What is a mikvah?
A mikvah is a pool of naturally collected water. The pool is designed specifically for immersion, according to the rules and customs of Jewish law. A mikvah contains about 200 gallons of water.
What is special about the water in a mikvah?
Water is the primary source of all living things. It has the power to restore and replenish life. A mikvah must contain a minimum, regulated amount of these living waters from a flowing source, such as fresh spring water, rainwater, or even melted snow. The water is kept under strict hygienic control, and is cleaned regularly.
What is the primary use of the mikvah?
It is used by men and women as part of the mitzvah best known as Taharat Hamishpachah or Family Purity.
Why so important?
Mikvah in Jewish history, tradition, and modern life is a symbol of the family. No Jewish communal life can sustain for long without securing Jewish family life. One must flow from the other: successful families make successful communities.
What are some other uses for a mikvah?
Use of the mikvah – covering many elements of Jewish life – is delineated in Jewish Law and dates back to the dawn of Jewish history.
- The Mikvah is an integral part of conversion to Judaism for both men and women;
- Mikvah is used for the immersion of new pots, dishes, and utensils;
- Mikvah is used by men on various occasions – the most widely practiced being immersion by a groom on his wedding day and before Yom Kippur;
- Mikvah is also the focal point of the taharah, the purification rite of a body before being laid to rest. (MOED is not used for this purpose.)
How can I learn more about the mikvah?
Speak to your rabbi, Jewish educator, halachic authority; pick up one of the many excellent books written on mikvah; search the internet (and be careful to verify the source!); or call 303.323.MOED for more information.
For the newcomer, an excellent book by Tehilla Abramov is The Secret of Jewish Femininity.