other than that which emerged as the halachic law.

7. Rosh to Berachot 3:21
There is a view that the statement , “They have annulled immersion,” refers to immersion for Torah study as well as for prayer. Another view says the nullification was only for Torah study, but prayer requires immersion, or at least bathing in 9 kav. Rav Hai Gaon wrote that since this isn’t in the gemara, take the practice of all of Israel in your hand, that a baal keri does not pray until he can wash, even if he has no water.

8. Talmud, Berachot 22a
R’ Yehudah taught that a baal keri is permitted to learn Hilchot Derech Eretz.
Once, R’ Yehudah experienced keri and was walking afterward by a river when his students asked him to teach them a segment of Hilchot Derech Eretz. He descended and immersed and then taught them. They asked, ‘Didn’t you teach us, our master, that one may learn Hilchot Derech Eretz? To which he replied, ‘Although I am lenient for others, I am strict for myself.’

9. Rambam, Mishneh Torah Hilchot Tefilah 4:6
The common practice in Shinar and Sfarad is that a baal keri does not pray until he has bathed himself entirely in water, under ‘Prepare to greet your Gd, Israel.’ This is true for one who is healthy, or for an ill person who has engaged in sexual relations. One who emitted keri unwillingly, though, is exempt from this act of bathing, and there is no custom for this.

10. Talmud, Berachot 22a
R’ Yannai said: I have heard that some are lenient in it (immersing rather than using 9 kav) and I have heard that some are strict in it. One who is strict in this matter for himself will have long days and years.

11. Tosefta Yadayim 2:9
The Boethusians said: We complain against you, Pharisees! If the daughter of my son, who is a result of his strength, can inherit from me, then my own daughter, who is a result of my strength, should logically be able to inherit from me!
The morning immersers said: We complain against you, Pharisees! You mention HaShem’s Name while impure!

12. Talmud Yerushalmi, Berachot 3:4
R’ Chanina passed the gates of Dimusin early in the morning and asked, ‘What are these morning immersers doing here? Let them go learn!’ When he passed them later in the morning he said, ‘One who has work to do should go work!’

13. R’ Chaim Vital, Hakdamah to Eitz Chaim
Nothing helps a person’s grasp of Torah like taharah and tevillah.

14. R’ Yechiel Michel Epstein, Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 326:10
A person may immerse in a Mikvah on Shabbat morning, though; this is especially true for a person who ordinarily immerses after exposure to keri. This would not be an act of mending; the sages annulled the requirement for this type of immersion. There are those who argue against immersion in a Mikvah on Shabbat, but people have not been concerned for that; this custom has spread in all the reaches of Israel. People should take care not to wring out hair, and not to make the Mikvah too hot; that would involve a full-fledged prohibition against bathing in hot water. The water should be cold or lukewarm. It would be appropriate for an unlearned layman to abstain from immersion; he could easily violate the law in wringing out his hair, as I have seen happen with my own eyes.

Mikvah on Fridays and Erev Yom Tov
15. Talmud, Shabbat 25b
Rav Yehudah reported, in the name of Rav: This was the practice of R’ Yehudah b”r Ilai: On Fridays they would bring him a bowl filled with hot water and he would wash his face, hands and feet and cloak himself and sit in tzitzit-fringed sheets and resemble an angel of Gd.

16. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 260:1
Mechaber: It is a mitzvah to bathe one’s face, hands and feet in hot water on Friday. It is a mitzvah to wash one’s head and to shave one’s nails on Friday.
Rama: This means washing one’s whole body. If that is not possible, then one washes one’s face, etc.

17. R’ Yechiel Michel Epstein, Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 260:1
Some customarily immerse in a Mikvah for the sanctity of Shabbat; their lot is praised, for in this way they bring upon themselves the sanctity of the holy Shabbat.

18. R’ Yechiel Michel Epstein, Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 242:41
They go to bathhouses for the honor of Shabbat, and many immerse in a Mikvah as well, to purify themselves for the sanctity of Shabbat.

19. Mishneh Berurah 551:95
Even if one regularly washes his whole body in hot water every Friday, on Erev Shabbat Chazon he may not wash his whole body, even in cold water. As far as immersion, one who immerses every Friday may do so, but one who fails to do it occasionally, because of business or cold, may not do it.

Erev Rosh haShanah and Erev Yom Kippur
20. Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 16b
Rabbi Yitzchak said: One is obligated to purify himself at the regel.

21. Tur, Orach Chaim 66
So is found in Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 15: “Samael sees that no sin can be found for a Jew on Yom Kippur, and he says, ‘Master of the Universe, You have one nation in the land that is like the angels; just as the angels are barefoot…' The practice is to immerse on Erev Yom Kippur, and Rav Amram says to immerse in the 7th hour and daven minchah… My father and master the Rosh said one should not recite a blessing for this immersion, for no hint to this immersion is found in the Talmud, and it is not an establishment of the prophets or a custom of the prophets… and if it were from Rabbi Yitzchak’s statement that one must immerse for the regel then that would mean purification from all impurities, even that of the dead, with sprinklings on the 3rd and 7th, and now we do not have that purification, and since baal keri doesn’t immerse all year, there is no obligation for it and one should not recite a blessing. It is just that people customarily purify themselves from keri for Yom Kippur, and they link it to the midrash that we are clean like the angels on Yom Kippur.

22. Rama, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 606:4
One need immerse only once, without viduy, because of keri. Having nine kav poured upon him is also effective.

23. Mishneh Berurah 606:21
Some say that the reason for immersion is for teshuvah, according to which one should immerse three times.

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