Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Mikvah

What was the secret to this weekend you all ask? Well, a large part of it was that I made my first trip to the mikvah.

For those who don't know, the mikvah is (in the very simplest, boiled down terms, that's just for me so don't comment and tell me how I've explained everything incorrectly) a Jewish ritual bath. There are lots of different rules about the mikvah -- I'll just be talking about my own experience.

For observant Jews, married women use the mikvah a certain number of days after their period has stopped. Before she visits the mikvah, she and her husband cannot have sex. This has to do with rules of cleanliness and purity, about making sex between married people a holy thing. I always liked this aspect, but was not an observant Jew, so didn't participate in this.

After doing lots of reading to explore my faith, I decided that I did want to observe the practice of going to mikvah every cycle. Not being able to have sex or touch each other in that way really builds up the tension and longing. It also ensures that you'll be having lots of sex around the time you ovulate, which ain't such a bad thing when you are TTC.

So, here's what happens (as entirely based on my experience at my mikvah):

The mikvah has a bathroom with a toilet, shower, vanity and sink. Plus, the lovely mikvah lady has supplied everything you will need; like a spa! She even has a sheet of instructions posted to tell you what to do.

The whole point of cleaning before you go in the mikvah (which looks like a cross between a pool and a hot tub) is so that the water can touch every part of your body. That means no makeup, no jewelry and no acrylic nails or nail polish (which sort of sucked, since I had acrylic nails since starting my career as I felt it was more professional and now I have grubby nails which are breaking all the time and I haven't bought clear Sally Hansen yet). You take a shower and shampoo (but don't condition) your hair. You comb through all your hair, remove any stray ones. Use a pumice on your feet, elbows and knees to remove any dry, dead skin. The whole point is to be clean, clean, clean.

Then you go in the mikvah. The water was so warm and it was, well, it felt like walking into milk. It was just soft and caressing. It was like being embraced. You dunk yourself all the way under the water three times and after each dunk, you recite a specific prayer.

The way that the water felt, well, the closest thing I can liken it to is that it felt like sex. All swirly and warm and just caressing every part of my body. I came out of the mikvah and got dressed and all I wanted to do was have sex. Um, kind of appropriate to the whole reason for this.

I wish that I could post articulately about this. I just don't know how to describe things well. If you want to know more details about mikvah, please visit Leah's blog, where she describes using a mikvah for conversion specifically, but I found it very helpful for knowing what to do for my first time at mikvah.


Jen said...

It sounds nice. Without even brushing on the whole faith/religion thing, which I am sure adds a lot to it, it sounds like a really nice experience.

LJ said...

As a barely high-holiday Jew, that actually sounds kinda awesome. plus it's a built in excuse if you're not in the mood. Sorry hon, gotta go Mikvah.....

Leah said...

I love mikvah... even though I've only been once. Did you say the Shehechyanu to celebrate your first dip?

Now you'll have to learn the phrase "pick a fight on mikvah night." hee hee

P.S. You friend emailed me and we're making plans next week.

Diana Daffner said...

I will be immersing at my first mikvah in a couple of weeks. As a mostly non-observant, post-menopausal Jewess, I am embracing it as a spiritual experience. As an author and relationship coach (I lead Intimacy Retreats with my husband), perhaps I will discover something new to recommend to other couples!