The Purifying Waters Of The Mikvah

Rabbi Eliyahu Shear


Imagine the world before creation… the Spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters. A topsy-turvy world flooded with water, the source of life. G-d brings light into the world… and darkness. He separates the waters and the dry land is seen. It is here where creation takes places. Life comes into the world. Even the dry earth is filled with a sense of life – or else it would be non-existent. The plants grow, the animals move, and man speaks.

None will survive without the waters, the very essence of all creation. Inside those waters rest a stillness, a purity of G-dliness. Without these waters, life ends. But the waters have been separated, and it seems we mostly associate them with the fluid that enters our body – that it is only here where life exists. Yet, in truth, we look upon that same fluid as the very element to bring comfort to ourselves, whether it be through taking a bath, a shower, a swim in the pool or in the sea itself.

Not for nothing do these waters bring life to the soul inside the body – and to the body itself as it becomes refreshed and rejuvenated through being in contact with them. It is from them that all life began.

And G-d separated these waters into four main channels – and a river flowed out from Eden. That place of absolute purity, of absolute goodness and kindness, that place of heaven on earth. And through these waters, the rest of the world has some contact with the original waters originating in Eden itself.

When those waters gather of their own accord without any human intervention, into a specific sized vessel inside the ground itself, they become known as a Mikvah – a place used for the “purification” of every married Jewish woman once a month. She enters these waters after experiencing a “loss” of life some 12 days before. It is by no means a physical purity which she seeks, nor did she do anything consciously wrong to need these holy waters. Through the mystical process related directly to the concept of conception, and having lost the opportunity (often by no choice of her own) of conceiving a child, a spiritual “impurity” rests upon her. She must remove this through re-entering the womb of life itself. She enters the waters in the ground, covering her naked body completely – not even one hair of her head remains above the water, and then renews herself (through the mystical process of the Mikvah) as a baby leaving the womb filled with water around it. But more, she unites with the original water that lies in the Garden of Eden itself.

It is not something to be taken lightly, for every Jewish woman must spend much time and money in being able to fulfill this Mitzvah – this commandment. It is a most precious one, that ultimately brings into the world holy Jewish souls. Souls that will enter bodies – to bring goodness and kindness to this world.

One of the core Mitzvot that is pivotal to a holy Jewish life is the Mitzvah of family purity. Through it, the husband and wife renew their relationship, turning it into one of holiness. A relationship that echoes the original feelings experienced at that time of marriage. Through it, peace is maintained between husband and wife. In addition, each has the opportunity to spend time “away” from each other, allowing each person to be themselves without feeling the need for an attachment that can overwhelm one at times. It is through the waters of the Mikvah – and the observance of the laws of Family Purity – that the blessings of peace and happiness are brought into the marriage. This is just the beginning, because in addition to this, holy Jewish children enter this world bringing further happiness to everyone.

Yet the strains of daily life, the stresses of constant financial independence, take their toll on many, and as a result, many women are unable to pay the fees necessary to enter the Mikvah. While many criticize the administrators of the Mikvah for not simply allowing all to immerse for free, there is a real charge involved in building a Mikvah, maintaining it, and paying all those who do such a unique and wonderful job of allowing Jewish women to fulfil this Mitzvah in the most Kosher possible way. In fact, the building of a Mikvah can amount to something just short of a million dollars… and the maintenance, tens of thousands of dollars each month!

The amount charged to women is negligible, yet there are unfortunately hundreds (and more) women in Israel who simply cannot afford this amount. Many have missed or delayed regular immersion due to embarrassment of being unable to pay. Others have literally left their town of residence in order to find a new Mikvah where they could once again try their luck for a few months without paying. Yet others have accumulated hundreds of dollars of debt, having immersed without paying, at the allowance of the Mikvah administrators. The costs, however have all been kept, tallied and recorded. These costs must be paid by someone! If the Mikvah is to continue its crucial job of ensuring family purity – money must come from somewhere to pay these costs.

Our project “Purity with Dignity” meets this need.  The ripple effects of assisting those women who have been unable to pay have been many. Costs have been covered. Shalom Bayis – peace between husband and wife has been restored. Mikvah-ladies have felt relief from the difficult task of asking for admission money.

These are just some of the obvious benefits that our project has provided to so many already. We can be certain that our taking the care to provide for another family in need, will assure us blessing from Above for the same things that we ourselves need blessing in. A peaceful home is the most basic blessing each of us needs. It is the start of life, the basis of life, and assures the continuance of the Jewish people as a whole.

For more information about the “Purity with Dignity” project, visit

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