The following is a series of
correspondence from a woman learning of Mikvah, post-menopause, for the first time. Please enjoy this inspirational exchange and follow her journey of
discovery. We will post futher segments and hope they will touch your heart as
they have touched ours.
I have been enjoying your website and all the links very much ...especially
regarding immersion of a post-menopausal woman (like me) even one who has never
used the mikvah (like me) and even if it has been many years since menopause
I did not ever think of using the mikvah until after my childbearing years
and always believed (mistakenly), that it was too late and I had missed out.
Then I read various things about how non-Orthodox women are "reclaiming" the
mikvah for various different uses aside from those the Orthodox women use them
That was interesting to me, especially since I am not Orthodox, but I still
wondered what the halachic view would be. In reading through the
information on your website I came to realize that I didn't miss out after all.
I do have a question or two though. According to Rivkah Slonim's article, it
is still permitted and a mitzvah to immerse after menopause even if it
is the first time, many years after the end of childbearing years. My question
is... can you then do it again or is that it?
Do observant women never go to mikvah again after the time after they have
entered menopause? It seems hard to understand... how that must effect marital
relations if after years and years of observing the laws of family purity... now
the husband and wife can suddenly "be together" all the time? Can you explain
how this works? I feel like if I go once I might love the experience so much
that I would want to go again. Is this forbidden? ... I am curious to know what
they are so I can make an informed choice.
Reply from Mikvah.Org:
Thank you so much for listening. - Sara Bas Yisroel
How beautiful that you wish to experience mikvah for yourself! It can only
spiritually enhance your life, as well as bring blessing to yourself and your
Immersing the one time, post menopause, will bring sanctity to the remaining
years of your married life, may they be long and sweet.
The questions you raise are valid and I will do my best to clarify. First of
all, please understand that the laws governing the use of the mikvah for Family
Purity were not created with the intent of separating husband and wife. The
separation occurs as a result of the adherence to the laws of niddah, the
resulting effect of time spent together intimately and time apart, can enhance
the union between husband and wife.
This is a side effect, not the reason behind the practice. There are other
instances when these separations will not exist, namely, healthy pregnancy (no
periods or staining), breast-feeding (no periods, no staining), or any other
reason a woman may not have a normal menstrual cycle in her life. Then comes
the longest stage, menopause, when all periods and staining cease.
At this stage of life, we are different from when we were younger, our needs
and relationships have matured and changed. As people, we can cherish this time
that we have to spend with our spouses without the boundaries of the laws of
niddah. Indeed, G-d must feel that we have no need of that particular
aspect any longer at this point of life. As many who have gone through the 30 to
35 years or more of observance of these laws will attest, they look forward to
the next phase of life, the next stage, with all its own gifts to present.
Compare it if you will to the day you received your wedding ring! You
received this ring as a sign of commitment, love and devotion from your spouse.
No other ring or piece of jewelry you ever receive for the rest of your life
will have the same significance. You wear it, enjoy it and cherish it all the
days of your life. So too - the mikvah. You cherish and observe it throughout
the childbearing years - that is its time. When that time passes, you cherish
the fact that you did all you had to do with faith and love for G-d, and now
comes the next stage, to do so many other things in service to the A-lmighty.
But this particular mitzvah has had its time.
Please do use the mikvah. Please remember to prepare properly and follow the
protocols for immersion so that your immersion will be valid in every sense.
(This is best done after instruction from a qualified teacher of the laws of
niddah. If you like, we can provide a referral to someone in your area. She can
direct you in the proper procedure, which is not lengthy, for this single
immersion at this stage of life)
After that single immersion, it is customary (not required by Jewish law
halacha) for women past menopause to immerse once a year on the morning
of the eve of the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. At that time you can
refresh your spirituality with the mikvah, revitalize your soul and your being
for the coming New Year and know that this is the start of your prayers for a
blessed, healthy and happy New Year for your family and yourself.
I hope that I have answered your questions satisfactorily. If there is any
way I can be of further assistance, please let me know. Again, if you need a
referral for preparation for that wonderful first time, please let me know.
May you be blessed in every aspect of your life with all that is good,
I do understand your point about the different phase of life after
niddah. I imagine that part of why I questioned this comes from my own
point of view as someone who has never experienced mikvah and suddenly feels...
well... like I missed something. Hence my feeling of wishing that I could
experience this more than once if my first time is all I fully expect it to be.
