“If a person immerses without special intention, it is as though he has not immersed at all.” Maimonides
In order to remove all physical barriers between you and the water of the mikvehThe ritual bath. The waters of the mikveh symbolically purify – they are seen as waters of rebirth. A convert immerses in the mikveh as part of conversion. Many Orthodox married women go to the mikveh following their period and before resuming sexual relations. Couples go to the mikveh before being married. Many, including some men, immerse before Yom Kippur; some go every Friday before Shabbat., you will be ushered into a private preparation suite. There you will find everything you need to clean your body: soap, shampoo, nail polish remover, combs, towels, etc. (There is also a hair dryer for use later.)
But preparing for a truly meaningful mikveh experience requires more than just a thorough cleaning of the body, To connect the physical with the mental, emotional, and spiritual, Mayyim Hayyim provides the following Seven Kavanot (intentions) as a guide to help you slow down, center, and be present in the moment.
Mayyim Hayyim’s Seven Kavanot for Mikveh Preparation
The Holy One created the world in six days, but made it complete with ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends., the seventh day. The number seven suggests wholeness and represents the creative process. Seven steps lead into the mikveh.
These seven kavanot – preparatory meditations – are offered in the hope that your immersion will provide you a sense of shleimut or wholeness and peace.
1. Hineni. Here I am.
Take a minute and think about the transition mikveh will help you mark today.
Immersion in the mikveh represents a spiritual transformation from one state to another. In traditional language, your change is from ritually unready (tameh) to ritually ready (tahor). Prepare yourself by writing in a journal, or saying a personal prayer, or reading something of meaning to you. Breathe deeply. Sigh audibly.
2. Hiddur MitzvahLit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed.". The unadorned body is beautiful in itself.
Remove all jewelry as well as makeup, paying special attention to the eyes. Remove nail polish on fingers and toes. (Acrylics may stay on if they have been on for more than a month.)
There is no need for adornment or artifice in the mikveh. There should be no physical barriers between the body and the living waters.
3. Nekavim nekavim. You fashioned the human being intricate in design.
Empty your bladder.
Our tradition celebrates and blesses the body in every possible moment and mode.
4. B’tzelem Elohim. I am made in the image of God.
Remove all clothing, eyeglasses, contact lenses, dental plates, hearing aids.
Each person enters the mikveh as naked as the day of his birth, as the day of her birth. Without rank or status. Simply a human being. Gloriously a human being.
5. Elohai neshama shenatata bi tehorah hi. The soul in me is pure.
Shower or bathe with thoughtful attention to the miracle of your own body. Pay attention to every part of yourself. Wash yourself, head to toe; shampoo your hair, lather your shoulders, back, arms, belly, and genitals. Scrub elbows, knees and heels, removing calluses and dead skin. Wash between fingers and toes.
Relax and enjoy. The water of the mikveh will feel even sweeter after this.
6. Kol haneshama t’halel yahA name for God, as in "halleluyah" – praise God. Some people prefer this name for God as a non-gendered option.. The breath of every living thing praises You.
Clean your ears, blow your nose, brush and floss your teeth, rinse your mouth.
Stand before the mirror. Consider all of your senses. Look into your own eyes and smile. Think about the words that come from your mouth.
7. Tikkun OlamLit. Repair of the world According to Jewish mysticism, the world is in a broken state. Humanity's job is to join God, as God's partners, in its repair.. We can stand for justice; we can build a world of peace and justice.
Clean under your nails – toenails, too. (Nails do not need to be cut.)
Consider the power of your hands and feet to create wholeness in your life, in our world.
When you enter the mikveh do not rush. Walk slowly. Count the seven steps into
the water, stopping on each one. Relax into the embrace of the water, into
whatever the next moment may hold for you.
In the mikveh, every body is a sacred vessel.
PDF versions available for adults, youth, and a picture version for those for whom the written English language is a barrier.
Visit mayyimhayyim.org for more information or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request our Immersion Ceremonies.