Jewish, Jewish, Everywhere, & not a drop to drink
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
THE MIKVAH / RITUAL BATH IN JUDAISM
Thanks for the thoughts.
[Side note on reincarnation: The ideas about reincarnation are important for those who face challenges from Oriental religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. I suspect that if one could locate some reverant Christian mystics, they would see its place. Not everyone in Judaism feels comfortable with the notion of reincarnation. The Non-Orthodox (Reform , and Conservative) do not accept it at all. Within Orthodoxy, the more rationalistic elements, those who value secular knowledge avoid the subject at best if not rule it out as "superstition" as you quote. So it's definitely a debate within Judaism, and not a foregone conclusion by any means.]
Now as for the following, I'll reply after each question:
What I was wondering was, (Here I go!) "Was Bathsheba bathing in a Mikvah when
David observed her, or was she actually bathing for the purposes of
Answer: Yes , so the Torah commentators say she was readying herself to be with her husband (not David at that point obviously).
Here are some more: Was the basin of water outside the
tabernacle that Aaron bathed in considered a Mikvah?
Answer: No, it was not. It was called a "ki-or" it was a samovar looking object with which the Priests, such as Aaron, washed their hands and feet in a ritual fashion, from a spigot , the water came out as from a tap (faucet) of water.
Where else are Mikvahs mentioned in the Bible?
Answer: In many places. See,Leviticus Ch.11, vs. 36.(Purification from dead bodies). Exodus 29 vs 4 (Consecration of Priests).
Exodus 40 vs 12(Purification of priests before they do the Service). Leviticus 8 vs 6 (Installation of Priests).Leviticus 14 vs 8(Purification from leprosy). Leviticus 15 vs 12(Purification of impure vessels/bowls). Leviticus 22 vs 6(Purifying priests from seminal emmisions and leprosy). Numbers 31 vs 23 (Purification of weapons and metals from idol worshiping enemies). Deuteronomy 23 vs 12(Purification from "wet -dream" seminal emission), Leviticus 15 vs 21(Person who touches menstrual blood).
The whole subject of the Menstruating woman and Female menstruations is dealt with in Leviticus Chapter 15, in vs 28 it states that the menstruant woman must purify herself (via mikvah). (This is just in the Five Books of the Torah.)
Are modern Mikvahs found in the synagogues and temples
Answer: Not in Reform and Conservative synagogues as they have abandoned mikvah. All married Orthodox women go to the mikvah. In large cities there are special fancy mikvahs with beautiful bath tubs and showers to wash BEFORE the actual (naked) immersion in the mikvah. There are always "Mikvah ladies" who make sure everything is done right. In the smaller communities the local Orthodox synagogue will have a mikvah nearby, very rarely on its own premises. Usually a small house is purchased and converted into a mikvah, the upper floors are often used by people working with the synagogues.
and do they use water from a well or spring
Not from a well or spring as these are very rare. They use collected rain water from the roof. Usually this is not enough.Inside the mikvah there is built a canal and a little mini "well" or pool, from which water goes into the mikvah itself.These have to be built to specific dimensions. So there is a legalistic way of building a miniature canal of about two yards,then collect it in a small pool, and then run into the mikvah. The waters passage over the little canal and its collection in the little well before the mikvah ,is considered as re-connecting it with its "source" in the ground as in a well.
, or is the water more symbolic today and from the municipal water supply.
Answer: See above. But one may not simply fill a mikvah from a faucet, it has to go thru the above procedure.So yes , city water is used, but in a specified manner.
If many people do not understand the concept of "Mikvah" today within their marriages, is the use of
the Mikvah considered only for exceptionally high Holy days?
Answer: Non-Orthodox men and women do not "believe" in going to the mikvah. They think it is an archaic "custom", so the Holidays makes no difference to them.
MARRIED Orthodox women always go to the mikvah a minimum of twelve days after their periods end. They need to have, actually count, seven CLEAN days when they are totally free from any menstrual bleeding, and then they go to the mikvah the evening of the end of the seventh clean day.
Ultra Orthodox Men can go whenever they wish.Many go Friday afternoons and on the eve of ALL major Festivals to purify themselves for the holy days. MEN and WOMEN go to SEPARATE mikvahs. The mikvahs that men go to are specially built for them, and can be found in the basements of Ultra Orthodox synagogues.
If people think this way, would a rabbi find a woman who desired the use of a Mikvah unusual
and in so thinking this, discourage her from the practice.?
Answer: My answer this time is a question: What woman are you talking about? If she is an Orthodox married woman she has been educated by her family and schools (yeshivas) that observing the commandment of mikvah is obligatory for her as a married woman. Her husband is forbidden to have sex with her, as long as she is a NIDDAH (Menstruant), and even after menstruation as long as she has not gone to the mikvah, she is considred to be a NIDDAH (not permitted.)
A non Orthodox Jewish woman is usually ignorant and the rabbi would not mention it,as it is too "personal" a topic.
However, there has been a revival of some traditions, and many FEMALE "rabbis" in the Non-Orthodox denominations are encouraging women to observe the laws of Niddah and go to the Mikvah when the lady's period ends.
A non_Jewish woman is NOT OBLIGATED to go to the mikvah at all. The commandment applies to Jewish women ONLY.
I know, that's a hundred questions, but they are all about the same subject.
(Big smile.) Pick what you feel like answering. Please don't wear yourself
Answer: No problem. Always enjoy your great questions.
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