OK, I am really angry. This has been going around my head for days on end. My friend Shorty is an awesome person. She started becoming more and more observant and is invested into her Judaism. Read her personal story here. Shorty wants to learn all she can about the best way to embrace her religion.
When Shorty was not on her religious path she married a truly wonderful man. He is totally sweet and so good to her. He isn’t Jewish. At that point in her life marrying Jewish was not on her radar. By her own admission she lived very much of an assimilated life. Life-threatening surgery started her religious gears churning, and she has been on the path to more Jewish knowledge ever since.
Shorty’s husband is extremely supportive of her quest for Jewish enlightenment. He is her number one cheerleader and takes pride in her.
Recently Shorty started attending a class locally, with other Jewish women, about the laws of family purity – Taharat HaMishpacha. Traditionally, during menstruation and for a week after a woman is not physical with her husband, she immerses in the mikvah, and they can re-consummate their physical relationship. It truly is something special in a marriage and when this mitzvah is performed properly it brings added benefits to the marriage.
Shorty was told that because her husband isn’t Jewish, she really shouldn’t bother with the whole thing. It’s like saying a bracha (blessing) on non-kosher food. It’s wrong.
If she is told not to bother with this mitzvah, why should she bother with any of the others? Do they also not count because she is intermarried? Should she not bother keeping kosher because her husband isn’t Jewish? Should she not say brachot on kosher food because her husband isn’t Jewish? If she gets into the practice of keeping the laws of family purity, and immerses in a mikvah – how can that be wrong? Is it not the woman’s mitzvah to keep? The husbands do not have anything at all to do with the keeping of this mitzvah except to not touch their wives when forbidden to. Shorty’s husband is more than willing to respect her observance of these laws. Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to keep more mitzvot, not push them away because “you’re intermarried, you couldn’t possibly keep this mitzvah properly”. If she does decide that she wants to go to the mikvah – would she be turned away? Is a mikvah attendant within her rights to do so? I think not. Even if the mikvah lady knows that a woman is not married, or married to a non-Jew, she has no right to refuse to observe an immersion.
I can think of plenty of Jewish husbands who don’t care if their wives use the mikvah or not, plenty of Jewish wives who don’t practice Taharat Hamishpacha properly because it isn’t important to them. Here is a Jewess willing to take on this mitzvah, which is HUGE, and she is being told not to bother. There is something wrong here.
Maybe one day Shorty’s husband will decide to convert. We don’t know the future. Pushing them away from keeping this mitzvah is not the way to keep a person interested in pursuing their religious ideals. Is it fair for a rabbi to tell someone NOT to keep a mitzvah? Is it moral?
Granted I do not know the halacha behind this issue, but in my book any discouragement of a Jewish person from keeping a mitzvah is just wrong.
Please chime in with your thoughts.