There is an expression in Hebrew: “Al Rosh Haganav Boer Hakova” – on the burglar’s head is a burning hat, translated from Yiddish אויפן גנב’ס קאפפ ברענט דאס היטל, the guilt of the burglar shows on his face. This is the way I feel each time my mikveh night falls out on Shabbat evening. I walk the streets alone, not in the direction of my shul and I am sure that it is written all over my face that my destination is the mikveh! How embarrassing?! If I’m holding a bag I am sure that everybody has X-Ray vision and can spot my towel inside, and if I’m not holding anything I am sure that it looks even more suspicious. As the passers-by wish me “Shabbat Shalom” I prepare explanations, excuses, of where I am going…. “To visit a friend who is in town”, “I’ve run out of chrain for the fish”, “Going to visit a relative who isn’t feeling well”. I’m aware that many women feel the same. Perhaps these feelings cause some women to postpone their Friday night tevilla(immersion)? [Read more…]
Out of all the holidays in the year, joy is linked most closely with Sukkot. In the section on holidays in Parashat Emor, Sukkot is the only holiday in which there are instructions to ‘rejoice before Hashem your God’. Likewise, in Parashat Re’eh the topic of joy is highlighted in connection to Sukkot. Above all we are commanded on this holiday, ‘be joyous!’. Joy has become the essence of the meaning of this holiday, which is called in our prayers ‘the time of our happiness ‘. But why is joy emphasized specifically on the holiday of Sukkot? [Read more…]
Immersion before Yom Kippur
We traditionally immerse 3 times. Here is one possible framework to use for an immersion on Erev Yom Kippur:
1st Immersion: Reflection and Retrospection
Think about positive aspects of the previous year and areas of your life where you felt blessing. Think about what you want to take with you, what you are thankful for and what things were most meaningful over the past year. Appreciate God’s role in those and invite His Presence to envelop those thoughts as the mikveh water surrounds and embraces you. You can also choose an area or behavior that you would like to improve and invite God into that endeavor.
2nd Immersion: Introspection and Acceptance
Focus on the present—embrace where you are now. Give thanks and appreciate the space or processes you are in; recognize the blessings God has bestowed upon you, and embrace the special opportunities at this time of year.
3rd Immersion: Hopes and Direction
The final immersion focuses on your hopes and aspirations for the coming year— what you want to work on, your dreams for yourselves and your family, and what you will strive to accomplish. Again, invite God to partner with you in the journey ahead as you submerge and submit to His Will
On Yom Kippur eve, amid the hustle and bustle of logistics and preparations, I took a moment for myself and left the house to go immerse in the mikveh. This is the first time that I had ever thought of this idea.
Photo courtesy of Birkat Chaverim
The 15th of Av is considered a joyous day in the Jewish calendar. In ancient times, this date was celebrated as a matchmaking day, when the daughters of Israel would dance in white dresses in the vineyards. Talmudic sources cite several other significant events related to this date, including the lifting of a ban of intermarriage between the tribes of Israel. [Read more…]