12. Immersing in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

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12. Immersing in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah:[1]

It is a customary to immerse in a Mikvah on Erev Rosh Hashanah in order to purify oneself from the state of Keri.[2] [Today the custom is to immerse even if one is pure of Keri as purity of the body brings to purity of the soul.[3] This applies even if one is not accustomed to generally immerse in a Mikveh during the year.[4]

How many times should one immerse?[5] One should immerse three times in the water. [However, based on Kabala one is to immerse eight times.[6]]

If a Mikveh is not available: See the “Supplement on Men immersing in a Mikveh” provided in the back of the Sefer for the full details of this matter!



For a full digest on the laws and customs of men immersing in a Mikveh both on Erev Rosh Hashanah and throughout the year- refer to the Supplement on “Men immersing in a Mikveh” provided in the back of the Sefer!


Importance of immersing in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah:[7]

In preparation for this awesome day one is to immerse in a Mikveh and rid himself of all impurities and foreign thoughts which one acquired throughout the year. If one is obligated to purify himself prior to every holiday, then certainly he is required to do so prior to Rosh Hashanah.



Must one shower and remove Chatzitzas prior to immersion?

Although during the regular year one is not required to remove a Chatzitza from his body prior to immersion nevertheless regarding the immersion of Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur one is to remove all Chatzitzas from the body. Thus one is to clean his body with hot water, cut his nails, and comb through his head and beard hair prior to immersion, in order to remove any intervals.[8] One is to cut the nails of both his feet and hands on two different days in preparation for this immersion. One is to also brush and floss his teeth.[9]


If one did not cut neither his toe nor hand nails beforehand, may he cut them both on Erev Rosh Hashanah?

Some Poskim[10] rule one is to only cut his hand nails while the toenails should be cleaned thoroughly. Others[11] however rule that in such a situation one may cut both nails on the same day even if he is particular about this during the rest of the year.[12]


When on Erev Rosh Hashanah is one to go to Mikveh?

One is to only go to Mikveh after midday[13], or at the very least past the 5th hour of the day.[14] If one cannot immerse at that time then he may immerse anytime in the morning.[15] One is to cut his nails prior to immersing.[16]

Taking a shower after Mikveh: 

It is permitted to shower after Mikveh[17], although some are stringent not to do so.[18] Nevertheless, on Erev Shabbos [and Erev Yom Tov] according to all it is better not to do so, in order so one not completely wash off the Mikveh water from his body, as will be explained next.


Drying oneself after Mikveh:[19]

Based on the teachings of the Arizal one should not dry the Mikveh water off his body after immersing.[20] Practically we are particular to dry ourselves with a towel after immersion and one who desires to follow the directive of the Arizal is to leave some part of his body not dried.[21] It suffices for one to leave his feet wet in order to fulfill this directive.[22]

Sparks of Kabala

The Kavanos while immersing in a Mikveh:[23]

One is to immerse eight times in the Mikveh, each time with a different Kavana. The first time one immerses he is to intend that he is immersing in a Mikveh Taharah which is the Gematria of 151 which corresponds to the name Eh-Yeh. This purifies one from his impure state. The second immersion is to rectify one’s bad trait of anger. The third immersion is to rectify the blemishes he created in Sheim Ab. The fourth immersion is to rectify the blemishes he created in Sheim Sag. The fifth immersion is to rectify the blemishes he created in Sheim Mah. The sixth immersion is to rectify the blemishes he created in Sheim Ban. The seventh immersion is to remove the weekday garments of the soul. The eighth immersion is to receive the ray of Yom Tov, of Yom Hazikaron. These Kavanos likewise apply on Erev Yom Kippur.

The purification affected by a Mikveh:[24]

There is a tradition from the Kabalists that there are four hundred aspects of impurity that reside upon an impure person. In order to remove these 400 aspects of impurity one must immerse in a Mikveh of 40 Seah. The waters represent Chesed and hence have the ability to purify the body. One’s entire body must be immersed in the Mikveh simultaneously as if even one hair is protruding from the water the impurity remains on that hair and then spreads to the rest of the body [upon coming out of the water].



