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What is proper mikvah etiquette?

I have to admit I am not much a fan of mikvah, just the thought of getting into a pool where a bunch of naked men are turns me off. The thought of these naked men not showering before is another turn off and just the thought of naked chassidish men scares the bejeebers out of me. My mikvah times are usually when I go skinny dipping on a hike or something.

what is proper mikvah etiquette is?

Do people pass soap to each other?

Is the soap on a rope?

Do people say shalom alechim to each other when they are in the pool?

Do people just hang out in the pool? Or do they dunk and leave? I always imagine that its a party in there and everyone is hanging out naked eating herring and talking about the latest community hock.

Do people make comments like – Yankel your shlong is huge, or hey nice job on the circumcision, where’d you get that done (to a convert) obviously.

Do mikvah goers whip each other with towels?

I am sure there are more but I think I am getting over my head already, and I didn’t even get into the mikvah.

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • k January 5, 2009, 2:19 PM

    Reason 8,302 that I am so glad to be female. That was hilarious and disGUSTING.

    Who was that guy?

  • Material Maidel January 5, 2009, 2:23 PM


  • TRS January 5, 2009, 2:35 PM

    By every mikveh that I’ve ever been to, people keep their eyes to themselves. If anyone ever did make any of those types of comments he’d be strung up on a convenient lightpost.

  • Frum Satire January 5, 2009, 2:37 PM

    THat guy was this random dude who learns in Chofetz Chaim of Dallas he is an ex-telshe guy.

    TRS I am told I have to get a chabadnick to make fun of the mikvah on camera – and hopefully I will.

  • MoFo January 5, 2009, 2:42 PM

    One must keep his eyes (and hands, of course) to himself (not ON yourself) at all times. A glance is allowed (you don’t want to walk into someone’s one-eyed monster, right?) but a stare is a no-no.

    What does a gay closet-case do in the mikveh? Like, what if he gets aroused and he’s caught red handed (or red penised) that he’s a faigeleh? That would be weird…

    I was once in a verrrrry crowded mikveh, with lots of slippery bumping into people. Very uncomfortable, never again…

    BTW you can’t say Sholom in a mikveh, it’s one of Hashem’s names.

  • Meyer E. January 5, 2009, 3:03 PM

    Some Mikvehs charge extra to use their towels so a lot of people take dirty towels out of the used bin.

    I find it amazing how much shampoo you can get out of one bottle. There is only one communal bottle probably from some rich guy that came by erev Rosh Hashanah and left it and it manages to last all year round. When it’s empty people dilute the bottle and use it again and again.

    A mikveh is a hot spot all year round for mishulochim Money collectors (Hesh you should do a post on them) because they get to use it for free. For some reason they have a custom not to shower before entering the pool. I call them tea bags every time they dip the water gets darker. They also always walk around collecting money in the mikveh.

    I also get weirded out when people talk on their cell phones naked.

  • TRS January 5, 2009, 3:05 PM

    What would that accomplish exactly?

  • Phil January 5, 2009, 3:49 PM

    Reminds me why I limit my mikvah going to once a year, besides for the times I go in the river or lake while fishing.

    Farting and peeing are other no-no’s unless you’re under 3 years old.

    Doing the backstroke might get some funny stares.

    Towel whipping is OK as long as the individuals are partially dressed and no one does it to the rabbi or mashpia.

  • Frum Satire January 5, 2009, 5:55 PM

    Phil you don’t want to brag about that – may get you kicked out of chabad.

  • Gruntig January 5, 2009, 6:03 PM

    Hesh, you don’t know what your missing!

    Ah Geshmaker Heiser Mikvah!… what compares to that that?!

  • harry-er than them all January 5, 2009, 7:25 PM

    R’ Shlomo Zalman said once, he showers before because of kavod habriyos of other people, and showers after for kavod habriyos for himself

    worst comment i ever got “hey never seen you like that before”

    Although i had a friend in a really murky mikva who came up delta force style, as if holding an assault rifle.

  • Chaim January 5, 2009, 7:55 PM

    Mikvah is awesome. I love going every morning, the one at my yeshiva is like a jacosie <sp.

    People usually are in and out with eyes to themselves, but sometimes a guy will stick around and just stand in it, making it awkward to get in and out.

    I’ve only ever had to share shampoo once and that was awkward as hell and I only said yes when someone asked b/c i was so confused and didnt want to have to explain myself.

    The most awkward time is when your rabbi is there and starts talking to you while you’re naked…. and he is too.

    never seen soap on a rope, which is unfortunate.

    Major mikveh etiquette is as little talking as possible (although sometimes people do have conversations…) and never 2 people on the mikvah stairs at once. NEVER.

    I also hate it when people stop at the corners by the stairs to dunk so you have to like jump over the hand rail so your backside doesn’t graze theirs.

  • Phil January 5, 2009, 8:35 PM


    Not to worried about getting kicked out, it’s happened to me in the past. At this point they’re used to having me back.

    I was looking for some extra work, maybe I’ll see if the mikvah is looking for a lifeguard…. OK maybe not, don’t think I’d be able to do mouth to mouth on some hairy naked dude even if he were dying.

  • Frum Satire January 5, 2009, 8:41 PM

    Harry thank you for that hilarious comment

  • Mikeinmidwood January 5, 2009, 11:36 PM

    I pay extra for the private mikveh. I dont care how much it costs.

  • Yossel January 6, 2009, 12:04 PM

    The mikvah is a great place to go to. Most mikvahs are CLEAN unless you go late erev shabbos. If you go early mikvahs are empty and CLEAN. Most places you go to that you PAY you get your own bar of soap witha wrapper and a fresh towel. People dont look at your inyanim. Most jews use glasses and when you go to the mikvah you dont wear them so you dont have to worry.