But then you gave me a gift - the knowledge that it does not have to be the one
and only time, since I may go each year before Yom Kippur. Thank you for that,
as I had never known it before. There certainly is always something new to
learn in this world.
My only point of disagreement with you is regarding your example of the
wedding ring. The time of the mikvah may pass with the childbearing years
(although not entirely as you pointed out), but I hope to have my wedding ring
for my whole life. It does mean all you said. In fact, it is actually my
grandmother's wedding ring, may she rest in peace, promised to me while she was
alive. Her life continues to bless and sanctify my marriage as I look at my
ring every day. So, in my opinion, the time for this ring will never pass as my
childbearing years have. But I enjoyed what you said about the wedding ring
Interestingly enough, my own mother (the child of that grandmother) was
raised in an Orthodox home (of sorts... my grandmother was observant but my
grandfather not entirely) but when she became an adult she sort of rebelled as
so many young people do. Although my mother eventually had a kosher home in
respect of her mother, who would not have eaten there otherwise, she made the
decision not to go to mikvah before her wedding.
From what I understand this was quite a disappointment in the family, at
least for my grandmother. I always wondered about it. And now I feel as if I
am about to complete the circle so to speak and come back (for her???) and will
definitely share my thoughts and feelings regarding the experience with my
mother as I think she will really appreciate it... not to make her feel guilty
for what she didn't do, but just to share the beauty of a part of my life with
her as I often have, because my level of observance (although not Orthodox) has
gone beyond that of my childhood and this has pleased her.
Chaya, I appreciate your offer of a referral to someone who can instruct me.
However, I suspect that when I attend the open house for this new mikvah (which
sort of sparked the whole thing for me or more accurately brought it from the
back of my mind to the front) I will be able to get whatever information I need
including referrals if necessary. I don't quite understand though, if I am no
longer having a period and so don't have the issues of staining and checking
that... what kind of preparation is really involved for this one time
immersion. What would I have to be careful of in order for it to be valid? I
understand that there are various preparations at the mikvah itself, such as
removal of nail polish, jewelry and careful cleaning and combing out of hair and
more... but are there other things to consider? I actually thought the people
who work in the mikvah would explain all I have to do.
Oh, one last question
(and thank you so much for your time)... I have been debating whether I should
approach this very special mitzvah with a friend who is familiar with
the process who could sort of be my guide and mentor or whether I should do it
completely on my own (with just the assistance of whoever works there) and have
it be a sort of "just for me alone" experience. Do you have any advice?
Thank you again for your detailed reply and the warm way in which it was
I am so happy I am able to help in this way and most glad that my words made
you feel better, there is the old saying, "
words that come from the heart,
enter the heart
Regarding your comment on the wedding ring - my
apologies for not making myself clear. Indeed, as you cherish your wedding ring
throughout your life, so too, can you cherish the past observance of mikvah as
well as reap the blessing such observance brings to your life and the lives of
those you love. In your case, your onetime immersion will confer sanctity upon
your marriage and your own life, and can only bring blessing to those you love.
How beautiful that you have such a honored part of your grandmothers life to
call your own. Your mikvah immersion can indeed only add a precious link to the
heritage she bestowed upon you.
The protocol of the immersion is more
than just the preparation of cleansing your physical person, important though
that is. There is also, the counting of the seven white days leading up to the
immersion, the immersion taking place on the night following a counting of seven
complete days. There is a method to the counting to ensure a valid immersion and
it is best if someone sits for a short time and explains the process to you so
that you do it correctly. Something that means so much to you can only be
enhanced by following halacha (Jewish Law) and doing it all correctly.
I am aware that the lady in charge of the new mikvah in your city is
Mrs. G. She is more than qualified to guide you in your preparation for mikvah
and would be more than happy to do so. If you like, I can mention your name to
her, but I will wait to hear from you before doing so.
question of doing this with a friend, I can only say that mikvah in and of
itself is a very private, personal matter. As you can understand, observance
during the childbearing years, with all its significance, makes it something to
keep private between yourself and your husband, a gift for the two of you to
share. Perhaps you would like to experience some of that feeling for yourself
and your husband!
It has been a pleasure to speak to you this way and
an honor to feel I have helped. Thank you again for your good
All the best,
Thank you once again for your prompt and helpful reply. Regarding your
comment on the protocol for immersion being more than just the cleansing that
(usually) takes place at the mikvah, since I am way past menopause I do not
understand how counting of seven white days would apply to me. I have had only
"white days" for many years now (seven at least) so what would I have to do
before coming to the mikvah?
