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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 1 (Positive) -- Command: 109 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 1 - The 248 Positive Commandments of the Tora

109 - IMMERSING IN A RITUAL BATH


Leviticus 15:16 -- “If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening.”
Leviticus 15:13 -- “And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing, wash his clothes, and bathe his body in running water; then he shall be clean.”
Leviticus 22:7 -- “And when the sun goes down he shall be clean; and afterward he may eat the holy offerings, because it is his food.”

The true significance of immersion may be seen from the words of Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah: “It is very plain and obvious that (the laws concerning) uncleanness and cleanness are matters of scriptural decree, and are not the outcome of human reasoning, being of the nature of hukkim, (statutes). Similarly, immersion (in a ritual bath for the purpose of removing) uncleanness is also of the nature of a statute; for uncleanness is not a mere matter of mud or dirt, which may be removed by water: it is a scriptural decree, and the (validity of the) act is dependent upon the disposition of the heart. It is for this reason that the sages have said, (If he immersed himself without intention, it is as though he had not immersed himself at all).* Nevertheless, a suggestion to be present: just as he whose heart is intent to cleanse himself is cleansed as soon as the immersion is accomplished, although no physical transformation has taken place, even so he who fixes his heart to cleanse his soul of spiritual uncleanness, namely, of thoughts of evil and wicked inclinations, once he has resolved within his heart to depart from those tendencies, and has immersed his soul, as it were, in the waters of knowledge, becomes cleansed thereby. Thus, it is said, Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. (Ezekiel 36:25) May the Lord in His abundant mercies cleanse us of all sin, transgression, and guilt. Amen.”*

* Hag. 18b
** Mishneh Torah, Tohorah, Hilchoth Mikvaoth XI, 12

A ritual bath must contain forty seahs (approximately 60 gallons or 270 litres) of water, and possess such a depth as to cover the entire body of the one undergoing immersion. No water stored in any vessel or receptacle may be used for a ritual bath; it must be taken directly either from a river or a spring, or from rain-water which is led into the bath. No part of the body’s surface may be left untouched by the water of the ritual bath.* While immersion if accomplished in a river or a well is valid whether the water be standing or running, the water in a ritual bath proper, to be effective, must be standing. No amount of washing the body can take the place of ritual immersion where such is prescribed.**

* Mik. IX, 1
** Mishneh Torah, Kedushah, Hilchoth Isurai Biah XI, 16

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