Talk:Ritual washing in Judaism

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Should tevilah (immersion) of new vessels for eating be included here? --jnothman 13:07, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Good question. I'm not sure. :-) Jayjg (talk) 17:47, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Hi, my suggestion in this case is: Create a seperate article and then cross-reference and link the two. Thus, the name Immersion of vessels in Judaism would solve your problem and avoid confusion with the the other "ablutions" of/by humans and/or their body parts. IZAK 07:38, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The dictionary seems to suggest that only washing body parts is included in "ablution". I find the whole term foreign to Judaism. The proper name is netilath yadayim, and I'm hotly in favour of a move. JFW | T@lk 19:28, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

  • JFW: The article deals with more than "washing of hands" if you will care to read it. "Ablution" is fine for those who speak and understand good English. If you like though, and you really want to create a fairly LENGTHY new article devoted to a special section of it, then I think that Ritual washing of hands in Judaism would be perfectly fine instead of the Hebrew name you suggest in this case for the subject of Netilat Yadayim; you could then also create a "REDIRECT" from Netilat Yadayim to "Ritual washing of hands in Judaism" to cover all bases. IZAK 07:38, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • I'm for a name change too. Ablution isn't just the anglicied version of nitilas yodiayim, it has other connotations of purification that we only attribute to a full immersion in a mikveh. Ritual washing of hands in Judaism sounds fine to me.


Mikveh question[edit]

  • I have two questions:

1- Do Jews have to do Mikvah after a sexual intercourse or secretion of semen? 2- Do Jews have to wash their behinds with water after defication?

If the answer is yes to any of the questions please mention it in the article.

Thank you very much.

1- no except nocturnal emissions and this is not widely practiced 2- no

  • This is not in the scope of the article. Please see Mikveh.

Note on question -- some Hassidic groups, including Chabad-Lubavitch, practice immersion in a mikvah every day. This essentially covers the base of immersion following intercourse/seminal emissions without having to address such a delicate topic directly. Best, --Shirahadasha 20:18, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Proposed merger with Negelvasser[edit]

I don't object strongly to a merger. It seems to me that there could legitimately be an article on the cup separately from the article on washing with it, just as the article on Mikvah is separate from how to use it. I do believe, however, that material on how to wash shouldn't be scattered between the two articles, and if it should be concentrated in one article it should go in this article. I suggest a similar approach to the relationship between this article and mikvah, letting the mikvah article focus on what a mikvah is and what makes it kosher, and refer to this article for material on when and how to do tevilah. --Shirahadasha 20:19, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

They are seperate things that should not be mixed. There is handwashing and the mikvah (and the 9 Kav for someone who has had an emission). I say de-merge. JFW | T@lk 02:09, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Totally disputed tag[edit]

The re-write contains a substantial amount of useful contenr, but it erased content on the practice within Judaism -- the article's subject -- and substituted material from sources that are not necesssarily reliable sources on Judaism. I'll need to clean this up to re-add the halakha on ritual washing and to clarify which views stated represent beliefs of various denominations of Judaism, and which represent commentary about or criticism of Judaism. Best, --Shirahadasha 21:26, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree. This is an article about "ritual washing" (in itself a somewhat misleading term, but I can't think of a better one at the moment) in Judaism, not about Christian interpretation of biblical texts related to ritual washing. (Having recently seen some Christian textbooks about Judaism, it's pretty clear to me that Christian interpretation of Jewish practices that persist to this day are often at odds with contemporary Jewish practice.) Important details are omitted, some fairly speculative facts are included, and the article is misleading to anyone who wants to learn about washing as a ritual act within Judaism. I'm not sure a bias is intended, though. --Leifern 13:43, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree as well. I added back some material about actual modern practice, but it's clear the article was written with little knowledge of actual ritual washing. Jayjg (talk) 04:43, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I've attempted to reorganize. I'm afraid I've barely started on the Tevilah section (the section involving full immersion in a body of "living water") and have run out of time. Will have to stop in the middle -- half done one way, half the other -- and get back to this. --Shirahadasha 01:06, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

