Mikvah During War

Mikvah During War
Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org

While learning about Taharat HaMishpacha (Family Purity) before my wedding, I heard inspiring stories about women who sacrificed everything to be able to keep this mitzvah. Women in Czarist Russian, or in Europe during World War II, who put their lives on the line to sneak to the mikvah under the most difficult circumstances. It made me grateful that I live in Israel in the 21st century, where there are sparkling mikvaos in almost every neighborhood.

However, as mikvah night approached last week, I found myself more nervous than excited. I live in an area that has exactly one minute to get to safety when the siren starts shrieking. We have had over 100 rockets fired at us over the past few weeks, and attacks can come at any time. I have been taking two-minute showers since the beginning of this war, hoping to avoid being caught in a particularly vulnerable position during a siren.

But mikvah night? Preparations take time. And so, I painstakingly began to prepare. Nobody was going to stop me from fulfilling this holy mission.

Nightfall came. I hopped in my car and drove to the mikvah. I walked up to the building to find it locked. As a new immigrant, my Hebrew is not great. I slowly read the jumbled sign on the door. It was simply a list of three other mikvaos in the area. And then I realized that this particular mikvah must not have a bomb shelter, and was therefore closed until further notice.

Another woman walked up behind me. And then another. I offered to drive them to the closest mikvah. In Israel, cars are a luxury that most families cannot afford, so we decided to wait a few more minutes to see if another woman would need a ride. Two minutes later, one did. We piled into my car and drove across the city. When we arrived at the mikvah, we were warmly greeted by the attendant. Chairs were brought in from a nearby synagogue to accommodate all of the women.

This was the first time I saw Israelis wait patiently in line. Dozens of beautiful women, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and traditional, sat together, giving each other blessings and reciting Psalms. Nobody complained.

This is Israel during wartime. Walking out in the open in my city is terrifying. Our eyes dart from side to side, calculating the time to run to shelter if a rocket strikes. Yet we are determined. We leave the safety of our homes to visit wounded soldiers in the hospital, to bring meals to the families of reserve soldiers, and, of course, to go to the mikvah. Thankfully, there were no sirens that night. But there were the following night, and the night after that. I continue to pray that one day soon we will be able to complete our holy mitzvahs free from worry.

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