Aug 10, 2011

Mikvah Gone Bingo

I'd really wanted to make this a vlog, but as the fates would have it, my beloved camera is in the shop somewhere in Virginia. Yes, I know, I could record this on my computer, but for some reason the quality just isn't where I want it, so I'd rather write it all down. The topic?

Why, mikvah -- aka the ritual bath that Jewish women visit once a month after their niddah period -- of course! The mikvah is sort of like a spa these days, with many of them being done up in marble or faux Jerusalem stone. You get a robe, some nice towels, makeup remover, nail polish remover, and everything else you need to beautify yourself before dipping thrice in a well-heated pool of all-natural water under the watchful eye of the mikvah lady. I've written about it before -- give it a read.

I thought I'd make some observations/questions that are, for the most part, unconnected, but relevant.

Mikvahs should be more like Bingo Parlors than they are. You know what I mean, right? Okay, so at Bingo Parlors enthusiasts bring all their little toys and lucky items with them. When I walk into the mikvah prep room where the tub and sink and toilet and all the fixins to beauty are, I feel like I should have a little altar set up with all of the things that I need/want to feel at home at the mikvah. It made me wonder: Are there women who bring in a bottle of wine and some candles and set them up for a relaxing prep experience? Because, to be completely honest, I'm considering it.

People should leave their cellphones at home, in the car, or at least in the "silent" position while in the mikvah prep room. I mean, as much as I like hearing your creative ringtone while I'm trying to center myself for the big dip, I'm really not so interested in the interruption.

Question: Can I hit the "Ready" button before zman? Explanation: So the mikvah opens about 30 minutes or so before you actually can dip, so people show up early, get ready, so that the moment it's kosher to dip you can do it and get out of there. I realized the last time I was at the mikvah that I was the last person to go in, despite hitting the button at zman time. Should I hit it whenever I'm ready to dip, even if it's loads of time pre-zman?

I've realized that going as early as possible and taking my time with a bath is more rewarding personally than going in for a quick shower and zooming my way back home. Why? Well, how often do you get to take a nice bath in a nice, clean facility at your own pace? This plays back to my first comment. Picture it: bath, wine, candles ... oh wait, you can't dim the lights. Scratch that.

I wonder what old-world mikva'ot looked like. I'm talking shtetl-style digs. Clearly they're not like the ancient mikva'ot we uncover, but they're nothing like what we have now. I'd love to see a mikvah circa 1700 in the middle of nowhere Eastern Europe.

How do I convince my husband to do all sorts of fun prep and stuff like I must on mikvah night? Bribery? Food?

And, lastly, would it be wrong for me to bring some goods to tovel into the mikvah when I go in for the big dip? I mean, I don't think I'd really ever do it, but ... I'm intrigued at the thought.

Have questions about the mikvah? Funny experiences? Hit me up!

8 comments:

Melissa S-G said...

I like the spa it idea, however have no insight on pushing a ready button. In my way way OOT world, every person has a very specific window of time and they start like 30mins pre-zman.

Re: toiveling - there is normally a separate mikvah pool for toiveling than for women's immersion. So while it would be an awesome time saver, it sadly is unlikely to be feasible.

SusQHB said...

LOL regarding toiveling!

I definitely think husbands should be responsible for prep of their own. While you are mikvahtizing they should shave, shower and even maybe clean up the house a bit so you don't return to a mess. They can also be in charge of changing the sheets before you get home. All the prep shouldn't fall completely on the woman.

Batya said...

Decades ago, I'd been to some rather squalid ones. No luxuries and bring your own everything; maybe not soap. Can't remember. Yep, I'm an old bag.
I once wore an expensive gold bracelet that I couldn't open. I called the mikvah lady in advance and asked her to bring tools to cut it. She contacted the rabbi who said that if it could be moved and was very loose (though not loose enough to pull off) I could tovel with it.
motto- good mikvah lady + good rabbi make pleasnt mitzvah

{ T G L } said...

I went to a mikveh in Jerusalem this month and it was nothing like the glitzy experience you share here, to say the least! :)

But yes, going to the mikveh - like any mitzvah - can be used as an opportunity for joy and beauty so why not? And *of course* the husband should pitch in to prep!

Bivrachah,
This Good Life

Anonymous said...

A few things:

1- I know plenty of people who bring keilim and tovel them in the keilim mikvah on their way out. Can't actually bring it into the water with you but still saves you a trip :)

2- Personally not seeing the whole ambiance of the wine and candles- theres nothing relaxing about taking a bath when I know there's lots of people waiting for my room and doing the same thing next door. hmm maybe thats why I'm one of those people that brings my phone and texts (gasp) I keep it on vibrate tho- ringtones are just rude

3- as for the button- I'm sure you can press it- I mean the attendant won't let you dunk until the right time anyways so you might as well give it a try- can't hurt- if she asks just say you weren't sure what time shkiah was so you just wanted to let her know you were ready whenever

Natalie Strobach said...

I am just daydreaming of your Mikvah! I've only gone once for conversion and after reading your blog I was certain I would do it after niddah, but the Mikvah was so filthy....I can't imagine going back (no exaggeration here, filthy...bugs floating in the water...lots of them and no attendant). So, I say as long as you have this amazing one--make the most out of it so that those like me can do some vicarious Mikvah-ing. ;)

DLP said...

re: pushing the button before shkiah -- i've done that (not realizing it was before shkiah -- my watch was off and there are no windows). the mikvah lady came to get me, started to check my shoulders/back and then she looked at her watch, and shrieked because she realized that it was too early. I had to wait 15 minutes!

It felt like an eternity.

AWKWARD!

Chaviva said...

Okay okay, so not ALL mikvahs are like this. I've been to some questionable ones. I should probably blog about it. Including my pre-wedding mikvah dip ... that was a horrible experience that has me paranoid about mikvah ladies.

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