Mikveh

Mikveh or mikvah (Hebrew: מִקְוֶה / מקווה, Modern: mikve, Tiberian: miqweh, pl. mikva'ot, mikvoth, mikvot, or (Yiddish) mikves,[1][2] lit., "a collection") is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism[3] to achieve ritual purity.

After the destruction of the Temple, the mikveh's main uses remained as follows:

Most forms of impurity can be nullified through immersion in any natural collection of water. However, some impurities, such as a zav, require "living water",[5] such as springs or groundwater wells. Living water has the further advantage of being able to purify even while flowing, as opposed to rainwater which must be stationary in order to purify. The mikveh is designed to simplify this requirement, by providing a bathing facility that remains in ritual contact with a natural source of water.

In Orthodox Judaism, these regulations are steadfastly adhered to, and, consequently, the mikveh is central to an Orthodox Jewish community; they formally hold in Conservative Judaism as well. The existence of a mikveh is considered so important that a Jewish community is required to construct a mikveh even before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for its construction.[6]

Temple Beth-El (Birmingham) mikveh
A contemporary mikveh at the Temple Beth-El synagogue in Birmingham, Alabama
Judenbad Speyer 6 View from the first room down
Pool of a medieval mikveh in Speyer, dating back to 1128

Etymology

In the Hebrew Bible, the word is employed in its broader sense, but generally means a collection of water.[7]

History

Mikva
Excavated mikveh in Qumran

Before the beginning of the first century BCE, neither written sources, nor archaeology gives any indication about the existence of specific installations used for ritual cleansing.[8][9][10] Mikvoth appear at the beginning of the first century BCE, and from then on, ancient mikvoth can be found throughout the land of Israel, as well as in historic communities of the Jewish diaspora.

Requirements of a mikveh

Modern mikveh
Modern mikveh – schematic illustration

The traditional rules regarding the construction of a mikveh are based on those specified in classical rabbinical literature. According to these rules, a mikveh must be connected to a natural spring or well of naturally occurring water, and thus can be supplied by rivers and lakes which have natural springs as their source.[11] A cistern filled by the rain is also permitted to act as a mikveh's water supply. Similarly snow, ice and hail are allowed to act as the supply of water to a mikveh, as long as it melts in a certain manner.[12] A river that dries up on a regular basis cannot be used because it is presumed to be mainly rainwater, which cannot purify while flowing. Oceans for the most part have the status of natural springs.

A mikveh must, according to the classical regulations, contain enough water to cover the entire body of an average-sized person; based on a mikveh with the dimensions of 3 cubits deep, 1 cubit wide, and 1 cubit long, the necessary volume of water was estimated as being 40 seah of water.[13][14] The exact volume referred to by a seah is debated, and classical rabbinical literature specifies only that it is enough to fit 144 eggs;[15] most Orthodox Jews use the stringent ruling of the Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, according to which one seah is 14.3 litres, and therefore, a mikveh must contain approximately 575 litres.[16] This volume of water could be topped up with water from any source,[17] but if there were less than 40 seahs of water in the mikveh, then the addition of 3 or more pints of water from an unnatural source would render the mikveh unfit for use, regardless of whether water from a natural source was then added to make up 40 seahs from a natural source; a mikveh rendered unfit for use in this way would need to be completely drained away and refilled from scratch in the prescribed way.[7]

Although not commonly accepted, at least one American Orthodox rabbi advocated a home mikvah using tap water. As water only flows through pipes open at both ends, the municipal and in-home plumbing would be construed as a non-vessel. So long as the pipes, hoses, and fittings were all freestanding and not held in the hand, it could be used to fill a mikvah receptacle that met all other requirements.[18]

There are also classical requirements for the manner in which the water can be stored and transported to the pool; the water must flow naturally to the mikveh from the source, which essentially means that it must be supplied by gravity or a natural pressure gradient, and the water cannot be pumped there by hand or carried. It was also forbidden for the water to pass through any vessel which could hold water within it (however pipes open to the air at both ends are fine)[19] As a result, tap water could not be used as the primary water source for a mikveh, although it can be used to top the water up to a suitable level.[17] To avoid issues with these rules in large cities, various methods are employed to establish a valid mikveh. One is that tap water is made to flow over the top of a kosher mikveh, and through a conduit into a larger pool. A second method is to create a mikveh in a deep pool, place a floor with holes over that and then fill the upper pool with tap water. In this way, it is considered as if the person dipping is actually "in" the pool of rain water.

Most contemporary mikvoth are indoor constructions, involving rainwater collected from a cistern, and passed through a duct by gravity into an ordinary bathing pool; the mikveh can be heated, taking into account certain rules, often resulting in an environment not unlike a spa.

A mikveh must be built into the ground or built as an essential part of a building. Portable receptacles, such as bathtubs, whirlpools or Jacuzzis, can therefore never function as mikvehs.[20]

Reasons for immersion in a Mikveh

Historic reasons

Medieval mikveh old Synagoge Sopron Hungary
Medieval Mikveh room in the old Synagogue of Sopron, Hungary, which dates to the 14th century
14440 The mikve in besalu
A medieval mikveh in Besalú, Spain
Mikveh inside house - Boskovice
A mikveh from Boskovice in the Czech Republic

Traditionally, the mikveh was used by both men and women to regain ritual purity after various events, according to regulations laid down in the Torah and in classical rabbinical literature.