Thank you for letting me know of the lady in charge of the new mikvah in our
city and her qualifications. However, I don't really see any reason for you to
mention me to her, unless of course you feel it would be helpful to me. You are
the "expert" here, not me. Based on all you've told me so far I would certainly
respect your judgment and if you were to tell me that it would be in some way an
advantage to me for you to mention my name to Mrs. G I would certainly consider
Thank you, too, for your advice on whether or not to go with a friend. I was
somewhat leaning in that direction myself anyway. At first it felt like
something new and different that would be comforting to have some female support
in, particularly a woman who uses the mikvah herself and so would in a way
initiate me and afterwards sort of welcome me into the "sisterhood" so to
speak. I still feel this has validity, but at this point, I at least don't feel
that I need to have someone with me the way I once did. I am just as likely to
end up doing this by myself with only the help and support of the staff at the
mikvah as you suggested.
It has been a pleasure to "speak" with you as well and I hope I haven't
"spoken" too much or too often. I would hate to think that I may have
inadvertently imposed myself in any way. I tend to be a rather talkative person
especially when I am excited about something. So thank you for your time and
patience as well as the heartfelt advice. I look forward to this experience
with joy and if you would like I will let you know my reaction afterwards. The
new mikvah is having an open house this Sunday so I may stop by to take a look
and inquire about how to make an appointment and also to meet with Mrs. G.
Thank you again,
Sara bas Yisrael
First of all, you have not imposed
upon me in any way. You have rather given me great satisfaction as it always is
to communicate with someone with such wonderful interest in something that is
dear to my heart; so rest assured on that count, please!
Please let me
explain that although you have been free of all periods and staining for many
years, indeed had lots of white days, your preparation for the mikvah
immersion is comparable to one who just had a period and needs to go the mikvah.
The status of ritual and spiritual impurity remains until such time as a valid
mikvah immersion occurs to make the transition to a ritually and spiritually
pure state. Therefore you need to prepare the same way. It is not difficult but
does require explanation and instruction so you know what to do.
how important this is to you and I know you wish to do it right. So again, my
best suggestion would be for you to call Mrs. G prior to the mikvah opening.
This way you can explain what you need and reach her at a time when she will be
able to speak to you personally, rather than at the opening where she will be
busy with so many people. I am sure she will then be more than happy to set up a
time good for both of you to go over the requirements, as well as give you an
appointment for your immersion. I have merely told her that I have given her
name and number to a woman who wishes to speak to her about a post-menopausal
immersion. You can tell her who you are when you call.
Your offer of
letting us know of your experience is marvelous! We would indeed love to hear
from you, especially since you write so beautifully and eloquently! We could
post it online in our Personal Stories section with your permission of
Once again wishing you all that is good,
Thank you for your kind words of reassurance, as well as your explanation of
why I do need some instruction prior to immersion. I will
certainly contact the Mikvah lady at some point to arrange a meeting for that
purpose before I make the actual mikvah appointment.
I certainly have wondered in recent days and weeks why it has taken me so
long to discover that I wanted to do this and why it couldn't have happened many
(many) years ago. In fact, my husband is Israeli and we were married in Israel,
but because we were married on his kibbutz I was not required to go to mikvah
before the wedding like the brides in the "city" (or a religious kibbutz) are.
Again... I never even thought of it! Well... actually I know the answer.
Everything happens for a reason and everything happens at the time that it is
right ("There is a time for every season" was so true that many years ago it
became a popular song). G-d takes care of this. So perhaps if I had come to
this earlier it just wouldn't have been the right time for me and I would have
rejected it entirely or... I don't know. The point is that it happened now
because now is the time it happened.
Perhaps I am going on and on again because it is hard for me to say goodbye
to you but I will certainly write again "afterwards" and I look forward to
Chag Chanukah Sameach... may each additonal candle you light increase the
light in your life as you have done for me,
Thank you so much for your very beautiful words. They have indeed touched my
heart! Yes, it is true there is a time for everything, as you mentioned the
words of the song - in truth, these words are from King Solomon's
Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) and of course are as true today as they were
many years ago when written.
I look forward, with great anticipation, to hearing of your mikvah
experience. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance in any way.
