mikveh tutorial: at home

If you’d like to experience a mikveh, but cannot visit an official one {due to distance, ethnicity, etc}, here is a tutorial to create a similar environment at home.

 

PREPARING YOUR SCHEDULE

A mikveh does not happen by accident. Once your cycle is over, figure out which evening will be the right time for your mikveh, and mark it on your calendar as “busy.” Some women count seven days from when their cycle starts; others count seven days from when it ends. Whichever method you use, make sure your husband knows which night it is! Having an appointment scheduled will remind you to pick up a bottle of wine or a special surprise for your husband.

 

PREPARING YOUR ENVIRONMENT

It’s really important to take a few minutes – at any point during the day – to prepare the space you’ll be using for a mikveh {most likely your master bathroom}. No one likes getting into a dirty bathtub! You’ll want to wipe up the entire bathroom, and particularly concentrate on the tub. It’s just like Shabbat – the more effort you put in on the front end, the more rewarding the experience becomes.

Mikveh night is also a great time for fresh sheets. If you have a chance, switch out your linens for a new set or do a quick load of laundry. It makes a big difference!

Right before you start the mikveh process, create some atmosphere in the bathroom – lighting a few candles, turning on soft music, or bringing in something pretty like fresh flowers.

Note: If you use candles, make sure you keep the lights on during the steps labeled “preparing yourself.” You’ll need to see clearly in order to thoroughly remove all barriers before immersion. Once you’re ready to step into the mikveh itself, you can dim the lights.

 

SUPPLIES

  • 2 bath towels
  • face cleanser
  • eye makeup remover
  • headband/ponytail for keeping hair out of your face
  • washcloth
  • nail polish remover
  • nail brush + nail clippers
  • soap
  • shaving cream, if different
  • razor
  • body scrub
  • q-tips
  • tissues
  • dental floss
  • toothbrush/paste
  • comb
  • glass of water
  • fresh clothes {or robe} for afterward
  • candles/matches, optional
  • Bible/journal & pen, optional
  • music, optional

PREPARING YOURSELF

In my own mikveh routine, I use the Seven Kavanot from Mayyim HayyimKavanot are intentions, or meditations, and Mayyim Hayyim has matched them up with action steps to prepare you both mentally and physically for the mikveh.

 

1. Hineni. // Here I am. 

“Immersion in the mikveh represents a spiritual transformation from one state to another. In traditional language, your change is from ritually unready {tameh} to ritually ready {tahor}.”

Pause to think about the purpose for your mikveh. Spend a few moments in prayer, read a passage of Scripture, or journal your thoughts as you begin the process of mikveh. I prefer not to have my mobile phone with me, but if you have one nearby, make sure it’s muted.

 

2. Hiddur mitzvah. // The unadorned body is beautiful in itself.

“There is no need for adornment or artifice in the mikveh. There should be no physical barriers between the body and the living waters.”

Remove your jewelry, including any piercings, and then wash your hands. Next, wash your face thoroughly. Make sure you remove all traces of your eye makeup. Remove nail polish, if you have any on your toes or fingers.

Note: I used to skip removing my nail polish, especially if I had a fresh pedicure! It seemed unnecessary, a little over-the-top. But one month, I did take off the polish, and ever since then I’ve made a routine of painting my toenails a day or two after the mikveh. A month later, my pedicure is usually ready to be changed anyway. Give it a try!

 

3. Nekavim nekavim. // You fashioned the human being intricate in design.

“Jewish tradition celebrates and blesses the body in every possible moment and mode.”

Empty your bladder.

 

4. B’tzelem Elohim. // I am made in the image of God. 

“Each person enters the mikveh as naked as on the day of her birth. Without rank or status. Simply a human being. Gloriously a human being.”

Remove your clothing. If you are wearing contact lenses, glasses, a retainer, or anything else not part of your body, remove it. Don’t forget about hair accessories like ponytails or bobby pins.

 

5. Elohei neshama shenatata bi tehorah hi. // My God, the soul You placed within me is pure. 

Shower, washing your entire body meticulously. Shampoo your hair, and then work your way down from head to toe. Use an exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin, especially on elbows, knees, and heels. I also shave my legs at this point. Don’t rush this part – relax and enjoy the preparation.