The Torah requires full immersion

  • after Keri[21] — normal emissions of semen, whether from sexual activity, or from nocturnal emission. Bathing in a mikveh due to Keri is required by the Torah in order that one should be allowed to consume from a heave offering or sacrifice; while Ezra instituted that one should also do so in order to be allowed to recite words of Torah.[22] The latter case is known as tevilath Ezra ("the immersion of Ezra")
  • after Zav/Zavah[23] — abnormal discharges of body fluids
  • after Tzaraath[24] — certain skin condition(s). These are termed lepra in the Septuagint, and therefore traditionally translated into English as leprosy; this is probably a translation error, as the Greek term lepra mostly refers to psoriasis, and the Greek term for leprosy was elephas or elephantiasis.
  • by anyone who came into contact with someone suffering from Zav/Zavah, or into contact with someone still in Niddah (normal menstruation), or who comes into contact with articles that have been used or sat upon by such persons[25][26]
  • by a Kohen who is being consecrated[27]
  • by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, after sending away the goat to Azazel, and by the man who leads away the goat[28]
  • by the Kohen who performed the Red Heifer ritual[29]
  • after contact with a corpse or grave,[30] in addition to having the ashes of the Red heifer ritual sprinkled upon them
  • after eating meat from an animal that died naturally[31]

Classical rabbinical writers conflated the rules for zavah and niddah. It also became customary for Kohanim to fully immerse themselves before Jewish holidays, and the laity of many communities subsequently adopted this practice. Converts to Judaism are required to undergo full immersion in water.

In Modern Judaism

Some Jewish funeral homes have a mikveh for immersing a body during the purification procedure (taharah) before burial.

Orthodox Judaism

Orthodox Judaism generally adheres to the classical regulations and traditions, and consequently Orthodox Jewish women are obligated to immerse in a mikveh between Niddah and sexual relations with their husbands. This includes brides before their marriage, and married women after their menstruation period or childbirth. In accordance with Orthodox rules concerning modesty, men and women are required to immerse in separate mikveh facilities in separate locations, or to use the mikveh at different designated times.

Converts to Orthodox Judaism, regardless of gender, are also required to immerse in a mikveh.

It is customary for Orthodox Jews to immerse before Yom Kippur,[32] and married women sometimes do so as well. In the customs of certain Jewish communities, men also use a mikveh before Jewish holidays;[32] the men in certain communities, especially hasidic and haredi groups, also practice immersion before each Shabbat, and some immerse in a mikveh every single day. Although the Temple Mount is treated by many Orthodox Jewish authorities as being forbidden territory, a number of groups permit access, but require immersion before ascending the Mount as a precaution.

Orthodox Judaism requires that vessels and utensils must be immersed in a mikveh before being used for food, if purchased or received from a non-Jew.

Immersion in a mikveh is obligatory in contemporary Orthodox Jewish practice in the following circumstances:

  • Women
    • Following the niddah period after menstruation, prior to resuming marital relations
    • Following the niddah period after childbirth, prior to resuming marital relations
    • By a bride, before her wedding
  • Either gender
  • Immersion of utensils acquired from a gentile and used for food

Immersion in a mikveh is customary in contemporary Orthodox Jewish practice in the following circumstances:

  • Men
    • By a bridegroom, on the day of his wedding, according to the custom of some communities
    • By a father, prior to the circumcision of his son, according to the custom of some communities[33]
    • By a kohen, prior to a service in which he will recite the priestly blessing, according to the custom of some communities
    • Before Yom Kippur, according to the custom of some communities
    • Erev Rosh HaShona, according to the custom of some communities[34]
    • Before a Jewish holiday, according to the custom of some communities
    • Weekly before Shabbat, under Hasidic and Haredi customs
    • Every day, under Hasidic customs

Immersion for men is more common in Hasidic communities, and non-existent in others, like German Jewish communities.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in Waters of Eden[35] connects the laws of impurity to the narrative in the beginning of Genesis. According to Genesis, by eating of the fruit, Adam and Eve had brought death into the world. Kaplan points out that most of the laws of impurity relate to some form of death (or in the case of Niddah the loss of a potential life). One who comes into contact with one of the forms of death must then immerse in water which is described in Genesis as flowing out of the Garden of Eden (the source of life) in order to cleanse oneself of this contact with death (and by extension of sin).

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook offered an additional message for mikveh.

