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 Christian Torah-keeping community, so please pray and seek the Father’s will for your situation! I see my role as someone who has been blessed to have a great relationship with Jewish communities and thus can help fill an information gap for Christians. Period. What you decide to do or not do with the information is completely up to you and your Father in Heaven.
Here are some of the options I’ve considered because I do not have access to an approved mikvah:
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.
2. Use someone’s private 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. 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, 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.
5. 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’m considering trying this if I can do it for $500 or less.
6. Convince your congregation to build one, and ask them to go all out and get it rabbinically approved so that anyone with that standard can use it as well. Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, Wisconsin, is raising money for one, thank God, 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.
7. Build one yourself. There are plans online if you search “diy mikvah.”
8. Use what you have. In my climate, I cannot use an outdoor ersatz pool 9 months out of the year. My current house has a shower and a normal, frustratingly shallow tub. So that’s what I use.
I’m at least 5’8,” (I hope! I used to be taller!) and it means I have to struggle to be deliberate about immersing my body from the waist down, which is as much as I can get underwater even with the overflow holes duct taped shut to gain a few inches, and then I shift and am equally deliberate as I struggle to immerse the top half. Slim chance that my hair will ever get under the surface of the water because it’s two feet long or so, but it all probably gets under as I turn my head back and forth under the water, which I have to do anyway to get my nose under. I do my best to imitate living water by at least having the water run in the faucet (I know this is not rabbinically approved in more ways than I can count, but it’s the best I can do) and the drain open slightly during the dipping.
9. Use what your friends have. Not everyone has access even to a tub, so though no one has used my bathroom yet to “tovel,” or immerse herself, I am happy to serve as mikvah lady and allow others in my fellowship to use it should that be their 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. In my understanding, options 1 and 3 (and 2 if it’s outdoor and inground) are rabbinically approved in circumstances where you can’t use an authorized mikvah.
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!