Immersion before Yom Kippur
We traditionally immerse 3 times. Here is one possible framework to use for an immersion on Erev Yom Kippur:
1st Immersion: Reflection and Retrospection
Think about positive aspects of the previous year and areas of your life where you felt blessing. Think about what you want to take with you, what you are thankful for and what things were most meaningful over the past year. Appreciate God’s role in those and invite His Presence to envelop those thoughts as the mikveh water surrounds and embraces you. You can also choose an area or behavior that you would like to improve and invite God into that endeavor.
2nd Immersion: Introspection and Acceptance
Focus on the present—embrace where you are now. Give thanks and appreciate the space or processes you are in; recognize the blessings God has bestowed upon you, and embrace the special opportunities at this time of year.
3rd Immersion: Hopes and Direction
The final immersion focuses on your hopes and aspirations for the coming year— what you want to work on, your dreams for yourselves and your family, and what you will strive to accomplish. Again, invite God to partner with you in the journey ahead as you submerge and submit to His Will
To answer some questions we have received:
The tradition of immersing in the mikveh before Yom Kippur is not out of the same halachic requirement that drives the standard mikveh immersion; it is just that – tradition/minhag – a renewal ritual in preparation for the holiest day of the year.
Further to that:
This is a tevilla for the sake of spiritual preparation for Yom Kippur. It should not be confused, and has very different requirements, to a tevilla for niddah, and is fine even if a woman is bleeding (though some women may not feel comfortable in the mikveh if they are bleeding). Just as men don’t remove all hatzitzot before they immerse on erev Yom Kippur, women don’t need to. There are poskim who discourage single women from immersing before Yom Kippur (because they don’t want women to think this fulfills their obligations for taharat hamishpacha), but there are traditional texts ( משנה ברורה סימן תרו ס”ק יז) that permit, even encourage all women to do so. Young girls may go with their mothers privately and may wear a bathing suit if they so choose. There is no need for a balanit, but obviously, be safe in the water.
Have a meaningful fast and uplifting tevilla!