By immersing ourselves in water, "we are forced to recognize our existential estrangement from the physical universe. How long can we survive under water? The experience of submerging drives home the realization that our existence in this world is transient, and we should strive towards more lasting goals. [36]

Conservative Judaism

In a series of responsa on the subject of Niddah in December 2006, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of Conservative Judaism reaffirmed a requirement that Conservative women use a mikveh monthly following the end of the niddah period following menstruation, while adapting certain leniencies including reducing the length of the nidda period. The three responsa adapted permit a range of approaches from an opinion reaffirming the traditional ritual to an opinion declaring the concept of ritual purity does not apply outside the Temple in Jerusalem, proposing a new theological basis for the ritual, adapting new terminology including renaming the observances related to menstruation from taharat hamishpacha family purity to kedushat hamishpaha [family holiness] to reflect the view that the concept of ritual purity is no longer considered applicable, and adopting certain leniencies including reducing the length of the niddah period.[37][38][39][40]

Isaac Klein's A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, a comprehensive guide frequently used within Conservative Judaism, also addresses Conservative views on other uses of a mikveh, but because it predates the 2006 opinions, it describes an approach more closely resembling the Orthodox one, and does not address the leniencies and views those opinions reflected. Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz's recent book Taking the Plunge: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Mikveh (Jerusalem: Schechter Institute, 2007) offers a comprehensive discussion of contemporary issues and new mikveh uses along with traditional reasons for observance, details of how to prepare and what to expect, and how the laws developed. Conservative Judaism encourages, but does not require, immersion before Jewish Holidays (including Yom Kippur), nor the immersion of utensils purchased from non-Jews. New uses are being developed throughout the liberal world for healing (after rape, incest, divorce, etc.) or celebration (milestone birthdays, anniversaries, ordination, or reading Torah for the first time).

As in Orthodox Judaism, converts to Judaism through the Conservative movement are required to immerse themselves in a mikveh. Two Jews must witness the event, at least one of which must actually see the immersion. Immersion into a mikveh has been described as a very emotional, life-changing experience similar to a graduation.[41]

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism do not hold the halachic requirements of mikveh the way Orthodox Judaism does. However, there are growing trends toward using mikveh for conversions, wedding preparation, and even before holidays.[42] In the 21st century the mikveh is experiencing a revival among progressive Jews who view immersion as a way to mark transitions in their lives. "Open" mikvoth welcome Jews to consider immersion for reasons not necessarily required by Jewish law; they might immerse following a divorce or medical treatment, to find closure after an abortion, or to celebrate a life transition, among other reasons. [43] Progressive Jews may also use the mikveh for conversion.[44]

During pregnancy

In some Jewish communities it is customary that at some point during the ninth month of a woman's pregnancy she should dip in a mikveh.[45]

Requirements during use of a mikveh

There is supposed to be no barrier between the person immersing and the water. The person should be wearing no clothes, jewelry, makeup, nail polish, fake nails, or grooming products on the hair or skin. For more observant Jewish women, an attendant will assure these requirements are met.[46] Showering or bathing and carefully checking the whole body is therefore part of the religious requirements before entering the water of a Mikveh for a woman.[47]

Hair

According to rabbinical tradition, the hair counts as part of the body, and therefore, water is required to touch all parts of it, meaning that braids cannot be worn during immersion; this has resulted in debate between the various ethnic groups within Judaism, about whether hair combing is necessary before immersion. The Ashkenazi community generally supports the view that hair must be combed straight so that there are no knots, but some take issue with this stance, particularly when it comes to dreadlocks. A number of rabbinical rulings argue in support of dreadlocks, on the basis that

  • dreadlocks can sometimes be loose enough to become thoroughly saturated with water, particularly if the person had first showered
  • combing dreadlocked hair can be painful
  • although a particularly cautious individual would consider a single knotted hair as an obstruction, in most cases hair is loose enough for water to pass through it, unless each hair is individually knotted[48]

Allegorical uses of the term mikveh

The word mikveh makes use of the same root letters in Hebrew as the word for "hope" and this has served as the basis for homiletical comparison of the two concepts in both biblical and rabbinic literature. For instance, in the Book of Jeremiah, the word mikveh is used in the sense of "hope", but at the same time also associated with "living water":

O Hashem, the Hope [mikveh] of Israel, all who forsake you will be ashamed... because they have forsaken Hashem, the fountain of living water[49]

Are there any of the worthless idols of the nations, that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, Hashem our God, and do we not hope [nekaveh] in you? For you have made all these things.[50]

In the Mishnah, following on from a discussion about Yom Kippur, immersion in a Mikveh is compared by Rabbi Akiva with the relationship between God and Israel. Akiva refers to the description of God in the Book of Jeremiah as the "Mikveh of Israel", and suggests that "just as a mikveh purifies the contaminated, so does the Holy One, blessed is he, purify Israel".[51]

A different allegory is used by many Jews adhering to a belief in resurrection as one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith. Since "living water" in a lifeless frozen state (as ice) is still likely to again become living water (after melting), it became customary in traditional Jewish bereavement rituals to read the seventh chapter of the Mikvaot tractate in the Mishnah, following a funeral; the Mikvaot tractate covers the laws of the mikveh, and the seventh chapter starts with a discussion of substances which can be used as valid water sources for a mikveh – snow, hail, frost, ice, salt, and pourable mud.