 

6. Kol haneshama t’halel yah. // The breath of every living thing praises You. 

Step out of the shower and dry off with one of your towels. Check to make sure your tub is still clean, and then fill it with warm water {not too hot or it will be uncomfortable to get in all the way}. While it’s filling, comb through your hair, clean your ears with a q-tip, and brush + floss your teeth. Rinse out your mouth and blow your nose if necessary.

“Stand before the mirror. Consider all of your senses. Look into your own eyes and smile. Think about the words that come from your mouth.”

 

7. Tikkun olam. // We can stand for justice; we can restore the world. 

Clean under your nails, and trim them if you want to. Don’t rush into the tub – step into it carefully, with mindfulness.

“Consider the power of your hands and feet to create wholeness in your life, in our world.”

 

ENTERING THE MIKVEH

To immerse, sit up straight in the center of your bathtub, and then slowly lean back until every part of your body is under water. There are some different opinions about how many times to immerse, and I believe just once is considered sufficient, but I like the tradition of three times. The outline below is from Mayyim Hayyim’s Niddah immersion ceremony.

  • First immersion: come out of the water and recite the mikveh blessing.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu al hat’vilah.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commanded us concerning immersion.

  • Second immersion: come out of the water and make a personal petition to the King. This is said to be a time when our prayers are especially effective.
  • Third immersion: come out of the water and recite the Shehecheyanu blessing.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu la’zman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the universe, Who has kept me alive, sustained me, and brought me to this moment.

CONCLUDING THE MIKVEH

I try not to linger in the tub to remind myself this is not a regular weeknight bath. This water serves a sacred purpose – symbolically changing my status from unclean to clean, reminding me of the process commanded in Torah. Besides, there’s usually a wave of excitement as I come out of the water for the last time, anticipating the reunion with my husband!

Dry off with your second towel and drain the bathtub. I like to squeeze most of the water out of my hair and put it in a simple braid, so it’s not falling in my face.

 

MEANWHILE…

Each man seems to have a different routine while waiting {patiently or not so patiently!} for his wife to immerse. My husband likes to create a romantic environment to welcome me. Other men spend their time in the kitchen, preparing dessert or cocktails to make the evening special.

Set aside a date night sometime to talk about how, as a couple, you can personalize your practice of family purity. Be creative! Here’s an example: Leviticus 15 instructs a woman who has counted seven “clean” days to bring two turtledoves or two pigeons to the priest as an offering. Although we can’t currently fulfill this command, my husband gets a bar of Dove chocolate each month as a reminder.

At some point, I’ll ask Gregory to share his perspective on the mikveh routine. I’d love to hear what’s going through his head as he waits for me!

 

REUNION

One extra step we have added to our mikveh night routine is praying in our first moments together. Gregory wrote this prayer for us:

“I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.”1 Through Your guidance, we have abstained from marital relations in accordance with Your Word and Your Mitzvah of Taharat HaMishpacha. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”2 During this period of abstinence, You have renewed within us a sense of awe and wonder at Your creation. Such intricacies and beauty sing Your praises throughout the earth. We do not adorn ourselves with fleeting treasures of this world but we pray that our “adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”3 We do not attempt to supplement the perfection of Your creation because You created man in Your own image, “in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”4 Thank you for keeping us “as the apple of your eye.”5 Give me the strength to love my wife more than myself and give my wife the wisdom to respect me as her husband. “Let marriage be held in honor among all,” and let our marriage bed be undefiled, for You will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.6 Please look favorably upon our prayer and our union, for “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”7 In pure love and devotion do we come together now. Just as my wife symbolically washed away her uncleanliness we remember that you are “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”8 Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has brought us together in marriage and has bestowed upon us the privilege of being a living example of the Most Holy relationship between Yeshua and His Bride. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”9

{1. Psalm 119:174 // 2. 1 John 5:3  // 3. 1 Peter 3:4 // 4. Genesis 1:27 // 5. Psalm 17:8 // 6. Hebrews 13:4 // 7. Psalm 40:8 // 8. 1 John 1:9 // 9. Psalm 90:14}

The rest of the evening is up to you!

 

RESOURCES

http://www.kveller.com/traditions/Jewish-Living/the-mikveh.shtml {check out the video at the end of this article!}
http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/1541/jewish/The-Mikvah.htm
http://www.mayyimhayyim.org/Using-the-Mikveh/Niddah-Monthly-Use
Leviticus 15

 

Comments, questions, and suggestions on this post are welcome! I love the topic of family purity and would love to know if this guide has been helpful in your personal practice. Shalom uv’racha!

=)

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: