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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Mikvaot - Chapter 1

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Mikvaot - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchos Mikvaot

Included in this text is one positive commandment: that all impure individuals should immerse themselves in a mikveh and then regain purity.

This mitzvah is explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות מקואות - הקדמה הלכות מקואות מצות עשה אחת והיא שיטבול כל טמא במי מקוה ואחר כך יטהר וביאור מצוה זו בפרקים אלו:


All impure entities - whether humans or keilim, whether they contracted a severe impurity of Scriptural origin or whether they contracted Rabbinic impurity - regain purity only through immersion in water that is collected in a pool in the ground.


כָּל הַטְּמֵאִין בֵּין אָדָם בֵּין כֵּלִים בֵּין שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ טֻמְאָה חֲמוּרָה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה בֵּין שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ בְּטֻמְאָה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶן אֵין לָהֶן טָהֳרָה אֶלָּא בִּטְבִילָה בְּמַיִם הַנִּקְוִין בְּקַרְקַע:


Whenever the Torah mentions washing one's flesh or laundering one's garments from impurity, the intent is solely the immersion of the entire body or article in a mikveh. The phrase, Leviticus 15:11: "And he did not wash his hands in water," also refers to the immersion of the entire body. This also applies to other impure people. If one immersed himself entirely with the exception of the tip of his little finger, he is still ritually impure.

Although all of these matters have their source in the Oral Tradition, Leviticus 11:32 does state: "He shall enter water; he remains impure until the evening and then he becomes pure." This rule is then applied with regard to all those impure: They must enter water.


כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה רְחִיצַת בָּשָׂר וְכִבּוּס בְּגָדִים מִן הַטֻּמְאָה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא טְבִילַת כָּל הַגּוּף בְּמִקְוֶה. וְזֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּזָב (ויקרא טו יא) "וְיָדָיו לֹא שָׁטַף בַּמָּיִם" כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁיִּטְבּל כָּל גּוּפוֹ. וְהוּא הַדִּין לִשְׁאָר הַטְּמֵאִין שֶׁאִם טָבַל כֻּלּוֹ חוּץ מֵרֹאשׁ אֶצְבַּע הַקְּטַנָּה עֲדַיִן הוּא בְּטֻמְאָתוֹ. וְכָל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה הֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יא לב) "בַּמַּיִם יוּבָא וְטָמֵא עַד הָעֶרֶב וְטָהֵר" בִּנְיַן אָב לְכָל הַטְּמֵאִים שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ בַּמַּיִם:


All keilim that contract impurity can be purified through immersion in a mikveh with the exception of an earthenware container, a glass k'li, and a reed mat.

With regard to an earthenware container, Leviticus 11:33 states: "You shall break it," implying that its purification comes only through breaking it. Even if it was joined to the earth, even affixed to it with a nail, and even if it was filled with lime or gypsum, it retains its impurity until it is broken. Our Sages considered glass keilim like earthenware containers in this respect.


כָּל הַכֵּלִים שֶׁנִּטְמְאוּ יֵשׁ לָהֶן טָהֳרָה בְּמִקְוֶה חוּץ מִכְּלֵי חֶרֶס וּכְלֵי זְכוּכִית וְכֵן הַמַּפָּץ. כְּלִי חֶרֶס נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ (ויקרא יא לג) "וְאֹתוֹ תִשְׁבֹּרוּ "וְאֵין לוֹ טָהֳרָה אֶלָּא שְׁבִירָה. אֲפִלּוּ חִבְּרוֹ בְּקַרְקַע וַאֲפִלּוּ קְבָעוֹ בְּמַסְמֵר וַאֲפִלּוּ מִלְּאָהוּ סִיד אוֹ גְּפָסִים הֲרֵי הוּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה עַד שֶׁיִּשָּׁבֵר. וּכְלֵי זְכוּכִית כִּכְלֵי חֶרֶס עֲשָׂאוּם בְּדָבָר זֶה:


A reed mat is not included among the keilim that are susceptible to other types of impurity. Since it does not have a receptacle, it is not in the category of the wooden keilim mentioned by the Torah. Nevertheless, since it is fit to lie upon, it was included among the keilim susceptible to midras impurity according to Scriptural Law. Now since there is no explicit mention of its association with purity and impurity in the Torah and yet, it was included among the articles that contract impurity, it was not included with regard to purification through immersion in a mikveh. For only keilim mentioned in the Torah can be purified in a mikveh. A reed mat can be purified only by being torn to the extent that there remain less than six handbreadths by six handbreadths.


