I know that mikvah immersion and ritual washing is required, but what about other bodily hygiene, shaving, teeth, house order, hair and all other hygienically addressable aspects of a modern human?


I'd love to find references to the importance of hygiene and even better citations of exactly what to do with respect to Torah, prayer, etc.


3 Answers 3


As Yaacov Deane wrote in his answer, the Rambam puts great emphasis on a hygienical life and says that we must life healthy in order to serve our Creator. We must, according tot the Rambam, "accustom ourselves to things that are healthy and therapeutic".

In this vein, Rav Eliezer Melamed in his Peninei Halachah (Simchas HaBayis U'Virkhato, chapter 2:4) says that this all should be connected to Derech Eretz:

It should go without saying that derekh eretz includes maintaining personal hygiene and removing anything unsightly or likely to be off-putting. Getting rid of things which are off-putting is obligatory, while going above and beyond is admirable. This applies equally to both women and men.

It is even so important, that Rav Melamed says that showering during the Nine Days of Av (which Tisha B'Av concludes) is only permitted if a person feels literal pain when refraining from washing himself. If this is the case, Rav Melamed explains that a person can wash himself, although only with lukewarm water, in order to avoid pleasure from it.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe in his Igros Kodesh (vol. 3, p. 398) writes that one should be diligent in keeping a good and healthy body. This way, the unhealthiness will not serve as a hindrance to Torah study and the observance of mitzvos.

So, yes. One should take care of his personal hygiene. Not only for spiritual reasons, but also to prevent that his physical state (of illness) will prevent him from studying Torah and performing mitzvos (G-d forbid).

Edit: this Shabbos I've come across an fascinating piece from Rav Reuvain Grozovsky. In his Maamrei Rav Reuvain (p. 45) he says:

A person is obligated to honor his limbs and his body. It is part of the Mitzvah of Zeh Kaili v’anveihu since man was created b’Tzelem Elokim.


The Gemara (Shabbos 50b) says that one should wash his face, hands and feet every day, to honor his creator, and Rashi explains because man was created in His image

Also, Rashi (Devarim 14:1) explains that the reason why the verse states: “Children are you of Hashem your G-d!” when stating that it is forbidden to bruise oneself or tear out hair when mourning, is because it is proper for His children to have a nice appearance


Good hygiene is a part of the obligation to maintain one’s health which an essential element of serving G-d.

This is explained by Rambam in his Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah, Hilchot De’ot, chapter 4.

This same principle continues to this day and can be seen, for example, in Rabbi Gantzfried’s Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, section 32.

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