Kenneth Cohen

Tevul Yom

The Torah speaks of a unique situation of purification from impurity. This individual is known as טבול יום, which is referring to someone who has a one day impurity.

He gets this name as it literally means that he has immersed in a Mikva that day. He is in limbo until the evening, and as soon as three stars come out, he is now pure.

This “Tevul Yom” status could apply to any Jew. It applies to one who touched an animal that died of no ritual slaughtering, or a botched ritual slaughtering. This animal is “Neveila.” This one day impurity also applies to one who touched a dead reptile, known as “Sheretz.” And it applies to any man who had an emission of his seed. In all these cases, the Mikva could be visited during the day, and the complete purity kicks in at nightfall.

There is a reference to this in the very first Mishna in the Talmud. It speaks of the earliest time when one is allowed to recite the evening Shema. One answer applied to the Kohanim that wanted to eat the sanctified food, known as “Teruma.” These particular Kohanim had the status of טבול יום, and they could not eat this food until darkness. They were aware of that first moment that constituted “night.”

If one saw a Kohein eating Teruma, it was late enough to recite the evening Shema (and Sefirat Haomer). The recitation of the Shema reflected a new acceptance of the “yoke of Heaven.” This is always a good thing to do after coming into contact with any impurity. Reconnecting with Hashem is the recommended course of action.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at