Controversies

Use by Reform and Conservative converts

The Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center sued the state on behalf of the Reform and Conservative/Masorti movements to allow members to use publicly funded mikvoth. The case, which took ten years to resolve, resulted in the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that public ritual baths must accept all prospective converts to Judaism, including converts to Reform and Conservative Judaism. In his 2016 ruling, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said barring certain converts amounts to discrimination. Until this ruling, Orthodox officials barred non-Orthodox converts from using any mikveh, claiming their traditions do not conform to Jewish law, and the people they convert are therefore not Jews. Rubinstein noted: "Once it established public mikvahs, and put them at the service of the public — including for the process of conversion — the State cannot but be even-handed in allowing their use." He also said. "The State of Israel is free to supervise the use of its mikvahs, so long as it does so in an egalitarian manner."[52]

Intrusive questions

In 2013, the Israeli Center for Women's Justice and Kolech, an organization committed to Orthodox Jewish feminism, petitioned the Supreme Court to forbid attendants from asking intrusive questions of women at state-funded and -operated mikvot. In response, the Chief Rabbinate said it would forbid questioning of women about their marital status before immersion. The complaint had charged that the practice represented unacceptable discrimination.[53] In 2015, however, the ITIM Advocacy Center filed a complaint with the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of 13 Orthodox women against the Chief Rabbinate and the Jerusalem Religious Council, insisting that women be allowed to use the mikvah "according to their personal customs and without supervision, or with their own attendant if they wish". The complaint charged that the Chief Rabbinate is ignoring directives passed in 2013 that allow women to use the mikvah facilities without being asked intrusive questions by attendants.[54] In June 2016, the Chief Rabbinate agreed to allow women to use a mikveh without an attendant.[55]

Transgender people

Some transgender people have adopted the practice of mikveh immersion to mark a gender transition. However, many Orthodox authorities who control mikvaot only permit immersions that adhere with Jewish law. Therefore, other Jewish organizations strive to create mikvaot that allow for different uses, such as marking any important life transitions. Mayyim Hayyim, an organization in Newton, Massachusetts, collaborated with Keshet, one of Boston's LGBT Jewish organizations, to actively create a mikveh space that felt accessible to transgender people, including training mikveh guides on gender issues.[56]

