Dr. Ilana Chertok recently articulated an active goal of The Eden Center. “In addition to Halakha (Jewish law) and Mesoret (tradition), culture influences many women in their attitude and practice regarding mikveh. As such, we need to develop an understanding and sensitivity to culture and its role in the mikveh experience.”
This blog certainly resonates as part of that work— to ensure that all cultures are embraced and understood at the mikveh to allow customs to remain and flourish.
Many women in Israel, regardless of their level of observance, come to the mikveh in their ninth month of pregnancy— a segula (practice) that is believed to make birth easier. This practice is especially common for women of Mizrachi/Sepharadi descent, but becoming more popular across the board.
This woman’s immersion evokes the idea of bringing tahara, purity and God’s presence, into the birth process. The living waters of the mikveh parallel the waters of the womb. By immersing, the woman unites the spiritual aspects of the mikveh waters, that symbolize being enwrapped by Torah and the Shekhina, with the physical nature of the womb and birthing process. Tevilla is therefore a very female way to bring Hashem into the process of preparing for labor.
Tevilla for a pregnant woman is a kabbalistic segula, not a halakha. Therefore, there are no specific rules about the procedure, and no special preparation is needed. There is no requirement to remove hatzitzot (physical barriers), though washing one’s body before entering makes it nicer for those coming after. Likewise, there is no bracha (blessing) to recite (as it is not a mitzvah). [Read more…]