El Male Rahamim, God full of mercy, with an overflowing heart I approach the waters of the The 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.*, gathered from the rain sent here from the heavens. Let these waters rush strong against my body, washing away all sadness and sorrow, all worries and fears. Let them refresh my soul and restore my strength.
God, as my cycle begins anew, let these coming weeks be a time of rejoicing; let this month be the season of our dreams come true. Let our house be filled with promise and joy, with the rays of Your radiance shining upon us. It is to You we turn, God; in You we trust.
Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al hatevilah.
Blessed are You, God of all creation, who sanctifies us through Your commandments and commands us regarding immersion.
* Mikveh means ritual bath. Traditionally, married women use the mikveh at the end of their monthly period, prior to resuming sexual relations with their husbands. Today, women have reclaimed the mikveh for a variety of other uses for healing, celebrating, and mourning.
Excerpt from Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope, by Nina Beth Cardin (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1999). Permission granted by Jewish Lights Publishing, PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091. http://www.jewishlights.com.