Friday, April 5, 2019

Shabbat Around the Table -- Mikvah

I find this week's parsha, Tazria, the most challenging one to write about year after year. It focuses primarily on the laws of ritual purity and impurity as well as the mysterious biblical disease tzaraat, which has been incorrectly associated with leprosy.

The most relatable part of the parsha for me is the part that talks about mikvah. Mikvah means "gathering of waters," and a mikvah is any naturally occurring flowing body of water. But since immersing in a mikvah is commanded for certain situations (such as conversion to Judaism), it was important to bring the mikvah indoors. Immersing in an ocean or a river isn't always convenient or safe.
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I serve as a mikvah guide at the Adas Israel Community Mikvah in Washington, DC. It's the only one of its kind between Baltimore and Richmond. It serves the whole community and encourages immersion to mark all kinds of transitions, including ones the Ancient Israelites never could have imagined. Milestone birthdays, overcoming personal loss, coming out, fertility journeys, and becoming a bar or bat mitzvah are all transitions honored at our mikvah.

To learn more about the ritual of immersion, check out this short video.

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