To the uninitiated, a modern-day
mikvah looks like a miniature swimming pool. In a religion rich with detail, beauty and ornamentation—against the backdrop of the ancient
Temple or even modern-day synagogues—the
mikvah is surprisingly nondescript, a humble structure.
Its ordinary appearance, however, belies its primary place in Jewish life and law. The
mikvah offers the individual, the community and the nation of
Israel the remarkable gift of purity and holiness. No other religious establishment, structure or rite can affect the Jew in this The world’s natural bodies of water—its oceans, rivers, wells and spring-fed lakes—are
mikvahs in their most primal formway and, indeed, on such an essential level. Its extraordinary power, however, is contingent on its construction in accordance with the numerous and complex specifications as outlined in
Halachah, Jewish law.
The world’s natural bodies of water—its oceans, rivers, wells and spring-fed lakes—are
mikvahs in their most primal form. They contain waters of Divine source, and thus, tradition teaches, the power to purify. Created even before the earth took shape, these bodies of water offer a quintessential route to consecration. But they pose difficulties as well. These waters may be inaccessible or dangerous, not to mention the problems of inclement weather and lack of privacy. Jewish life therefore necessitates the construction of
mikvahs (“pools”), and indeed this has been done by Jews in every age and circumstance.