There is some controversy within the Jewish transgender Jewish community about the use of mikvah to mark gender transitions. Some feel uncomfortable in a space that is traditionally so highly gendered and that requires complete nudity. Others still see mikveh as a place for married women to go after their periods, and therefore a transgender female would be exempt from these requirements as she does not menstruate.[57]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Sivan, Reuven; Edward A Levenston (1975). The New Bantam-Megiddo Hebrew & English dictionary. Toronto; New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-26387-0.
  2. ^ Lauden, Edna (2006). Multi Dictionary. Tel Aviv: Ad Publications. p. 397. ISBN 965-390-003-X.
  3. ^ "Concerning Ritual Purity and Cleanliness".
  4. ^ "Laws of Childbirth".
  5. ^ Leviticus 15:13
  6. ^ Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, Meshiv Dabar, 1:45
  7. ^ a b  Adler, Cyrus; Greenstone, Julius H. (1904). "MIḲWEH". In Singer, Isidore; et al. The Jewish Encyclopedia. 8. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 588. Retrieved Feb 23, 2016.
  8. ^ "Jewish Practices & Rituals: Mikveh. History and Archaeology". Encyclopaedia Judaica. Thomson Gale. 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2015. Although water purification is referred to in the Old Testament, in regard to rituals and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, with washing, sprinkling, and dipping in water, we do not hear of specific places or installations that people would constantly frequent for the purpose of ritually cleansing their flesh. The term mikveh was used in a very general sense in the Hebrew Bible to refer to a body of water of indeterminate extent (cf. Gen. 1:10; Ex. 7:19), or more specifically to waters gathered from a spring or within a cistern (Lev. 11:36) or waters designated for a large reservoir situated in Jerusalem (Isa. 22:11). None of these places are mentioned as having been used for ritual purification in any way. Hence, the concept of the mikveh as a hewn cave or constructed purification pool attached to one's dwelling or place of work is undoubtedly a later one.
  9. ^ Andrea M. Berlin (2013). Manifest Identity: From Ioudaios to Jew: Household Judaism as Anti-Hellenization in the Late Hasmonean Era (PDF). Between Cooperation and Hostility: Multiple Identities in Ancient Judaism and the Interaction with Foreign Powers. Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements - Band 011. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 169. ISBN 978-3-525-55051-9. Retrieved 14 December 2015. .... both mikva’ot and the new vessels.... "household Judaism".... specific behavior carried out via material objects. .... the specific objects are new, first appearing in the early years of the last century BCE, but not before.
  10. ^ Henry Curtis Pelgrift (10 December 2015). "2,200-Year-Old Duck-Shaped Shovel Unearthed in Ancient Galilee". Bible History Daily. Biblical Archaeology Society. Retrieved 14 December 2015. “Archaeologically, it's very hard to tell who’s a Jew in the third or second century B.C.”, excavation director Uzi Leibner explained to The Times of Israel, because the later indicators like mikvaot (Jewish ritual baths) and certain ritual objects were not present at that time.
  11. ^ Sifra on Leviticus 11:36. ספרא על ויקרא יא  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.
  12. ^ Mikvaot 7:1. משנה מקואות ז א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource..
  13. ^ Eruvin 4b. עירובין ד ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.
  14. ^ Yoma 31a. יומא לא א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.
  15. ^ Numbers Rabbah, 18:17
  16. ^ about 3 Koku, about 116 qafiz, about 126 Imperial Gallons, about 143 Burmese tins, and about 150 U.S. liquid gallons
  17. ^ a b Mikvaot 3. משנה מקואות ג  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource..
  18. ^ מיללער, דוד; Miller (1930). The Secret of the Jew: His Life, His Family / סוד נצח ישראל. Vol 1 / חלק א (Third ed.). 127 Sheridan Rd, Oakland, CA: Rabbi David Miller. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  19. ^ Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 201:36. שולחן ערוך יורה דעה רא לו  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.
  20. ^ "The Mikvah". Chabad.org.
  21. ^ Leviticus 15:16
  22. ^ Bava Kamma 82b. בבא קמא פב ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.
  23. ^ Leviticus 15:13
  24. ^ Leviticus 14:6-9
  25. ^ Leviticus 15:5-10
  26. ^ Leviticus 15:19-27
  27. ^ Exodus 29:4, Exodus 40:12
  28. ^ Leviticus 16:24, 16:26, 16:28
  29. ^ Numbers 19:7-8
  30. ^ Numbers 19:19
  31. ^ Leviticus 17:15
  32. ^ a b Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 581:4 and 606:4
  33. ^ Dovid Zaklikowski. "Final Preparations Before the Circumcision - The day of the brit milah".
  34. ^ "Hilchos U'Minhagei Rosh Hashanah Orthodox Union". OU.org Orthodox Union.
  35. ^ Waters of Eden by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. ISBN 978-1-879016-08-8.
  36. ^ Morrison, Chanan; Kook, Abraham Isaac Kook (2006). Gold from the Land of Israel: A New Light on the Weekly Torah Portion - From the Writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook'. Urim Publications. p. 188. ISBN 965-7108-92-6.
  37. ^ Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz, Mikveh and the Sanctity of Family Relations, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006 Archived March 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Rabbi Susan Grossman, MIKVEH AND THE SANCTITY OF BEING CREATED HUMAN, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006
  39. ^ Rabbi Avram Reisner, OBSERVING NIDDAH IN OUR DAY: AN INQUIRY ON THE STATUS OF PURITY AND THE PROHIBITION OF SEXUAL ACTIVITY WITH A MENSTRUANT, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006
  40. ^ Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz, RESHAPING THE LAWS OF FAMILY PURITY FOR THE MODERN WORLD, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006
  41. ^ Freudenheim, Susan. "Becoming Jewish: Tales from the Mikveh." Jewish Journal. 8 May 2013. 8 May 2013.
  42. ^ "Sue Fishkoff, Reimagining the Mikveh, Reform Judaism Magazine, Fall 2008". Reformjudaismmag.org. Archived from the original on 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  43. ^ What is the mikvah all about? The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2014
  44. ^ the New American Mikveh Tablet Magazine, Aug 13, 2012
  45. ^ "Are There Jewish Customs for Pregnancy and Birth?". www.chabad.org. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  46. ^ What is the mikvah all about? The Washington Post, November 7, 2014
  47. ^ "Shower before Mivah". If the entire bathing process is not being done in the mikvah, common custom is to take another quick shower and comb out the hair before the tevila
  48. ^ Kolel Menachem, Kitzur Dinei Taharah: A Digest of the Niddah Laws Following the Rulings of the Rebbes of Chabad (Brooklyn, New York: Kehot Publication Society, 2005).
  49. ^ Jeremiah 17:13
  50. ^ Jeremiah 14:22
  51. ^ Yoma 85b. יומא פה ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.
  52. ^ Israel’s Supreme Court: Public ritual baths must accept non-Orthodox, too Religion news, Feb 14, 2016
  53. ^ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; - the New Mikveh Policy haaretz, May 10, 2013
  54. ^ Israeli NGO asks Supreme Court to protect women’s rights at mikvah Times of Israel, July 20, 2015
  55. ^ Israeli Women to Be Allowed to Bathe in Mikvehs Without an Attendant Haaretz, June 23, 2016
  56. ^ Kristan, Ari (2006-08-01). "Opening Up the Mikvah". Tikkun. 21 (3): 55–57. doi:10.1215/08879982-2006-3020. ISSN 0887-9982.
  57. ^ Kristan, Ari (2006-08-01). "Opening Up the Mikvah". Tikkun. 21 (3): 55–57. doi:10.1215/08879982-2006-3020. ISSN 0887-9982.

References

  • Isaac Klein, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, JTS Press, New York, 1992
  • Kolel Menachem, Kitzur Dinei Taharah: A Digest of the Niddah Laws Following the Rulings of the Rebbes of Chabad, Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn, New York, 2005

External links

Besalú

Besalú (Catalan pronunciation: [bəzəˈlu]) is a town in the comarca of Garrotxa, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain.

The town's importance was greater in the early Middle Ages, as capital of the county of Besalú, whose territory was roughly the same size as the current comarca of Garrotxa but sometime extended as far as Corbières, Aude, in France. Wilfred the Hairy, credited with the unification of Catalonia, was Count of Besalú. The town was also the birthplace of Raimon Vidal, a medieval troubadour.

Besalú was designated as a historical national property ("conjunt històric-artístic") in 1966. The town's most significant feature is its 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvià river, which features a gateway at its midpoint. The church of Sant Pere was consecrated in 1003. The town features arcaded streets and squares and also a restored mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath dating from the eleventh or twelfth century, as well as the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river.

