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Some (actually many) Mikvaoth are designated for women's use only, generally for reasons of cleanliness.

Is there Halachic literature supporting (or urging) this?

(This question is not asking for differences between what constitutes a valid Mikvah for men or for women, but about the women-only designation that is common in some community Mikvaoth.)

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3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in responsa Shemesh Marpeh, was asked regarding an influx of Eastern-European Jews to Frankfurt whose men had the custom to use the mikvah. He ruled that their custom was a wonderful thing, but if it caused one woman to not use the mikvah, it wasn't worth it.

This was cited by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein regarding what appears to have been a massive uproar in Detroit several decades ago regarding a men's mikvah. Rabbi Feinstein ruled that all it takes to ban men from the mikvah is for one woman to say: "it makes it hard for me." (We pray every day, "G-d, please don't put me to the test.")

He ruled that it would be a good thing to have a separate men's mikvah; even those who don't use it should support it as it's a good communal feature. The next question was whether to situate the men's mikvah someplace far away, or if it could just be built on the opposite side of the women's mikvah (let's say separate entrances and parking lots, but still lower costs). There he simply said that if the same location doesn't pose difficulty for the women, do that as it's cheaper. If it still poses problems, then put it elsewhere.

From Alex's comment -

R' Hirsch's opinion is mentioned in the Artscroll biography of him, and sourced to Shemesh Marpeh p. 23.

[R' Moshe Feinstein's letter is here:] Igros Moshe: Yoreh De'ah, part 2, no. 90.

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Is that in Igrot somewhere? –  Double AA Jan 6 '12 at 16:43
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Sources please? Standing by, ready to accept your answer... –  Seth J Jan 6 '12 at 16:51
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@GershonGold: R. Hirsch's opinion is mentioned in the Artscroll biography of him, and sourced to Shemesh Marpeh p. 23. Igros Moshe: Yoreh De'ah, part 2, no. 90 (here). –  Alex Jan 8 '12 at 3:58
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@Alex: thanks a lot! –  Shalom Jan 8 '12 at 11:24
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Shalom/@alex, please incorporate into the answer. Thanks! –  Seth J Jan 8 '12 at 13:38

The Halachos of a woman's Mikva are more stringent than for a men's Mikva. For a men's Mikva you can really use drawn water - see Shaalos U'Teshuvos Shem Aryeh - in addition as you mentioned for cleanliness and potentially for Tzeniyos issues. However a man who uses a ladies Mikva would definitely be Tahor, however a woman who uses a man's Mikva may not be.

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Gershon, I'm not asking about the laws of how to construct or fill the Mikvah. I'm asking only about the women's-only designation. I'll clarify the question. –  Seth J Jan 6 '12 at 15:30

Granted it is a recent source, but:

Q: After men immerse in the Mikveh, should the water be changed for the women? A: Yes. It bothers them. In essence, it is the women's Mikveh. It is permissible for men to use it only if it does not bother the women.

Found here.

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That's funny. This is what sparked my question! –  Seth J Jan 6 '12 at 16:32

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