Monday, June 30, 2008

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The Spirituality of Mikvah

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

The wife’s monthly mikvah (spiritual immersion in a pool of water) can become routine to observant families. It can seem to be little more than a mechanical, required act, merely a ritual cleansing. This is not true. There are no rituals decreed anywhere in the Torah. Each of the Torah’s instructions comes to help us to reveal specific aspects of the pervading, but hidden, holiness that fills the entire creation.[i]

The parents must remember that the child who is conceived by a woman who has taken advantage of the mikvah is called a child “conceived in purity.” This child will have an easier spiritual path throughout his or her entire lifetime. It will be easier for such a child to recognize the spiritual aspects of the Torah than his peers whose mothers did not avail themselves of this wonderful spiritual tool. This gives a tremendous advantage to her children in their spiritual life. When she enters the water she should be aware of this spiritual purity that she is bringing upon herself and is preparing for her child. By following G-d’s instructions regarding the mikvah, she is removing a spiritual impediment. This allows additional holiness to manifest in her soon-to-be conceived child.

The mikvah is not intended to, nor does it bring about, a physical cleansing. The physical cleansing is done prior to entering the mikvah. The mikvah brings about a spiritual cleansing, a mystical, spiritual elevation that allows her body to conceive in holiness.

But what of women who are beyond the age of childbearing? If the mikvah is to prepare a holy life for her children, why should a woman who is not going to have any more children go to the mikvah?

The mikvah does not provide spiritual purity directly to the soon-to-be conceived child. It purifies the woman, not the future child. She then goes on to conceive in purity which passes this spiritual purity on to her child. This is why it is important for even a woman whose childbearing capacity has ceased to go to the mikvah one last time. Her ongoing spiritual status and that of her husband are greatly affected by her being spiritually pure.

The spiritual advantage of the mIkvah is not just for women. The Midrash [ii] teaches that upon Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, he sat in a pool of water (as a mikvah) that was fed from the water that flowed from one of the rivers of the Garden. This was his attempt to regain the purity that he experienced while in the Garden.

The Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the modern Chassidic movement) attributed his unique spiritual height to his frequent use of the mikvah.

[i] Isaiah 6:3 “…the whole earth is full of His glory.”
[ii] Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer

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