Besalú also hosts the Museum of miniatures created by jeweler and art collector Lluís Carreras.

Charles Netter

Charles Netter (Hebrew: קרל נטר‎; 14 September 1826 – October 2, 1882), was a founding member of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. In 1870, Netter founded Mikveh Israel, the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel.

Congregation Mikveh Israel

The Congregation Mikveh Israel, (Hebrew: קהל קדוש מקוה ישראל), "Holy Community of the Hope of Israel", is a synagogue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that traces its history to 1740.. Mikveh Israel is a Spanish and Portuguese synagogue that follows the rite of the Amsterdam esnoga. It is the oldest synagogue in Philadelphia, and among the oldest in the United States.

The congregation moved to its current building at 44 North Fourth Street in 1976. The synagogue is located within Philadelphia's Old City Historic District and adjacent to Independence Mall. Mikveh Israel is an active community synagogue with services on the Sabbath, holy days, and special occasions, and offers adult education and cultural programming with a focus on the Spanish and Portuguese tradition and history. It is active within the Center City Jewish community and its kitchen is under the kosher supervision of the Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia The Keystone K. Rabbi Albert Gabbai has led the congregation since 1988.

Haviva Ner-David

Haviva Ner-David (formerly Haviva Krasner-Davidson) received her PhD from Bar Ilan University and wrote her thesis concerning the nature of the relationship between Tumah (ritual impurity) and Niddah (a menstruant woman). In 1993 she applied to Yeshiva University’s rabbinical program, RIETS and never received an official response. Despite this early rejection, she went on to become one of the first women known to have controversially been granted the equivalent of Orthodox Semicha (rabbinic ordination), which she received from Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Strikovsky of Tel-Aviv in 2006. In 2000 she wrote a book documenting her journey and aspirations as a female rabbi entitled, Life on the Fringes: A Feminist Journey Toward Traditional Rabbinic Ordination. She is the founding director of Reut: The Center for Modern Jewish Marriage and self identifies as a “post-denominational rabbi.” She advocates arguably non-Orthodox practices such as egalitarian Tefilah and unmarried women practicing mikveh before engaging in pre-marital sex.Ner-David is the Director of "Shmaya": A Ritual and Educational Mikveh, and the founding director of Reut: The Center for Modern Jewish Marriage. She has also written Chanah’s Voice: A Rabbi Wrestles with Gender, Commandment, and the Women’s Rituals of Baking, Bathing, and Brightening (2013, Ben Yehudah Press). She lives on Kibbutz Hannaton in northern Israel with her husband and seven children.

Haym Salomon

Haym Salomon (also Solomon; April 7, 1740 – January 6, 1785) was a Polish-born American Jewish businessman and political financial broker who immigrated to New York City from Poland during the period of the American Revolution. He helped convert the French loans into ready cash by selling bills of exchange for Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance. In this way he aided the Continental Army and was possibly, along with Morris, the prime financier of the American side during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain.

Keri

Keri (קרי) is a Hebrew term which literally means "happenstance", "frivolity" or "contrariness" and has come to mean "seminal emission". The term is generally used in Jewish law to refer specifically to the regulations and rituals concerning the emission of semen, whether by nocturnal emission, or by sexual activity. By extension, a man is said to be a ba'al keri (בעל קרי) ("one who has had a seminal emission") after he has ejaculated without yet completing the associated ritual cleansing requirements.

Libochovice

Libochovice (German: Libochowitz) is a town in the Czech Republic. Libochovice is a small town with a population of about 3,603 (as of 1.1.2012). It is located next to the Ohře River and Hazmburk mountain.

From the first half of the seventeen century there was a strong Jewish community, but most died in Nazi concentration camps, and this community was never renewed after the Second World War.

Among Jewish sights belongs cemetery, big house at Jewish quarter, where was school, kosher butchery and municipal authority, monument remembering for destroyed synagogue (first mentioned at 1651, destroyed around 1980) and mikveh.

Mevo'ot Yeriho

Mevo'ot Yericho (Hebrew: מְבוֹאוֹת יְרִיחוֹ, lit. Doorway to Jericho), founded in 1999, is an Israeli settlement and a community settlement located in the West Bank's southern Jordan Valley just north of Jericho, in the Yitav Valley. The site is 150m below sea level. It falls under the municipal jurisdiction of the Bik'at HaYarden Regional Council.

The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.

Mikveh Calendar

The Laws of Family Purity (Taharat Hamishpacha) are quite complex. One of the components of these laws is to anticipate the upcoming period and intimately separate at that time. The purpose is to avoid intimacy at a time when a woman may become ritually impure due to the onset of her period.

Most women will anticipate the onset of their period according to three methods:

The exact Hebrew date their previous period began (Veset HaChodesh)

The Average 30 day Cycle (Onah Beinonit)

Cycle based on interval of time from one period to the next (Haflaga)Jewish Law (Halahcha) mandates that only a Hebrew Calendar (luach) may be used to calculate these dates of anticipation and separation. This is imperative since the Hebrew day begins at sunset the evening before. Using a solar calendar, or secular calendar will yield inaccurate calculations.

Each calendar day is actually divided into two parts for purposes of these calculations. These parts are called onot (singular onah) and each day consists of two onot – night onah and day onah. The night onah begins at sunset and ends at sunrise and the day onah begins at sunrise and ends at sunset.

Therefore, on the Hebrew calendar, Monday actually begins at sunset Sunday afternoon and continues into Monday day, ending at sunset, which is then the beginning of Tuesday. Each of these days corresponds to a different date on the Hebrew calendar. It is these dates and these onot, which are crucial in determining the correct dates and onot when one is halachically (commanded by Jewish Law) required to abstain from marital intimacy in anticipation of the expected menses. These calculations also reveal the correct date for mikvah immersion after which marital intimacy may halachically resume.

This process of calculation is actually called keeping the Onas HaVeset (lit. time frames of menstruation) and is a very necessary part in the observance of the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha.

Throughout history, Jewish couples have been careful to calculate their Onas HaVeset via a paper calendar which was many times a complex process. In 2009, an internet based Mikvah Calendar, MikvahCalendar.com, transformed the way that Onas HaVeset are calculated by automating the process. In 2010, MikvahCalendar.com was translated into Hebrew, French, and Spanish. In 2012, MikvahCalendar.com released IPhone and Android Apps.

Mikveh Israel

Mikveh Israel (Hebrew: מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל, lit. 'Hope of Israel') is a youth village and boarding school in central Israel, established in 1870. It was the first Jewish agricultural school in what is now Israel. Located in Tel Aviv District, it had a population of 432 in 2017.

Mikveh Israel Cemetery

Mikveh Israel Cemetery is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the oldest in the United States is the first cemetery of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York). The site, less than 0.2 acres (810 m2) in size, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and administered by Independence National Historical Park (even though the expense of maintaining the cemetery is borne by sponsoring Congregation Mikveh Israel). It is located in the center city section of Philadelphia, on the north-west corner of Spruce St. and S. Darien St. (between 8th and 9th St.), about ​1⁄4 mi west and ​1⁄4 mi south of Independence Hall.

Mikveh Israel Cemetery was originally a private burial ground for the family of Nathan Levy, whose ship, Myrtilla was long reputed to have transported the Liberty Bell from England to Philadelphia in 1752 (though the Hibernia, captained by William Child, is more likely to have transported the bell). In 1738, one of Levy's children died. Rather than bury the child in unsanctified ground, he applied to John Penn (chief of Pennsylvania's proprietary government at that time) for "a small piece of ground" with permission to make it a family cemetery. This property was at the corner of 9th and Walnut Streets, the present site of the Walnut Street Theatre. Two years later, Nathan Levy secured a larger plot from the Penn family at the present location of Mikveh Israel Cemetery. This was meant to be a permanent burial ground for the entire Jewish community of Philadelphia. Levy was buried there upon his death in 1753.

The cemetery in 1740 was a 30' x 30' plot. In 1752, Nathan Levy received an additional grant of land north of the first plot. In 1765, John Penn granted Mathias Bush an adjacent piece of ground for burial purposes. By that time, the burial place was managed by the Sephardic synagogue Congregation Mikveh Israel (official name: קהל קדוש מקוה ישראל, Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, or "Holy Congregation Hope of Israel"), founded in 1740 and still active in the 21st century.

Miriam Berkowitz

Miriam C. Berkowitz is a Conservative rabbi, educator and writer.

Born in Montreal, she received ordination from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem.

For three years she was Assistant Rabbi at Park Avenue Synagogue. She was then an Associate Rabbi and scholar in Boca Raton, Florida. She currently teaches in Jerusalem, Israel.

She is known for her traditionalist responsa on the mikveh and Family purity which was accepted by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. She is regarded as an expert on the Mikveh within Conservative Judaism.

She is the author of Taking the Plunge: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Mikveh, which offers a comprehensive discussion of contemporary issues and new mikveh uses along with traditional reasons for observance, details of how to prepare and what to expect, and how the laws developed.

She has also written a number of articles.

She is married to Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz and graduated from Harvard University.

Niddah

Niddah (or nidah; Hebrew: נִדָּה), in Judaism, describes a woman during menstruation, or a woman who has menstruated and not yet completed the associated requirement of immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath).

In the Book of Leviticus, the Torah prohibits sexual intercourse with a niddah. The prohibition has been maintained in traditional Jewish law and by the Samaritans. Since the later 19th century, with the influence of German Modern Orthodoxy, the laws concerning niddah are also referred to as taharat hamishpacha (טהרת המשפחה, Hebrew for family purity).

Not Quite Paradise

Not Quite Paradise is a 1985 British comedy-drama directed by Lewis Gilbert. It was originally released in Europe under the title Not Quite Jerusalem, adapted by Paul Kember from his 1982 play of the same name.

It was filmed on two kibbutzim, Eilot and Grofit, as well as at the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School.

Ohr ha-Chaim Synagogue

The Ohr ha-Chaim Synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת אור החיים‎) is situated on Ohr ha-Chaim Street in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is located on the top floor of a building which also houses the Ari Synagogue and Old Yishuv Court Museum. It is named after Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar's magnum opus, the Ohr ha-Chaim, a popular commentary on the Pentateuch.

