These are The Eden Center’s recommendations regarding coronavirus and the Mikveh,  based on the guidelines of the Israeli Health Ministry and Ministry of Religious Services (Misrad Hadatot). 

The governmental guidelines state that any woman returning from the countries that require quarantine (updated daily) may not immerse in a public mikvah until the end of quarantine. That means that anyone with the potential to be infected or requiring quarantine for any reason, should not immerse in a public mikveh in order to protect herself, the Mikveh attendants, and other tovlot. Those in quarantine for suspected Corona should also NOT be engaging in sexual relations (to avoid passing on the disease).

The director of the National Center for Infection Control at the Israel Ministry of Health wrote in a private directive that for women who do NOT need quarantine, there are NO restrictions on using a properly chlorinated mikveh.  And to repeat, a woman in home quarantine cannot go out of her house to the mikveh. But for all others, there is no problem.  

It is NOT critical, but probably good as a general rule of public health and hygiene, that a woman bring her own products for chafifa if preparing at the Mikveh or prepare with her things at home. (It is always the mikveh’s responsibility to make sure that surfaces and reusable products are cleaned with an anti-bacterial and anti-viral substance.)

Again, those with suspected Corona should not engage in sexual relations even if they have immersed (or are tahor) — in order not to pass on the virus through bodily fluids.

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Blog by Jodi Wachspress

Over the past few weeks the air we breath both physically and virtually has been increasingly inundated with updates, guidelines and information true and false about the Corona Virus, wreaking havoc with our minds, our schedules and our plans.

Are we being careful enough? Are we over-catastrophizing? 

Keeping the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha can be challenging in the best of times.  Throwing in quarantine, a hyper-focus on hygiene (like frequent hand washing) and limiting all types of physical contact (hand shaking, hugging, kissing and sexual activity) adds fuel to the proverbial fire.

Let’s talk about this a little bit…

Over the past few days I have been asked many questions and witnessed higher stress levels relating to all types of interpersonal relationships and within marriage in particular.  Men and women alike are wondering how to negotiate the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha during this time.

Within a halakhic marriage we are given the “opportunity” to learn how to develop a healthy relationship at a physical distance during the days of niddah.  But now, some of us are finding ourselves in a situation where we cannot go to the mikvah on the anticipated night as a result of (possible) exposure to the virus, and may even be quarantined together with our spouse during this extended stretch of “prohibited” time.  Talk about adding insult to injury. Heightened sexual tension coupled with heightened global tension can be difficult to negotiate.

Sadly, I have no magic answers to offer.  This is hard and it’s okay to be frustrated.  It’s okay to be frustrated if you have to postpone mikvah.  It’s okay to be frustrated if you are trying to conceive and your fertility window is swallowed up by an imposed quarantine.  It’s even okay if you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on how to negotiate this right away.

The pasuk in Sefer Devarim (4:15) states: 

ונשמרתם מאוד לנפשותיכם

According to some interpretations, this pasuk does not only refer to caring for our bodies, like many of us may have learnt.  It is in fact referring to caring for our souls — which I would like to expand to include the way we understand ourselves and relate to others around us.  We are in an unusual and uncomfortable predicament and must remember that recognizing our concerns and giving them a voice is imperative.   

While you must adhere to the guidelines of Misrad Habriut (Ministry of Health), I encourage you all to open conversations with your husband/wife if you are feeling strained by this epidemic and the way it is impacting on your relationship both physically and emotionally. If there are more complex issues at hand, ask your Rav/Rabbanit/Yoetzet Halacha for more detailed halakhic guidance based on your personal circumstances.  If you ask the questions, the worst that can happen is that you’ll become better informed and have the opportunity to talk through your difficulties.

Tension is there to bring our awareness to important issues — use it wisely, productively and may we all merit to see the corona virus in our rear-view mirrors bimhera.