הַמַּפָּץ אֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל הַכֵּלִים הַמְקַבְּלִים שְׁאָר כָּל הַטֻּמְאוֹת לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ כְּלִי קִבּוּל אֵינוֹ מִכְּלַל כְּלֵי עֵץ הָאֲמוּרִין בַּתּוֹרָה וְהוֹאִיל וְהוּא רָאוּי לְמִשְׁכָּב נִתְרַבָּה לְטֻמְאַת מִדְרָס בִּלְבַד דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁאֵין לוֹ טֻמְאָה וְטָהֲרָה בְּפֵרוּשׁ וְנִתְרַבָּה לַטֻּמְאָה לֹא יִתְרַבֶּה לְטַהֵר בְּמִקְוֶה שֶׁאֵין מִתְטַהֵר בְּמִקְוֶה אֶלָּא הַכֵּלִים הָאֲמוּרִין בַּתּוֹרָה וְאֵין לַמַּפָּץ טָהֳרָה אֶלָּא קְרִיעָתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּשָּׁאֵר פָּחוֹת מִשִּׁשָּׁה עַל שִׁשָּׁה טְפָחִים:


A zav can be purified only through immersion in a stream, for Leviticus 15:13 states that he must immerse "in living water." A zavah and other persons and keilim that are impure may immerse or be immersed in a mikveh.


הַזָּב אֵין לוֹ טָהֳרָה אֶלָּא בְּמַעְיָן שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ (ויקרא טו יג) "בְּמַיִם חַיִּים" אֲבָל הַזָּבָה וּשְׁאָר הַטְּמֵאִין בֵּין אָדָם בֵּין כֵּלִים טוֹבְלִין אַף בְּמִקְוֶה:


All those obligated to immerse may immerse during the day with the exception of a nidah and a woman after childbirth. They must immerse at night, as we explained with regard to the laws of nidah. One who has a seminal emission may immerse throughout the entire day from the beginning of the night. This is derived from Deuteronomy 23:12 which states: "And it shall be that toward evening, he shall immerse in water." This teaches that he may immerse and continue in his state from the beginning of the night until the night falls the following day.


כָּל חַיָּבֵי טְבִילוֹת טְבִילָתָן בַּיּוֹם חוּץ מִנִּדָּה וְיוֹלֶדֶת שֶׁטְּבִילָתָן בַּלַּיְלָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּעִנְיַן נִדָּה. וּבַעַל קֶרִי טוֹבֵל וְהוֹלֵךְ כָּל הַיּוֹם כֻּלּוֹ מִתְּחִלַּת הַלַּיְלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג יב) "וְהָיָה לִפְנוֹת עֶרֶב יִרְחַץ בַּמָּיִם" מְלַמֵּד שֶׁטּוֹבֵל וְהוֹלֵךְ מִתְּחִלַּת הַלַּיְלָה עַד הַעֲרֵב שֶׁמֶשׁ:


All those who immerse should immerse their entire bodies while naked at one time. If the person has hair, all of his hair must be immersed; it is considered as part of his body according to Scriptural Law.

Whenever impure individuals immersed while wearing clothes, the immersion is acceptable, because the water passes through the clothes and they do not intervene. Similarly, if a nidah immerses in her clothes, she is permitted to resume relations with her husband.


כָּל הַטּוֹבֵל צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּטְבּל כָּל גּוּפוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא עָרוּם בְּבַת אַחַת. וְאִם הָיָה בַּעַל שֵׂעָר יַטְבִּיל כָּל שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ וַהֲרֵי הוּא כְּגוּפוֹ דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְכָל הַטְּמֵאִין שֶׁטָּבְלוּ בְּבִגְדֵיהֶן עָלְתָה לָהֶן טְבִילָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַמַּיִם בָּאִין בָּהֶן וְאֵינָן חוֹצְצִין. וְכֵן הַנִּדָּה שֶׁטָּבְלָה בִּבְגָדֶיהָ מֻתֶּרֶת לְבַעֲלָהּ:


All those who immerse must have the intent to purify themselves through immersion. If one did not have such an intent, the immersion is acceptable with regard to ordinary foods. Even a nidah who immerses without intent, e.g., she fell into water or descended into water to cool off, is permitted to her husband. Nevertheless, with regard to terumah and sacrificial food, she is not considered pure until she immerses with the proper intent.


