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Author:  Rabbi Ronald Barry
E-mail:  rronbarry@juno.com
Date:  2/4/2005 11:52:00 AM
Subject:  Mikveh Lady
Message:  Dear Rabbi Chaim,

I am writing to you from Mikveh Sippora referred to in the Mikva lady piece of 1/26/2005 by an anonymous author whose wife was asked to remove her birth control patch before dipping in our mikveh. I am the Rabbi - administrator of the mikveh.

Our mikveh was established in the Syrian Sephardic community in Brooklyn to promote and encourage Taharat Hamishpaha among all families in the community. As policy our mikveh is made accessible to all women following their Orthodox Rabbi’s Halakhic decisions. Our stated goal is to assure each woman the highest level of comfort, privacy & dignity with personal service, fully consistent with Jewish Law.

We have many happy patrons who can attest that we run an efficient mikveh consistent with Shulhan Aruch, where women have pleasant experiences with the way it is run and leave in good spirits without undue delay and interference. Much of that feeling is due to our wonderful, sensitive, and devoted matrons who spare no effort to please, facilitating an overall positive experience. Our mikveh and mikveh ladies are the antithesis of the types that are vilified in some of the writings posted on your website and as are described critically in some sefarim. Our patrons report to us that they are so happy to use our mikveh, that when possible change travel plans to use it, to avoid possible unpleasant experiences elsewhere.

For more information on our mikveh and halakhic policies your readers can go to www.judaic.org and click Halakha, then click Taharat Hamishpaha.

That being said, I read with indignation the piece referring to us in a negative way. I checked with the mikveh matron who has always been trustworthy and totally truthful and she firmly states that she never said or implied that the woman should go home and additionally that the woman never mentioned Rabbi Abadi’s name as her rabbi. She reports that the woman did mention the name of another rabbi who we know tells his followers to remove it. In a separate letter to you she addresses more details relating to our mikveh, its policies and the circumstances.

In each preparation room there are signs with my name and office number as well as the name and phone number of our woman liaison who happens to be the wife of our founder and president, asking the patrons to voice any concern, suggestion or complaint that they may have regarding the mikveh and its operation. I don’t understand why your anonymous writer’s wife did not avail herself or have her husband use that channel of communication before his libelous letter to you. He also lists our mikveh phone number that he could have called and left a message for the supervisor to call him back.

Rabbi, you shouldn’t have lost your sleep responding the way you did before you checked the accuracy of the accusation. Just ask some of the many people in our community who are close to you and your father and are mutual friends and supporters and they would have told you that this is out of the norm for us and would have put you in contact with us. I welcome the husband or wife to call me and I will assure them that her next mikveh experience here will be a positive one and problem-free.

By the way, the case at hand as explained in the mikveh lady’s response is consistent with Rabbi Abadi’s psaq on Hasisa in O.Y. p.302 as well as his statement on p.323 referred to and partially quoted by your anonymous writer.

Sincerely yours,
Rabbi Ronald Barry
718-998-8171


   
Reply:  Rabbi Barry

I welcome your response. This shows that it is a very sensitive issue and in any case we should not discourage woman from going to the Mikveh. If the women mentions a different Rabbi's name, is that cause for not accepting her request? What? For a Chumrah?! Is it really our responsibility to do this? Let's be real. If the woman did not mention Rabbi Abadi, I would understand. The local Flatbush Rabbis have often taken a very militant approach to anyone who follows Rabbi Abadi. You don't know about this? It is not uncommon for Rabbis to tell their congregants, who they know eat burgers at McDonalds, not to follow Rabbi Abadi's Pesach list. I know many situations where people were banned from Shidduchim because they followed Rabbi Abadi.

As you know well, they must be afraid of someone who knows how to learn and actually learned.

If she didn't hear her Rabbi correctly, if she straight out lied, or if she didn't want to disclose whom she asked, should we then alienate her? For a Chumrah?!

With all due respect, if those are the policies of that Mikveh, I challenge you to get everyone together and rewrite the policies. Whenever a woman walks out of that Mikveh never to return, the responsibility lies on the heads of the makers of these policies and the ones that are hired to implement them.

I am not Chas Veshalom saying that this is a bad Mikveh or a rude bunch of people. I am saying, "HaMatchil BeMitzvah Omrim Lo Gemor." He who starts a Mitzvah is told to finish. The goals of this Mikveh seem to have been to make it easier and more comfortable. Let's take it to the extent of the law. Let's follow the law to the letter. Let's not lose a single member or Mikveh-goer.

You can do it. You're not confined to the common closed-minded mentality. I am looking forward to your response!

With respect and admiration,
AA

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