May G-d grant you blessing and serenity in every aspect of your life,
Have a wonderful Chanukah
I attended the open house at the brand new Mikvah in my area and it is
absolutely beautiful... like a spa. The women who led me around were lovely and
I even got to meet "Chana" after whom the mikvah is named. She is in her 90's
and a great-great grandmother! I don't think I've ever met one before. And
here is the amazing part... I didn't realize up to that point that the mikvah
was named for someone. I thought Chana was just a biblical name they picked. I
thought perhaps there is some connection between Chana in the Torah and mikvah.
But when I found out about this Chana and was introduced to her by her
granddaughter who showed me around the facility, I was really hit by a total
feeling of this being beshert for me. The grandmother of mine, that I
wrote of in an earlier e-mail - whose wedding band I wear - was Anna and her
Hebrew name was Chana! Not only that but when the granddaughter introduced me
she first called out to her grandmother, who was dozing... she called, "Nanny,
Nanny"! Now that is what I called my grandmother and in my experience it isn't a
common name to call a grandmother like "Bubbe" or "Nana" is... in fact I haven't
heard it much at all. I'm sure you can imagine my amazement.
On the way home I immediately called my mother on the cell phone and told her
the whole story. She is Anna's (Chana's) daughter and the one who never went to
mikvah even though she was raised by a woman who did... every month. So now...
my mother got so emotional and started to cry, especially when I told her that
this mikvah was so special it even has a handicapped accessible pool... and she
said she was thinking of something... and I knew what... she was thinking that
after all these many years she might like to go herself. She said it would
bring her closure. I was so touched.
But I am not telling you this story only to touch you... I have a question
from my mother and don't even know if you would have the answer. My mother had
a colostomy over two years ago and wears a bag which she cleans and changes.
She never bathes at home as it is difficult to get into a tub so she showers and
wears the bag when she does. My question is whether she would be permitted in
the mikvah. What happens in a case like this? She is afraid that if she
removed the bag to immerse there could be a little leakage. However although it
wouldn't bother her to enter with it on (and then there would be no leaking) I
suppose that wouldn't be Kosher since a part of her body would be covered by the
adhesive that attaches the bag to the opening in her body. Now there is a
question you probably haven't gotten too often.
My mother and father live in Florida but are planning on moving up north
again, probably in the spring or summer. We are investigating where they might
live. So there is no rush in this because I believe she would want to do this
here with me if she indeed does want to. If you have any thoughts on this
situation or can refer me further I would appreciate it. I am cc-ing my mikvah
lady on this in case she has a thought and this way I don't have to explain it
all over again.
I said I wasn't going to write again until after my immersion but here I am
"talking" to you yet again. However the two things I really wanted to tell you
about: the "beshert" feeling and my mom were both important, as I'm
sure you would agree.
Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.
And may G-d grant you the same blessing and serenity you wished for me,
Once again, it was wonderful to hear from you! Your story gave me goose
bumps, as I again marveled at the ways of the A-lmighty! Plus, your words are
so heartfelt and eloquent, I know you are writing from your heart!
I have personally called Rabbi Schusterman of Los Angeles, CA regarding your
question on your mother and her immersion. He told me as follows: Regarding her
preparation, if bathing in a tub is too difficult for her, she may take a very
thorough shower to prepare. Of course, all other preparations should be
performed as usual (as the mikvah attendant will teach you).
Regarding her immersion itself: The bag should be removed. Regarding
possibility of leakage into the mikvah waters, there are two options depending
on how the mikvah functions. If the mikvah has a filtering system, then she
should schedule her appointment the last appointment of the evening so that this
way the waters will be fully filtered clean by the time any one else has to
immerse. If the mikvah does not have a filtering system, then she should
schedule her appointment as the very last immersion before the water of the
mikvah is changed. This way again, any leakage would be eliminated by the time
another woman has to immerse.
I have ccd this email to your mikvah lady so she can advise you accordingly
regarding the way her mikvah works. If your mother uses another mikvah
elsewhere, then she too should consult them prior to her appointment regarding
how that particular mikvah works, explain her needs and schedule her appointment
I cannot explain to you how wonderful it is to speak with you over this
period of time. I feel your warmth and sincerity deep in my bones and know that
your performance of this wonderful mitzvah can only bring great joy to
G-d as well as to your grandmother Chana and all of your ancestors, whose souls
can only benefit by your wonderful actions.
Once again may you and your family be blessed in everyway,
I look forward to hearing from you very soon,