|The Ritual Bath Experience
by Rachel Braver
When you look through the 613 Mitzvot that govern Jewish life, three of them are specifically for women. It covers lighting of the candles, consecrating the first Sabbath bread cake, and observing the laws of ritual purity.
What Is Ritual Purity?
The mikveh at Masada, built strictly according to ritual requirements Laws Of Family Purity
The torah laws of Family Purity, known as Taharat Hamishpacha, preserve the moral integrity of the Jewish family. The laws of Taharat Hamishpacha are based on two concepts: taharah (spiritually pure) and tumah (spiritually impure). These two opposing spiritual values which relate to spiritual cleanliness and physical cleanliness.
The code of Family Purity, Taharat Hamishpacha, states that a couple must refrain from physical contact upon the onset of the period (when the woman becomes a Niddah) until seven days following the end of her menstruation, to renew intimacy.
The Mikvah teaches that a woman must always be related to as a person, not as a sex object. The husband is made aware by the mikvah procedure that his wife was not created for his pleasure alone, but for her own personal worth. Not having sex at specific times preserves condition, and enhances the relationship by reaffirming their love and devotion to one another.
Preparing For The Mikvah
The immersion in the Mikvah follows specific procedures. Do not enter the Mikvah before stars come out at night (45 minutes after sunset). Once in the water, the woman must completely dip cover herself from head-to-toe. The Mikvah looks like a small pool with steps and water about chest high. The natural source of rain is purified and circulated throughout the tubs. While not holding onto anything, every strand of hair must be dipped. After immersing once, the following prayer is said and the usual custom has the woman immersing two more times: HEBREW:
Baruch atah ado-nai elohenu melech haolam asher kiddeshanu b'mitzvotov v'tzivanu al ha-tevilah. ENGLISH:
Blessed art thou, O Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us by His Commandments, and commanded us to perform the ritual immersion.
Who Uses The Mikvah?
The Mikvah also plays a major role in the conversion process. This is the final step to become a Jew. It is also used for the immersion of dishes and other utensils, as a way of sanctification.
Observant Jewish women immerse themselves in the Mikvah once a month, based on menstruation, to uphold Taharat Hamishpacha.
The Mikvah Today
Locate A Mikvah Near You
Enjoy the ritual bath experience!