Men Pre-Wedding: Mikvah

December 26, 2014 | by Rabbi Pinchas Waldman

I was told that a man must go to the mikvah before his wedding. What is the reason for this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

The rationale is most likely based on the following statement of the Sages: Three people have their sins forgiven – one who converts to Judaism, one who achieves a high position, and one who marries (Midrash brought in Rashi to Genesis 36:3). The common denominator between all such people is that they have a new start to life. A convert begins his new life as a Jew, one who rises to high position embarks on a new mission in life, and a married couple begins a new life together.

In the Jewish view, marriage is not viewed merely as two people living together, but as two halves merging into a new whole. The husband and wife lose their past identities and become a new unit, each side complementing the other and contributing to the new relationship. Thus, the past sins of the husband and wife are forgiven (unless they consciously bring them into the marriage), as they begin their new lives.

No doubt as a result of this, men customarily go to the mikvah on their wedding day. Just as men go to the mikvah on the eve of Yom Kippur in preparation for their atonement, the atonement of their wedding day is likewise preceded with such an immersion.

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