What if you don’t have a community mikvah?
Great question, right? And I’d guess about 100% of the people who would read my info on mikvah/niddah practices would not be connected to a worship community with a rabbinically approved mikvah—they’d already have all the information they needed posted right on the mikvah wall or straight from the Rebbitzin’s mouth! So because my answer to Chana’s question is lengthy, I thought I should make this its own post with its own discussion space at the end. Please feel free to chime in with your own suggestions and how the Father has made a way for you to walk out Lev. 15 in your marriage!
First, the disclaimer: I do not set the halachah for the God-fearing gentile Christian community grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, so please pray and seek the Father’s will for your situation. Partly since I have a Jewish husband, I am blessed to have a positive relationship with Jewish communities and thus can help fill an information gap for Christians. Period. Better, though, here’s Chabad.org’s entire collection of Family Purity related books, articles, lectures, and information.
Here are some of the options I’ve considered because I do not have access to an approved mikvah. First, the three that would actually qualify:
1. Use a natural body of water, preferably one you can access privately, but if you end up at a public beach, I suggest closing your eyes and keeping yourself clothed–not ideal, but better than nothing. I know Jewish girls who dip legit naked in a public lake and risk it. Maybe the Christian community can bring back the hair garments John the Baptist used–garments made of hair allow you to be clothed but still in contact with the water.
2. Use someone’s private in-ground pool (with permission). Again, circumstances dictate the level of appropriate clothing. In a private enough circumstance (i.e. an in-ground indoor pool with windows covered), you’re free to go in the water as you came in the world. Less private, well… the goal is not to cause a scandal. Many of the ladies I fellowship with need to dip only once because they are in menopause, so we spoke about arranging a night to use someone’s pool so that they could all do it at once—a great idea that unfortunately never came to pass. It would have been fun and meaningful to make an event of it.
3. Use a public pool. I have my city’s public swim flyer. Not only does this mean you have to guard your eyes and your body, it also complicates matters because some of us come out of the days of purification on a holiday or Shabbat, so you’d need a season or year pass to avoid paying at the counter if you didn’t want to wait until the next day. Another problem with this option is that during the summer at my latitude, sundown comes after the pool closes, so I’d have to wait for them to open the next day in that case, too.
4. Convince your congregation to build one, and ask them to get it rabbinically approved so that anyone with that standard can use it as well. Many cities are in desperate need of mikvot! Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, Wisconsin, is raising money for one, thank G-d, and could probably help other congregations figure out how to manage the project and fund it through donations. This assumes you have a congregation. Many of us do not. What a service to the Jewish community if Christian mega-churches offered this one necessary item!
5. Build one yourself. There are plans online if you search “diy mikvah.”
Those first five are the only (potentially) rabbinically approved methods. The list goes on for those who are desperate but falling short:
6. Invest in a small pool, such as these pop-up pools that inflate. These range in price from $20 secondhand to $100 new.
Drawbacks here are the lack of privacy, lack of heated water (brr!), and the chipmunk tooth marks that will create more leaks than you can patch after storing it for one winter should you choose to store it in the garage–guess how I know. Great for collecting rainwater, but pretty much useless as it fails every qualification for a legitimate mikvah.
7. Invest in a 2+ person hot tub, and use it as a mikvah instead. If anyone has done this, please tell me about it! I considered trying this if I could do it for $500 or less, put it in ground, and get a natural material like concrete to line it, but it does not solve the privacy problem.
8. Use what you have. In my climate, I cannot use an outdoor ersatz pool 9 months out of the year, and the only public pools would be indoors outside June-August, too. My current house has a shower and a normal, frustratingly shallow tub. Even with the drain open and the faucet running, this does not qualify as a mikvah.
9. Use what your friends have. Find someone who would be happy to serve as mikvah lady and allow others in her fellowship to use whatever she’s got should that be the person’s best option.
So that’s a recap of different possible ways I’ve considered to solve the problem of not having access to an approved community mikvah.
If you’re Jewish and you’re reading this, please make use of the wider Jewish community to get access. I know women in the Chabad movement who would welcome you with open arms without pressuring you to step up on other areas.
Thank you, Chana, for the question!
Everyone is welcome to chime in with your own suggestions and tips for how the Father has made a way for you to walk out Lev. 15 in your marriage.
Striving to “keep the marriage bed pure” as we’re instructed to in Hebrews 13,
PS from 2018: Hundreds of people view this post, but I wonder if it addresses what readers are hoping to find? I added some links. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, please let me know what else I might provide for readers.