Tum’a Removal part 3 – Tevila

Natural Mikva: Rabbinic Guidance

Rabbinic guidance is recommended when using a river, lake, or spring as a mikva due to:

  • Problems of mud, dirt, or sand, and
  • Difficulty in checking if the person is fully underwater,
  • It might not be a kosher mikva.
NOTE: This section applies to the immersion of both utensils and people, since the same principles apply.

Natural Mikva: Source of Water

Spring water, whether moving or stationary, is a kosher mikva.
Rain water is only a kosher mikva once it is stationary (just sitting in a pool, not flowing anywhere).
In neither case may the water enter a constructed mikva through a “kli,” which includes being carried in a bucket or via pipes with bends and other places for water to collect. In the case of a pipe that may not be a kli,  consult a rabbi.

Natural Mikva: Measurements

A kosher mikva in nature:

  • Must be 40 se’ah (about 192 gallons);
  • Has no minimum depth;
  • May be murky or muddy (but must be such that a cow would drink it); and
  • May not drop in level more than 2 inches (3.1 cm) within 24 hours.
Lakes or Ponds as Mikva

A lake or pond may be a kosher mikva if it is:

  • Fed from ground water (percolates through the soil); or
  • Primarily fed from a spring; or
  • Primarily fed from rain.
NOTE: The rain must run into the lake or pond directly. If the water enters, or drains out, via pipes, it is not a kosher mikvaHowever, if the lake or pond gets rain from run-off from streets through pipes, it might be a kosher mikva. Consult a rabbi.
NOTE: A lake or pond that drains out through a river or stream may not be a kosher mikvaConsult a rabbi.
NOTE: A lake or pond into which a river or stream empties, might be a kosher mikva. Consult a rabbi.
NOTE: A lake or pond with a river running into it and then out of it is considered a river. For immersing in a river, see below.
Oceans as Mikva
All oceans and seas are kosher mikvas, but other salty water (defined as water that a cow would not drink) is not kosher for immersion.
NOTE: rabbi should be consulted before using an ocean for immersion since there are other issues involved.
Rainwater as Mikva
Rainwater only purifies when it is stationary.
Rivers as Mikva
Rivers are only kosher mikvas when spring-fed. A river is a kosher mikva if it exists year round (not like a wadi, which is frequently dry and only flows after rainfall).

Hot Springs as Mikva

Here are requirements for a hot spring as a mikva:

  1. The temperature may not be above 98° F.
  2. If the spring and immersing area are separate, any pipes used to bring water into the immersing area from the spring must be at least 3″ in diameter. Consult a rabbi.
  3. The mikva area must contain at least 40 seah of the spring water.
  4. The mikva area must be hewn of rock or poured concrete, etc., but may not be prefabricated in one piece, like a hot tub.
  5. The water may not reach the mikva area via a pump.
Spring as Mikva
Springs are always kosher mikvas as long as the volume in the place of immersion is at least 40 se’ah (192 gallons).
Impurity that Mikva Does Not Remove
Normally covered parts of the body always have some type of impurity, even after immersion, and a mikva does not remove that impurity.
Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their website for more information.