Arriving in Jerusalem from Morocco in 1742, Rabbi Attar established a study hall in this building together with a women's section. In a room at the back of the men's section is where, according to tradition, Rabbi Attar would study with Eliyahu Ha-Navi. A number of years ago a mikveh was uncovered near the stairs which lead to the women's section, confirming a long-standing tradition of its existence.

Though the synagogue was founded by a kabbalist of Sephardic descent, the synagogue eventually came to serve the Ashkenazic community, headed by Rabbi Shlomo Rosenthal. When the Jewish Quarter fell to the Arab Legion in 1948, during the Arab-Israeli War, the synagogue was closed. It was reopened and refurbished after Israel captured the Old City in 1967.

Ritual washing in Judaism

In Judaism, ritual washing, or ablution, takes two main forms. A tevilah (טְבִילָה) is a full body immersion in a mikveh, and a netilat yadayim which is the washing of the hands with a cup (see Handwashing in Judaism).

References to ritual washing are found in the Hebrew Bible, and are elaborated in the Mishnah and Talmud. They have been codified in various codes of Jewish law and tradition, such as Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century) and Joseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch (16th century.) These customs are most commonly observed within Orthodox Judaism. In Conservative Judaism, the practices are normative, with certain leniencies and exceptions. Ritual washing is not generally performed in Reform Judaism.

The Jewish House, Toledo

The Jewish House (Casa del Judío) is located in the heart of the Jewish quarter of Toledo, in Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The two areas of main interest are the courtyard, which retains a multitude of yeserias (carved plasterwork), and above all, the basement that was possibly a Jewish liturgical bath or mikveh, whose function was spiritual purification and preparation for some important event in the life of a Jew. During restorations of adjacent rooms, Almagra style hydraulic plastering has been uncovered, as well as a cistern, all of which support the theory about its use.Another element of great relevance for its archaeological study is a piece of wood used as a lintel for access to the basement, where it can observe the work of carving with floral motifs, based on tympanums and scrolls, accompanying an epigraphic repertoire whose transcription says: "Thanks I give you, because you have answered my prayers"; Text related to verses 21 of Psalm 18: "Here is the door of Yahveh, through which the righteous come in." 21 "thanks I give you, because you have answered my prayers, and it has been my salvation", which welcomes all those who are faithful and pure at the interior of the house.

Tohorot

Tohorot (Hebrew: טָהֳרוֹת, literally "Purities") is the sixth and last order of the Mishnah (also of the Tosefta and Talmud). This order deals with the clean/unclean distinction and family purity. This is the longest of the orders in the Mishnah. There are 12 tractates:

Keilim: (כלים "Vessels"); deals with a large array of various utensils and how they fare in terms of purity. 30 chapters, the longest in the Mishnah.

Oholot: (אוהלות "Tents"); deals with the uncleanness from a corpse and its peculiar property of defiling people or objects either by the latter "tenting" over the corpse, or by the corpse "tenting" over them, or by the presence of both corpse and person or object under the same roof or tent.

Nega'im: (נגעים "Plagues"); deals with the laws of the tzaraath.

Parah: (פרה "Cow"); deals largely with the laws of the Red Heifer (Para Adumah).

Tohorot: (טהרות "Purities"); deals with miscellaneous laws of purity, especially the actual mechanics of contracting impurity and the laws of the impurity of food.

Mikva'ot: (מקואות "Ritual Baths"); deals with the laws of the mikveh.

Niddah: (נידה "Separation"); deals with the Niddah, a woman either during her menstrual cycle or shortly after having given birth.

Makhshirin: (מכשירין "Preliminary acts of preparation"), the liquids that make food susceptible to tumah (ritual impurity).

Zavim: (זבים "Seminal Emissions"); deals with the laws of a person who has ejaculated.

Tevul Yom: (טבול יום "Immersed [on that] day") deals with a special kind of impurity where the person immerses in a mikveh but is still unclean for the rest of the day.

Yadayim: (ידיים "Hands"); deals with a Rabbinic impurity related to the hands.

Uktzim: (עוקצים "Stalks"); deals with the impurity of the stalks of fruit.

Tumah and taharah

In Jewish law, ṭumah (Hebrew: טומאה, pronounced [tˤumʔa]) and ṭaharah (Hebrew: טהרה, pronounced [tˤaharɔ]) are the state of being ritually "impure" and "pure", respectively. The Hebrew noun ṭum'ah, meaning "impurity", describes a state of ritual impurity. A person or object which contracts ṭumah is said to be ṭamei (Hebrew adjective, "ritually impure"), and thereby unsuited for certain holy activities and utilisations (kedusha in Hebrew) until undergoing predefined purification actions that usually include the elapse of a specified time-period.

The contrasting Hebrew noun ṭaharah (טָהֳרָה) describes a state of ritual purity that qualifies the ṭahor (טָהוֹר; ritually pure person or object) to be used for kedusha. The most common method of achieving ṭaharah is by the person or object being immersed in a mikveh (ritual bath). This concept is connected with ritual washing in Judaism, and both ritually impure and ritually pure states have parallels in ritual purification in other world religions.

The laws of ṭumah and ṭaharah were generally followed by the Israelites, particularly during the First and Second Temple Period, and to a limited extent are a part of applicable halakha in modern times.

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