Mikvah and the Single Girl

Mikvah and the Single Girl

I regularly get emails from all kinds of people asking me all kinds of questions. This one just popped into my FB mailbox.

Hey HSM,

Can you ask your people a question:

What’s the deal with keeping Hilchos Niddah if you’re unmarried but in a relationship and having sex? Is it nogeah (relevant)? How do you explain your presence at the Mikva?

Also did you ever hear of a thing that if you have sex with your ex-husband you are considered eshet ish and have to redo the Get (divorce0?


[name withheld]

So people, please let my reader know your thoughts, quote sources etc.


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  1. Yossi G. says:

    Halacha prohibits (IMHO) answering the first question in a public forum. She or her partner or both should talk to a rabbi.

    re relations with an ex: The Talmud assumes that the act constitutes a revocation of the divorce, so a new Get is required. Ther was a segment on the Israeli soap Serugim about this a few years ago. This is also why a divorced couple may not live in proximity.

    • HaDassah says:

      How near / far is proximity?

      • Yossi G. says:

        I cannot say how it would apply exactly today, but the Talmud says they shouldn’t live in the same “Mavui” or cul-de-sac. I understand that to mean that there should not be easy discreet access between the houses, for this obvious reason.

        I owned a large property next to my ex-house and considered building myself a new house there after my divorce, but realized that it would be forbidden as it would mean the houses would be side-by-side. (Not that it was a good idea for many other reasons, too!)

  2. @wifeofmottel says:

    You can’t sanctify that which is against Torah.

  3. azigra says:

    gay people dont have to worry about this, that may be an avenue to consider if you cant find a mikva.

  4. rgoldstand says:

    Heck yeah, niddah still applies regardless of whether you’re married or not. Sheesh. Doesn’t mean that you can just go to the mikveh+poof! your relations are 100% muttar, but clearly niddah is a much bigger issue than two consenting adults who are halchically permissible to each other engaging in premarital sex (which may or may not be a Torah prohibition). Of course, some mikveh ladies have taken it upon themselves to police the women who come to tovel, so you may not have any such option…

    No idea about the second question but I imagine it’s a lot easier to get an OJ Rabbi to sign off on a psak on that issue.

  5. Yehuda says:

    1. An umarried woman may not immerse in a mikvah by rabbinic law only, so that “the daughters of Israel do not become like ‘hefker’ (ownerless)” – the prohibition is to discourage extramarital sexual relationships.
    2. One who wishes to immerse in the mikvah despite not being married and not involved in a sexual relationship should consult with her Rabbi. While not prohibited biblically, the rabbinic law is in force for the reasons above.
    3. One who is involved in a non-marital sexual relationship who wishes to observe taharas hamishpacha (laws of family purity) should keep in mind that non-marital sex is a biblical prohibition as well.
    4. The biblical prohibition against pre-marital sex is punishable by a court-enforced lashes, while the prohibition against engaging in sexual relations while in a state of niddah is subject to divine punishment of kares.
    5. One cannot condone someone who intentionally violates halacha, but if one believes that her circumstances are compelling, she should speak to a competent authority who may be able to help.

  6. Bracha says:

    A petition was recently filed in the Israeli Supreme Court by a single woman who wanted to use the (state funded) mikvah but was not not permitted to do so by the mikvah lady because she wasn’t married. The suit stated that this was a violation of the woman’s privacy and democratic rights. At the urging of the court, the rabbinate agreed to adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for mikvaot. Would be interesting to know if this is actually being carried out.

  7. Lady Lock N Load says:

    It annoys my daughter when an unmarried woman is called a single “girl”. Interesting that very often people refer to an unmarried woman as a “girl”, do you have to be married to be a woman?

    • rgoldstand says:

      You’re right, of course. I have the same tendency (when referring to myself!) and a non-Jewish friend gave me a virtual smack upside the head: you’re HOW OLD and you don’t think of yourself as a woman!? I don’t know why/how that became so common in frum society….?

  8. Abe Kohen says:

    “Halacha prohibits (IMHO) answering the first question in a public forum.” Source, please. Opinions, humble or not, are not halacha.

    Also I never understood the “ask your local rabbi.” Either there is a halacha regarding a specific question, or not. I could understand ask a Gadol, but a local rabbi?

    Srugim was a terrific show, but I would never quote that a source for halacha. Wish Lazy would have continued making more episodes.

    • Yossi G. says:

      In the Mishna, it is clearly stated that issues related to any sexual nature are not to be taught or discussed publicly. I’m at work without reference books, but an open mishna should be easy to find. (Opinions are indeed not Halacha, nor is snarkiness a defense of ignorance of basic sources such as the Mishna.)

      Asking a local rabbi is the standard of Halacha. There is no halacha anywhere requiring one to ask a Gadol, but there are many requiring one to ask a rabbi. This applies especially to questions where one might be inclined to favor a leniency towards personal convenience or preference.

      Serugim was not quoted as a source for halacha, but rather to show how common knowledge of this Halacha is even to the Israeli sitcom audience.

  9. Schvach says:

    She sounds like the sort of woman who goes on tefillin dates. The somewhat Orthodox get so confused at times. If she wants to violate halacha by indulging in sex outside the confines of marriage, then what’s the attraction to going to Mikvah? Either follow the rules or don’t pretend (I should talk: I don’t eat pork or shellfish, but I know that I don’t keep kosher, so I don’t pretend that I do). If it’s just a dip she wants to take, she should try the ocean, or a lake, or river, or stream, or creek.

    • Devils Advocate says:

      There is a difference between “tefillin dates” and being in a long-term monogamous relationship in which, for whatever reason, a wedding is not yet an option…but being “older singles”, human, and (hopefully, if you’re in a serious relationship!) attracted to each other… It’s not that implausible a scenario nor is it so far-fetched to imagine a woman in that situation wanting to avoid the more severe prohibition of niddah, even if she’s not strong enough to avoid intimacy.

  10. Hi –

    Some Rabbis say it’s OK and others do not. I’ve been going to the Mikvah as a single woman for 3 years and I just started a blog about my experience. You can read about it here: http://thesingledip.com/.

    Feel free to contact me over email with any questions that you might have about the process: thesingledip@gmail.com

    Good luck!

    • Yossi G. says:

      “Some Rabbis say it’s OK and others do not.”
      That’s an error, and hopefully isn’t what you meant to say. NO Orthodox rabbi says premarital sex is OK.

      They would agree that if you are having sex, it’s better to go to the mikvah to at least make it less problematical.

  11. Justine says:

    Interesting that someone who doesn’t mind having premarital sex would nonetheless be interested in taharat hamishpacha! I love being Jewish!! So many different people choosing such different paths but all connected!

    If this person is concerned and still wants to do mikvah but doesn’t want to be embarrassed perhaps the ocean is an option?

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