Stories like these highlight the importance of two of our professionals programs and remind all readers that the mikveh experience is theirs and should be holy and comfortable; if it’s not, spend time learning what can be changed. Training kallah teachers and mikveh attendants as to what is reasonable preparation and what falls into the category of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a permanent part of our professional training. To learn more, visit our website and other blogs on OCD.
By Chaya Devorah
I’ve been asked to write about my mikvah experience, and even though more than ten years have passed since I last used these facilities, I vividly recall how nervous I always was from the moments before I left for the mikveh – up until I left the premises. And I still feel quite negative about it all.
I believe the reason behind such anxiety was that my Taharat HaMishpocha teacher taught – and held herself to – an extreme view in terms of preparations. This included starting the night before tevilla; soaking my feet and hands, and then cutting my nails and cuticles until the skin around them were pared to a bright red. In addition, I spent about an hour scrubbing the bottom of my feet with a pumice stone till the skin was baby soft. Yes, this felt wonderful, but I was exhausted from the time and effort I put into the preparations and still, after all these efforts, I was worried that perhaps I just didn’t do it quite right.
This concern that I might have missed something continued throughout the time I was at the mikvah- in the bath tub and shower, soaking, scrubbing and showering- and often led to redoing what I had just done “just to be sure”. But even with all this “mishegas”, niggling doubts remained that something was amiss.
Once I even left the mikveh only to return to repeat the toiveling, convinced that, for sure, my toivel was not “kosher!”
Even after 5 years of going to the mikveh, even though my husband would notice my bright red cuticles and say “this can’t be right”, though I my relearned the rules of mikveh preparation with an absolutely wonderful kallah teacher, I couldn’t shake my anxiety around the mikveh.
Obsessive? Compulsive? For sure. But no matter. The thought that I couldn’t be careful enough was thoroughly ingrained and I was too far gone to change.
It was with great relief that I finally passed menopause and no longer had to go through this dreaded time. To tell you the truth, it deserved a seudat hodaya!
What can be learned from this? Make sure that all women who will be using the Mikveh get the best, most calm and easy going kallah teachers they can find so that they can, as I’ve been told, fully experience the beauty of what the Mikveh represents.