כָּל הַטּוֹבֵל צָרִיךְ לְהִתְכַּוֵּן לִטְבִילָה וְאִם לֹא נִתְכַּוֵּן עָלְתָה לוֹ טְבִילָה לְחֻלִּין. אֲפִלּוּ נִדָּה שֶׁטָּבְלָה בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה כְּגוֹן שֶׁנָּפְלָה לְתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם אוֹ יָרְדָה לְהָקֵר הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת לְבַעֲלָהּ. אֲבָל לִתְרוּמָה וּלְקָדָשִׁים אֵינָהּ טְהוֹרָה עַד שֶׁתִּטְבּל בְּכַוָּנָה:


When a person ties his hands and feet and is seated in an irrigation canal, if the water covers his body entirely, he is pure.

When a person jumps into a mikveh, it is reprehensible. When one immerses in a mikveh twice, it is reprehensible. When one tells a friend: "Place your hand upon me in the mikveh," it is reprehensible.


הַכּוֹפֵת יָדָיו וְרַגְלָיו וְיָשַׁב לוֹ בְּאַמַּת הַמַּיִם אִם נִכְנְסוּ מַיִם דֶּרֶךְ כֻּלּוֹ טָהוֹר. הַקּוֹפֵץ לְתוֹךְ הַמִּקְוֶה הֲרֵי זֶה מְגֻנֶּה. וְהַטּוֹבֵל פַּעֲמַיִם בַּמִּקְוֶה הֲרֵי זֶה מְגֻנֶּה. וְהָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ כְּבשׁ יָדְךָ עָלַי בַּמִּקְוֶה הֲרֵי זֶה מְגֻנֶּה:


Water from the mikveh need not seep into the non-visible portions or the creases of a person's body, as implied by the verse: "And he did not wash his hands in water." It can be inferred that it is necessary only that visible portions of the body be in contact with the water. Nevertheless, the non-visible portions must be fit for water to reach them without there being any intervening substances upon them. Therefore, our Sages instructed: At home, a person should always teach that a woman should rinse between the folds of her body and then immerse.

A woman should immerse as she stands normally when weaving or when nursing her child.


בֵּית הַסְּתָרִים וּבֵית הַקְּמָטִים אֵינָן צְרִיכִין שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ בָּהֶן הַמַּיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טו יא) "וְיָדָיו לֹא שָׁטַף בַּמָּיִם" אֵיבָרִים הַנִּרְאִים בִּלְבַד. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן צְרִיכִין לִהְיוֹת רְאוּיִין שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ בָּהֶן הַמַּיִם וְלֹא יִהְיֶה דָּבָר חוֹצֵץ לְפִיכָךְ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים לְעוֹלָם יִלְמֹד אָדָם בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה אִשָּׁה מְדִיחָה בֵּין קְמָטֶיהָ בְּמַיִם וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּטְבּל. וְהָאִשָּׁה טוֹבֶלֶת כְּדֶרֶךְ גְּדִילָתָהּ כְּאוֹרֶגֶת וּכְמֵינִיקָה אֶת בְּנָהּ:


A woman should not immerse in a harbor, because she will be embarrassed because of the inhabitants of the city and will not immerse properly. If mats were erected as a screen for the purpose of modesty, she may immerse in a harbor. A woman should not immerse while standing on an earthenware container, on a basket, or the like, because she will be afraid of falling and the immersion will not be acceptable.


