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May 06, 1983 - Image 57

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-05-06

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Meaning and Sanctity of the Mikva Explained


(Editor's note: Cong.
Bais Chabad will offi-
cially dedicate its new
mikva 2:30 p.m. June 19.)
When Orthodox rabbis
begin to explain the nature

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of a new mikva, going into
detail concerning its con-
duits, "retention of rain
water," and the halakhi-
cally sanctioned "third pool
of water" which comes with
the blessings of none less
thin the revered Rabbi
Moshe Feinstein, the non-
Orthodox and uninitiated
must think this is some kind
of rabbinical preoccupation
with religious plumbing.
Actually, the mikva per-
tains to a very sensitive
area of Jewish Law which is
one of the cornerstones of
Judaism and a key focal
point of Jewish family life.
So significant is the mikva
that sages of the Talmud
pronounce that a God-
fearing Jew may live in a
city in which there is no
Torah scroll, but he may not
live in a city in which there
is no mikva!
The use of the mikva is
related to what is called
"Taharat Hamishpakha,"
Jewish family purity. In the
eyes of the Torah, sexual
love between a husband and
his wife represents the lof-
tiest plane of the human ex-
- perience. It is through the
conjugal relationship that a
man and his betrothed join



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With the Almighty in the
creation of new life.
The act of marriage is
called - "Kiddushin,"
which means Holiness;
the sexual relationship is
hallowed only when it is
sanctified by matrimony.
Thus, pre-marital or
extra-marital sex are
banned by the laws of
Jewish morality al-
Even in the marital rela-
tionship, however, great
concern is expressed by the
Torah that the sexual rela-
tionship always retain its
purity, its aura of sacred-
ness, that it should never
become something com-
monplace or profane. There-
fore did the Torah decree
the laws pertaining to the
The mikva is a ritual bath
(sometimes • called
ritualarium), used primar-
ily by married women.
In order that the sexual
experience should always
be cherished as something
special and sacred, the
Torah decreed that a Jewish
husband may be with his
wife up to the moment when
she sees the first signs of
menstrual blood. She then
informs her husband that
she is ritually impure
(nida), and they affect a
period of separation for the
duration of her menstrual
period. During that time,
husband and wife engage in
no physical contact, they do
not sleep in thesame bed, or
hand objects to one another;
all communication and all

expression of love and affec-
tion must be verbal.
The period of separa-
tion lasts until thereis no
more menstrual blood
and an additional seven
days are counted in
which there has been no
blood. During this inter-
val (approximately two
weeks out of every
month) husband and wife
must learn to admire, re-
spect and communicate
with each other on the
most intimate levels,
without physical contact.
This period of sexual
abstention has been
hailed by the world's
leading authorities in
psychology, medicine
and sociology as one of
the most formidable ele-
ments in Jewish law de-
signed to strengthen the
bonds of marriage.
While the wife is a nida,
she and her husband receive
a Torah-directed' motiva-
tion to develop a deeply-
rooted friendship, to define
and delineate the essence of
the love that ties them to-
gether. This is what causes
a Jewish marriage to last a
When the seventh day is
over, on the eve of the
eighth day, the wife goes to
the mikva. There, she im-
merses herself in the
purified waters and she re-
cites her blessing where,
inter alia, she prays for the

coming of the Messiah and
the rebuilding of the Tem-
ple of Jerusalem, and then
she returns home, to her

In the intervening 14 or
so days, psychologically and
physiologically, both she
and her husband have been
renewed and refreshed, and
they re-form their marital
ties in sanctity and purity.-
Every time a new mikva
is built, it is an occasion for
joy and happiness in the
entire Jewish community.
It is a sign of spiritual
growth and moral stamina.

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Majority Favors
Troop Pullback

Some 54 percent of the Is-
raelis questioned in a recent
poll conducted by the PORI
Institute want immediate
withdrawal of Israeli armed
forces from Lebanon. The
survey showed 23.6 percent
of the population was op-
posed to immediate with-
drawal and 18.7 percent
favors withdrawal on the
condition that Syrian forces
are included in the move.

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New Details
of Stalin Plan

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New details of Stalin's plan
to purge Russian Jews and
send them to Siberia were
revealed in a recent New
York Times Sunday Maga-
zine article by Harrison E.
Stalin's plan was so far
advanced that writer Ilya
Ehrenburg had been picked
to deliver a petition to Sta-
lin begging him to let the
Russian Jews emigrate, ac-
cording to Salisbury.

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