One difficulty is that the article attempts to connect contemporary practices with Temple practices such as the the Red Heifer ceremony, but it gives an "outsider's" rather than an "insider's" view of the connections involved. Expanding the article to include discussion of Temple ritual purification from a religious perspective is a much broader topic than focusing on the article's subject, one I'm not competent to do real justice to, so I may need to move some of this material to a separate section and leave a disputed tag on it. Will attempt to resolve in a couple of days. Best, --Shirahadasha 01:13, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

References to Holiness and Deuteronomic codes are distatateful to traditional Jews (and Christians). I shall attempt to change.Wolf2191 01:52, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

My addition of Kaplan's theory assumes a basic familiarity with Genesis. I chose not to elaborate because one can easily follow the link to the Genesis article.Wolf2191 03:29, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Splitting up this article[edit]

This article is unnecessarily confusing i propose splitting this article into its components Mikva & hand washing

or perhaps

splitting it 3 ways with a article on

  • ritual washing
  • joining washing in mikva to basic mikva page
  • Hand Washing

Waky02 (talk) 22:25, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

How about someone taking all the christian interpretations of why nobody needs to wash their hands out of the article and splitting the article into three sections: introduction, why washing is important, netilat yadayim and mikvah? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:19, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

The word "any" in Ritual washing in Judaism[edit]

Hi IZAK. Thank you for your contributions to Wikipedia. In a 2004 edit of yours, you wrote that Jews must ritually wash their hands after touching anything considered tamei—even an insect or animal. I've added a {{Citation needed-span}} to there. Do you remember where you learned that we must wash our hands after touching an insect or animal? I've never read such a thing outside of Wikipedia—neither in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch nor elsewhere. Please move this conversation to my talk page when you reply. Thanks in advance. All the best, Unforgettableid (talk) 11:30, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

  • Hi there Unforgettable, thanks for contacting me. Amazing what one can accomplish with a simple Google search. I Googled touching of insect animal in Jewish law and right off the bat I clicked on The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion - Google Books Result (p. 174) and got the answer you need: ""The Shulkhan Arukh (Orach Haim 4.18, 158-165 lists occasions when hands should be washed; upon arising each morning, after urination and defecation, after taking off one's shoes, or touching any part of the body customarily covered, after visiting a cemetery,after undressing, before and after meals, after marital relations, and after coming into contact with lice" and one does not have to be a great genius or halachist to understand that if for the lowly louse one must wash one's hands, so certainly likewise if one touches all manner of insects and animals, if one wishes to then proceed to study Torah, pray or make a blessing. By the way, one would do so first for hygiene with soap and water, then dry your hands, and then to also wash the hands ritually. The codes of Jewish law won't tell you to use soap either but common sense requires it and so would Judaism that requires one to take care of one's physical health (to prevent contagion from germs or vermin) and to wash off the invisible impurity/tuma by means of ritual washing or even taking a dip in a mikva. And by the way, there is a wonderful analogy used by the Talmudic sages tovel vesheretz beyado (immerses in the mikvah with an impure insect in his hand) so one sees that the very essence of a bug, ANY bug, is the OPPOSITE of the purity/tahara that is within the waters of the mikva, and if a bug is impure so would holding a rat, pig, snake, dog or cat be impure in the mikva!!!! You know, some things in Yiddishkeit are learned by applied logic. I do not have the time to see if Rav Moshe Feinstein or the Chazon Ish address your questionable question in their responsa but I think I have made my point. Take care, IZAK (talk) 20:40, 27 December 2011 (UTC)
Actually, "tovel vesheretz beyado" can be explained to mean the shmona (eight) shratzim that are specifically mentioned in the Torah as tamei. So from there you can not prove that all unclean animals convey tumah. Debresser (talk) 00:28, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
Ok, that was just for the sake of the argument. But now I have looked it up. The expression "tovel vesheretz beyado" was used first by medieval sages, and as no more than an expression, much the same way it is used nowadays. It has no origin and intrinsic meaning in halakha, and therefore nothing can be learned from it.
And the halakha about "hanoge'a bekhina" also can be traced back no further than Yitzchak Abuhav. And nowhere in these halakhot do we find a clear statement that the same is true for other animals or insects.
Possible reasons why the Abuhav would be stringent specifically for lice could be 1. because lice are created from sweat. This would be analogously to the words of the Rosh brought in the Beit Yosef on chapter 7 of Orach Chayim: "harei hi halikhlukh hayotzei migufo" ("for it is filth coming out of the body"). Or 2. because they are especially abhorrent. These possible reasons are chidushim of my own, inspired by the bi'ur halakha on chapter 316, "mutar". Debresser (talk) 01:27, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
Bottom line, an "ehrliche yerei shomayim Yid" would not dream of davening, making brochas or learning Torah after having just touched any insect or animal creature, be it out of a desire to follow the teachings of the Torah and the guidelines of halacha and the sages of all generations until our days. I cannot imagine the Lubavitcher Rebbe patting a dog or having an ant crawl on his hands and not wash them ritually before he would deliver a maamar chasidus etc. IZAK (talk) 00:45, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
But Wikipedia is not about being an erliche yid. So unless you could find a source, we shall have to change that sentence. On a personal note, I may add that I would be very interested if you were to find such a source. Debresser (talk) 01:03, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
I saw an important rabbi today, and asked him about this issue. He answered two things. First, that he remembers seeing the question somewhere, but doesn't remember where, and that I should call him in another week. Second, that if for example a donkey - an unclean animal - were a reason to wash hands, then it is more than likely that the gemorre, which after all was written in times when donkeys were a commonly used form of transport, would have mentioned something about this. And that it is likely that lice are a special case because they are especially abhorrent. To be continued. Debresser (talk) 10:35, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Hi Debresser. Sorry for the late reply. Do you remember — did you ever follow up with the important rabbi? What did he say? All the best, —Unforgettableid (talk) 02:13, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Since I never wrote anything else here, I probably didn't. But I am still of the opinion that not "any" animal, and that rabbi seems to be of the same opinion, based on his first reaction. Debresser (talk) 10:08, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
If a mosquito lights on me while I'm davening, I have to wash? Doubt it. StevenJ81 (talk) 14:04, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Washing hands after touching tamei objects[edit]

