Oct 27, 2011

Should We Open Mikvahs For Unmarried Women

The Religious Action Center is appealing to Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi that he should change the rules of all public mikvahs to allow all women, regardless of marital status, to immerse themselves.
The Ministry's response so far is that they will look into the issue.

Source: Ynetnews

On the surface it looks like the request is one to allow single women to immerse in the mikvah to remove nidda status, which would allow them to engage in pre-marital sex without any nidda issues. That would apply to divorced or widowed women as much as it would apply to never-married women. There are other situations as well, such as going up to har HaBayit requires immersion, and unmarried women who wish to go up currently have a problem that many mikvahs do not allow them to immerse. I am told there are other instances where women wish to immerse, for personal reasons to be pure, just as men have no need to immerse regularly but prefer to do so for various reasons such as "purity".

Should it be allowed? I don't know. Allowing it is almost like giving a blanket hetter for pre-marital sex - opening the gates and removing the obstacles. On the other hand, there are other issues, such as the ones I mentioned among others. As well, if a women is going to have pre-marital sex anyway, even if the mikvah would remain closed, why are we forcing her (and him) to do it b'issur when we can allow her to remove at least that issur?

I don't know what is better or worse. What do you think?


  1. Like many of these types of arguments, it's a false argument. Women's mikvah's are NOT checking the id's of the women to see if they are married unless they arrive demanding to tovel as single women.

    After all, how is a tourist supposed to prove she's married? Or, for that matter, someone who perhaps didn't register with the Misrad HaPanim (might apply to some in Meah Shearim, for example - or even Ramat Bet).

    Now if a woman known to be single shows up at the mikvah in her neighborhood and demands use, then they might ask questions.

    The argument's a non-starter for many straightforward reasons. Yes, public mikvah's are funded by the government which can't discriminate in services...yet the government also builds single gender restrooms (why can't I demand to use the ladies room), single gender gan's, etc. Why can't I, as a man, demand to use the women's mikvah (at night)?

    Because it's a government service provided for married women. Like I can't use the ministry of employment service for the unemployed...because (thank G-d) I'm employed. I don't fit the category.

    This is the classic case of people wanting to justify their behavior by demanding public approval. It's the ultimate chutzpah.

  2. Why would the Mikveh attendants know who's married and who's not? Lots of married women immerse but don't cover their hair. I can't imagine Mikveh ladies asking women if they're single or married ...

    What's the issue?

  3. I wonder if this would apply to publicly funded mikvaos run under private supervision, ודי לחכימא ברמיזא

  4. the holy Yetev Lev Ztz"l opened the mikveh in Sighet for single women, because rather the women should only tansgress the derabanan of pre-marital sex than the d'oraitah of niddah.

  5. I dont know if there is official policy or not, but I suspect it is most likely just the mikva ladies not allowing it under the direction of a rabbi they might have asked the first time it happened.

    I am sure there are enough situations where the miva lady is aware that the woman is most likely single and then asks. it might be difficult with a divorced woman or widowed, but if you get an 18 year old girl going (there have been stories about young teens in jerusalem, I dont know if they are true, but it must happen occasionally) the mikva lady might be pretty confident that she is single and might ask.

    it might not be SO relevant, because most singles going would likely be smart enough to make themselves look married, which mostly consists of covering their hair for the visit to the mikva. They might still have to field a couple of questions..

    I see it as a possibility, not an impossibility

  6. 1. the mikvah lady is a community person. most of them know the frum single girls.

    2. giving a "heter" is not allowing premarital sex anymore than putting hashgacha on cheese matirs a cheeseburger.

  7. "This is the classic case of people wanting to justify their behavior by demanding public approval."

    We don't want your permission, Papa. We just want your blessing!

  8. What a ridiculous argument. It is none of the mikva lady's business what the marital status of the woman is. Just the same as it is nonbe of her business what humrot the woman wishes or doesn't wish to take on herself. Her job is to ensure full immersion and to help those requesting it with preparation.

    As you pointed out there enough other reasons for a woman to want to tovel. She might just want to be tehora like a lot of men want to be and not be having sex. Or she may be having sex (which is no-one else's business) and preventing her from using the mikva is causing her to do this while remaining nidah.

    I really don't think people are going to have sex just because the mikva asks no questions. This issue should be taken off the public agenda and let people get on with their lives as they see fit.

  9. Regarding specifically setting up a program for unmarried females to remove nida status for sex, wouldn't we just say העליתהו וימות?

    But I agree with the other commenters the best approach is not to make it into an issue - the singles who decide to be so clever should keep a low profile, which includes mikvaos where those in charge aren't looking so closely.

  10. הלעיטהו לרשע וימות only applied when he transgresses a d'oraisah. Pre-marital sex is d'rabonon and nidah is kares.

  11. @Yeedle - not so poshut that premarital sex is only d'rabbanan. There's an issur d'oraysa of k'desha, i.e. extra-marital sex for payment (whether monetary or pleasure). See D'varim 23:18: לֹא-תִהְיֶה קְדֵשָׁה, מִבְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה קָדֵשׁ, מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

    Still, in spirit I agree with what most people are saying: it doesn't have to be an issue if you don't ask questions. Similarly, the Torah is pretty harsh on homesexuality, but you don't have to go on queer-hunts to enforce it; people's private life is in the geder of "hanistaros la-Shem Elokeinu". It only becomes an issue when people "come out" and demand that we make the pig kosher, whether by sanctioning homosexuality or extra-marital sex, in which case we have to say an emphatic and principled "NO".

  12. yeedle...this is a sheker gaas in the name of the yativ lev...do tshuva...

  13. The Mikve is a public service. Full stop. Will those who want to "police" entrances likewise visit Jewish homes and forbid a wife who did NOT go to the Mikveh?


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