WHAT IS A MIKVAH?
The word Mikvah means a gathering of water, natural water. Unlike an ordinary tub or pool, complex laws and specifications govern a Mikvah’s construction. The accumulated rainwater is kept in a separate pool and is adjacent to the immersion pool which is filled with heated tap water and meticulously cleaned. It contains about 200 gallons of water. The pools share a common wall that has an opening, allowing the waters to touch, thus conferring upon the immersion pool the legal status of a Mikvah.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE WATER IN A MIKVAH?
To have water is to have a piece of heaven on earth. Water is the primary source of all living things. Water is the most spiritual of all the physical elements. It gives us the opportunity to reunite with our spiritual source. It has the power to purify, to restore and replenish life. A mikvah must be filled with living waters from a flowing source that has never been dormant, such as fresh spring water, rainwater, or even melted snow. A Mikvah contains waters untouched by human hands because they fell directly into the Mikvah.
WHAT IS TAHARAS HAMISHPACHA, FAMILY PURITY?
The Jewish marriage santifies husband and wife. Taharas Hamishpacha observance introduces times of separation and reunion as part of a cycle in married life. Separation begins with the onset of the menstrual flow. It is a time when the depth of the husband-wife relationship is expressed without physical intimacy. It is a period of anticipation and preparation for mikvah immersion. Ever since G‑d separated Adam and Eve, it was His will for men and women to pull apart and come together again in an ongoing process. The Mikvah system introduces couples to that necessary dynamic of withdrawal and return. From this new vantage point, they can view and approach each other with enhanced appreciation.
HOW DOES ONE PREPEARE FOR MIKVAH IMMERSION?
Following her monthly menstruation, a woman counts seven “spotless” days. During this entire time, from the onset of menstruation until mikvah immersion, husband and wife refrain from marital relations. Prior to immersion, the woman cleanses herself thoroughly. She then immerses after nightfall. Complete understanding and observance of these laws necessitates in-depth study and subsequent review on a woman-to-woman basis, in private or group settings, with open sharing of knowledge and experience.
WHY SHOULD I GO TO THE MIKVAH?
Why did the Jews of Masada, besieged by the Romans and with precious few supplies, build and maintain two Mikvahs? Why did our grandmothers in Eastern Europe break through ice frozen rivers in order to use the Mikvah? Why does building a Mikvah take precedence over building a house of worship?
Jews are a holy people because life is holy to us. Mikvah is the ultimate celebration of life and of the power, given by G‑d exclusively to women, to create life. To immerse in the spiritually cleansing waters of the Mikvah is to experience rebirth and renewal and to return to the waters of Eden, introducing a dimension of paradise into our every day life.
The Mikvah admits a third partner – G‑d – into our marriages, our homes and our lives, bestowing a blessing on all our loved ones. On a practical level, many couples who observe the laws relating to Mikvah maintain that it keeps their marriage fresh and exciting. The Jewish family as well as the Jewish people owe their stunning success and their remarkable longevity to this most vital mitzvah.
WHERE CAN I FIND THE NEAREST MIKVAH?
See our Global Mikvah Directory.
WHAT IS A MIKVAH?