Ice in a Mikveh

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

R. Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Shaarei Gedulah, pp. 198-201

The method of delivery of the water is of paramount importance in the construction and design of the mikveh. The water is the soul of the mikveh and must be introduced through natural flow. It cannot be she’uvim, drawn, or brought to the mikveh through any human intervention. Typically, collected rainwater or water from a spring is used for the mikveh. In certain cases, however, this is not possible, and natural ice, taken from the surface of lakes and rivers, may be used.

The question arose as to whether one may use artificial or manufactured ice to supply a mikveh with water. Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein addressed this question in response to a query from Rabbi Yeshai Dov HaCohen Marcus from Boston in 1904. Rabbi Epstein said that even though water has frozen, the act of freezing does not remove the status of the water with regards to its being she’uvim, drawn. If the water was drawn to be placed into a machine to be frozen, that water would be deemed unfit, and the problem could not be rectified through the freezing and thawing process. Therefore he said that one should only use naturally occurring ice. In response to Rabbi Epstein, Rabbi Shraga Rosenberg of Cleveland wrote that he respectfully disagreed. He said that once the water has frozen and become ice, it loses its capacity to receive tumah, impurity. This ice would then be considered as a new entity and would not be disqualified as she’uvim, drawn.

In his sefer, Taharas Mayim, Rabbi Nissen Telushkin also discusses the issue of machine-made ice. He cites the opinion of Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, but then shows how the majority of poskim are of the opinion that machine-made ice would be permissible for use in a mikveh.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

One comment

  1. Nachum 04/28/2010 01:50 AM
    There was an article about this in Jewish Action not long ago. R’ Schachter approved of a mikvah someplace up north filling their mikvah with snow.

    Not sure what R’ Rosenberg means by “capacity to receive tumah.” Are we really that certain about how tumah “works?”
    sba 04/28/2010 10:58 AM
    IIRC, there is a teshuva about this from the Satmar rebbe zt’l in Shu”t Divrei Yoel
    Sholom 04/28/2010 01:21 PM in reply to Nachum
    “capacity to receive tumah.”

    Doesn’t water also lack the “capacity to receive tumah.”
    MiMedinat HaYam 04/28/2010 01:34 PM
    igrot moshe about a mikveh in santiago, chile (i guess all water is trucked / piped in to there.)
    Elon 04/28/2010 02:40 PM in reply to Sholom
    I believe mayim she’uvim can receive tumah, like any of the liquids.
    guest 04/28/2010 03:33 PM in reply to Nachum
    Yes, ofcourse we know how Tumah works. There are tons of ignored tractates on the subject.
    Nachum 04/28/2010 03:44 PM
    I mean on a spiritual level, such as where the tumah “goes.”
    guest 04/28/2010 06:30 PM in reply to Nachum
    Huh? Tumah is not a thing it is a state.
    Something is Tumah or it is not tumah. Something is able to recieve the status of tumah, or transmit the status of tumah.

    My question about man made ice would be a question of impurities. How many impurities are allowed to be in the ice machine when making ice for a mikveh? (Like the ice machine in my fridge gives all ice a really nasty taste and I would never think of such water as pure or cleansing)
    Nachum 04/29/2010 01:49 AM
    It’s very odd, guest. On the one hand, you claim that you understand the nature of tumah; on the other, you can say something like “nasty…never think of such water as pure or cleansing.” Tumah has zero to do with physical cleanliness. And water of a mikvah does not “receive” our tumah, or we’d never be able to use it twice.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter