Solihull Synagogue, Taharas Hamishpacha International and the people and organizations quoted on, are in no way associated with and views expressed here.

Birmingham Communal Mikvah

Understanding Mikvah and the Laws of Family Purity
Taharas Hamishpacha International)

by Rivkah Slonim

The world's natural bodies of water- its oceans, rivers, wells, and springfed lakes - are mikvahs in their most primal form. They contain waters of divine source and thus, tradition teaches, the power to purify. Created even before the earth took shape, these bodies of water offer a quintessential route to consecration. But they pose difficulties as well. These waters may be inaccessible or dangerous, not to mention the problems of inclement weather and lack of privacy. Jewish life therefore necessitates the construction of mikvahs (Mikvah pools), and indeed this has been done by Jews in every age and circumstance.

Mikveh: The word "mikveh", as used in the Hebrew Bible, literally means a "collection" – generally, a collection of water.

Genesis Chapter 1
10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together (mikvah) of the waters called He Seas; and God saw that it was good.

Exodus Chapter 7
19 And YHWH said unto Moses: 'Say unto Aaron: Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds (mikvah) of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'

Leviticus Chapter 11
36 Nevertheless a fountain or a cistern wherein is a gathering (mikvah) of water shall be clean; but he who toucheth their carcass shall be unclean.

To the uninitiated, a modern-day mikvah looks like a miniature swimming pool. In a religion rich with detail, beauty, and ornamentation - against the backdrop of the ancient temple or even modern-day synagogues the mikvah is surprisingly nondescript, a humble structure.

Its ordinary appearance, however, belies its primary place in Jewish life and law. The mikvah offers the individual, the community, and the nation of Israel the remarkable gift of purity and holiness. No other religious establishment, structure, or rite can affect the Jew in this way and, indeed, on such an essential level. Its extraordinary power, however, is contingent on its construction in accordance with the numerous and complex specifications as outlined in Halachah, Jewish Law.

An outstanding description of Jewish tradition. It is obviously a very important process and it shows a great desire to please YHWH, one very few religious Jews take lightly. The Torah specifically warns man from becoming unclean by a woman during her menstrual time (i.e. her nidda). The risk is much greater than just becoming unclean, this risk is being cutoff -- this is death.

For rabbinical Jews, the mikvah is used to clean (tahor) a woman of her uncleanness. The intent of this practice should not be questioned, it is honorable. Unfortunately, the method of complying with these instructions are concerning when compared to the instructions of the Torah. These issues will be explored in depth.

Leviticus Chapter 15
19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be in her impurity seven days; and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her impurity shall be unclean; every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sitteth upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
23 And if he be on the bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.
24 And if any man lie with her, and her impurity be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.

Leviticus Chapter 18
19 And thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.

Leviticus Chapter 20
18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness -- he hath made naked her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood -- both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

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