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Author:  Still Uncomfortable
E-mail:  not available
Date:  5/29/2005 9:28:00 AM
Subject:  Mikveh
Message:  H'Rav Abadi,

I have been reading this exchange about the mikveh, and it appears that some people can't understand why it is such a big deal that the mikveh lady was harsh. I just want to let some people who may not be aware, what it is like to be at a mikveh when one first gets married and the damage that can be done by one bad mikveh lady.

The first time I went to the local mikveh after my marriage was terrifying.

Before the marriage is easy, as you are excited and hopeful.

After the marriage, you are suddenly alone and scared and supposed to "know" what to do.

Can you imagine it? A young religious girl who has been careful to know the laws all her life and follow them, is suddenly presented with a very new situation that makes her feel vulnerable and stupid--not to mention embarassed. What has been a very private matter all her life must now be disclosed to her husband, her rabbi, and now some strange woman you have never met.

I was terrified of making a mistake. There are a thousand things to remember that I was now supposed to "know", and I was afraid to appear as a fool. I had discussed the laws with my Rav according to my tradition, and I had rehersed this a thousand times in my mind.

When it came time to dip, the mikveh woman was cold and uncaring. I told her I was a new bride, so she treated me like an idiot. When I didn't do it her way, I was told my dip was not Kosher (even though she had said "kosher!" when I went under and came up.) I tried to ignore her as she pursued me down the hall telling me I hadn't dipped right. She told me I would make my husband sin to have relations with him as I was still niddah! She called a rabbi from her community without my knowledge or approval, and then came into my room while I was dressing and told me that he P'skd I was wrong. I was morified!

I left, quickly, in tears, still pursued by this woman, who was howling about how my mikveh wasn't kosher in front of other women who were there. I didn't have time to put on makeup, comb my hair, or make myself attractive for my new husband. I even left with my shoes in my hands and no stockings on my feet!

By the time I returned to my husband, I was dripping wet and hysterical--crying, feeling guilty, and embittered by the experience. My husband spent that evening trying to calm me down and reassure me. I felt so violated by the woman, I couldn't be with my husband.

I now go to another mikveh, but still feel frightened every time I go. I am so terrified of a similar experience, that every time I have to go again, I break down into tears and shake at the thought.

How would these holy rollers feel to stand alone, scared, dressed only in a towel and a hat, and have some strange woman look you over like you are some horse for sale--checking your teeth, your feet, and telling you that your nails are too long?

How would they feel being told they are not good enough, not clean enough, not worthy of dipping in a pool of water so they can be with their husbands?

How would they feel having some strange woman exercise power over their marital life simply because they feel they can?

It is a miracle anyone goes to the mikveh at all.

God bless you, H'Rav Abadi! Don't let one of these ladies or their conspirator rabbis have a minute of peace!

Reply:  Thanks for your input and for sharing your experiences.

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