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Are lice considered a chatzitza, an interruption between the body and an immersion pool (mikvah)? I got asked this question and thought they were not so because they were small and not dense, but I couldn't recall seeing anywhere a minimum size or density.

To clarify, the case is of a married lady immersing and later having a feeling she may have been infected with lice on her head at the time.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

While it goes without saying that practical rulings need a more authoritative answer, It seems that lice are a problem and must be removed but once you have done due diligence that is sufficient.

שלחן ערוך יורה דעה קצח:מז

מין כנים שדבוקים בבשר ונושכים בעור במקום שיער ונדבוקים בחוזק בבשר צריך להסירן ע"י חמין ולגורדן בצפורן ואם אינו יכול להסירן אינו חוצץ

And...

...Similarly, if at times a louse or flea is found on her skin after immersion, after the fact, [the immersion] counts for her. However, those lice which are called filz lice which are very adherent to the skin must be removed by hot water and scraping them. If one does not remove them, the constitute an intervening substance even after the fact. However, if it is impossible to remove them, they do not intervene, since it is a small part [of the body] and one is not disturbed [by it]. (Chochmas Adam 119:4, translation from "the Laws of Tevilah" by Dr. Yehoshua Cohen)

And a more contemporary guide:

Once she completes the normal process of removing lice and nits, any remaining nits that cannot be removed are not a chatzitzah. (A Woman's Guide to the Laws of Niddah, Rabbi Forst, page 183)

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thank you very much, this is very helpful –  gt6989b Dec 16 '13 at 16:05
    
I upvoted this when I first read it, but realize now that it only answers the "what should she do before immersion" question whereas the question post above says "To clarify, the case is of a married lady immersing and later having a feeling she may have been infected with lice on her head at the time". –  msh210 Dec 20 '13 at 16:42
    
@msh210 I hear your point but I believe that the sources indicate that if a due diligence in preparing for the mikvah then bedieved we are not concerned about lice. Since we might infer that the preparations must be done with the intent to get rid of the lice if possible then perhaps there remains a question if one did prepare well but was unaware of the lice at the time. Since the primary and secondary sources don't seem to deal with this head on (not that my search was exhaustive but the main treatments seemed pretty easy to find) it is probably something that must be asked a Rav. –  Yirmeyahu Dec 20 '13 at 20:45
    
You might wish to edit the content of that comment into your answer. –  msh210 Dec 22 '13 at 4:27

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