|A LOVE THAT IS BLESSED
Judaism is very
realistic in its understanding of human sexuality. It understands there is love
between men and women that is unique and total, that reaches fulfillment in
In tender and moving language, Torah celebrates this
love between husband and wife. It calls Jewish marriage
"kiddushin"?sanctification, and gives us the guidelines through which husband
and wife can sanctify their love for each other.
"Taharat Hamishpacha", the Laws of Family Purity, have been a sacred part of our
Jewish heritage since the beginnings of our history. They are G-d's way for
husband and wife to live together and love. By practicing the ritual of Mikvah
and accepting the presence of G-d into their marriage, the intimate relationship
of man and wife is itself good and beautiful and holy. It is worthy of receiving
A NEW BEGINNING
cherishes all His people, both those who accept His Law throughout all their
lives and, perhaps more so, those who have not followed His way in the past, but
wish to begin.
This brochure is meant only as a brief introduction. If
you wish to understand more about the magnificent beginnings possible through
the mitzvah of mikvah, your questions will be welcomed by your local Mikvah
Association, your Rabbi or his wife.
A GATHERING OF
The word "mikvah" means "a gathering of water"?natural
water. Built according to exact rules of dimension and acceptable source of
natural water, a mikvah is a small pool, usually about four feet deep, filled
with clean, clear water.
Today, most Jewish communities boast a mikvah
that is modern and bright with beautifully appointed preparation and dressing
rooms and a mikvah pool that is heated and scrupulously clean.
natural spring water is called "living water". With its clear waters, the mikvah
is a powerful symbol of life and rebirth. Throughout our history, the ritual of
mikvah immersion has been a means of spiritual purification, helping us prepare
for events of great spiritual significance. In ancient times, the high priest of
the Temple in Jerusalem immersed himself in the mikvah five separate times
during the services for Yom Kippur, each time reaching a higher spiritual
In our time, the mikvah is mainly used as a vital part of the Laws
of Family Purity. As it has always been the role of a Jewish wife to set the
spiritual tone of her home, it is the Jewish wife who ensures the spiritual
dimension of the intimate marriage relationship. By immersing in the clear
waters of the mikvah, she spiritually prepares herself to resume this
relationship with her husband.
AN EXPRESSION OF
Torah commands that husband and wife must not have physical
relations during the wife's menstrual period, and for one week afterwards.
During this time, they treat each other with respect and affection, but without
any physical contact.
This period of abstinence can be a rewarding time
when husband and wife learn to communicate on levels other than the physical. It
provides an opportunity for them to become friends and partners who talk more
and listen more.
Then, the wife immerses herself in the pure, natural
waters of the mikvah and says a blessing thanking G-d for giving her this
The mikvah immersion has nothing to do with hygiene. It is not
meant to clean the body, but to cleanse the spirit. When a Jewish wife visits
the mikvah it is a spiritual preparation through which she enjoys a refreshing
sense of being renewed, both physically and psychologically.
immersion, she and her husband renew their intimate relationship, their love
revitalized and refreshed.
A Jewish wife visits the mikvah each month after her
menstrual period finishes and she has counted seven "clean" days free of any
menstrual discharge. The privacy of this delicate and beautiful time is ensured
because these visits are made in the evening.
First, she bathes and
washes her hair. She removes all make-up, nail polish, jewelry and contact
lenses, so nothing will come between her body and the pure mikvah waters. Then,
with the assistance and advice of a lady attendant, she immerses herself and
recites a brief blessing.
A bride visits the mikvah for the first time
after her menstrual period and just before her wedding. It is important to plan
the wedding date carefully with this mitzvah in mind.
child-bearing years, she continues to visit the mikvah once each month, and
Even if a woman has reached menopause and has never
visited the mikvah, she should still perform the ritual of mikvah immersion
once. Then she and her husband can enjoy the rest of their married life together
knowing their marriage and their relationship is blessed by G-d.
FOR A LIFETIME
In following the Laws of Torah, we are
rewarded by knowing we are fulfilling the commandments of G-d. The mitzvah of
mikvah also gives us other tangible rewards.
Mikvah can enhance the
relationship between husband and wife, helping them develop a friendship that is
rich and deep and teaching them to communicate on levels other than
Alternating times of physical contact and abstinence can make
the attraction between husband and wife last a lifetime. The love they feel for
each other continues to have the freshness and excitement of the first days of
During the time of abstinence, husband and wife are
reminded that each partner is a vital, independent individual. The respect they
feel for each other may be reinforced and renewed.
In our confusing world
it is difficult to have a successful happy marriage. But throughout our history,
the strength and stability of the Jewish family have been the envy of all
cultures. Through the Laws of Family Purity G-d has given us this hope for a
"happily ever after" for husband and wife. Mikvah creates a beautiful balance in
which a marriage, and a family, can begin in love and certainty and continue to
grow and strengthen through a lifetime.