    I take my showers at home but i do rinse in the shower before and after as do most people.

    If I see someone just go in I B*tch at them. What the heck are you doing man! Get your smelly toches in the shower….

    Its all about the place you go to and the time you go. the best time to go is EARLY! empty clean and refreshing.

  • Phil January 6, 2009, 12:33 PM

    Shabbaos morning has to be the worst time. No showers or hot water allowed, after all these guys that were commanded to be fruitful and multiply on Friday night now show up with the residue of the lovemaking juices.

    It’s minus 20 outside, the mikvah is steaming hot, the “Kratsers” start picking their dingleberries, etc. After a couple hundred people you can mistake the water for leftover chulent.

  • ewwwwww January 6, 2009, 12:43 PM


  • Michal bas Avraham January 6, 2009, 11:56 PM

    Huh? I didn’t think you were allowed to go to the micky on Shabbos?

  • Meyer E. January 7, 2009, 12:11 AM

    I’ve seen someone bring a rubber ducky into the mikvah.

    I’m wondering if your allowed to bring a snorkel in to check out all the fungi growing on the bottom of the mikvah.

  • A.M.K. January 7, 2009, 4:33 AM

    I hear the shphitz in Geu’la/Meah Sharim has a different set of rules and etiquette.

  • Astrid Schenck January 7, 2009, 8:35 PM

    Phil, thanks for placing that image in my head. Not even cold showers are allowed on Shabbos or do the men just not use them due to shrinkage?

    Mikvahs kind of sound like Roman bathhouses except in certain circumstances much less sanitary. Would using filters and adding chlorine to the water like a swimming pool render the mikvah improper to use?

  • Phil January 7, 2009, 8:41 PM

    Most do use chlorine and filters. Still, when you have hundreds of hairy / bearded people in such a small pool of water every day, it gets real bad real fast. Another solution would be to leave the mikvah unheated, that way you wouldn’t have these guys lingering in there any longer then the required few seconds, but then you get all the old people complaining about freezing to death, especially in our Canadian winters.

  • Moshe January 7, 2009, 10:49 PM

    I went once to a private mikvah, waste of time and money. You get your own private shower and toilet and sink and get to go in alone but you gotta wait your turn and that can take some time.

    All the mikvas I tried out, 4, maybe 5, had individually wrapped hotel style bars of soap and fresh towels, no charge.

  • Frum Satire January 7, 2009, 11:09 PM

    Skinny dipping is way better then the mikvah

  • Gila January 8, 2009, 12:59 PM

    This is incredibly disgusting. Please spare us the details.

  • Normal January 9, 2009, 12:17 AM


    You don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Don’t give mikvaos a bad name!!! If you have a hang up about mikvah please don’t pass on your sick rantings!!!

  • Phil January 9, 2009, 9:06 AM


    I know what I’ve witnessed. I invite you to visit our local mikvah if you dare, pop me an email an I’ll send you the address. I’m not the only that got turned off the whole thing because of that place, when I do go once a year, I go to the sephardi mikvah where people have the decency to shower WITH SOAP before going in.


    Skinny dipping in a lake or river is the best halachic mikva, provided your not on a crowded beach. Unfortunately for us Northerners, it’s very seasonal, I can’t imagine trying to dip while ice fishing.

    Just yesterday, I broke through while walking out onto the river, I didn’t notice a feeder creek hidden under about a foot of snow. Even though I was wearing waterproof boots and a survival suit, a bit of water got in to my boot and it was f*****g cold.

    So much for the urban legend of those people in Russia that cracked the ice to go to the mikva, the only way they would have let their wives try this was if they were fed up with them and took out a nice insurance policy first.

  • Moshe January 9, 2009, 9:51 AM

    Phil, it’s not an urban legend. My friends’ parents went and took them too and they lived in Siberia.
    In Brooklyn people do it too.

  • Phil January 9, 2009, 10:15 AM


    While I can see someone dare to try to crack a thin sheet of ice that formed on an unheated mikvah, I was reffering to the people that claimed to crack the ice on the fozen lake or river.

    As an ice fisherman, I can tell you that you can drive a 50,000 lb truck on 9-12 inches of ice. I was out yesterday and the ice on the river was over 15 inches thick, it is hard enough to drill an 8 inch hole with a gas powered auger, let alone trying to cut a square with a handsaw, which would likely take hours.

    Unless these people had heated ice fishing cabins in place, they would likely go into shock and die of hypothermia trying to dip into water that temp without any clothes on.

    If your parents actually went out on the frozen ice in Siberia to dip in the mikvah, I would love to know how they did it.

  • Moshe January 9, 2009, 10:36 AM

    Not mine, friends’.

  • Avrumy July 27, 2009, 12:45 PM

    Someone mentioned gay guys at the mikvah. Why not? Of course, we are looking at the young hot guys waking around naked. But we try not to be too obvious.
    There is some male-on-male action in some mikvahs when they are empty. Or conversely, when the mikvah is crowded, a quick grope under the water is known to occur.
    Zai gezunt!

    • BW November 28, 2009, 1:35 PM

      Where is this mikvah you go to? Let’s go.

  • BIZ June 18, 2011, 8:05 AM

    Absolutely disgusting. Looking at someone else’s nakedness is just asking for a “rise” in evil inclinations…Vayikra 18 only speaks of not seeing your close relatives naked but who’s going to be attracted to them? I suppose some would…more likely you’d be attracted to someone you didn’t know.
    It’s yucky, awkward and immodest. If you happen to notice someone you know in every day life, then you’re stuck with that image in your head every time you see them & vice versa! It’s the one and only thing that keeps me from converting.

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