Each week we discuss one familiar halakhic practice and try to show its beauty and meaning. The columns are based on Rabbi Meir's Meaning in Mitzvot on Kitzur Shulchan Arukh.
Bathing on Shabbat
Going to the Mikveh
Bathing in hot water on Shabbat is forbidden, lest people come to heat the bathwater. However, bathing in cold water is permissible (though it is restricted by custom - see MB 326:21). Even so, the Shulchan Arukh specifically tells us that immersing in a mikveh for purification is permissible (SA OC 326:8).
Why would we think that this kind of
bathing needs special permission?
This reinforces what we mentioned last week: Legally, Shabbat is a day when material repair is forbidden. But at a deeper level, Shabbat as a day which is "like the World to Come" and a day when all our work is considered completed hints that even spiritual repair is not completely in character with the Shabbat. For example, vidui (the daily confession) is not recited on Shabbat, nor is tikkun chatzot.
The main work of fixing ourselves, like
that of fixing our environment, is reserved for weekdays. On Shabbat we get
an inkling of what it is like to achieve perfection in both our material
environment and our inner character.
Rabbi Meir has completed writing a
monumental companion to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch which beautifully presents the
meanings in our mitzvot and halacha. It will hopefully be published in the
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