Is the purpose of a woman's going to the mikvah so that she can permit herself to a man (be he her husband or any potential husband), or is it for her own sake? The nafqa mina is that of a woman who will never marry a man. Women who fall into this category today might include those who are in long-term lesbian relationships, but for a more classical example you can consider the woman who is twice (or thrice) widowed, according to Rebbi and Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, in Yevamot 64b. Can such women avoid going to the mikvah, or is it still a requirement?

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    This may speak more to my ignorance than any deficiency in the question, but can you add the specifics of any other reason that a woman might have to go to the mikveh besides the marital one?
    – yitznewton
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 1:54
  • @yitznewton Tuma == bad. Alternatively, perhaps there is a mitzva of tevillah, or a prohibition of remaining impure unnecessarily.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 2:10
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    @CharlesKoppelman It could by contact, but that's generally not an issue people care about. In other words, they have no more concern than any other women who is certainly not married.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 17:44
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/2049/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 6:07
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    I don't understand why you ask about a permanently unmarried woman more than about a currently unmarried woman.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 9:48

4 Answers 4


Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet was asked (Responsum 425) why no rabbinic edict requiring unmarried women to regularly purify themselves in the Mivka was ever enacted in order to minimize the transgressions of those who engage in extra-marital sexual contact. (I note the whole basis of the question is that in the days when women regularly or even semi-regularly were involved in handling sanctified food, such a purification was clearly performed. Nowadays that is not an issue [with the possible exception of women who would visit the outer parts of the Temple Mount].) He responds that no enactment was made because removing the biblical Karet-bearing prohibition of Niddah would allow people to grant themselves leniencies in this matter. The implication is that the longstanding custom was for women to not visit the Mikva outside the context of a "kosher" sexual relationship. Such is I believe the accepted practice today as well.

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    Thank you, Double AA. It's a bit early for me to use that as a basis for post-SA halakha, but that at least shows me that the Rivash held this way, and that there's apparently nothing in the literature that precedes him to lead one to a different conclusion. In the event that somebody else can give me a fuller answer, I may end up accepting theirs instead, but this has answered my question for now. Thank you.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 22:54
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    For people who are interested, the relevant part of the responsum above is on the following page, and commences with ומה שנפלאת איך לא תקנו טבילה לפנויה.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 23:09
  • I remember being told that the story of Amnon and Tamar (the daughter of King David) was part of what eventually led to unmarried women no longer going to the mikveh (for niddah). I also remember hearing of a medrash about a woman who was saved from rape when she told the rapist that she had not yet gone to the mikvah (though that probably would not do any good nowadays). Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 18:01
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    @sabbahillel Amnon and Tamar is why they prohibited Yichud with a Penuya. Nothing about Mikva.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 18:03

There is a Tannaic dispute whether or not going to mikveh at the earliest time possible is an independent mitzvah (טבילה בזמנה מצוה או לאו מצוה) (see e.g. Yoma 8a). According to this opinion, a woman would go to the mikveh irrespective of becoming permitted to her husband (as in Niddah 29b where a woman was sent to mikveh many times to account for many permutations of when her earliest time to go to mikveh was, all the while remaining forbidden to her husband).

The Beis Yosef (Y.D. 197 s.v. הלכך מצוה) cites several opinions that are explicit that according to this approach, a woman should go to mikveh even when her husband is out of town.

And, more directly to your question, the Shach (Y.D. 197:3) says that according to this position, unmarried women and widows should be going to the mikveh.

The halachic consensus seems to be that mikveh on time is not a mitzvah, as the Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 197:2 codifies that it is only a mitzvah when her husband is in town, as a function of the mitzvah of p'ru u'revu. However, several major Rishonim, including no less than Rabbeinu Chananel, held of this position.

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    +1 but note that Tevilah BiZmanah might not practically apply to basically anyone after Chumra DeRebbi Zeira (since she's not going to be going after day seven anyway because she 'needs' Nekiyim).
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 4:38
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    @DoubleAA Yeah, I considered getting into that. But Shach certainly assumes it is, otherwise he wouldn't have the proof that he thinks he has. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 5:21
  • Y ez You should consider answering here as well judaism.stackexchange.com/q/69956/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 21:02
  • Why didn't you bring up Tevila Bizmanah there as well?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 3:41
  • @DoubleAA I wasn't sure it answered the question as asked. The OP there wants to know what to do with the imperative implied in the verse, and this halacha doesn't really directly address it. Think I should do it anyways? Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 4:33

It is wrong for unmarried women to go to mikva. I cant provide the source at the moment but will look for it. Since it makes them more 'eligible' for znus. Here פנויות לטהרתן, ומורים ליחידים ולעתים אף לרבים לילך ולטבול ומתירים את האיסור בק"ן טעמים", כתב הרב מצגר לרבנים. "אשר על כן בא אני בזאת לחזק ולבצר פסקם של ראשונים ואחרונים ולהודיע בשער בת רבים כי איסור גמור הוא לאישה פנויה, לטבול לטהרתה, וחובה למונעה ואסור לסייע בידה. והפורץ גדר ישכנו נחש". בעבר פרסמה הרבנות הראשית קריאות בנושא, וכמו כן פורסם מכתב של הרב עובדיה יוסף. קריאתו של הרב הראשי באה בעקבות שאלה שנשאל על רב שלכאורה התיר טבילת פנויה וכן בעקבות נוהג שהשתרש לאחרונה בקרב רווקות, בעקבות אמונה תפלה, ולפיו אם יטבלו במקווה וינהגו כמנהגן של נשים נשואות - יזורז זיווגן.


there is a custom among even single umarried men to go to the mikva every friday before shabbat.

I have heard people say they cannot feel the holiness of shabbat without going to the mikve.

I once read that Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was asked if it is bitul torah (Wasted time) if a bachelor yeshiva student goes to the mikva frequently. he responded that on the contrary this is a good thing.

my point is tahara helps a person in his religious service. if this were not the case, yeshiva bachurim would not be encouraged to take time out from their learning. tahara helps a person connect to the spiritual (see shaarei kedusha gate 4)

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    What does this have to do with the question?
    – Michoel
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 23:57
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    @Michoel Perhaps unmarried women also can't feel the holiness of Shabbat without going to the mikva
    – Double AA
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 1:36
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    Are you saying women should go to the mikva often just because being pure is better? If so, perhaps you should state that explicitly, as that is an answer to the question that was asked (while this is not yet).
    – Double AA
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 17:40
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    @DoubleAA I think it's going in that direction.
    – Seth J
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 20:18
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    this doesn't answer the question
    – Dude
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 5:09

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