By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Just when we thought life was going to be back to normal – the Delta Variant shows up, and throws a monkey wrench into our daily lives. We know that it is a great Mitzvah to immerse in a Mikvah on Erev Yom Kippur. [Indeed, although this is not our custom, Rav Saadya Gaon used to recite a bracha before he would immerse. There is also a debate in the commentaries as to whether the immersion is on account of becoming purified or on account of Teshuvah. Ideally, one should have both in mind.] The Delta Variant is causing people to ask a question. The question some people are asking Rabbonim is as follows:
What about tvilah in a Mikvah today – on Erev Yom Kippur? The reason why it is more pertinent today is because the Mikvah on Erev Yom Kippur is generally more crowded than on other days of the year.
Of course, each person should ask his own Rav or Posaik, but it would seem that, for those who are more medically at risk, if one cannot go early in the morning where there are no crowds, it may be wise to consider an alternative approach – the 9 Kavim of Water Method. Or, one can consider the approach we can call, “The 9 Kavim Plus Method.” This is the idea of pouring 3 gallons and 2 cups (12.5 liters) over your body while in the shower.
This can be done according to some Poskim by being under the shower head for 4 minutes, or by pouring it over one’s entire body from a bucket or vessel – consecutively. That is, without stopping. This means that if one uses 3 buckets of a gallon-and-a-half each to start pouring the second bucket before one finishes the first bucket and the third before one finishes the second. The use of more than 3 vessels is highly questionable so keep to 3 or under. Some consider the use of the showerhead to be a problem because it may be considered that it is not koach gavrah – man-powered pouring.
CLEANING AND ELEVATING
We know that a Mikvah does two things: Firstly, it purifies us from tumas Kerry and, secondly, it elevates us by adding extra tahara to our neshamos. The Nine Kavim method, according to most Poskim, works for the first part, but not the second part (see Shla on Yuma p. 288 and Minchas Yitzchok Vol III #64). During Delta Variant Season and the concern for crowded Mikvaos by those at risk, however, perhaps we can accomplish the second part by learning about Mikvaos. One must be careful to remove any Chatzitza before doing this.
May we all have yeshuos and nechamos this year!
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