The Jewish home is not just an accidental unit where a man, woman, and
children live. It is a sacred unit, the quintessential core of Jewish existence,
and the wellspring of Jewish values from which a child draws spiritual sustenance for a lifetime. The Jewish home is where the
Sabbath is observed, the laws of Kashrut are brought to life, and the Torah is
The Jewish community is founded on the Jewish home, and the Jewish home is
founded on the husband and wife relationship.
The Talmud discusses in depth the importance of marriage and marital harmony,
extolling the husband and wife relationship. The Rabbis teach that a man should
"love his wife as himself and honor her more than himself." Maimonides1
interprets this passage by saying that a man is required to speak softly and
kindly to his wife, never treating her with anger or causing her sorrow.
The Talmud2teaches that the husband-wife relationship is a union conceived in
heaven, the highest form of interpersonal love. "Rabbi Tanchum stated in the
name of Rabbi Chanilai, 'A Jew who has no wife lives without joy, without
blessing, and without goodness', Rav bar Ulla added, 'And without peace.'"
A Jewish marriage is a sacred institution, and the love between a husband and
wife is a pure and sanctified love. The laws of Taharat Hamishpachah (Family
Purity) and Mikvah create the holiness of the marital relationship. These
Halachot strengthen the home and the family.
It may be said that a husband and wife who observe Family Purity are the
ultimate "romantics" - honeymooning some twelve times a year.
A full study of
Taharat Hamishpachah would be beyond the scope of this discussion. A husband and
wife may engage in marital relations until the time of month when the woman
menstruates. Seven days after the woman's menstrual flow ceases (but not before
the twelfth day since the beginning of the period), she immerses in the mikvah.
After she fulfills this Mitzvah, she and her husband may once again engage in
physical relations. Taharat Hamishpachah rejuvenates the marriage monthly. The
longing for physical expression gives way on the day of immersion to an
experience which parallels the original "honeymoon" experience.
During the time that a couple may not be together physically, they relate to
each other in non-physical ways, talking and sharing. The couple develops
meaningful ways to express love, affection, and appreciation, transcending the
A Young Jewish woman described her experience of going to mikvah and its
effect on her marriage:
"Once at the mikvah, I found a very clean and modern
facility. I also found complete and detailed instructions on how to prepare. I
enjoyed the preparation immensely and still do.
Never in my daily life do I allow myself the luxury of more than half an hour
in the [bath] and the complete attention to my physical self from the top of my
head to the soles of my feet. How happy I was to rediscover myself! When I went
into the mikvah, the water was warm, friendly and accepting. I said the brachah
(blessing), submerged myself a second time,3 and came out feeling really
The ritual of going to the mikvah has had the hoped-for effect on our
marriage. We have two weeks free from sexual pressures and demands. I find that
during this time I feel closer to G-d, meditate more often, and study more
easily. Our time together is really together, precious because it won't last
forever, treasured by both of us. During that time, I feel closer to the
material human world and seem to have more energy for all people - not only my
It may be said that a husband and wife who observe Taharat Hamishpachah are
the ultimate "romantics" - honeymooning some twelve times a year. The halachot
of Taharat Hamishpachah uplift the sexual act to a sublime experience.
The Torah was given to the Jews to uplift them beyond the plane of human
wisdom. Taharat Hamishpachah strengthens family life, engenders peace between
the couple, and sanctifies the mundane. The fulfillment of this mitzvah has a
profound influence on one's family and on all past and future generations.