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

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 bitten by a snake." (Definitely something bad!)

That being said, the custom to immerse in the mikvah on erev Yom HaKippurim is brought in Shulhan Aruch, O.C. Siman 606, S'if 5. It is universally accepted among all Torah Observant Halachic authorities, Ashkenazic, Sefardic, Yemenite, etc. 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 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, 2010 at 2:41
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    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, 2010 at 16:04
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    where is the referenced Rambam?
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 14, 2015 at 3:33
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    @mevaqesh Depends which Tashbetz--if it is the talmid of the Maharam mi-Rothenburg, it probably refers to the Maharam.
    – wfb
    May 13, 2015 at 21:49
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    @wfb good catch. In that case Yahu should edit the Rambam out of the sources.
    – mevaqesh
    May 13, 2015 at 23:59

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