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What Happened to Immersion for a Ba’al Keri

Daf Yomi has recently been learning about the case of the Ba’al Keri, a man who ejaculated and was required to immerse in a mikveh before learning Torah and praying. An interesting question is what happened to the requirement of immersion for a Baal Keri? Below is an old article by Meir Havatzelet who traced after the development of the immersion requirement. This post by Manuscript Boy also brings some sources that seem to provide evidence of attempts to bring back the requirement of immersion for a Ba’al Keri, in one instance apparently as a reaction to Muslim practice.

Havatzelet, Meir-Minhag Baalei Keri

Also see Daniel Sperber’s Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 3, pp. 87, 102-106, who in his usual manner, כדרכו בקודש, enlightens us about the topic and refers to other bibliographical sources [אבל כנראה דאישתמיט מיניה מאמרו של חבצלת]. Some of the secondary sources that Sperber discussed are Louis Ginzberg’s Perushim ve-Ḥiddushim ba-Yerushalmi, vol. 2, pp. 217-246 (here); Mordechai Margolioth’s Ha-Ḥilukim Bein Anshei Mizraḥ uv-Nei Eretz Yisrael, pp. 108-111 (here); Menachem Mendel Kasher, Torah Shleimah, vol. 15, pp. 148-154 (here).

Sperber emphasized not only the Islamic aspect, but the probable influence of the cold climate in Ashkenaz on the absence of immersion for a Ba’al Keri. This claim begs the question of whether any similar phenomenon can be found in relation to immersion for women, something that is discussed in yBerachot 3:4, 6c [26b] (here).

In this case it seems that there is an explicit acknowledgement in rabbinic sources of external influences on the development of Jewish practice, influences that sometimes are claimed by scholars, yet not explicitly found in the sources.

2 Responses to “What Happened to Immersion for a Ba’al Keri”

  1. 1
    DF:

    Where are the rabbinic sources that acknowledge external influences on the development of Jewish practice here? Are they in the havatzelt article (because my work computer for some reason blocked my acess to it)I did read the post by manuscript boy, and saw no examples of rabbinic sources saying the halacha of a ball keri developed in response to external stimuli.

    [Note - I happen to agree that halacha often develops in response to external stimuli. But I am not a rabbinic source. I would just like to see the rabbinic sources saying baal keri developed in response to external stiumli.]

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:

    DF,

    The Havatzelet article has some sources as does Sperberg’s discussion. I have added some links to some of the secondary sources cited by Sperber the discuss the issue.

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