Water has been used as a spiritual element since the beginning of time. For centuries it has been used for cleansing the body and the soul.
The Ganges River in India is deemed sacred to Hindus. Many Hindus bathe in the river to wash away sins and the faithful often spread ashes of the departed into the river, helping them reach nirvana. Christians rely on the spiritually healing waters of baptism for redemption, cleansing, renewal and rebirth of the soul. Catholics employ the use of holy water for blessing themselves and their homes. Jews also use water for a spiritual cleansing and rite of purification. It is called a Mikvah.
“The mikvah is not just a pool of water; it must be composed of stationary, not flowing, waters and contain a certain percentage of water derived from a natural source, such as a lake, an ocean, or rain.” Both men and women can use the Mikvah, but most of the time, you find women following the “Jewish law where they immerse themselves in the waters following their menstrual periods or after childbirth in order to become ritually pure and permitted to resume sexual activity. ”
Because I no longer menstruate due to my amniotic fluid embolism and emergency hysterectomy, I do not, by Jewish Law, have to go to the mikvah. But after talking with a couple of Rabbis, they urged me to go, one last time. The Rabbis said, “You had a rebirth. You died and came back to life. You were given a new Hebrew name to signify that transition. You need to thank G-d and you need to heal completely.” I thought I had done a lot of work on my mind, body and spirit already. I prayed a great deal and I thanked all the forces that saved my life. The doctors, friends, family, Hashem. What was one more event for which to share my gratitude. But for whatever reason, I was nervous. I was thinking, “What do you mean I can only go one last time to cleanse my soul? What if the very next day I screw up and tarnish my spirit? I cannot go back?” I could probably always go back, but in my mind, I needed to make this one count. I reluctantly agreed to do it and found the perfect person to lead me down this path.
I was blessed to be taken to a specific mikvah in Chicago with the rabbi’s wife (rebbetzin) from Hyde Park. We have been in touch this year after her son was diagnosed with Leukemia and she was dealing with the very real pain of the unknown so many others unfortunately share. I asked her to take me. The last time I went to the Mikvah was before my wedding. It was the right time, with the right person.
I got to the mikvah, run by volunteers and the rebbetzin, who never met this particular volunteer said hello and I noticed her accent. She told me she was from Venezuela and I asked her if she knew my brother-in-law’s family and she DID! Random, chance meeting on this particular day where she volunteers 2 days a month at this place and we find we are connected through someone in Latin America. She is a medical student and boy did we have a lot to talk about regarding spirituality and medical science. As you know, I do not believe in coincidences.
A woman must take a bath BEFORE the ritual bath for 30 minutes and during that time they play soft music through their sound system to clear your mind and have you relax. I was 16 years old when I went to high school in Israel and fell in love with a particular song. I swear to you, as I am writing this, I have been searching for a specific song for almost 30 years. Every time I would hum it for someone or attempt my best karaoke version of it, no one knew the song. (Obviously I am not a good singer). Wouldn’t you know, I am meditating in the bath and the freakin’ song plays in the background. WHAT?!! I jumped out of relaxation mode and Shazam’d the song just in time. If you care to listen to it, here it is.
I was now walking into the Mikvah prepared for what awaited me on the other side. It is said that during the moments you are submerged in the water and standing there, it is a direct line to G-d. So I prayed. I prayed for my family. I prayed for the rebbetzin, her son and family to be healed from dealing with this torturous disease. I prayed for the women who have no idea they are about to experience an amniotic fluid embolism this week. I prayed and prayed and prayed. And after it was done, the rebbetzin and I hugged. Both in tears acutely aware of how powerful a moment this was for both of us.
You don’t have to be religious to experience the “cleansing” the way I described above. You can breathe in the ocean water, meditate by a diffuser or do yoga in the rain. The power of prayer is potent and the energy it brings is awe-inspiring. I do feel a little different a couple of days afterwards. I am not healed 100%, but this was a boost of enlightenment I desperately needed. And every time I drink a glass of water now, I think of that moment. I hold up a glass of water and toast to your moment of clarity, peace and tranquility. Still waters do run deep into the soul!