What would you have done?

So there was a huge snow storm here this week. I got this email today:

….I heard that women who needed to go to the mikveh Sunday night [during the storm] called up Hatzolah and told them they needed to “go to work at the mikveh” (mikveh lady).  So one of the Hatzolah guys said “Hey, there are like THIRTY mikveh ladies working tonight!!”

I dunno – the wind was howling and there was zero visibility – I probably would have waited till Monday night to immerse. I don’t think it was worth calling Hatzolah OR putting your life in such danger. And what is with the lying? I understand they wanted to be modest and not say they had to immerse that night, but please…

What do you think?


73 responses to “What would you have done?

  1. sounds to me as dishonest and misusing a service.

  2. If it was treachorous enough not to be able to drive out there, I wouldn’t risk my life to get laid. Just sayin’. Calling Hatzolah for that reason sounds extreme to me. But there are so many people who would completely disagree with me. Who knows what people are thinking!

  3. this bugged me a lot. when i looked up hatzolah.org this is how they describe themselves
    Chevra Hatzalah, a non-profit corporation, is the largest all-volunteer Ambulance Service in the United States, providing premium quality pre-hospital EmERGENCY MEDICAL TREATMENT and transportation at no cost to all who need it

    i don’t think anyone died waiting a day or two to get nookie.

  4. I normally have zero tolerance of lying BUT I do find the email quite amusing. If they had waited until Monday, they may have missed that special time of the month. There is something quite mystical about crazily braving a horrendous storm to potentially create new life. After all, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were 30 babies born in nine months?

  5. I find a way to get to the mikvah (its not about having sex for me, its about observing the mitzvah the way i was taught was halachic) — I don’t think calling that sort of organization was the right use of the service however.

    • PS – There was a major tornado warning the day of my pre-wedding immersion, so we had a big hoopla about trying to reschedule it. We chose to play it by ear (waiting to hear for a siren) and I was fine to go.

  6. I agree that it is misuse of the service. Still, chuckle-worthy from a safe distance. Keep safe and warm, all of you.

  7. Not to mention the fact that (ab)using a wonderful service like Hatzolah in this way, tying up cars and medics, could have potentially cost someone’s life who would have needed their services for real! This attitude is unfortunately typical for our sad times …. Sigh!

  8. When you are hot, you are hot and around mikveh time my hubby and I are smokin’ hot. So, he was so hot Monday night that he walked me to the mikveh, a nearly two mile walk through the snow. Believe me when we got home it was worth it.

  9. I’m with those who think it’s a truly selfish and heinous misuse of Hatzolah’s resources. They are there to help people with medical emergencies and last time I checked “getting some” is NOT a medical emergency. I do find it amusing that they all pretending to be “working” at the mikvah… funny.

  10. I’m actually really pissed by this.

    My daughter had a severe anaphylactic reaction Friday, and spent several days in the hospital. Thank Gd that we were there over Sunday night, as there was over a three hour wait for EMS.

    What if someone else’s child had a similar reaction, but Hatzolah was tied up with this idiocy? Watching your baby struggle to breathe is terrible, and not being able to get assistance is awful.

    What if your grandmother was having a heart attack? Husband a stroke? Child a seizure? It is absolutely heinous.

    Observance of the mitzvah is important, but human life has far more value.

    • I’m with you, Ruby. The more I read this, the more I wonder what the HELL would these people have done if THEY needed the service and OTHERS tied up Hatzolah? Yes, “pru u’revu” (be fruitful and multiply) is an important mitzvah, but there is no way that should jeapordize someone else’s life!

  11. I braved the snow Sunday night to go. I had an appointment at 7 but went around 6:15. They said everyone was just coming as early as possible. Nighttime fell early enough and the storm wasn’t strong until 3pm so I went out. I drove under 10 miles an hour to get there and I am proud that I didn’t push it off. That was the appropriate time to go and a storm should not deter me. I was thinking about walking there but am glad I drove!
    There were plenty other women there that night and I admire their strength in observing this mitzvah.

    • There is no way to make this not sound rude, so I’m sorry in advance.

      I’m amazed at the attitude. Honestly, how the hell do people justify risking life and limb for a dip? It baffles me. So women who opted to stay safe aren’t praise worthy?

      Banging head here.

  12. Can’t you go by foot? Snowshoes? Crosscountry skis? Sledge (pulled by husband)? Snowmobile?

  13. Dip in the snow? Wouldn’t that be kosher too?

  14. It seems like an immoral use of Hatzolah to me.
    I know of a newborn who died that evening. The mother went in to labor, the mother’s neighbors did their best for her and her baby. The ambulance could not get to them on time.
    Hatzolah is for medical emergencies. Using it as a taxi service for the mikvah could deprive others who need immediate medical attention.

  15. All joking aside here , in this type of situation you call your Rav. The Rav will make the decision about safety etc. I can’t imagine the Rav approving Hatzalah as a source as someone said this could be taking away from a life threatening situation, on the other hand when we had our huge storm last yr abulances were the only vehicles on the road and were taking people to the market who were desperate. See there is no good answer here , call a Rav.
    As for the lying you are actually told to lie to preserve the tznius issues here this becomes especially important with teens in the home. I was told if I need to lie about your night, lie that you are doing some sort of other Mitzvah so your kinder know your leaving to do a Mitzvah its not important which Mitzvah it is in this situation. so this lady was actually in the right because it is a Mitzvah to be a Mikvah Lady.

  16. I agree that it is wrong to use Hatzolah to go to the Mikvah. I know that many ambulances were stuck in this storm & i really don’t think that it would have been fair to have potentially caused an ambulance to be stuck b/c someone needed to use the Mikvah. Give me a BREAK-it can wait a night especially when there is a danger to leave one’s house in the storm. I think it was totally unfair to involve Hatzlolah in this Mitzvah. If you want to do a Mitzvah, it should not inconvenience others & potentially be life threatening. I think it was heinous. Besides, I’m wondering how these selfish ladies got home from the Mikvah. Did they call Hatzolah again to ask them for a ride home?!!! Gimme a break, that’s all i can say!!!

  17. In all seriousness, while I can understand why people would want to find a way to get to the Mikveh (e.g. risk walking for miles in a snow storm), I really can’t fathom what would motivate them to call Hatzolah in the first place? A friend with snow tires perhaps but HATZOLAH?

  18. Yeah I don’t understand at all why they called hatzolah.

    But for everyone equating it with just “trying to get laid” – I find that terribly offensive.

    It is a huge mitzvah. I remember my kallah teacher telling me tons of stories about women who risked their lives in the dark of winter in communist Russia to dip. I know it’s not the same – but to talk so flippantly about the mitzvah and people making sacrifices for it is really disheartening.

    I do think it was totally inappropriate to call hatzolah. If you were so worried – why not walk? (What do you do on Shabbos or Yomtov after all).

  19. Heinous. Mikvah, while very important, is NOT an emergency!

    What if, God forbid there was an emergency while the ambulance was driving back and forth to the mikvah?

  20. lady lock and load

    Keep in mind that in Monsey, there are many volunteers that work for hatzolah and they felt that it was important for those women to go to “work” and were willing to drive them in their SUV’s or whatever car was available. I did not hear of any story here in Monsey that there was a medical emergency the night of the snow storm and Hatzolah did not come, and most certainly Hatzolah did not dispatch a volunteer to drive these women when a life was at stake.
    The mikveh here in Monsey is NEVER CLOSED. Only on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av. The women and the community want to observe the mitzvah bizmano and will go to much effort to do so. They are happy to help someone do the mitzvah. Certainly if it was too dangerous Hatzolah would have said we can’t drive you only in case of medical emergencies. Monsey got sixteen inches of snow but the snow plows were out during the night (to my surprise) and did a great job.

  21. The angles were pretty well covered, but I’ll add one more disapproving and outraged voice.

    Hatzoloh is an ambulance service. They exist to serve people having medical emergencies. Their priority in all of that is to assist those with life threatening emergencies.

    I am a working (professional) paramedic and nurse. Calling out an ambulance, even in good weather, puts lives at increased risk due to higher speeds, greater sense of urgency, etc. Calling an ambulance out in bad weather creates risks associated with driving in that weather. The vast majority of EMS deaths while on duty are the result of ambulance accidents. Ambulances are actually very poorly designed with regard to protecting occupants. This is a known problem in the industry.

    So, the foolish person who calls an ambulance to go to mikvah is committing a grave sin in my unhumble opinion. They put the ambulance crew at unnecessary risk. They use up public resources (gasoline, maintenance) for a private mitzvah. They tie up the ambulance, taking it out of service – if a real emergency call comes in, ambulance is unavailable. I cannot tell you the terror and regret when we hear a serious call come over the radio, but we are already tied up with something minor that didn’t even need our specialized care. There is no way of knowing when the ambulance rolls if a more serious call will come in or not.

    I would also point out that it is probably a violation of state law in many states to use an ambulance for such a purpose. Ambulances are licensed to operate with certain conditions. A trip to mikvah is most certainly not one of them.

    It is a chutzpa to think that a trip to mikvah with such considerations deserves removing an ambulance and crew from service. If any medics under my supervision did it, they would be immediately terminated for such grossly bad judgement.

    • As someone who has panicked because of ambulance delays when the epi pen has begun to wear off, I applaud you! You succinctly stated what I could not.

    • lady lock and load

      Do you REALLY think that when these lady called the hatzolah dispatcher they sent an AMBULANCE? And a whole crew of paramedics??? To take them to the mikveh? PULLEEEZE! A Hatzolah volunteer heard the call and did it in his own car, probably an SUV that can handle snow.
      We have many volunteers here in Monsey, Boruch Hashem. If they chose to do the mitzvah that is their decision.

      • lady l and l, the short bit posted did not indicate that transport was via POV (privately operated vehicle). IF that is the case, and IF it was off-duty personnel who did the transport, then I am mollified. But none of that is indicated in the original post, is it?

        Now, I’ll tell you how it often works out in the real world of EMS and why I thought otherwise. Ambulance crews are often requested to respond to a ‘public assist’ call. Typically, this will be something like an infirm person who has fallen at home and is unable to get up by themselves. We’re happy to help. The crew that is dispatched for this usually-simple-non-medical call goes by ambulance. That way, if something more urgent come in while en route, they can be diverted. Heck, when they go for lunch they take the ambulance so that they may respond to urgent calls.

        So, yes, for an EMS professional reading the original post it is perfectly reasonable that if the ‘ambulance corps’ was called for a ride, that the ride was in the ambulance. Who else would be there to take the call if not the on-duty volunteers? So, to respond in kind, ‘do you really think that an ambulance crew would go anywhere without their ambulance? PULLEEEZE!

        Maybe you’re right and it was otherwise. Sounds reasonable. I hope so. But that wouldn’t be the norm anticipated by EMS workers from other places around the country.

      • There are many volunteers and they do go to calls in their private cars – but they go to almost all calls in their private cars. It would stand to follow then that those Hatzolah members who were able to get out during the storm – in their own cars – should have been standing by and available for medical emergencies, not to take people to and from the mikvah. Yes, the plows were out and about and doing what they could but the roads were still dangerous and using the resources of EMS personnel available for non emergency purposes is still wrong, whether they were driving the actual ambulance or not. The vehicle they use is irrelevant, only that a precious emergency resource was being called upon for non emergency service by selfish or narrow minded individuals within the community.

        Furthermore, I have to wonder about the whole tznius aspect. If these women are SO makpid on going to the mikvah regardless of the situatio I would assume they are makpid in tznius too. How does is it jive with the concept of tznius to call on a man, who is not their spouse, from within the community to shuttle them back and forth? Is saying they were going to work there really sufficient tzniuswise? What about yichud? I am not up on halachos of yichud and tznius but it doesn’t seem right to me…

  22. If they take the ambulance to the Mikvah, how do they get home?!?

  23. If someone is so dedicated to going to the mikvah at the exact time, let them walk/ drive/ shovel their way themselves. But no, they weren’t that dedicated, they were only dedicated enough to let hatzala do the dirty work.

  24. I am disappointed in seeing such a modern word for making love, getting laid. I am surprised that a frum person would refer lovemaking in such crass terms. I am not frum and don’t use that word. Each to his/her own I guess.

  25. Here in Shelby County, TN, there are public service announcements with the theme “Call 911 when life is on the line.”

    Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be hearing the public service announcement which features someone trying to call 911 to get to the mikvah… 🙂

  26. Hadassah, thank you for sharing this. I am truly amazed at what can become the subject of your blogs… 🙂

  27. In all seriousness, it was a WINTER STORM they were braving. Was it really worth it to make love (or whatever word you want to substitute for it 🙂 ) on THAT PARTICULAR night?!

  28. The committee in charge of the mikvah should have had made emergency transport plans with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. During the Gulf War when people didn’t wander around at night, we had special transportation arrangements.

  29. Or the committee in charge of the mikvah can send out an e-mail or phone message saying that yes, the mikvah is open, but it is absolutely okay to push off the mitzvah if travel conditions are dangerous. Asking someone to drive you on such a crazy night, Hatzolah or not, SUV or ambulance is just selfish and ridiculous.


