It is just over tens years since the innovative meeting between Gedolei Ha’dor and Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha. Maran Ha’aon Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman, zatza”l, Rabbi Avraham Ganichovsky, the president of Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha, and the Rabbonim of the organization, were discussing various issues when Maran Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman turned to the representatives of Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha and asked, “Who is supervising the kashrus of the Mikvah’s that you are building? Who is checking that the Mikvahs maintain their kosher status?” Until that point, Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha had built, renovated, and supervised Mikvahs but did not have an active Kashrus supervision department. “A Mikvah that is not kosher is not a Mikvah!!” argued Rabbi Aharon Leib emphatically.
The kashrus supervision department of Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha is a direct result of that meeting. To date, four kashrus supervision teams travel daily across the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael to check the halachic standing of the over one thousand Mikvahs in the country.
The past year five hundred seventeen Mikvahs were checked by the Kashrus Maintenance Team and serviced to uphold their status as kosher facilities. The team also handled the preparation and replacement of the rainwater and hashokah and zeriah reservoirs in hundreds of other Mikvahs.
Over the years, the Kashrus supervision teams have been flooded with inquiries about various halachic issues regarding the kashrus of Mikvahs. Some of the questioners are leading Rabbanim, outstanding Talmedei Chachomim, and\or Rabbanim of the different localities in Eretz Yisrael who don’t have practical experience in hilchos Mikvaos.
As is often the case, during the kashrus authorization, the Kashrus Supervision Team discovered that those responsible for the Mikvah are unaware of the halachic issues that have cropped up due to usage, time constraints, or maintenance repairs by local maintenance specialists who did not know the pertinent halachos.
The intricacies of a halachically kosher Mikvah are much more detailed than a swimming pool in a luxurious building.
We will try to outline the structure of a kosher Mikvah for the layman, without expounding on the myriad details and methods needed to ensure the kashrus of the facility.
A kosher Mikvah is dependent on rainwater that has not been rendered pasul en-route to the bor tevilah.
The mikveh structure includes a roof designed to collect rainwater to fill the reservoirs of hashakah and zeriah.
The hashakah reservoir is located parallel to the bor tevilah and is filled with forty saeh (approximately 1000 liters) of rainwater. Through a unique hole, situated in the bor hashakah that is at water level, the ordinary water in the bor tevilah touches (the definition of hashakah is contact\touch) the kosher rainwater from the bor hashakah rendering the regular water kosher.
The otzar zeriah is a reservoir in its overall appearance but has a different function. It also contains forty saeh of rainwater, the ordinary water from the Mikvah enters the zeriah cisterns where it mingles\ “seeds” with the rainwater. There is a hole in the reservoir above water level, and the mingled\” seeded” waters pour into the bor tevilah.
There are mikvahs where there are large reservoirs of rainwater, and the water in the boros of hashakah and zeriah can be replaced throughout the year.
The Kashrus Supervision Team oversees the proper collection of rainwater during the winter months. A kosher Mikvah relies on mehudar rainwater that does not have the halachic problems of sheuvim (drawn waters\previously used waters) and gimel lugin (a liquid measurement that was used in the times of writing the mishnayos) and impure collection vessels (metal tanks etc.) The teams work in lousy weather conditions to ensure the success of challenging tasks.
Local repairmen who do not know the halachic guidelines can create serious problems when attempting to repair a Mikvah.
Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha has come across countless situations of Mikvahs being rendered pasul due to repairs by repairmen unfamiliar with halacha.
The local regional council, of a given municipality, decided to upgrade the Mikvah and installed an external filter that did not meet halachic requirements.
A local mikvah attendant installed a water heater through the opening connecting the bor tevilah and bor hashokah and blocked the contact between the kosher rainwater and ordinary water from the bor tevilah causing the Mikvah to become unkosher.
During a routine inspection of a Mikvah, the Kashrus Supervision Team found tree roots that began to grow out of the reservoir. Roots that draw nourishment from the reservoir are not an irregular phenomenon but require continuous inspections. The inspection revealed that the hashakah reservoir was lacking more than half the amount of water required al pi halacha.
There are some instances where there is no cooperation with the local Mikvah management, and the Mikvah has serious halachic issues that render the Mikvah unkosher. If a Mikvah does not have proper kashrus supervision, it is impossible to know its halachic status, and unfortunately, cannot be relied upon for usage.
Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha is using this platform to arouse awareness about hotels and vacation resorts that advertise a kosher Mikvah on-premises. It is imperative to verify who is the Rabbinical board that is supervising the kashrus of the Mikvah. Rabbi Dov Landau, shlit”a phrased this correctly when he proclaimed,” We are very careful about the kashrus of food products, but kashrus of Mikvahs which is punishable by kareis gets pushed to the back of our collective consciousness!”
The Kashrus Supervision team of Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha, have encountered dozens of situations where urgent action was needed to restore\establish the kosher status of a Mikvah. Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha constructed a beautiful new Mikvah for the residents of Ne’ot Hakikar, a town in the Dead Sea area, where there is practically no rainfall. The facility was in dire need of rain to acquire a kosher Mikvah status.
Representatives of the organization asked Maran Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman zatza”l what to do. Ha’Rav Steinmann said, wait two days. To the astonishment of all involved in the construction, heavy rain started to fall and filled the water reserves with exactly forty seah of rainwater!
Operation Snow - 5779
The mission to collect snow for the Mikvah in Sedeh Yakov.
At the beginning of last summer, a team of Kashrus Supervisors checked the roof of the Mikvah in Sedeh Yakov. Problems on the roof invalidated the waters in the Mikvah bor that necessitated draining the complete Mikvah. Since there was no option to collect fresh rainwater, this led to a massive undertaking to collect remaining snow from the military zone of the Hermon mountain. After much halachic discussion and in coordination with the IDF, Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha transported the massive amount of snow in special trucks and transferred the snow to the roof of the Mikvah. Once the snow melted, the kashrus of the Mikvah was reinstated.
At recent meetings during the weeks of Shovavi”m, Gedolei Ha’Dor met with the Rabbonim of small communities to strengthen the connection between them and the Kashrus Supervision team of Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha.
At the keynote conference Rabbi Gedaliah Honigsberg, a grandson of Maran Sar Ha’Torah, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a read a letter from his grandfather that was written in honor of the conference.
L’Kavod the Rabbonim who have gathered today to strengthen the activities of the Kashrus Supervision of Merkaz L’Taharat Ha’Mishpacha:
It is our duty to acknowledge the mesiras nefesh of the Rabbonim who work round the clock to uphold the kashrus of Mikvahs and will spare no effort or cost to do necessary repairs and thereby save others from issurim that are punishable by kareis.
It is known that Gedolei Ha’Dor felt that this is an especially great mitzvah, and this was the opinion of my uncle the Chazon Ish, zatza”l. Therefore, I am sure that this conference is considered a kinus l’shem shomayim.
Ha’Gaon Rabbi Mordechai Shmuel Edelstein, shlit”a, a nephew of the Rosh Yeshivah Maran Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, shlit”a delivered his uncles message.
“It is a great zechus that the communal Rabbonim gather to strengthen Taharat Ha’Mishpacha, which is one of the foundations of Klal Yisrael. All who assist in this vital activity of increasing the tehara of our nation will receive measure for measure from the source of all brachos and will merit a good and happy life with nachas d’kedusha from their progeny.
To inquire about the kashrus of a Mikvah in Israel call: 077-2222200
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