Water Not Included.

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?

So.  Friends of interfaithfamily.com.  Please feel free to offer me some guidance.  Maybe through conversation I will have my Aha moment and figure out what I need to do.

-Alx

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3 thoughts on “Water Not Included.

  1. First i recommend watching this

    http://www.jewinthecity.com/a/2009/02/o … t3d18.html

    Second, i think everyone keeps thinking of some Jewish tradition in terms of modern day thinking…equality…different doesn’t mean its NOT equal. Male and female’s roles are different…it doesn’t mean that one is superior than the other. The ideas behind Nidah is meant to enhance the relationship between husband and wife, not to make the women feel embarassed of her mentrual cycle. In fact, most couples I know that practice this have absolutely no problems with it. It does in fact enhance as for a couple of weeks a month they get to really communicate with each other. I have NEVER met any couple who does this practice that see their wife as impure unclean or somehow inferior. Women are equal partners in the relationship – sure, in some cases they are the home makers. THat doesn’t mean they are somehow inferior…

    There is a great deal of Halachah that states the importance of marriage, and the wife’s role. In fact, it is said the husband MUST keep his wife happy. Jokes aside, it just shows that we are reminded of how man and woman complete each other.

    Be well!

  2. I’m getting married next year and wondering the same thing. I love the idea of having a private, outdoor, spiritual mikvah with my partner the night before the wedding. Where we can wash away any fears, anxieties, just clear the slate with each other. It’s a beautiful tradition in many ways, and I like the idea of reclaiming it for ourselves.

  3. Hi! Folks,

    I am glad to be joining the conversation. I have to agree with Shorty and Becky; I have never met a woman who feels “unclean” or “impure” prior to using the mikvah. It is a rejevenating experience and the laws of family purity do bring a couple closer to each other.

    I also agree the mikvah can be a beautiful experience for both the bride and the groom prior to the wedding. I did want to clarify that the mikvah experience is often a private one and traditionally a bride and groom would go separately to the mikvah prior to their wedding.

    It is actually considered a very joyous experience. In the Sephardic Jewish culture, a bride actually has a mikvah party to celebrate the upcoming wedding. There is actually a custom for the engaged couple not to see each other for a week before the wedding! (Personally, I found that custom to be too stressful, but I have been told that it is a powerful way to spiritually prepare for one’s wedding.)

    Our partner, Mayim Hayyim, a community mikvah in Newton, MA, has sample immersion ceremonies for both the bride and the groom:

    http://www.mayyimhayyim.org/immersion_S … =immersion

    All my best,

    Robin
    Network Director at InterfaithFamily.com

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