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Jewish Women Will Never Give Up Going to the Mivkah: 7 reasons

Published on Monday July 8th, 2019

What is family purity?

In brief; throughout the period of menstruation and seven days thereafter, a husband and wife refrain from physical contact. At the termination of this period, about twelve days, the woman immerses herself in a Mikvah. Following this, the couple can continue marital relations.

Why would a modern couple of the 21st century choose such a way of life? Reducing intimate physical contact seems at first to be restrictive, and counterproductive to the life of a couple, right? However…

1.    By going to the Mikvah, the relationship between a husband and wife is one of perpetual separation and reunion

The mikvah is a protection against one of the biggest enemies of a couple; lassitude. In truth, an uninterrupted conjugal life leads almost inevitably to a certain boredom or a total disinterest. Although this may seem harmless, this phenomenon has a risk of weakening a couple to the point of destruction. Human desire is actually incapable of enjoying the most exalted of experiences for an extended period of time. The strongest of desires gets extinguished slowly but surely as a result of habit, and as soon as the object of desire is easily accessible, it loses its charm and attraction.

Once a month, Jewish couples separate one from another. It is not always convenient, nor easy. But this monthly separation leads the couple to mutually feel the lack of each other's physical presence, and in this way to also greatly appreciate their reunion. As the Talmud says (Niddah 31b) “The wife will be forbidden to her husband so that he will cherish her like the day of their chuppa”. Therefore, they wait impatiently for the moment where they will be reunited, and each month they relive this reunion.

2.    The separation allows us to discover the friendly and familial aspect of the relationship with our spouse.

It is undeniable that a relationship solely based on physicality will be an overwhelmingly poor relationship. The period of separation is the designated time for the couple to get to re-know one another. Discussing one's dreams, one's ambitions, one's deepest secrets is what keeps the couple close during this period of physical separation. In other words, the estrangement of the bodies allows the minds and personalities to fuse together.

As Dr Elie Yossef Shussheim says; “Judaism considers conjugal relations as fundamental and sacred, and there is no place to prevent them under the pretext that it is fundamentally negative as other religions preach. But these are not the sole link that unifies a couple. Conjugal relations have their place in an understanding and love filled relationship. The period of abstention is specifically designed for each member in the marriage relationship to get to know the other, instead of simply staying the indispensable partner of his own pleasure.”

3.    The restrictions imposed by family purity inculcate self-discipline which naturally gets transmitted to our children

At first glance, the process of going to the mikvah seems to imply limitations, constraints, and a loss of autonomy. However, autonomy always comes along with restrictions and not with chaos. For example, in a family, it is discipline and structure which allow children to feel safe and secure. It is equally the laws of a civil society that allow the inhabitants of a developed country to live serenely and peacefully.

When parents are in control of themselves in the intimate domain-which is the domain of the most impulsive emotions, they are establishing an aura of self-control which will propagate in the whole house. It is what is referred to as 'silent education.' The character traits that a person develops inside himself will get unconsciously transmitted to his children without him having to verbally teach them. For example, if a person greets his neighbour or smiles at the cashier at the supermarket, he will not have to tell his child to be polite! This value will be transmitted in a natural manner, to the point that it will become a second nature to his children.

As long as the parents are capable of such self-control in the intimate domain, they will also be capable of confronting other aspects of their personality, anger, jealousy, impatience, pettiness… They will be able to overcome these traits because of the self-discipline that they developed in the mitzvah of family purity! It is what children absorb from their parents, and it is what will give them energy to accumulate all the strength necessary to surmount life's challenges.

4.    The laws of niddah work perfectly well with the physical metabolism of a woman.

The Torah expresses the Divine will and does not need medical approbation. Nonetheless, it is incredible to see to what extent science and medicine only enlighten the merits of this commandment. In reality, the time corresponding to the night of going to the Mikvah until the next menstruation is medically speaking the most appropriate time for intimate relations.

Indeed, two distinct phases may be distinguished in the cycle of a woman;

In the first phase, the wound in the uterus is an open wound and is thus a big risk of infection. The cervix opens, allowing germs to enter, and the pH of the vagina is neutral (not acidic like during the rest of the cycle) and therefore does not act as a good shield against bacteria. The immune system of a woman is also found to be lower during this time; over 75% of polio-myelitic viruses manage to enter a woman's body during this time of the cycle. Finally, the pelvis is congested at a maximum during this time, and thus the risk of infection increases.

In the second part of the cycle which starts the night of the mikvah, when intimate relations resume, the wound in the uterus is being healed. The cervix secretes a mucus that acts as an anti-microbial filter. The acidity of the vagina, which protects in a most efficient way against bacteria, is restored. The general immune system of a woman is strengthened and the pelvic becomes less congested.

This certainly explains certain statistics with regard to cervical cancer which particularly affects females. The death rate due to cervical cancer is 1% in Israel, whereas it is 14% in other countries such as Denmark. In 1968, researchers noted 20% less cervical cancer amongst the Jewish population compared to the rest of the world.

This is what lead Dr Karfild from London to get up and declare in front of large crowd participating at the World Congress of Health that it would be desirable for all of humanity to keep the laws of family purity!

5.    Children conceived out of family purity are blessed with unparalleled moral strength.

A woman who sanctifies herself by fulfilling the mitzvah of family purity, and through which an embryo is formed, receives a child blessed with a pure soul. Really? Can this actually be seen? Are there not children that are born without the laws of family purity being kept that are handsome, strong and intelligent?

The answer is that this has nothing to do with physical or mental capabilities, but with spiritual aptitude. The soul of a child whose mother acted with self-control to fulfil this mitzva will be granted an unparalleled moral force. This will enable the child to overcome obstacles and spiritual difficulties with the same strength and self-discipline that his mother demonstrated by going to the mikva.

6.    Keeping the laws of family purity involves only the willingness of the couple and no other exterior factors.

Regardless of the cultural milieu and society from which we come, we can keep the laws of family purity in the purest way. In truth, a couple's intimate life concerns only themselves and no one else, not their parents, their friends, or their family.

If at times, the act of increasing one's observation in certain domains such as kashrus or Shabbos requires efforts, particularly with family and friends, the keeping of family purity involves the couple alone. A couple can reach the level of our ancestors Avraham and Sarah and of the greatest sages of our generation…this depends purely on their will!

7.    A way of life that imposes itself on us by the simple act of experiencing it.

Finally, the laws of family purity are a command of a G-d that fit into the category of 'Chukim,' meaning laws that are not comprehensible according to human logic.

Like kashrus for example, these laws are not logically comprehensible, but by experience. A person who has eaten Kosher food his whole life may perhaps never understand the real reasons for this mitzva, but he will be incapable of eating a slice of ham even if someone were to show him that non-kosher food is not harmful.

We read in Tehillim “taste and you will understand.” (34:9) A person can only understand how well founded the laws of family purity are after having tasted and experienced them. This constitutes an experience that one accepts upon himself and integrates into his life, until slowly but surely, it becomes part of him. Until it obligates us in the most natural way, until one can’t imagine living any other way. There is no better, more logical, and more essential reason to keep this mitzvah.

Rather than being means to disturb natural desire, the laws of family purity restore a couple's authentic love for each other, founding it on mutual feelings and interest, offering them the possibility to feel nostalgia for each other and anticipation at being reunited in a way that will only be more real, more elevated, and more successful on all levels.

Try it…and you will understand.

Joy GALAM - © Torah-Box

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