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Do you have an obligation to go to the mikvah erev Yom Kippur.

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1 Answer 1

Rambam writes in his preface to his Commentary on the Mishnah that one who rejects "minhagei Yisrael" - customs that are considered valid and universal in Torah Judaism, on him the verse is applied "One who knocks down a fence will be bit by a snake." (Definitely something bad!)

That being said, the custom to dip in the mikvah on erev Yom HaKippurim is brought in Shulhan Aruch, O.C. Siman 606, S'if 4. It is universally accepted among all Torah Observant Halachic authorities, Ashkenazic, Sefardic, Yemenite, etc. Even Rambam is referred to as one of its sources! The Aruch HaShulhan uses the wording "Nahagu kohl Yisrael (All Jews are accustomed...). (Ibid. Si'if 5) It definitely fits the term "minhag Yisrael"!

It is referred to as a mitzvah, not as hovah, literally meaning that it is not obligatory. (Kitzur SA 131,6) This just means is that the precautions taken for an immersion that is actually required by the Torah do not apply. It does not mean that the minhag is optional. If one absolutely cannot immerse (e.g. too sick), then the pouring of 9 kabin of water over the body is acceptable for this immersion. There are those who maintain that standing completely under a fully opened shower for a while would fulfill the 9 kabin requirement. (Halichos Olam Page 179)

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Not sure I could say "universally accepted." (Need a sociologist to take a survey or something; I know plenty of Orthodox Jews who don't.) Rabbi Rakefet has a lecture on yutorah (don't recall which) in which he said his mentor, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik zt'l, implied that he didn't go to mikvah erev yom kippur. –  Shalom Apr 26 '10 at 2:41
If Rabbi Solovietchik did not go to the Mikveh that does not mean that it is not accepted universally by all Halachic authorities. If he had a personal reason to not got to the mikveh does not mean he did not pour 9 kabin over himself by standing under the shower. Never bring a proof from a Maaseh Rav if the Rav was not asked why he is doing/not doing so. –  Yahu Apr 26 '10 at 16:04
And when I said universally accepted I was referring to all written relevant Halakhic sources from the Mishnah Berurah, Aruch Hashulhan up through the Rishonim, such as the Kolbo and Rambam. BTW the lashon of the Aruch HaShulhan is "Nahagu Kohl Yisrael". –  Yahu Apr 27 '10 at 0:47

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