There is nothing more holy in this world, nothing more precious to its
Creator, than the union of a man and a woman. It is, after all, the fountain of
life. What could be more precious than life—other than the source from which
And it is holy—because the first, pristine creation of a human being was
as male and female as a single whole. That is the way we exist in G‑d’s mind.
And so, none of us can achieve wholeness until we regain that original oneness in
both body and soul.
Precious things are kept in sealed boxes. Roses hide behind the thorns. There
are clothes you wear to work or play, but there are also treasures in your
wardrobe so beautiful, of such value, that they come out only at special
The union of a man and a woman is so precious that if it is treated casually, without conditions or boundaries, it becomes ugly and even destructive
under specific conditions. The union of a man and a woman is so precious that if
it is treated casually, without conditions or boundaries, it becomes ugly and
Which all goes to explain why in the Jewish way of life there is a cycle of
union and separation between husband and wife. And why the most important
institution of Jewish life, next to the home, is the mikveh that stands at the
vortex of that cycle. Because precious things only stay beautiful when you
follow the manufacturer's instructions.
There is a very practical reason, as well, to keeping these rules: They keep
things sparkling. After all, even swimming with tiger sharks can get pretty dull
if it's the daily fare. On the other hand, a plain stone, if it's withheld for a
while, becomes a coveted jewel. Modesty and the period of separation inject that
flavor of the forbidden into a relationship.
Consistently, couples report their relationships rejuvenated when they start
living by the rules of separation and mikveh. Perhaps that's why mikveh parking
lots have become so crowded in the past few decades as more and more young
couples make it a part of their lives -- some who have no other formal Jewish
A Spa for the Soul
Today's mikveh looks more like a fashionable spa than a ritualarium.
Luxurious bath and powder rooms, complete with commode, bathtub and vanity have
become the standard. Fresh towels, disposable slippers, a comfortable robe,
soap, shampoo, nail clippers and all the other essentials necessary are usually
The Kabbalists say that the spiritual state of the world depends on the sanctity of our relations as men and women
Many women talk about the immersion in the mikveh as a spiritual high, a
state in which nothing stands between you and your G‑d; a return to the
innocence of birth; a sanctification of all that is feminine. In fact, it's not
just your soul and body that become spiritually uplifted -- it's your entire
family and home.
Your Child's Soul
There are three partners in the conception of every child: the mother, the
father and the One Above.
The Talmud explains that the mother and father create the body, and One Above
provides the breath of life. The Kabbalists take this a step further: also the
spiritual self is a product of the three-way partnership. For the G‑dly soul is
too lofty, too holy, to be contained within a physical body without protection.
Just as an astronaut needs a spacesuit and a deep-sea diver needs an armored
diving suit, so the soul needs an outfit that will allow it to survive and
communicate with the body and the outside world. That survival suit is provided
by the mother and father. It is fashioned according to their thoughts and
conduct before and during conception, their modesty and their adherence to the
rules of separation and immersion.
All the good deeds and thoughts a person accomplishes in a lifetime are
through the medium of that "suit." Even the life and blessings that a person
receives from Above must come through it. The soul itself may be pure and
luminous, but if its suit doesn¹t match, that light will have great difficulty
That is why the Kabbalists say that the spiritual state of the world depends
on the sanctity of our relations as men and women.
Where to Begin
The best way to learn about the mikveh is to consult your local rebbetzin or
mikveh attendant. Men can talk with a rabbi. Visit www.mikvah.org for more information and essays, as well as a worldwide directory and photographs and virtual tours of mikvehs around the world.