Thursday, February 14, 2008 I was asked the following question:
Dear Rabbi Dan,
I have always been confused as to the religious use of the
Mikvah. I was once told that it is to cleanse the woman after she experiences
her monthly period, and also just before she is to be married. But then I
discovered that orthodox men also use the Mikvah for cleansing. Could you please
explain the exact significance of the practice of the Mikvah?
was my response:
The Mikveh serves, primarily, as a vessel for spiritual
cleansing. By immersing oneself, all the impurities brought on by living in the
material world are removed and the person becomes spiritually pure. In the case
of women after their menstrual cycle, the Mikveh serves as the re-freshening
well of purity that allows her to engage in sexual activity with her husband.
Furthermore, the separation and abstinence from sexual relations during the
cycle makes each post-cycle a "new" experience for the couple; a renewed
dedication of their bond of love.
Men, too, go into the mikveh for spiritual purification. This is, usually, done
just prior to the onset of Shabbat and serves to separate the daily mundane and
materialistic from the sacredness of Shabbat. Some men take a dip as soon as
they arrive at shul on Shabbat morning in order to feel closer to the spirit of
Shabbat or Yom Tov.
you have questions about a personal matter, or jewish practices
and customs, you can submit them to me by e-mail.
I answer all queries directly, or through this column, when the
question is informative to our community.
you for your kind attention and this opportunity to share with you,
Rabbi Dan S. Wiko
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