As mentioned a few weeks ago, we decided to take on mikvah as an observance.
I got a lot of nice feedback from that original post, and I am pleased to say that I enjoyed my first experience, and I wanted to take a moment to examine the experience as well.
First, I really enjoyed learning about mikvah. My teacher (incidentally, the same woman who taught the class on the Rabba controversy) was amazing. Not only was she totally understanding about where we were with our observance and why we wanted to start this now, but she helped us understand the variations in practice (especially important since we are Sephardic and the rules are slightly different). She had a perspective that I really appreciated as well. This wasn’t about my being pure or impure or about sex or women being “bad.” Rather, it was about the ways in which Jewish people limit things that are good in moderation. For instance, eating is good and we encourage eating, but there are certain things we don’t eat and certain times we don’t eat as observant Jews. So too do we encourage people to have healthy sexual relationships, but in a certain context and at certain times. It was incredibly enlightening.
Despite all that, I still felt nervous as I began the unfamiliar procedure of counting days and all the things that go with mikvah observance. I worried if I was doing it correctly, and reviewed my notes several times to make sure. When I had determined when the fateful night would be, I placed my first call to the mikvah to make my appointment. The attendant who called me back was very nice (although, I admit it was awkward, since I was nervous) and we set up our time.
Our mikvah has the most amazing bathtub. There are not many apartments in the city that have bathtubs that you would want to spend any time in. So I spent a good forty five or fifty minutes enjoying the bathtub while slowly getting myself ready. It was powerful for me to spend that time in water, since I was that little kid who couldn’t get enough of the water. After hating the bathtub until I was about six months old, you could not drag me out of there or the swimming pool. So after just about drowning myself in the big tub, it was time for the mikvah.
I think the most difficult part for me was the fact that I couldn’t see anything with my glasses off. I think I underestimated how that would be, so it was tough. I like being able to see where I am, and especially when it’s important to have a good concept of where the sides of the mikvah are. I did not have a huge spiritual awakening, but it felt good and then it was time to get dressed. I had brought fresh clothes with me for going home, and I think the act of putting on new clothes made the spiritual difference manifest.
Bottom line: Good. Enjoyable. Something I look forward to continuing.