Mikvah Myths Debunked!

As many of you may know, there is a beautiful, state-of-the-art mikvah right here in Sacramento. What very few know, is the profound meaning behind this essential mitzvah. Here are some common questions and answers, which will bring us to a deeper understanding of this foundation of Judaism, as well as “debunk” a few rumors floating around.

Q: What is the mikvah? And why have I never heard of it?

A: A Mikvah is a Jewish ritual bath. The primary function of the mikvah today is its use in the observance of the Jewish “Family Purity” laws. Following her monthly menstrual cycle, a woman immerses in the mikvah, spiritually refreshing and spiritually boosting herself and her relationship with her husband and with the entire household.

Although it is a commandment from the Torah (Leviticus 15:24-27), and has been arguably THE MOST important mitzvah in Jewish Family life for 3000+ years, over the last century it has been lost in the overwhelming force of assimilation. This does not detract from it’s vital importance in the sustaining of the Jewish people, as the Talmud states that having a mikvah in a Jewish community takes precedence over having a synagogue (Megilla 27a, Meshiv Davar 2:45).

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Q: The mikvah is an archaic practice and degrading to women. I'm a woman living in 2016....what relevance does it have for me?

A: The mikvah and mitzvah of Family Purity actually gives the highest honor to the woman and her monthly cycle, contrary to the misconception that mikvah serves to clean that which is dirty. Immersion in the mikvah is to purify, and the Torah respects life above all. Therefore, anything associated with death is considered impure (for example, in the times of the Temple, anyone who came in contact with a dead body would need to immerse in the mikvah before bringing a sacrifice). Since the passing of a menstrual cycle represents an egg that was not fertilized, we recognize this loss of potential life and embrace a fresh potential for life in the next month. This is the magic of the woman, "mother of all life" (Genesis 3:20), as her monthly cycle represents a lesson that we can honor the death of lost opportunities but treasure the life that our new choices create.

Far from being "dirty," the woman's cycle is of the highest purity, for it reminds us that it is the cycles, changes, and opportunities of this physical life that defines our greatest spirituality. In other words, the spiritual rebirth of going to the mikvah is one of refocusing on life and fresh beginnings.

This may be why the night of going to the mikvah is a night of intimacy for a husband and wife and is considered a new "wedding night" (Talmud Niddah 31b). This is something that all marriages can benefit from, whether in the 1st or 21st century.

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Q: Mikvah is for religious people. I'm not "orthodox". So why should I do this?

A: The truth is: Every mitzva a Jew does brings its own blessings to himself and the whole world. Especially the mitzvot pertaining to Jewish intimacy. Through observing these eternal laws, the Jewish husband and wife maintain mutual respect, essential to any good marriage. This is the secret that has avoided so many problems and has built beautiful Jewish families for thousands of years. Rather than considering one's lack of other Torah observances as a deterrent to mikvah, consider this as a practical place to begin.

The mikvah of Sacramento is for every Jew, regardless of synagogue or religious affiliation.

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Q: I'm past my childbearing years. Is it too late to fulfill this mitzvah?

A: If a woman has never been to the mikvah, even after menopause she can prepare and go once. This one-time immersion sanctifies the rest of her marriage, and is retroactively spiritually beneficial for her marriage and her children.

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Q: Do any conversions take place at the Mikvah in Sacramento?

A: While conversion to Judaism does require immersion in a mikvah, the Mikvah of Sacramento was built exclusively for the Torah commandment of Family Purity. There is no discrimination between movements of Judaism, there are no conversions done whatsoever at this Mikvah.

We can go on and on about how beautiful the mitzvah of Family purity and the mikvah of Sacramento is, but you can come see for yourself! Call Dinie 916-919-3066 to schedule a tour.