Traditionally, the rhythm of sexual relations in a marriage was determined by the Jewish laws of purity and impurity (taharah and tumah). A woman abstained from sexual relations with her husband during her menstrual period (niddah) and for a fixed time (usually a week) thereafter. At the conclusion of this period, she immersed herself in a 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., a ritual bath, and resumed sexual relations with her husband. In the 1970s, as Jewish feminists began to grapple with Jewish tradition, mikveh seemed to be among the least redeemable of traditional rituals. Surprisingly, this has proved not to be the case. Some modern women have found ways to meaningfully integrate the practice of mikveh into their married lives or other relationships, while others have found creative uses for the mikveh to mark other significant occasions—ordination as a rabbi, divorce, healing from illness, etc. This section has rituals and articles dealing with mikveh in the context of sexual relations. Look in the other relevant sections (conversion, healing) to find uses for mikveh in those contexts, or do a keyword search for mikveh.
“So dear this daughter / As she prepares to immerse”
“Let your whole range of emotions surround you and wash over you like the water”
Printable mikveh guide with blessings and kavannot
Traditional blessings for mikveh immersion
Blessings for acknowledging the holiness of menstruation
In this immersion, we will reflect and expand on our personal experiences of identity, using writing exercises and in-depth discussions to think about, challenge, discover, explore, and experiment with different ways to identify ourselves, to consider how those ways connect us to and separate us from others, and how they represent and misrepresent aspects of who we are.
Four sessions, starting June 15th
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