אִשָּׁה אֵינָהּ טוֹבֶלֶת בַּנָּמֵל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּתְבַּיֶּשֶׁת מִבְּנֵי הָעִיר וְאֵינָהּ טוֹבֶלֶת כַּהֹגֶן. וְאִם הִקִּיף לָהּ מַפָּץ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ כְּדֵי לְהַצְנִיעָהּ טוֹבֶלֶת בַּנָּמֵל. וְלֹא תִּטְבּל עַל גַּבֵּי כְּלִי חֶרֶס אוֹ סַל וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמְּפַחֶדֶת וְלֹא תַּעֲלֶה לָהּ טְבִילָה:


When either a human or a k'li is immersed, there should not be any intervening substance between them and the water. If there is an any intervening substance between them and the water - for example, there was dough or mud clinging to the flesh of a person or the substance of a k'li - the person or the k'li is impure as it was originally and the immersion is invaild.

According to Scriptural Law, if there is an intervening substance covering the larger portion of the person's body or the larger portion of the k'li, the immersion is invalid, provided he objects to the intervening substance and would like to remove it. If, however, he does not object to it and does not pay attention whether it would be removed or not, it is not considered an intervening substance, even if it covers the major portion of the person or the k'li. Similarly, if it covers less than half a person's body, it is not considered as an intervening substance even if he objects to it. According to Rabbinic decree, any intervening substance that one objects to invalidates an immersion even if it covers only the lesser portion of the person's body. This is a decree, lest such a substance cover the greater portion of the person's body. And any intervening substance that covers the larger portion of the person's body disqualifies the immersion even if he does not object to it. This is a decree, lest a substance that one objects to cover the greater portion of his body.

Thus if even a drop the size of a mustard seed of an intervening substance, e.g., dough, tar, or the like, was on a person's flesh or on the substance of a k'li, and he objects to it, his immersion is disqualified. If he does not object to it, the immersion is acceptable unless the intervening substance covers the major portion of the k'li or the person, as explained.


אֶחָד הָאָדָם אוֹ הַכֵּלִים לֹא יִהְיֶה דָּבָר חוֹצֵץ בֵּינָם וּבֵין הַמַּיִם. וְאִם הָיָה דָּבָר חוֹצֵץ בֵּינָם וּבֵין הַמַּיִם כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה בָּצֵק אוֹ טִיט מֻדְבָּק עַל בְּשַׂר הָאָדָם אוֹ עַל גּוּף הַכְּלִי הֲרֵי זֶה טָמֵא כְּשֶׁהָיָה וְלֹא עָלְתָה לָהֶן טְבִילָה. דְּבַר תּוֹרָה אִם הָיָה דָּבָר הַחוֹצֵץ חוֹפֶה אֶת רֹב הָאָדָם אוֹ רֹב הַכְּלִי לֹא עָלְתָה לָהֶן טְבִילָה וְהוּא שֶׁיַּקְפִּיד עָלָיו וְרוֹצֶה לְהַעֲבִירוֹ. אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו וְלֹא שָׂם אוֹתוֹ עַל לֵב בֵּין עָבַר בֵּין לֹא עָבַר אֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחוֹפֶה אֶת רֻבּוֹ. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה חוֹפֶה מִעוּטוֹ אֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו. מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים שֶׁכָּל דָּבָר הַחוֹצֵץ אִם הָיָה מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו לֹא עָלְתָה לוֹ טְבִילָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עַל מִעוּטוֹ גְּזֵרָה מִשּׁוּם רֻבּוֹ. וְכָל דָּבָר הַחוֹצֵץ אִם הָיָה חוֹפֶה אֶת רֻבּוֹ לֹא עָלְתָה לוֹ טְבִילָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו גְּזֵרָה מִשּׁוּם רֻבּוֹ הַמַּקְפִּיד עָלָיו. נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר שֶׁאִם הָיָה עַל בְּשַׂר הָאָדָם אוֹ עַל גּוּף הַכְּלִי דָּבָר מִדְּבָרִים הַחוֹצְצִין כְּגוֹן בָּצֵק וְזֶפֶת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֲפִלּוּ טִפָּה כְּחַרְדָּל וְהוּא מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו לֹא עָלְתָה לוֹ טְבִילָה. וְאִם אֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו עָלְתָה לוֹ טְבִילָה. אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה חוֹפֶה רֹב הַכְּלִי אוֹ רֹב הָאָדָם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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