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Chapter Seven

Preparing for the Immersion (Chafifah)

86. Are there any foods which a woman should not eat on the day she goes to the Mikvah?

It is customary for women to refrain from eating meat on the day they will go to the Mikvah. On Shabbos or Yom Tov, it is permissible to eat meat. The woman should, however, be careful to clean her teeth before immersing in the Mikvah. (If it is Friday night or a Yom Tov night, she should only use a dry toothbrush.)

It should be noted that if a woman immerses and there is food stuck between her teeth, her immersion is not considered valid and has to be repeated.

87. Can a woman work with sticky substances on the day of her immersion?

No. A woman should not handle wax candles, dough, or any other sticky substances on the day of her immersion so that nothing should be stuck to her hands, etc. However, if the night of her immersion is Shabbos and it is the woman’s custom to bake chalahs every Erev Shabbos, it would be permissible for her to make the chalahs. She must be very careful to clean her hands thoroughly afterwards to make sure that nothing sticks to them.

88. What does the woman do after making her final examination on the seventh clean day?

The procedure before immersing in the Mikvah is called chafifah, which means thoroughly washing all parts of the body in warm water and combing out all hair on all parts of the body so that it should not be knotted or stuck together. After this, the woman should examine her entire body to make sure she is completely clean of anything which could invalidate her immersion.

89. At what time of the day or night do these preparations begin?

These preparations should begin while it is still day and should be continued into the night until the woman can immerse herself. If this is impossible, the woman can start the preparations at night. However, she should be careful not to rush the preparations in order to get home early. The woman in charge of the Mikvah should also be careful not to rush anyone in their preparations.

90. If a woman cannot obtain hot or warm water, can she make her preparations with cold water?

In emergency situations where one cannot obtain hot or warm water, it is doubtful whether preparations can be made properly with cold water. A Rav would definitely have to be consulted.

91. Should soap be used for the chafifah preparations?

Soap should definitely be used. (A mild soap is preferable.)

92. What is the procedure for the preparations?

The proper procedure is to first take a bath in warm water. During the bath, the woman should make sure to clean all the folds and crevices of her body; i.e. ears, between toes, navel, under the breasts, the holes of pierced ears, etc.

After this thorough washing, the woman should comb out all the hair on her head, under her arms, and in the private parts of her body, making sure that there are no loose or knotted hairs which would invalidate her immersion.

106. if the time for a woman to go to the Mikvah is Motzoei Shabbos (Saturday night), when should she make her preparations?
She should thoroughly wash and prepare herself on Friday, being careful to finish before candle-lighting time. On Motzoei Shabbos, she should wash herself again, comb her hair and prepare herself. This washing on Motzoei Shabbos does not have to be as lengthy as the one on Friday; the woman should just be sure that she is properly clean.
110. Can a woman tell others on what night she will go to the Mikvah?
A woman should act with modesty regarding the night of her immersion. It is, therefore, customary for a woman to act with discretion so that others will not realize she is going to the Mikvah.
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