I have been watching developments at surrounding that particular passage in Ritual washing in Judaism for a long time now. I have one question and one suggestion. Lice are indeed mentioned there, if memory serves me, but that is far from the general statement that the same would be true if one were to touch any tamei animal, like insects, or cats and dogs. Do you have some clearer source for that? In addition, I'd suggest to replace "tamei (ritually impure) objects" by "certain objects", because the word tamei is usually used in connection with animals, meaning those species that are not allowed for consumption. Of course it is true that any object, e.g. shoes, that conveys tumah is also tamei, but not in the same sense. To avoid confusion, I'd remove the word tamei from this sentence at all. Alternatively, one could say "objects that convey tumah". Debresser (talk) 20:23, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

  • Hi Debresser, see the response I have just posted above. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 20:41, 27 December 2011 (UTC)
  • The phrase "objects that convey tumah" is perfect. IZAK (talk) 20:43, 27 December 2011 (UTC)
Did so. And added the word "ritually unclean" to "animals and insects", because I doubt the same would be true for clean animals. Debresser (talk) 21:02, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

Consistency of Terminology[edit]

My focus in editing is grammar, punctuation, formatting, etc., and I am in no way a subject matter expert on this topic. However, I have noticed alternative terms being used throughout this article for "mikveh", such as mikva and mikweh. I wanted to confirm that these alternative forms are merely different spellings rather than having different meanings altogether before I go ahead and standardize on "mikveh". Transitive Sam (talk) 05:33, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

They all mean the same, indeed. The "official" spelling here on Wikipedia is "mikveh". The "a" is often used instead of the "e", but that is a mistake. This mistake has become widely used, and even native speakers of the language might make this mistake. Debresser (talk) 19:37, 26 July 2014 (UTC)


Recent edits completely removed the Zav from this article. I agree that the paragraph which was previously called "Zav/Zavah" didn't mention the Zav at all, but there is such a thing as a Zav, which is related to the Zavah, and it would be correct to mention it somehow. Debresser (talk) 19:09, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Zav is mentioned in section 1 #Hebrew Bible. Perhaps the section on Zavah should be moved there as well. -- -- -- 23:20, 17 September 2014 (UTC)