Somehow, I managed to make it through 22 years of marriage before the notion
of mikvah (ritual bath), was raised for me. Sure, I knew that married Jewish
women went to the mikvah and observed the laws of Taharat
Hamishpacha (Family Purity), but I really did not know when, why or
how. I did not have any idea of the commitment involved and the blessings to be
reaped by observance.
My friend, Carol, in Yardley, PA, changed all that for me. During the High
Holiday season, she asked me if I would be willing to visit the mikvah with her.
Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I agreed. Because of our busy
schedules, we did not manage to arrange the individualized learning sessions or
the mikvah tour before Carol went off to Israel to see her new grandson.
While in Israel, Carol visited a mikvah. Once my partner in this adventure no
longer needed my moral support, visiting the mikvah lost its urgency for me. It
was not until my husband and I started planning our trip to Jerusalem for the
upcoming summer, that I took my next step. When we were designing our learning
agenda, I requested a session on "women's issues" including a discussion on
Our itinerary in Jerusalem included a trip to Har Nof to meet with Mrs. Gila
Manolson (author of "The Magic Touch"), who spoke to us about the laws of
Taharat Hamishpacha. Gila spoke to us in an earnest and sensitive
manner about these laws and the special holiness and closeness their observance
brings to a married couple. She took us on a tour through the mikvah and
explained how it was used. Both my husband and I read the books Gila suggested
and we made a committment to observe these laws.
Shortly after our return from Jerusalem, Miriam Shemtov (co-director of
Chabad of Bucks County, PA) and I were chatting about our recent trip. I told
her of my interest in Taharat Hamishpacha and of my ignorance of how to
proceed. With complete joy and without hesitation, Miriam filled the void in
my education and supplied the information and materials that I needed. Within a
month, I found myself at the beautiful, new mikvah in Princeton, prepared to
experience this mitzvah for the first time.
There I met Malky Dubov, who was also anxious to help me. She guided me
through the ritual and was present when I experienced this significant spiritual
fulfillment. Malky also told me that Taharat Hamishpacha is the secret
of Jewish family survival throughout our history. It brings peace, harmony and
tranquility to the married couple.
I cannot adequately describe the beauty and sanctity that the observance
of Taharat Hamishpacha has introduced to my life. Perhaps this excerpt
from the suggested prayer, recited after one's immersion can give you some idea:
"Master of the world, with an inspired heart, I approach the fulfillment of the
immersion for the sake of purity...May it be Your will that our house be a house
of peace, love and closeness. May Your grace never depart from us, and may I
always be worthy of the purity appropriate to the women of Your nation, the
House of Israel, Amen."