A collection of water
A pool or bath of clear water, immersion in which renders ritually clean a person who become ritually unclean through contact with the dead (Num. 19) or any other defiling object or through an unclean flux from the body (Lev. 15) and especially a menstruant.
It is similarly used for vessels (Num 31: 22- 23). At the present day the chief use of the mikveh is for the menstruant. since the laws of ritual impurity no longer apply after the destruction of the Temple. Nevertheless, since according to the halakhah the contracting of marital relations while the wife is in the state of niddah“Menstrous Woman” — According to Jewish law, a woman is forbidden to maintain sexual relations with her husband during and for sometimes both before and after her menses. is a particularly severe offense, punishable by karet, and according to one opinion in the Talmud ( not however accepted as halakhah), that a child born of such a union is a mamzer, the rabbis insisted meticulous adherence to the laws of immersion in a mikveh before his mother could resume marital relations.
They are also obligatory for the immersion of proselytes, as part of the ceremony of conversion. In addition immersion in the mikveh is still practiced by various groups as an aid to spiritually, particularly on the eve of the Sabbath and festivals, especially the Day of Atonement (see Ablution) and the customs still obtains, in accordance with Numbers 31: 22 – 23 to immerse new vessels and utensils purchased from non-Jews.
Teachings of Maimonides
It is emphasized that the purpose of immersion is not physical, but spiritual, cleanliness. Maimonides concludes his codification of the laws of the mikveh with the following statement:
It is plain that the laws about immersion as means of freeing oneself from uncleanness are decrees laid down by Scripture and not matters about which human understanding is capable of forming a judgment; for behold, they are included among the divine statues. Now ‘uncleanness is not mud or filth which water can remove, but is a matter of scriptural decree and dependent on the intention of the heart. Therefore the Sages have said ‘If a man immerses himself without special intention, it is though he has never immersed himself at all’. Nevertheless we may find some indication [for moral basis] of this: Just as one sets his heart on becoming clean as soon as he has immersed himself, although nothing new has befallen his body, so, too, one who sets his heart on cleansing himself from uncleanness that beset men’s souls – namely, wrongful youghts and false convictions – becomes clean as soon as he consents in his heart to shun those counsels and brings his soul into the waters of pure reason. Behold, Scriptures say ‘And I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean; from all your uncleanness and from your idols I will cleanse you [Ezek, 36:25] (Yad, mikva’ot 11:12).
Stress on intention is passed from Judaism into Islam. “Purity is the half of faith” is the saying attributed to Muhammad himself and the general laws of uncleanness in Islam bear a striking resemblance to those of Judaism. (Encyclopedia of Islam, s.v.Takara)
According to biblical law any collection of water, drawn or otherwise, is suitable for a mikveh as long as it contains enough for a person to immerse himself (Yad, ibid. 4:1).
The rabbis, however, enacted that only water which had not been drawn, i.e., has not been in a vessel or receptacle, may be used; and they further established that the minimum quantity for immersion is that which is contained in a square cubit noun — an ancient measure of length, approximately equal to the length of a forearm. It was typically about 18 inches or 44 cm, though there was a long cubit of about 21 inches or 52 cm. — ORIGIN Middle English : from Latin cubitum ‘elbow, forearm, cubit’. to the height of three cubits noun — an ancient measure of length, approximately equal to the length of a forearm. It was typically about 18 inches or 44 cm, though there was a long cubit of about 21 inches or 52 cm. — ORIGIN Middle English : from Latin cubitum ‘elbow, forearm, cubit’..
A mikveh containing less than this amount (which they estimated to be a volume of 40 seah, between 250 1,000 liters according to various calculations) becomes invalid should three log of water fall into it or be added. However, if the mikveh contains more than this amount it can never become invalid no matter how much drawn water is added to it.
- Red HeiferThe Animal whose ashes were used in ritual purification of persons and objects defiled by a corpse (Num. 19) While the English term heifer means young cow that has not had a calf, the Bible (Num. 19:2) speaks simply of a cow (Heb. Parah). The Bible prescribes that the red cow be without blemish (Heb. […]
- MikvehA collection of water A pool or bath of clear water, immersion in which renders ritually clean a person who become ritually unclean through contact with the dead (Num. 19) or any other defiling object or through an unclean flux from the body (Lev. 15) and especially a menstruant. It is similarly used for vessels […]
- Water of PurifyingWater mixed with the ashes of the red hefer See also Purity in Second Temple Times, and Ablution
- Purity in Second Temple TimesThis array of vessels from Jerusalem provides evidence of the stone-craving industry that flourished in the city at the end of the Second Temple Period (form the first century B.C.E. until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.). Highly skilled artisans carved this collection, which includes small household mugs (foreground), a wine jar (left […]
- Ablution (Immersion)From the Encyclopedia Judaica 2:81-82 Ritual immersion, or ablution, carries great symbolic significance in Judaism, representing a transformation from a state of impurity to a state of purity. This act has the power to restore an individual’s ability to perform certain functions and participate in specific rites. While it may seem like a purely hygienic […]