Sometimes it feels like there are many negative distractions to the experience of mikvah that cloud my ability as I try to appreciate its beauty, maintain a tradition and fulfill a responsibility. For something so intimate, I often struggle with feelings of distrust, powerlessness, inauthenticity – my own and others. I feel like I lack control of a mitzvah so personal. [Read more…]
Michal was returning from a work conference in Carmiel when a vehicle crossed into her lane and smashed head on into the car. Luckily, she was wearing a seat belt, the airbags had deployed and help arrived quickly. After almost a week in the hospital, she was prescribed pain medicine and discharged home to her husband’s care with 4 broken ribs, a spleen laceration and multiple pelvic fractures. Two days later, she got her period and called in a panic realizing that her husband could no longer touch her. “How will I care for myself over the next twelve days? Will my four-year-old son be able to help me dress? Who will hold my hand when the pain medicine wears off?”
When a woman is sick, she may require her husband’s touch for assistance with activities of daily living such as getting dressed, getting up from a chair or walking with assistance. But she may also need his physical touch to relieve pain or anxiety. We are slowly beginning to discover the power of human touch to heal the mind and body. [Read more…]
Deep breath. Ok, made it. It’s over. Another one down. Ok, out of the water, pat-pat-pat, throw the towel down folded up, don’t look. Clothes on without looking, keep eyes straight ahead as you put your socks on. Check. So far so good. Now the tricky part getting the mascara on without looking at your eyes, blink so it gets everywhere so no shailos later. Getting good at putting on lip liner while keeping your eyes focused on anything but your lips. You’re almost there. Almost safe. Ok, throw on the tichel. [Read more…]
Several questions regarding the timing of woman’s tevila arise when she has to go to the mikvah during Chanukah: What what takes precedence; candle lighting or immersing in the mikvah? Does candle lighting affect when she prepares for the mikvah? And how can she juggle these obligations with the parties and other goings-on?
We will look briefly look at each of these issues:
Chanukah candles are ideally lit as soon as nightfall begins in order to fulfill the condition of parsumei nissa (publicizing the miracle) while people are still outside. This is explained by the Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim תרעב:א) as the end of sunset, or tzeit hakochavim, although many Rishonim rule that candles may be lit at the beginning of sunset (see Mishnah Berurah 1, and Be’ur Halacha). Whether at the beginning or end of sunset, it is clear that one should ideally light Chanukah candles early in the night — though lighting anytime in the night is valid bediavad (Shulchan Aruch 2). Hence you should light candles before going to the mikvah, even if your usual minhag (custom) is to immerse as soon as possible, so as to fulfill the mitzva of ner Chanukah in its most ideal form, while not diminishing from the tevila. [Read more…]
The Eden Center advises women who experience OCD to seek out a therapist who is trained in and specializes in treating OCD. That being said, here are some tips that can help mediate the learning and practice of taharat hamishpacha and preparation for mikveh for someone who does struggle with issues around OCD.
As a kallah teacher for over twenty years, I meet many people. I chat a bit with my kallahs to get a feel for their personalities. I explain that there are different types of people; some people have more careless personalities and they have to work to be scrupulous in halakha. And others are overly scrupulous by nature and need to be make sure they don’t get too carried away. People are quick to laugh; some tell me that they tend to be overly scrupulous. But sometimes what people consider “being very careful about halakha” is actually a manifestation of clinical OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
Here is a sampling of the types of struggles people have shared with me over the years which are manifestations of OCD in the realm of niddah: [Read more…]