Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Woman's Mikveh and Female Body Parts

I felt so bad that I wrote about my concerns regarding my best friend's callah not going to the mikveh (purifying baths) that for a day or so, I took the post off of the blog. However, after looking through my logs, I saw that the authors of Mayim Rabim read my article and they decided to reference it on the Mayim Rabim site, which is a group blog which discusses topics such as Mikveh and family purity in depth; also, all of its contributors are women, which means that they know more about the topic than I do. So I decided to put my original blog entry back up because it is that important of a topic.

Every Jewish woman benefits from immersing in a the mikveh before her wedding. Every married Jewish woman whether she has ever immersed or not will benefit both spiritually and physically from learning and observing the laws of family purity (Taharas Hamishpacha, or T"H) and immersing into a kosher mikveh every month.

What I thought was cute about Mayim Rabim's article was that she said that my view of women going to the mikveh was misinformed and simplistic, since I mistakenly thought that a woman toiveling (dipping herself) into a mikveh was akin to dipping a plate into the mikveh to toivel it (process of dipping utensils into a mikveh to make it usable) and poof! The plate is tahor (pure). Apparently the process is a bit more complex than that, but if you call any mikveh, the women there will tell you the process you need to go through before your wedding or after your time of the month.

A woman going to the mikveh to purify herself for her husband is a beautiful thing. I thank Mayim Rabim for writing on this topic, and I look forward to learning these laws myself when I find a woman to marry and when the topic becomes applicable for me to learn. Until then, my rabbis discourage me from learning these laws because they are quite personal and include discussions of the menstral cycle and other aspects of women's body parts which they don't think I should have on my mind until I find someone to marry.


Rowan said...

So, the point of this is to make her ready for her husband? It's hard for me to understand as a non-Jewish girl, but I have a question for you, is there any sort of ritual to cleanse yourself of your husband's seed? Or is this just more a practical part of the marriage? Just curious.

Maven said...

DUDE, this is not cool. You are sposed to be a frum guy and this is the picture you are putting on your website? NU???

Anonymous said...

As a woman who uses the mikveh, I object to the "purify herself for her husband" line. Going to the mikveh is not something a woman does as some sort of way to serve her husband. It is something that she does to serve God, just like all the laws of taharas hamishpacha. In fact, I would say it is something that a husband and wife do together to serve God; even though the primary active parts of the mitzvah are the woman's responsibility, the totality of the practice is something that a husband and wife do together.

To answer the second question -- no, there is no ritual to "cleanse" a woman of her husband's seed. Going to the mikveh does not really have anything to do with cleanliness, per se.

And I agree with the second comment as well. Why on earth would you put up that picture?

Zoe Strickman said...

I'm surprised this post is still getting readers. Anonymous, I suppose I made a mistake in my assumption that a woman goes to the mikveh for her husband. I made that assumption under the possibly incorrect thought that a man and a woman are not allowed to be together intimately until the woman goes to the mikveh. Your view is very proper, and I thank you for correcting me on that point. I now understand that it is something that both parties do together for G-d. Good point.

As for the picture, I've received many e-mails about it. My original goal was to convince my friend to have his callah go to the mikveh and for them to observe the laws of purity before they marry. I failed in that respect, and I felt that the picture had an innocience to it that I found appealing. If you feel strongly about it, e-mail me a more proper picture and I'd be willing to replace it.

Anonymous said...

It is true that a husband and wife cannot be intimate until she goes to the mikvah. That doesn't mean she's doing it FOR him. (Among other things, generally speaking they both want to be together again!)

As for the picture, I can't imagine that there is a picture of a woman immersing in the mikveh that doesn't show her naked. But the mikveh is a private and sacred space for many women and the picture is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful. Not to mention prurient, for readers who don't see the same "innocence" in it that you do.

Zoe Strickman said...

Okay, I changed the picture. The words that convinced me to change the picture were "prurient" and "disrespectful". Thank you for your feedback. -Zoe

Zoe Strickman said...

2.20.06: [I think I liked it better when this post was controversial.] -Zoe