The Power of A Woman

The Power of A Woman

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 that?

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 now?

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.

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