Sunday, July 27, 2008

Showering after Mikvah

Rashi (Daf Yomi: Gittin 16a) explains that the Chachamim enacted a decree of mayim sheuvim (drawn water) because people would err and say that immersing in a Mikvah and in mayim sheuvim would render one pure. Rava (Shabbos 14a) asked Abaye, why does it make a difference if people said this? The end result was that the people had immersed themselves in a Mikvah?

Reb Moshe Feinstein writes in Iggros Moshe that perhaps Abaye’s reasoning was that by pouring on themselves mayim sheuvim, they transgressed the prohibition of baal tosif (adding on to a mitzvah) by thinking that pouring mayim sheuvim was obligatory. Rava, however, maintained that for this suspicion there was no reason to render the person tamei. Some wrote that Abaye held that if one would immerse in a Mikvah or in mayim sheuvim, others would consider him tamei, and they would end up burning Terumah and Kodshim in an errant manner.

Some Rishonim write that similar to matters of purity, the Chachamim also enacted a decree that a woman who was a niddah is not allowed to shower after immersing in a Mikvah. If she showered after immersing in a Mikvah, her immersion would be invalid and she would be forbidden to her husband. Most Rishonim, however, maintain that this is not the law, because this decree was only enacted regarding matters of purity.

The Shach writes that the reason that is offered in the Gemora that people will err in thinking that pouring mayim sheuvim is what purifies the person, also applies to a woman immersing in a Mikvah, irrespective of the woman erring in her thinking. Others write that from the words of the Rambam, it appears that the decree was enacted because people erred and thought that merely immersing in a Mikvah did not render them pure, and they also were required to pour on themselves mayim sheuvim. This reasoning only applies with regard to mayim sheuvim of Taharos, because only when one immersed for Taharos was one required to have the correct intentions. A niddah who immersed in a Mikvah, however, does not require the correct intention, and there was no reason to enact a decree for a niddah.

Rav Shmuel Vozner in Shevet HaLevi writes that even though the Rama rules that after immersing in a Mikvah a woman should not shower, once she arrives at her home she is permitted to shower.

Rav Ovadyah Yosef in Sheilos U’Teshuvos Yabia Omer, however, rules that a woman can shower immediately after immersing in a Mikvah.