Mikvah Rant

Every mikvah* I have been to has a sign on the wall to tell husbands to wait down the street or around the corner, and not to park in front of the building when picking up or dropping off their wives out of respect for the other users.

Many men do not respect this – and will drop their wives off and pick them up right in front, where they can see who else is coming in or leaving. Not only is this wrong of the husband, but the wife needs to think of the other women and spare them embarrassment – she needs to tell her husband where to wait or park. I know many probably don’t even stop to think about it. But they should.

It makes my blood boil every time it happens.  A friend of mine told me the following: One time I was there a man parked his car in front and was waiting to pick up his wife.  I knocked on his window, he rolled it down, and I told him that this is not the supermarket over here and he is supposed to wait at the right side of the building, as per the rules of the facility. Apparently, my friend tells me, the guy did move. I cannot believe she had the backbone to approach him.

The times when I have gone and my husband has picked me up we made sure to meet up at the corner a block away. It’s just derech eretz, common decency. As women we go out of our way to keep quiet about when we visit the mikvah (we don’t even tell our closest friends when we go)  – these men make a mockery of our modesty and privacy.

*mikvah – ritual bath house

Bookmark and Share

13 responses to “Mikvah Rant

  1. Lady Lock and Load

    I wonder if these same men would not help a woman carrying a double stroller because of tznius reasons. Or tell me not to pass something to them but to put it down for them to take. GRRR!

    • I am seeing so many examples of what a friend of my wife’s calls “crazy frum.” This comment was right on the mark–probably these men WOULD ask you to put something down so they do not risk physical contact but wouldn’t consider people’s feelings in a privacy matter.

  2. At the mikvah in Baltimore there are two exits. One for women going to the parking lot and one on the side of the building for women getting picked up by their husbands. Very nice idea!
    Just one point about meeting around the corner or down the block, if it is not a safe neighborhood, that can be dangerous.

  3. Probably wasn’t intentional. He may have been visiting or new to the area and wanted to make sure everything was ok. Or you can chalk it up to obliviousness…

  4. shualah elisheva

    the mikveh is such a potentially explosive topic. on the one hand, it should be absolutely private; i completely agree that only a woman and her husband should know when she’s visiting the mikveh for taharat hamishpacha [and maybe toyveling, too – i don’t want anyone to know when i screw up a pot or pan].

    on the other hand, i think sometimes the veil of secretiveness can make it difficult for women who are not f.f.b. to conceive of actually performing what is, at the end of the day, a beautiful mitzvah that can underscore reclaiming femininity. it seems too frightening, too archaic, too dank, and too dismal [none of which are actually true].

    a tough subject – glad to see you bringing up some of the relevant issues here, hadassah.

    • [and maybe toyveling, too – i don’t want anyone to know when i screw up a pot or pan].

      How can you tell if it’s “screwing up” or “just having purchased a new pan”?

      • shualah elisheva

        scorch marks. never seen me wield cookware in a kitchen, have you?

        you definitely want to keep it that way.

  5. My personal opinion is that people overdo the whole mikvah secrecy thing. The gemara (eruvin 55b) says that a woman needs to conceal her tevila so that she doesn’t get assaulted (when they used to dunk in rivers and lakes), but nowhere do we find that it is something that needs to be treated with such overbearing secrecy.

    Besides, another gemara (Kesubos 8b) implies that we all know what goes on (intimately) between husband and wife. We just don’t speak about it in casual or public contexts. In the same line, there are communities who keep harchachos in public at all times, regardless of the status of the wife. [Public displays of affection are another one of my pet peeves, but I think that was covered in a post a while ago.] There is a certain basal level of modesty that is often forgotten in our community, aside from the obsession over skirt and sleeve lengths . I think that if we improved this more general concept of tznius as a community, we would be less worried about seeing who is going to the mikvah…

  6. I think the secrecy surrounding going to the mikveh is stupid.

    There is no need to advertise to the world, but there is also no need to hide it. It is a mitzvah to go to the mikvah — why should we be embarrassed that we are observing this commandment??

    For years, I found myself trying to evade any questions from my kids on mikvah night. It was the ONLY time I did not answer their questions directly. I hated the awkwardness of not telling them where I was going when, in every other circumstance, I tell them where I am going and what I am doing.

    Finally, I just stopped avoiding the topic and, if it came up, I just told them straight out. They didn’t care about the sexual aspect (they probably are not even fully aware of it), they just want to know where their parents are.

    Mikvah is an essential part of a healthy religious Jewish lifestyle. I refuse to feel ashamed of keeping this mitzvah!

  7. I don’t mind telling a friend I’m going to the Mikveh, as long as *she* doesn’t feel I’m telling her something she’d really rather not know. I don’t think I would tell a man, though — too weird.

    I don’t like telling my kids I’m going, although I do answer honestly when they ask. And they usually ask. Once they make the sexual connection, it might embarrass them or my husband to know where I’m going. And before they make that connection, they might talk about it casually in front of their friends or neighbors, and I wouldn’t like that.

What do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s