Natalie Portman's Directorial Debut & Paper Towns' Nat WolffBy Gerri Miller
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So I’m faced with the question as to whether or not I will take a dip in the Mikvah —figuratively or literally. I’m left to ponder both the traditional and the contemporary and what either of the two would mean to me.
When we take a look at what a trip to the Mikvah means in the traditional sense, I am left almost speechless at how central it is to Orthodoxy. You see. The idea is that with full immersion into a body of water, one can find ritual purity. That is to say, you are washed clean of the things that make you impure.
Traditionally, it has different uses for men and women, but in the end it boils down to cleansing your self/your soul after one journey and before the next. It sets you up with Tabula Rasa—a clean slate.
So why wouldn’t I want a clean slate before the wedding?
Can I achieve that without the traditional bath? Is there something else that I can do that would achieve the same goal for me spiritually?
Would skydiving feel the same to me?
It’s not that I am against this tradition. It is, in fact, something that seems beautiful and honest and something that I would be TOTALLY into—if it didn’t feel so stuck in the past. The thought of a woman bathing herself in the Mikvah after each menstrual cycle before she can resume sexual relations with her husband just doesn’t sit right with me. I think that it boils down to my egalitarian views on what a relationship should be and the inequalities that I see between matriarch and patriarch in organized religion—not just Judaism. It’s traditions like these that I feel solidify gender roles in the past and don’t look to our modern day for guidance.
There I go again. Leaning left.
I have some thinking to do. How can I achieve what I will perceive as a ritual cleansing without the tradition? If I don’t follow tradition, should I even bother?
Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s, Rai’s first birthday, Alx’s mom’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, Purim, St. Patty’s Day…The list goes on and on and just keeps on going. On top of all of these extracurricular activities, there’s daily life. Not to mention trying to transition from mom back to business woman or more accurately, a finely balanced mixture of the two. Then, to pack on just a little bit more to see if it’ll all come tumbling down, we’re trying to plan the perfect interfaith wedding. Oy vay! Do I need a break.
It just hit me. Judaism figured this one out a long time ago and it’s called Shabbat. Of course. It’s so simple yet so meaningful. So I’ve decided to create my own Shabbat. It might not always be on Friday night but I’m going to make a concerted effort to respect the Shabbos. Miki, Alx’s mom, is an observant Conservative Jew and she takes Shabbat weekly. No one bothers her. We leave her be to a day of quiet and rest. The biggest point of all is that she doesn’t work. She doesn’t even talk about work!
In the footsteps of Miki, I’m going to put aside one day a week where I don’t talk, do, or even think about work. Or for that matter, all of those little things that create so much chatter in the back of my head. One of the bigger voices being the wedding since it’s right around the corner. Taking Shabbat will allow me to take a step back and see things with refreshed and rested eyes.
I think no matter what you call it or from whatever faith it’s rooted in; we all need to remember to take a step back and breath. Life is too short and there are too many more important things than what color your table cloths are at your wedding reception. We have life, we have love, we have each other. Happy Shabbos.
Yes, yes indeed, the ketuba was ultimately not killed off and is going to be very much alive and present at our wedding ceremony. I was put off at the thought of a ketuba at the beginning. As stated in my previous post, Ketuba or Not to Ketuba, I relentlessly swayed back and forth on the idea. What changed my mind you ask? Well, it started with finally letting go of the traditional meaning of the ketuba and embracing it for what it could be.
Our ketuba won’t look like a ketuba at all. For one, it won’t be two-dimensional. It also is going to serve as a written document announcing and confirming our marriage as well as double as our vows. So instead of having a ketuba and separate vows, we’re going to make them one-in-the-same. The reading of the ketuba will be us saying our vows. Besides, that’s what the essence of a ketuba is anyways, right?
And to make it even more multi-functional, it will also serve as a sculpture and interesting conversational piece for years to come.
What is it you ask?
Plain and simple, it’ll be a tree. But not just any tree. A tree sculpted by us and embroidered with the wonder of our relationship. Each leaf signed by a loved one on our wedding day serving as witness to our union. My favorite part is that the tree will be hollow. Upon our wedding day, we will ask each person to write us well wishes, blessings, advice and wisdom. These will fill our tree just as our loved ones have filled our life with their warmth and caring.
It just goes to show that if one lets their mind and heart open up without bias, amazing things can happen.