reflect. renew. rejoice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I integrate this practice into my life as a single woman who is not yet going to the mikveh?

The underlying message of this mitzvah (practice) is infusing your marriage with holiness, mindfulness and Divinely endowed endurance. If you want to build an eternal bond with your soulmate in a marriage that has these qualities, you've got to start way before! The work is inwards, outwards and upwards. Firstly, inwards. Work on your own self-perception. You are a queen! You are royalty. You are a beautiful and powerful Jewish woman. Secondly, outwards. Before any guy approaches your body, he needs to feel that royalty radiating from you. So, before you enter into a relationship or experience with a guy, make sure that he is good enough for you and that he will give you the respect that you deserve. Find out if he shares similar values, will appreciate your uniqueness and is willing to commit to building a meaningful relationship. That way, you drastically lessen your chances of falling into a degrading situation where you walk away feeling like a body, used for momentary pleasure, rather than the queen that you are. And thirdly, upwards. Cultivate a connection with the Divine. Pray. Learn. Deepen your Jewish identity. Because adding a little bit of light, banishes a lot of darkness

Do you feel that the source of the not-touching during the period is because you are considered unclean?

Let's dispel this myth, once and for all. NO. The practice of mikveh is not based on physical manifestations of cleanliness or dirtiness.

So, what are the underlying principles? Well, according to the ancient wisdom of the Torah, the definition of "impurity" is: a brush with death, or a brush with the loss of potential for life.

In Temple times, if anyone, man or woman, were to come in contact with a dead body, he or she would become "tamei," or ritually impure. They had a brush with death and would undergo a process of returning to a place of purity-i.e. life. When a person comes in contact with death they are existentially changed. The Torah laws of purity create the space for mindfulness through this delicate human experience.

What happens when a woman menstruates? She had an egg that could have been born into a totally new human being. It wasn't, and that's okay. But she’s bleeding. Blood is a sign of loss of life. She feels it emotionally as well. Just seeing an old lady cross the street, she may be brought to tears. Mikveh grants the Jewish woman the space to wax and wane through her subtle, yet oh-so-real physiological fluxes- like the moon.

When she is in this place, she is not reaching out to connect with the world, or her husband in the same way. She and her husband take a step back from each other. She steps into a more inward focused place. She then counts her seven days and returns to a place of life, of connectivity, and of openness, which in Hebrew is called "tahara, or "purity."

What about men and mikveh?

For men, mikveh is Jewish custom whereas for women mikveh is Jewish law. Customs differ across community lines, whereas law is more uniform. Therefore, you find some men who go to mikveh once a year before Yom Kippur, you find some men who go once a week before Shabbat and other men who go every day. Men definitely access a level of renewal in the mikveh waters. But not on the level that a Jewish woman who is going in her right time experiences. She holds the key to the nucleus of power in this mitzvah.

What is the significance of waiting seven days after the period before immersing in the mikveh?

Seven is a significant number, not just in the Jewish tradition, but in almost all world traditions. You find different calculations for month and different calculations for year… the Chinese new year, Jewish new year… but amongst almost all the world cultures, you find a seven day cycle… the week. This shows that there's something about the number seven that is woven into the fabric of creation. Seven means a full circle. I started in one place and I am now somewhere new. After the cessation of my menstrual flow, I count seven days, as a full cycle to bring me back to a place of connectivity with my husband. Scientific findings have added another layer of understanding to the ancient wisdom of the Torah's seven day period. When I have my period, my uterus is shedding its lining. After the lining has been shed, scientists have found that it takes seven days for the new lining to be renewed. Recent studies have shown that intercourse during that seven day period when the uterine lining is in the process of being renewed increases the risk of disease in that area.

What if a trauma happens in a woman's life, she still can't get a hug from her husband? Can't this practice put stress on a relationship?

Yes, sometimes it is hard. After a hard day at work, I may just want that hug or hand squeeze from my husband, and I can't get it, because both he and I are devoted to this practice. My experience is that these challenges serve as catapults of growth for my husband and I. When I come home and need a hug, and can't get it, I find myself faced with a challenge. How else can I be comforted by him, besides for touch? How can I find comfort in myself in a new way? I end up discovering new aspects of myself! Discovering new layers of my husband! Of our connectivity, that I never knew existed! Rooted in the Divine origin of this mitzvah, I find that the challenges that it may pose ultimately bring us closer together.

Is this practice to encourage having as many babies as possible, because ovulation usally occurs on or around the mivkeh night?

The Jewish tradition (the Torah) encourages having children. We have fought for over three thousand years for our mere survival, so simply bringing the next generation of the tribe into the world is definitely encouraged. It is important to mention, that if a couple is feeling that they are not in a place to bring a child into the world, then after conferring with their Rabbi, they can be permitted to use birth control. Certain types are more acceptable than others. It is also important to note, that sexual intimacy between a Jewish man and a Jewish woman in the context of a Jewish marriage is considered a mitzvah even if there is no chance of pregnancy… for example if I am already pregnant, or post-menopausal.

How did you find the strength to make a life change like this- to opt out of the popular views on intimacy and sexuality and to adopt the traditional Jewish view?

For me, the strength welled up from a place of truth. I felt so deeply that the way of casual sexuality was one that cheapened the oh-so-sensitive act of intimate physical touch. As time when on, I began to connect the dots and notice that I was feeling increasingly less empowered by my experiences. When I began learning about the Jewish traditional practice of shomer negiah, where the guys and girls wait to find their soulmates before getting sexually involved, it resonated with me so much! I decided to try it, and found that not only did I find the practice liberating, I also got a lot of respect from the people around me. When you live your truth, everything becomes aligned.

Do you have any suggestions if my husband is not into mikveh, but I want to practice it?

It definately may take him some time to get used to the idea. So let it percolate. Respectfully and lovingly explain to him that you feel that this mitzvah will infuse you personally and therefore your relationship with a renewed passion and connection. Maybe you can invite him to talk to other husbands who have recently become devoted to this practice, to allieviate concerns. Ensure him that the health of your relationship-sexual, emotional and spiritual is your first priority, and that you are hoping that Mikveh will only enhance that.