Mikvah (the Jewish ritual bath – learn more about it from our fun video) has gotten a lot of bad coverage over the years. That’s not to say that people don’t have a right to tell their stories. Everyone does. But the stories that often make the news and talk shows are given over by those who had a less than stellar experiences.
But how about all the happy stories? How about all those women (and men) who practice the mitzvah of taharas hamishpacha (family purity – which includes the monthly mikvah dunk) and experience tremendous positivity from it in terms of their marriage, their sense of self, and their connection to God?
We asked our fans to share why they love going to the mikvah. We received an overwhelming number of beautiful responses, but for the sake of space selected some of our favorites to share with you!
- I have been married for just over 11 years, and been using the mikvah my entire marriage. One of the things about using the mikvah that I find so nice is that it is me time – I get to focus on myself during the prep time, and then when I am in the mikvah, it is my mitzvah. Some of my most intense prayers are in the mikvah, because this is about me – no kids bothering me, no phones ringing, no interruptions, just me. Of course, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I get a thrill out of calling my husband on the way home, and letting him know I’m on my way home. The kids are always in bed, and he’s standing at the door, waiting for me.
- I’ve been married for 24 years and come from a non-religious background. When I got married, I actually didn’t go to the Mikvah at all! We didn’t have kids for a long time and then finally got pregnant after many rounds of IVF but kept having miscarriages. I felt broken in so many ways. Observant friends said that I should go to the Mikvah but I felt like it was fake. I wasn’t shomer shabbos or kosher and felt like it wouldn’t be real. But after trying herbs, acupuncture, and even a “faith healer” I figured why not. After a few months of Mikvah – I got pregnant on my own. 10 years after being married. 7 miscarriages later. I now have 3 beautiful children and believe strongly that it is the Mikvah that enabled me to have my amazing family that I thank G-d for every day. After I went into the Mikvah the first time and was pronounced “kosher” – no spa day ever made me feel more clean, whole, peaceful. I may not keep every letter of the “law” but this is the one thing that I hold on to tightly.
- Yes, I find mikvah to be a spiritual experience: standing before God after I’ve dunked, knowing that previous month’s mistakes and baggage have been washed away, praying to do better this coming month, beseeching the Almighty to bring blessings to my family (and anyone else who needs a special prayer) is all very meaningful. But what I really want to mention is what this rhythm of two weeks of not touching then two weeks of touching does for my marriage. I’m happily married for almost fifteen years and I’ve noticed that after a couple weeks of being “together,” my husband’s interest in me, in the physical starts to wane. And it’s understandable. The freshness gets lost. But every woman wants to feel like her husband is thinking about her and crazy about her. It is a real power to have as a woman – to know that your man is smitten with you. And month after month, just around when he starts to get less interested, I get my period and suddenly I’m off limits. The first day or so he doesn’t seem to mind. But after a few days of being forbidden fruit he tunes into me again in such an incredible way. I know that I’m back on his mind again as he (and I) count down our days (then hours!) to reunite. My husband is more skeptical when it comes to Judaism than I am. But month after month when I return home from that mikvah and ask him “Isn’t this whole process completely amazing?” He can’t help but to agree!
- Not really a full story, but when I started going to the mikvah, the attendant asked me my name and about my family. It turned out that she had been my grandmother’s (who passed away when I was in my teens) mikvah lady. My grandmother was very learned, an ardent zionist, but traditional more than religious, as far as I knew. Nobody in the family had known that she went to the mikvah. The sense of the continuity and connection to my Bubby was powerful.
- As our family grows, going to the mikvah has become utterly inconvenient. Really, who has time on a weekday (usually) to just shower, soak in a bath, shower again, go to the mikva? But going to the mikva has also become utterly necessary for me to get in touch with myself once a month. When else will I take the time to just be by myself, really focusing on what’s important in life? For me, the mikva has become not as much a necessity to preserving respect and boundaries in my marriage as it as been for preserving my sense of self. Additionally, I love feeling like I’m part of a club – a club of Jewish women, of every type and stripe, who go through the same process on a regular basis, who take time from their schedules no matter what to connect to this mitzvah that women have been performing in every part of the world and in every time period for thousands of years. It’s a purely feminine, and purely private experience that makes me feel so connected to myself, to my husband, to my people – and ultimately to G-d.
- I will not say it is not without its stresses. BUT, one thing I love about going to the Mikva in Israel are the very spiritual, loving Mikva ladies (balaniot) who would always bless me when I’d mention my fertility issues. The last time I went, the balanit poured her heart into her blessing on my account. Thank God, I have not needed to return for the past 5 months now!!! (i.e. because pregnant women don’t need to go!)
- I wanted to share my positive views and feelings regarding going to the Mikveh. I’m 29 years old, born and raised as a non-Jew in the outskirts of Europe, namely Scandinavia. Currently I reside in Brooklyn with my husband of 15 months. First time I dipped in a Mikveh was days before Passover just over 2 years ago when I joined the Jewish people through an Orthodox conversion. The experience cannot be described in words, but was life changing on all possible levels. The second time I dipped in the Mikveh was right before my wedding 11 months later. Having already been in the Mikveh and being intimately familiar with it’s transforming powers only made it even more meaningful. First joining my people then joining my husband. Observing the laws of family purity keeps my marriage alive and exciting at the same time keeps me connected to all my spiritual relatives who have observed these laws throughout history. I’m a part of something bigger and I’m part of keeping our beautiful way of life alive!
- I’m religious from birth, and the mikvah never really was an issue I thought about other than I looking forward to go because I was able to have a physical connection with my husband after. That changed last summer. I was six weeks pregnant and on that Thursday I went for my first visit to my ob-gyn, and she did an ultra sound. She said, “Congratulations you’re pregnant!” and my husband and I were really excited. We called our parents to share the good news. I was on the way to drop my 6 & 3 yr olds off at day camp the next morning when I just felt really sick and saw blood literally pouring out of me. I drove to the emergency room to meet my doctor there. She checked me and she said as of now there is still a heart beat, but come back next week and well see then. I went back on Tuesday and she said there was still a heart beat, but I was spotting so there was a high risk of a miscarriage. I called my rabbi to find out if I was a niddah (i.e. had to separate from my husband) and he said yes I should count seven days from the first incident and then go to the mikvah. So that Thursday night I went to the mikvah and in the waiting room I met my neighbor who has one eight year old son and has been trying for a while to conceive. When I saw her I decided I’d pray for her during the immersion, and I did I really tried to focus on her. I felt so good when I came out I just assumed that in nine months she’d have a baby. (She unfortunately didn’t and I hope one day she will.) But the next Monday I went back to my ob-gyn and she told me “Congratulations, you didn’t miscarry, and you aren’t pregnant with one baby you are pregnant with two!” I had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to beautiful identical girls four and half months ago. There is no doubt in my mind that mikvah prayer got me here.