Tag Archives: immersion

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

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Still Waters

The water awaits her, its surface like a sheet of ice, belying the warmth in the room. She has spent the last hour in mental and physical preparation for this moment. Her face and body are scrubbed clean, her long hair combed and knot free. She is without make up and has shed her expensive tailored clothing, her personal truth revealed in her near-nakedness.


Tomorrow she brings herself to the chuppah, to pledge her undying love and devotion to the man of her dreams. This step is one of many to be completed before the wedding, but the most important.


The attendant hands her a prayer that brides have said since time immemorial. She feels their bond, their sisterhood, feels their arms around her, their wishes for a life of happiness and joy, love and laughter.


It is time. The attendant turns away so that she can modestly remove her robe and descend the steps into the sacred waters. She allows her mind to slip into contemplative mode, and feels the cool water lap against her shins as she slowly descends into the depths.  Once the water is up to her neck the attendant turns, keeping her eyes on the brides face, wanting to spare her any feelings of embarrassment.


She nods to her, silently communicating that it is time to start the immersion. All that the bride has learned comes swimming into her head, and she briefly panics that she will not do this right. A calm suddenly descends, and she feels her body suffused with confidence and otherworldly light. Her soul, her very old soul that was at Mount Sinai, will steer her right, as it has done up until now.


She feels herself move her body forward, diving gracefully into the water. The water rises up to close over her head as she quickly catches her breath. She remembers not to tense her body but to allow every part of her to be caressed by the blessed waters, to allow this water to cleanse and purify her spirit, to ready her for the journey of a thousand lifetimes.


She surfaces and recites the blessing and hears her sisters around the world say Amen. She immerses two more times, each time feeling layers and layers of doubt and uncertainty lift from her. As she enters into the elevated state of purity, she feels cleansed from her past transgressions, and energized to fill the future with everything that is good and just in the world.


She floats out of the ritual bath on the wings of angels who tomorrow will accompany her to the chuppah, to the start of her new beginning.

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