There’s a building whose construction takes precedence over a synagogue. In fact, a synagogue may be sold to raise funds for this building.
This is a mikvah, a ritual pool constructed according to the exact specifications outlined in Jewish law. Immersion in a mikvah effects an elevation in status. Its waters have the power to spiritually transform and produce metamorphosis.
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.
Many use this holy moment for personal communication with G‑dFrom the onset of menstruation until seven days after its end, couples may not engage in any direct physical contact, or even physical manifestations of affection.
After nightfall of the seventh day, the woman visits the mikvah. Today’s mikvah looks like a fashionable spa: luxurious bath and powder rooms, vanities, fresh towels, disposable slippers, a comfortable robe and all the other essentials. The aesthetic beauty of the facility, along with the rejuvenation and spiritual boost experienced, explains why the mikvah is frequented by many who practice no other formal Jewish observance.
After a relaxing and thorough bathing, the woman then enters the pristine, warm mikvah waters. After immersing, while still in the mikvah, the woman recites a special blessing. Many use this holy moment for personal prayer and communication with G‑d. After immersion, the couple resumes marital relations.
- A woman first immerses in the mikvah before her wedding.
- For the postmenopausal woman, one final immersion offers purity for the rest of her life.
- Mikvah is not required during pregnancy and nursing, as long as there is no menstrual flow.
- Mikvah.org has more information, and a worldwide directory and virtual tours of mikvahs around the world. See also our Family Purity section for more info.
- The above is only a basic and very incomprehensive treatment of this subject. Studying with a woman experienced in this field is the way to gain familiarity with this mitzvah. Your rabbi’s wife will be able to refer you to someone who can give you personal instruction.