Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finding your way to the Mikveh… or not

Amy Meltzer, over at homeshuling, blogged about finding her own, adult Judaism – not just doing Jewish “for the kids’ sake.”  That was kind of my theme for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year, and I blogged about it back then in two posts:  Visualizing Your Judaism and Visualizing MY Judaism.

Her big step, Jewishly, was a literal plunge into the mikveh waters, a daring step for someone in an intermarriage.  That (a mikveh visit while married to a non-Jew) was actually what got me started on the path to frumkeit… as I wrote in my reply to a DovBear post over here.

Amy wrote that this was her first visit to the mikveh since her wedding… which reminded me of a story:

A kallah was preparing for the mikveh right before her wedding and her mother was sitting in the waiting room. 

The mother had never gone to a mikveh, except perhaps before her own wedding.  She’d had all her children long ago, stopped menstruating, but now, something made her decide that she needed to go to the mikveh one last time.

She mentioned it to the mikveh lady, who led her to the other room to prepare.  When the kallah came out, she asked where her mother was, and the mikveh lady said she’d stepped out to do something. 

I guess she must have realized what had happened, however, when her mother came out of the mikveh with dripping wet hair…!

Sure, this reads like a tacky story out of some “Wonder of Becoming You” mikveh manual… except that I know both people involved.  I promise it really happened, not long ago, at a mikveh not far from here.

For me, this story means it’s never too late.  Even if you think it’s too little, too late, that’s nonsense in Hashem’s eyes.  You can always claim this wonderful mitzvah.

I worry, though, that some people, maybe unmarried, intermarried or cohabitating, may feel excluded by all this talk of mikveh as such a special, woman-empowering, cleansing, sanctifying experience.  So I just want to say, it’s not all THAT great. 

Really.  Visualizing your Judaism means finding your OWN way, not mine, or Amy’s or your rabbi’s or anyone else’s. 

If you’re not married, or intermarried, perhaps mikveh is just not part of that way.  Make something else your own instead.  Say Shema.  Join a tehillim group.  Make challah.  Feed the hungry. 

There is no shortage of mitzvos, and they are all, each and every one, mind-blowing, Jew-empowering experiences.

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