Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Mikveh Yisroel Hashem

I had a nice conversation this morning with a young Talmid Chacham (YTC) who was reviewing Hilkhos/t Mikvaos/t. I noted the famous quote attributed to Rabbi Soloveitchik that he had never seen a Kosher Eruv or a Pasul Mikve. The YTC pointed out that the same quote was attributed to the Chazon Ish & probably falsely as the Chazon Ish had an Eruv around his house. So we wondered who actually made that quote.

We further noted that the reason why Mikvaot/s tend to be so "machmir" (i.e. not passul) is that they tend to fulfill as many shittot/s (positions) as possible. I asked him why and the YTC suggested that mikvaot/s used to be fairly straighforward, either running water or literally a pit in the ground. It is only once we actually begin "constructing" mivkaos/t that we have to be concerned about details and shittos/t. So I asked the YTC how long we have been contructing mikvaos/t for and he admitted that he did not know but we could figure it out from the shu"t (responsa) literature. But offhand he guessed since the early 19th cen. as all the classic shu"t (responsa) are from there. I had to leave then, with the question wide open. But I am curious when Jews started constructing complicated mikvaot/s & why. Any thoughts?

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