Preparing the Heart and Mind for Prayer..

Immersion in order to prepare the heart and mind with holy and pure thoughts
for prayer, Torah study, and the performance of physical mitzvot

Waters of Knowledge - waters_knowledge.gif (970 bytes)

blue_line.gif (861 bytes)

1. Immersion to prepare the Heart and Mind for Prayer.
A. It is written, "No one may enter the courtyard of the Holy
Temple even in a state of purity until he immerses himself"
"He arises early and immerses himself." "five immersions does the High Priest on Yom Kippur;" and, with one exception "Immersion without an appropriate intention is invalid." Thus we find that beyond purity, immersion serves also to initiate holy thoughts. Since 'the prayers were instituted to take the place of the service in the Holy Temple,' therefore, there is merit to immerse oneself before prayer. (Yomah 3:3, Tamid 1:2, Chagigah 2:6). Archeological digs have unearthed dozens of Mikvahs near each of the entrance gates of the Holy Temple in Yerushalayim.  Some of them large enough to hold a few hundred people at one time. B. The Verse: "And you will be holy" (Vayikra 20:7) is translated by Targum Yonatan: "Sanctify your body in order for Me to accept your prayers willingly." How is it possible to sancitfy both body and soul? "Purity leads to sancity" (Sotah 9:15). C. "For Prayers are more willingly accepted with immersion. (Rif, Brachot 13b). D. "Do not pray without purity, for your prayer will not be listened to," (Orchos Chaim, by the Rosh; Wednesday). E. Another connection between immersion and prayer: It is written, "You turn man to breathless - 'Tashev Enosh Ad Daka' - and you say, repent, children of Adam!" (Psalms 90:3). Deprived of oxygen while immersing and thus endangered, one's thoughts are focused "To stand alone with G-d" and to pray from the depths of the heart. Therefore, there is a greater advantage and probability that 'G-d will accept our prayers willingly,' after immersion. Since the span of life of our frame of mind is very short, and any distraction may transport our thoughts to diffrent worlds, therefore, like in the Holy Temple, whre Mikvehs were situated near the enterences, one of the advantages of Men's Mikvah being build adjacent to the synagogue, is that it enables the worshiper to emerge spiritually pure in body and soul, with an exalted frame of mind engulfed in sancity, directly, without any hindering distractions, into the sanctuary for his prayers. For many other reasons, a men;s Mikveh sould prefeably be a seperate entity with a close relationship to the synagogue (I.R.).
2. 'Ezra instructed immersion even for Torah study.' Since according to the Torah, a Ba'al Keri (one who has experienced a seminal emission) is only forbidden to eat Trumah and holy offerings before innersion' (Bahha Kama 82a) The probable reason that the edict started in Ezra's generation is because they became lax in certain matters. 'Subsequent courts ruled that a Ba'al Keri should not pray until he purifies himself,' (Rambam, Hilchot T'filah, Ch 4).'Many earlier codifiers held that the immersion intituted by Ezra was abolished only for Torah study, but that prayer is nonetheless forbidden without immersion.
Even Rambam, who rules at the end of Hilchot Kri'at Shma the Ezra's immerson was completly abolished,nonetheless declaired that he personally never missed Ezra's immersion, (Rif, Berachot 13b) - as is true of many other Torah greats.
3. The purity of cantors  (Questons and Answers from Heaven, ch 5)
'I asked, Is the law as the Talmud Yerushalmi delcares, (Yomah 8:1) - that Ezra's institution of immersion was not universally accepted, and therefore it was abolished. Or is immersion actually necessary for prayer?' And the response was 'it is written, "And you will worship G-d", which refers to prayer, (Babba Kama 9b). Is it possible for one who is ritually impure to offer a sacrifice? Ritual impurity brought on by accident does not compare to intentional impurity, and impurity that arises from one's own body. Ezra's edict came about through Divine insparation. In fact, that is the reason for the lengthy exile. If the prayer of Israel was as it should be, it would have been accepted a long time ago. They then responded, We heard from behind the Heavenly Veil that although it is difficult to purify all of Israel together, but if atleast the Cantors will be purified in every location, that will hasten the redemption. For it is written, 'In each location ... purifyed offering.' 'in each location ... I will come to you and bless you,' (Exodus 20:21, Malachi 1:11). Therefore, in communities where it is a custom to immerse, the Cantor and those called to the Torah are required to immerse prior to prayers.
4. Immersion in order to suppliment the sancity of the Shabbat, on Friday, from the fifth Solar hour.
5. Immersion on the Shabbat and Holy Days in order to add sancity onto the inherent holiness of the Shabbat and Holy Day.
6. Immersion on the eve of the three pilgrimage holidays 'Everyone is obliged to purify himself on the three Pilgrimage Holidays of Passover, Shavout and Sukkot.'
7. Repentance requires immersion. Therefore it is a custom to immerse at the very least on the Eve of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Some say that since our sages reccommend that 'one is to repent the day before his death,' and since no one knows the day of his death, therefore, one should immerse every day as an act of Tshuvah - repentance.
8. A groom's immersion on the day of his wedding.
9. The immersion of the father, the Sandak and the Mohel before the performance of the circumcision.
10. A scribe's immersion in preparation for the writing of a Torah scroll, T'filin and Mezuzot.
11. Others immerse, additionally, before the performance of any Mitzvah associated with a physical act, like Shofar blowing, reciting the Megillah, lighting Chanukkah candles and before the ritual slaughtering, etc. (Mordechai)

blue_line.gif (861 bytes)

1999 Mikvah Tikvah Outreach
Web Design By Alan Dunbar

Next Page

blue_line.gif (861 bytes)