Braces not allowed in ritual bath
Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv's new ruling: Orthodontic braces disqualify dip in mikveh because they create barrier between person, water. This effectively prohibits adult women from straightening their teeth
Ari Galahar • Ynet
A new halachic ruling was made recently by the leader of the Lithuanian faction, Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv, that effectively forbids adult women from seeking orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth. According to the ruling, braces on one's teeth are considered a "partition" [sic] and therefore disqualify dipping in the ritual bath, also known as a mikveh.
A few weeks ago, an individual approached Rabbi Elyashiv in order to seek advice on whether orthodontic braces are considered to create a partition between women dipping in the mikveh after their menstrual cycle and the water.
After a thorough study of halachic material on the subject, Rabbi Elyashiv responded that braces are indeed a partition between the woman and the water, which must come in contact with every part of the body according to halacha.
The ruling was made despite the fact that dipping in the mikveh is done with a closed mouth, and water would not touch the teeth in any case, braces or not. According to Elyashiv, the halacha also refers to partitions within the body, such that there is no significance to whether or not the teeth are actually being immersed in the water.
The mikveh immersion of a woman with braces would therefore be disqualified, and she would not be able to have sexual relations with her husband, or even to come in any physical contact with him.
A source close to the rabbi noted that even dirt under one's finger nails is considered a partition that would disqualify a mikveh immersion. He also noted that according to halacha, or at least the haredi version, the immersion of a woman who intends to get her hair cut, but immerses goes to the mikveh prior to this, is disqualified because her hair at that point is no longer considered a part of her body.
Orthodontists and dentists in the haredi sector already prepared themselves for the new halachic ruling. One haredi dentists' office already published a notice announcing that removable braces are available to customers at their office. They even offered a special deal for the wives of yeshiva students.
This is one of the more foolish rulings to come out of Rabbi Elyashiv in recent years.