What is as holy as Yom Kippur, more spiritual
than meditating and the best thing you can do for your love life?
You may not believe it, but the answer is THE MIKVAH - the
ancient Jewish method guiding the intimate relationship between husband and
Is there love after marriage? Is it realistically possible to maintain the
excitement and passion in a one-partner relationship for more than a few years?
How did the Jews acquire a reputation for warm, secure, loving families that for
generations enjoyed an enviable longevity?
One of the most formidable challenges to the modern marriage is the
tediousness of routine. Keeping the monotony out of monogamy is not easy - which
explains why so many men can't commit - ("You mean only one partner for the rest
of my life!"). No matter how adventurous your honeymoon, sooner or later boredon
is bound to set in. Eventually, inevitably, we start taking each other for
granted. Then we go looking for excitement elsewhere and before long it's
downhill to the divorce courts. As for the many who stick together grinning and
bearing it, all too often they end up living, in the words of Thoreau, "lives of
It comes as a surprise to most to learn that long before Masters
and Johnson, Dr. Ruth and Co., the Jewish ancients were promoting a Divine plan
of quality control in marriage, which take proactive measures to prevent boredom
from eating away at a good marriage.
In a nutshell, the Mikvah method, or Family Sanctity, works like
this: At the time of month when a woman expects her period, she separates from
any form of physical intimacy with her husband. At the conclusion of her period,
she counts seven days and then visits the Mikvah for spiritual sanctification.
The Mikvah is a clean, warm pool of water in very pleasant, private surroundings
and is constructed according to rigorous halachic/legal standards. Following
this total immersion, she and her husband resume their intimate
The Sages of the Talmud put it thus: Why did the Torah wish for a
wife to be separated from her husband for seven days? To make her as desirable
to him forever as on the day they wed. (Talmud Niddah, 31b)
Today's therapists are advising couples to "schedule time for
romance". But ours it the rat race generation. Often both partners have
demanding careers, professions or business commitments. (How about Thursday the
18th? Are you available?).
With the Mikvah system, there is a full week's advance notice of
when intimacy will be resumed. Mikvah night thus becomes that pre-scheduled time
for romance when all other commitments are rescheduled. Husband and wife have
both been counting the days, waiting for each other, eagerly anticipating the
moment of reunion. Libidos are in alignment and passions are reignited as
couples enjoy a magical evening together.
Scientific research confirms that love is a vital ingredient in
lust. For humans, intimacy is not quantity driven as in the animal kingdom, but
quality driven. If there is little quality in the relationship, if intimacy is
not the climax of an emotional bonding, there can be little satisfaction. There
is no afterglow; no feeling of being loved and we are left emotionally empty,
still hungering for the warmth and security we craved.
At least one respected relationship counsellor has gone so far as
to suggest that the breakdown of boundaries in our uninhibited 'anything goes'
society, has seriously diminished our appreciation for the subtleties of
intimacy. How interesting then that within the more 'controlled atmosphere' of
the Mikvah plan, even a simple touch can become a beautiful, sensual act of
Experience has shown that the regular cycle of intimacy and
privacy allows us ample opportunity for spontaneity and complete physical
gratification while protecting us from tediousness and the rut of routine. This
is not to suggest that Mikvah is a panacea for all marital ills, but millions of
satisfied practitioners the world over are proving that it really is possible
for the luster of love to last a lifetime.
"BUT I'M OK."
As for those whose marriages are just fine, Mikvah still does much
to enhance the quality of an already good relationship. When we are not
constantly available to our parners at a whim, we are actually fostering a
culture of mutual respect. We each need our own moments of privacy and
individuality. "It reinforces my personhood," says one woman. "I am no longer a
vassal, a mere object of desire. When I'm not available physically, my husband
is reminded that there is an intellectual and emotional side to me."
Communication, too, is improved. If a man cannot talk with his
hands, he is compelled to communicate verbally. Husbands of Mikvah-going women
learn to articulate and express themselves better. And, it heightens male
sensitivity during those days of the month when women want a little more
emotional support. Men become attuned to their wives' biological clocks and are
able to be more understanding partners.
SANCTITY AND SPIRITUALITY
Although it's not as famous, religiously speaking, the Mitzvah of
Mikvah is on a par with fasting on Yom Kippur. Traditionally, building a Mikvah
took precedence over building a synagogue. While the synagogue represents the
community, the Mikvah is a symbol of the family. We cannot build communal life
before first securing our family life. One must flow from the other. Successful
families make successful communities.
On a personal level, knowing that G-d, through the Torah, has
shared a recommended lifestyle for our intimate relationships is very positive
encouragement. Following a spiritual tradition in this most personal part of our
lives can be quite liberating. Those who visit the Mikvah report feeling that
G-d had given them the 'green light'. It removes a lot of the guilt we grow up
And there is nothing as deeply spiritual for a Jewish woman as the
Mikvah. As sacred as the synagogue may be, the Mikvah is almost always the most
meaningful spiritual experience in the life of a Jewish woman. As one woman put
it, "Sometimes I feel my femininity and sometimes I feel my Jewishness. It
wasn't until immersing in the waters of the Mikvah that I felt both simultaneously. For the first time in my life, I was a Jewish woman."
But aren't the rules and regulations of Family Sanctity inhibiting
and onerous? To be perfectly honest, it does entail a sense of self-discipline.
Don't all good things we want in life take discipline to acquire them? No one
achieves success in any area without commitment and self-mastery.
After an initial adjustment, though, it becomes easily manageable
and almost second nature. A personal counsellor will be happy to introduce the
Mikvah method to you at a private, confidential consultation.
THEY SAID IT
"Before we were married I was very wary of the
Mikvah. The Rabbi said it wasn't compulsory but asked me to do the course. The
more I heard, the more I was intrigued. Little did I know it was 3500 years old!
When I did go before my wedding, it was so beautiful I didn't want to
"I always thought it was only for very religious people. Could I
really go to the Mikvah if I didn't yet keep Shabbos? When the Rabbi's wife
laughed and said it was no problem, I was not only relieved, it felt like
Judaism really belonged to me after all."
"There was no embarrassment whatsoever. The
lone female attendant was so sensitive and gentle. It was the most beautiful
spiritual experience of my entire life."
"I was married for 17 years. We were OK, but since discovering the
Mikvah I feel a new awareness of my husband's presence every time he enters the
"The Mikvah taught me that in Judaism, my body
and physical relationships are not dirty. They are blessings from
"For me personally, the Mikvah is nothing short of a Honeymoon
a Month Club."
The Mikvah is not only for brides, but for every married Jewish
woman. It is never too late to embrace this beautiful Mitzvah. There are
important guidelines to proper use of the Mikvah. To ensure that all
preparations and the actual immersion are performed correctly, one should be
advised by a reliable counselor. For a free and confidential consultation,
please call 718-756-5700 or contact us online.