When a large portion of the Yom Kippur Avoda revolved around the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) there were no less than five mikveh immersions as part of the ritual. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s new book “Food for the Spirit: Inspirational Lessons from the Yom Kippur Service” has a chapter devoted to the topic. In it, Rabbi Herzfeld, whose synagogue Ohev Shalom- The National Synagogue (in Washinton DC,) recently built a new mikveh, asks why mikveh is so central to the Avoda and what is the spiritual value of mikveh? He goes on to explore the value of mikveh as a symbol of being “reborn and invigorated in our service of God,” suggesting that ideally after immersion we come out as someone new. He also discusses how mikveh in general is a ritual where the individual immersing gets a fresh start or is recommitting to a relationship- on Yom Kippur to Hashem, for a woman- to her relationship.
May his thoughts inspire us. Gmar Chatima Tova!
To explore these and other ideas further, check out the book. Proceeds help fund the Ohev Shalom mikveh.