America is over 200 years old and a lot has happened in the last 200 some odd
years. Especially to the Jewish woman. Look how we've been liberated from so
many chores our mothers and grandmothers had to deal with. Remember how they
used to tell us what Europe was like? We don't kosher our own meat, the butcher
does it for us. We needn't make our own challah, not to mention the
other delicacies from our mother's kitchen: sponge cake, rugelach,
honey cake, taiglach. We just run to the bakery. And the gefilte
fish, did anyone even keep the recipe? In America we have a lot going for us
because even if we want to make these things, look how easy it is with our
blenders, mixers, processors, self-cleaning ovens and dishwashers. All the
modern conveniences our mothers didn't have.
Where else in the world would you find such beautiful Mikvah
facilities? Yes, you certainly heard me correctly, I did say Mikvah
and I do mean Ritualarium. Well, did you think only kitchens could change?
Compare the Mikvahs we have today with those of old. Our mothers and
grandmothers used a Mikvah. They prepared painstakingly to keep this
mitzvah under dreadful conditions. Look at our Mikvahs: Large
buildings with central heating, carpeted waiting rooms, private, beautifully
tiled and painted baths, showers and dressing rooms, hair dryers and every now
and then a sauna to relax in. Now what do you think your mother would say to
You still want to know why I am bringing up an antiquated method of
cleanliness? Is that really what it is? Have you heard of the Mikvah
found at the excavation site in Masada? The Mikvah, of the exact
proportions as the one in your community, was found surrounded by Roman baths.
You see, even in ancient Israel, the women went to the Mikvah. You
know what is the most interesting aspect of Mikvah? The fact that a
woman must be physically scrupulously clean before she enters its waters.
Now, basically, there are two stages in a woman's life. We will deal with
the simpler one first. In other words, the post-menopausal period. How could I
say that what is generally considered a difficult time in a woman's life is
simple? In relation to the Mikvah, I just mentioned, it is just that.
Because once you have passed through menopause, once is enough. All you have to
do is go once to the Mikvah. You say you never went when you were
younger, why go now? Because Mikvah is a Mitzvah, a positive
commandment which brings G-d into our homes.
Remember your parents' home? Your father was the King and your mother
Queen. Children knew their place, respect was great and love plentiful. The
home that welcomes G-d and His commandments is a small sanctuary dedicated to
Him. In such a home is peace and contentment. Every Mitzvah that a
person performs builds a stronger and more everlasting foundation than anything
else he tries. Just because you have not done a Mitzvah in the past is
no reason not to do it now. On the contrary, the fact that you never did it
should inspire you to do so now. One of the basic truths of Judaism is that
when a person wanders knowingly, or unknowingly, from the path of Torah, G-d
waits for the happy day when he or she returns.
How simple it is to go once to the Mikvah and know you can enjoy the
rest of your married life in spiritual purity, an extra, beautiful dimension of
holiness. The fact that you didn't go before is probably not your fault. Many
Jewish women are under the misconception that the laws of Mikvah are
related to a need for physical cleanliness, for a time when hygienic facilities
at home were primitive if they existed at all. But as I said before, nothing
could be further from the truth.
Mikvah is a spiritual cleansing which consecrates the relationship
of man and wife. What are some of the advantages of going to Mikvah?
As I said at the post-menopausal stage in life, the advantage is knowing that
your future married life will be a pure one. What better time to go than
The piety of our ancestresses played such a large part in the tradition of
our people. In Egypt we were slaves and Pharoah condemned all the new born male
Jews to death. The men were forlorn and depressed. They despaired of bringing
children into the world to be killed. But the women admonished them, claiming
that Pharoah only wished to kill the males while the Jewish men were condemning
the entire race. It was the women?s optimism and faith that gave life to the
nation. Every Jewish woman can be the strong guiding force of
Bitochen, faith in G-d, in her home.
What does this have to do with Mikvah? Think how important a
woman's role is in history, in her home and to her husband. G-d has made it so
that husband and wife are more faithful to each other than anyone else, because
the loyalty of husband and wife fills each other completely, body and soul.
There is no aspect of human life which the loyalty of marriage does not
encompass. To include G-d in marriage and receive His blessings for fidelity,
the marriage must be pure. Purification of the woman in the Mikvah
waters is a Divine decree. It's never too late. There is no such thing in
Judaism. Every moment is a new opportunity for a person to do a
mitzvah he/she has not done before. Remember how our mothers and our
grandmothers struggled to maintain certain standards. For what did they
strive? The perpetuation of the faith they loved, in purity and peace, was
their goal. Let us lend a hand to their cause because it is our cause too. The
little extra effort required to perform this important ritual is certainly worth
the magnificent reward.
The remaining factor is the free will of the woman. Why should you go now?
Because the world, for all its progress and advantages, is in a sorry state.
The divorce rate climbs ceaselessly. Families are broken apart and children
wander aimlessly. The moral atmosphere of the world is a reflection of today's
marriage. So if you are post-menopausal, try going to the Mikvah just
once and bring a new dimension of spirituality to yourself that will filter
through to your marriage and your family. Welcome G-d's commandments into your
home and make your marriage an example of strength, unity loyalty and love.
Don't underestimate the power of the woman to bring moral peace to this
country and the world.
Call your local Rabbi, Rebbetzin or Mikvah attendant to advise you
on the laws pertaining to the brief separation, preparation and immersion in
Mikvah. Then take a good look at the advantages of being a Jewish
woman in 200 year-old America. It's so easy, we take it for granted. But look
deeper at your real heritage, the one that is 5764 years old. The heritage that
liberated you before it was in style, the heritage that was imbued in you.