  30. These comments make me so sad to read through. I understand the frustration people are feeling about this woman and her abuse of a emergency only service. I think the general idea here is that she was in the wrong, but all the comments about her ” just trying to get laid” is totally disrespectful and hurtful. This is Torah obligated mitzvah andbus women are often put in hard situations where getting to the Mikvah can be hard. Last year my daughter was in the hospital fightingnfor her life and I needed my husband to hold my hand hug me and be there, it had nothing to do with sex, andi truly find it offensive that people find it to be only about the above. With that said I said before a Rav should be consulted in such situations, that is what they are there for. The mitzvah of Taharas Mishpacha is a beautiful mitzvah that keeps a marriage alive . Also no one knows this womans situation they could of spent 1000s on fertility and would be missing their chance to conceive a child that they have spent years trying to have, sometimes a woman will do anything to break a fertility cycle the pain is so strong, even if the way she goes about it may upset others. WIth all this said yes I agree she should of walked, shoveled, or climbed to get there not use an ambulance, but let us not judge because we are only seeing a keyhole perspective into this situation. AHavas Yisroel is not loving just your friends but loving and respecting the ones you really don’t like at all, and pushing that aside to have Ahavas Yisroel.

  31. Sheva, in the original blog post, it said that 30 women took advantage of Hatzolah’s services, not just one & i think that it why ppl. are outraged. After all if 30 women needed transportation TO the mikvah they obviously needed transportation FROM the mikvah as well which means that approximately 60 trips were made by Hatzolah to facilitate mikvah usage which IMO is selfish & unfair. While I am one who believes in the Mitzvah of using the Mikvah & have done so since the beginning of my marriage 20 yrs ago, I don’t feel that it is right to impose on others & put them in a position of “sakanos nefashos”/endangering their lives, just so that one can fulfil the important Mitzvah of using the Mikvah.

  32. I’m not a regular commentator but I had to chime in. I really doubt that a lot of women called hatzalah or chaverim…maybe a few dumb/desperate ones. I went to the mikvah in Monsey Sunday night and had my husband drive me. The opened at 4, at which point driving was not so bad. Zman for toveling started at around 5:20, and the attendants worked very hard getting everyone out of there as fast as possible. If you wanted to go you knew you’d better show up early before the weather got worse. By the time I left there were a good number of cars in the packing lot, so clearly people who could did drive themselves.

    • lady lock and load

      Monsey Mrs., you are very fortunate that your husband was home at four in the afternoon to drive you. Many women with small children had to wait till their husbands got home from work (which may be seven or even later in the evening) and then needed the husbands to babysit for their children and may have been too scared to drive themselves.

      • But LLL remember that this was Sunday night when most husbands in the US are not at work actually…

        • Not so uncommon if you work in retail or for a Jewish company. My husband gets home from work on SUNDAYS at 7 PM.

          • it’s safe to say that the majority don’t though even though there are a few exceptions…

            • I guess. My husband works at B&H and I thought they have a whole busload of guys come in from Monsey. If you work on the floor you have to work Sundays.

              • I’m sure that some people due to whatever circumstance were not ready to leave their homes until 7 or 8 pm… but to say that 20 or 30 of them called hatzalah expecting to get rides, is unrealistic. It sounds like urban legend to me. I can believe it if it was 3 people, but not 30.

  33. Hatzolah workers show up in their own vehicles assess the situation, help and then call an ambulance if required. I know because they brought me to the hospital when I was in labor. EMTs arrived in less than 2 minutes – the ambulance took much longer. I would assume that the workers decided that they weren’t busy so were happy to do some chauffering. When a serious call comes in, they would have left those ladies waiting! Hatzaloh does an amzing job saving lives, responding much faster than regular ambulances and making sure that your needs are met when you are hurt or in pain.

    • SR- exactly the way the org runs!! They assess the situation and respond as necessary. They do not dispatch ambulances unless it is an emergency. I feel we are all going around and around in circles here!!

  34. I asked a Monsey Hatzolah member that I know about this. He said he didn’t know about mikvah calls in particular but that calls for help getting to non-emergency appointments (such as for dialysis or other Dr’s appts) were directed to members of the community with four wheel drive vehicles who were willing to help out via organizations like chaveirim and shomrim. Hope that helps clear things up a bit!!

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