[1] Rama 581:4; See Admur 606:11

[2] Keri refers to the impurity of a man that is caused by emission of seed, whether nocturnally or in the course of cohabitation.

Are women to immerse on Erev Rosh Hashanah? Some Poskim write that also women are to be careful to immerse in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah and that even the virgins are to immerse. [Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 3; Kaf Hachaim 581:84] They are to clean their body and comb their hair to remove any Chatzitza, however they are not required to shave the parts of their body. [ibid] However some Poskim vehemently oppose unmarried women immersing in a Mikveh as doing so can lead to promiscuity. [Sdei Chemed, brought in Alef Lamagen 606:16] Practically the widespread custom today is that even married women do not immerse on Erev Rosh Hashanah and only do so on Erev Yom Kippur.

[3] Kaf Hachaim 581:82; Seder Hayom

[4] Seder Hayom brought in Shlah p. 213 for the reason recorded below under “The importance…”

[5] Beir Heiytiv 581:16 based on M”A 606:8 where two reasons for immersing are recorded. see also Admur 606:12

[6] Kaf Hachaim 581:83

[7] Seder Hayom brought in Shalah p. 213

[8] Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 3; Kaf Hachaim 581:84; This is also required based on the teachings of the Arizal. [Kaf Hachaim 260:4]; M”E 606:8 regarding Erev Yom Kippur

[9] M”E 606:8 regarding Erev Yom Kippur

[10] Mateh Efraim 606:8

[11] Alef Lamagen 606:18

[12] As even during the rest of the year many rule there is no need to avoid cutting both pairs of nails on the same day. Hence certainly on Erev Yom Kippur for the sake of avoiding having a Chatzitza one may do so. [ibid] See “The Laws and Customs of Erev Shabbos” Chapter 1 Halacha 17 Q&A.

[13] The following sources state this regarding Erev Shabbos: 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

[14] Mateh Efraim 625:14 in name of Shaar Hakavanos and Peri Eitz Chaim; Chayeh Adam 138:5; Kaf Hachaim 581:82; Alef Lamagen 581:121; Likkutei Mahrich 2 p. 7b in name of Siddur Rav Shabsi

The reason: As from that time and on the radiance of Shabbos begins to shine. [Mateh Efraim 625:14 in name of Shaar Hakavanos and Peri Eitz Chaim]

[15] Mateh Efraim 625:14

[16] See Kaf Hachaim 260:1 and Mateh Efraim 625:13; Shlah 138 that the nails are to be cut prior to Mikveh. To note however of the custom of the Rebbe Maharash which would cut the nails after Mikveh. His reasoning was because at this time the nails are softer. [Story heard from Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin]

[17] Sheivet Halevy 7:33; Piskeiy Teshuvos 88:8; Even regarding a Nidda the Rama Yoreh Deah 201:75 rules that only some opinions are stringent and so is the custom. However, others argue on Rama and rule doing so is permitted even by a Nidda. [See Gr”a ibid; Darkei Teshuvah 202:332; Lechem Vesimla 122]

[18] Piskeiy Teshuvos 260:1 in name of Sheivet Halevy that so is the custom of the world to avoid doing so despite it being allowed from the letter of the law. See also Tiferes Adam 1:28 which rules one should never shower after Mikveh.

[19] Based on Kaf Hachaim 260:8

[20] As the water is considered holy with the spirit of Shabbos [and Yom Tov] and it is thus proper for the body to absorb it. [ibid] However see Kaf Hachaim 260:8 which writes that this only applies if one did not immerse more than once, otherwise he has already washed away the main Mikveh water. Nevertheless, he concludes that even these second waters of the Mikveh has some holiness and is thus not to be dried.

[21] The holiness of that leftover water from the Mikveh will then subsequently spread to the rest of the body. [Rebbe Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1:131]

[22] Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1:131

[23] Kaf Hachaim 581:83

[24] Chesed Leavraham Mayaan 2:59

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