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Why do women choose to observe the Mitzvah of Family Purity?

  

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Family: I am trying to understand why women choose Family Purity… I actually heard about the topic today from a nice woman at the Chabad where I live and she … was telling about the Mikvah, and sleeping in different beds, but I don’t know much. Do you think you can help me?

Rabbi Rice: I can point you in the right direction and help with a question or two! You should start with some good books on the subject; an excellent one is "Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology" by Rivkah Slonim.

Family: What I want to know is what is this family purity thing all about...? Why do people choose to do this to themselves? It seems absurd, kind of, what she told me about it today... basically about the menstrual cycle and the going to the mikvah and sleeping in different beds… what does it do for them? What are the reasons and benefits behind this?? And what does it exactly mean to be “pure”? Are only Orthodox people like this or are Conservative and Reform as well? Are they considered “bad” if they don’t follow?

Rabbi Rice: The real discussion we should have is not about family purity, rather, about Judaism in general, and through understanding that, in its context, the mikvah will make sense. There is another reality underneath the surface of everything that we see. We see the physical reality. [But] the idea of G-d is that He creates existence, and more than that--He is found within creation. However, the way He chose to create the world (which we can discuss another time) was in such a way that His presence is not readily found. It must be discovered, uncovered, through what we do, say and think. We have the ability to bring out the divine that is latent in creation. Are you getting the point?

Family: sort of… so what does that have to deal with the woman sleeping in a different bed when she has her period, and then going to the mikvah? I have not made the connection yet.

Rabbi Rice: Everything in Judaism is about bringing out the Divine reality that is under the surface. This is the whole point of the Torah: to give us a way to unlock the Divine will in EVERY life situation. We believe the Torah was given to us at Sinai, from G-d. This was His gift and a way for us to connect with Him. And, as I said, a way to uncover the Divine in all. Sometimes this is clear to see how this happens, at other times it may not be clear, but this point is essential.

Family: “Divine” meaning what?

Rabbi Rice: G-dly. Let me explain it this way--are you ready for some mystical stuff?

Family: OK, go for it.

Rabbi Rice: I’ll use an analogy.

Family: I like analogies:-)

Rabbi Rice: Do you have a painting that you can see?

Family: A painting I can see? You mean in my house? Sure--I’m looking at one right above my computer right now.

Rabbi Rice: OK, great. So, the artist took paint and canvas and created a picture and idea. In which part of the picture can the creativity of the artist be found?

Family: In the actual artwork, the product, or no… the idea.

Rabbi Rice: Is there any part of the painting where his creativity is not? What if you were to run the program Creativity Uninstall on it, and suck out the creativity from the painting--what would be left?

Family: Nothing.

Rabbi Rice: Well, a pile of paint, and the canvas that he started with. Now, let's take a look at the world. According to Judaism, G-d is the artist of creation. Scientifically as well, we understand that behind every atom there is information that is vital to its existence.

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Family Purity » The Benefits

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Mikvah
A ritual bath where one immerses to become spiritually pure. After her menstrual cycle, a woman must immerse in the Mikvah before resuming marital relations.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.
Family Purity
Laws relating to intimacy between husband and wife. The primary point of Family Purity is the woman's purifying immersion in a ritual bath which allows the couple to resume intimate relations after the woman's menstrual period.