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Can a woman use a Mikvah if her Husband is not Jewish (She is currently on the road to becoming a BT)

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Devorah, welcome to mi.yodeya, and thank you very much for the extremely interesting and sensitive question! Please consider clicking on register, above, to create your account. This will give you access to all of mi.yodeya's features and will allow you to take full credit for your contributions. Also, please note the red disclaimer at the top of the page. Especially for questions like this, the woman should get advice from her Rabbi before taking any action. –  Isaac Moses Jul 2 '10 at 19:01

2 Answers 2

Tough question. I know a lot of nerves can be frazzled by this one.

In Temple times, when ritual purity affected all sorts of aspects of daily life, this might be a different question; but today, women's regular use of mikva is only to end the status of nida.

On the one hand, the woman would like to increase her religious observance (a wonderful thing), and this is certainly a major act.

On the other hand, from a strict Halachic perspective, she's accomplishing nothing:

ד,ד הגויים--אין חייבין עליהם משום נידה, ולא משום זבה, ולא משום יולדת. וחכמים גזרו על כל הגויים, זכרים ונקבות, שיהו כזבים תמיד, בין ראו בין לא ראו--לעניין טומאה וטהרה.

Rambam Hilchos Issurei Biah 4:4

To paraphrase: the laws of Nidah only pertain to a couple where both is Jewish. If either partner is non-Jewish, their nida status (and hence mikva observance) makes no difference.

So it's something that would make her feel better about herself, but is (frustratingly) of no Halachic significance. This is further complicated because in many cases, mikva use is really limited to those who Halachically need it. (See for instance this question).

ובאמת בנידון דידן אין קידושין תופסין ואולי אסורה לטבול כשאר פנויות, אבל אין כך עונין המעיקות

You can try asking yoatzot.org if you like. The final decision may come down to the rabbi or women in charge of the local mikva, but those are the issues that I know of.

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Shalom, I think you are misreading that RaMBa"M. I cannot speak with any authority on the matter, but I've always understood that statement to refer only to gentiles, not to a woman in a relationship with gentile man. In other words, a Jewish woman has an additional Issur of Be'ilath Niddah (on top Be'ilath Zenuth) if she has sexual relations with a gentile while in a state of Niddah. Again, I could be wrong. But it's how I've always understood that RaMBa"M. –  Seth J Dec 29 '10 at 22:42
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@Seth, afraid I have to strongly disagree. Leviticus 18:19 is addressed as a prohibition for MEN. A woman has a mitzva to count and purify herself (when in the context of marriage), but to the best of my knowledge, the prohibition on relations is on the man. See Sefer HaChinuch: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40631&st=&pgnum=284 & hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40631&st=&pgnum=239. Normally he says "this mitzva applies equally to males and females", but for this he only speaks of the man's sin. –  Shalom Dec 30 '10 at 4:32
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Similarly, see the Rambam's opening to Laws of Prohibited Relations, where he counts out all the prohibitions connected to it mechon-mamre.org/i/51.htm . Note the presence of "don't be with a Nida", not "don't be with a man when you're a Nida." –  Shalom Dec 30 '10 at 4:34
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Rambam is not saying "non-Jews need not keep taharat hamishpacha." (The laws binding upon non-Jews are the Noahide laws, and they appear in his Laws of Kings and their Wars.) His chapter opens up with "what type of woman is considered a Nida and therefore relations with her would violate this prohibition?" He then says, "gentiles, one is not punished for Nida because of them." That's the halacha for a Jew involved with a non-Jew. –  Shalom Dec 30 '10 at 4:38
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Re: If either partner is non-Jewish, their nida status (and hence mikva observance) makes no difference. Does this mean that there is no nidah-issur for a Jewish man to be bo'el a non-Jewish woman who is a nidah? That does not seem obvious at all from quoted Rambam. –  jake Dec 13 '11 at 21:55

There is no halakhic reason why this woman cannot immerse in the mikveh. She should be encouraged to make whatever decision is right for her.

The link listed in the previous response does not mention anything about immersing for non-required reasons - unclear what the responder's basis is for this. People have immersed for non-commanded reasons for hundreds (if not thousands) of years: before Shabbat, before Yom Kippur, 9th month of pregnancy.

A mikveh is "lo mikabel tumah" - it cannot receive impurity. As long as it was built under rabbinic supervision and is maintained under rabbinic supervision, there is no way it can be "messed up" for anyone else because of who goes in, when, and for what reason.

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Agreed that a mikva can't be fouled up by someone immersing in it (well provided no one is pumping liquids in and out of it), though a dramatically increased user base can necessitate cleaning more often (hence, for instance, R' Samson Raphael Hirsch's concern in Frankfurt that Hassidic men, for whom mikva is popular but not required, were making the mikva less clean and convenient for married women, for whom it is required.) –  Shalom Jul 6 '10 at 16:21
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Your answer accurately reflects Mayyim Hayyim's philosophy of mikva as always no worse than neutral, so why not if it seems right? This is not the normative practice in Orthodox circles. If you read between the lines in the cited yoatzot link, the glaring omission of mikva from "any cleansing ceremony I can do?" was intentional. –  Shalom Jul 6 '10 at 16:31
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Among the potential issues to which my answer alluded was this: yoatzot.org/question.php?id=3089 Recall that halacha really does not recognize any marriage between Jew and non-Jew. –  Shalom Jul 6 '10 at 16:37
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I would love to see primary sources backing up both Carrie Bornstein's or Shalom's assertions about normative Mikveh practice, although I expect that CB's position is that non-traditional uses are permitted in the absence of a source for prohibition. Even that position could be bolstered by quoting authorities or sources who back it up. –  Isaac Moses Jul 6 '10 at 17:02
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Shalom - yes - agreed - the mikveh does need to be kept sparkling-clean. (This should be the worst of our problems - many many people wanting to use the mikveh!) As we know, however, clean and tahor are not the same thing. You are definitely right - immersing for non-required reasons in Orthodox mivka'ot is not normative - but it is not prohibited halahkically. Isaac Moses (and others...): See Shulchan Aruch 606:4 re: immersing in the context of reconciling with a friend prior to Yom Kippur. The Mishnah Berurah supports this by discussing this minhag. –  Carrie Bornstein Jul 7 '10 at 14:42

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