Printed from ChabadPW.org

Ribbon-Cutting Speech

Ribbon-Cutting Speech

 Email

Sara's Speech at the Mikvah Dedication

Thumbnail of svvR1637791.jpgLadies and Gentlemen:

Ordinarily, I am not the one to take to the pulpit.  I break from my custom this evening, because to me… tonight is the milestone of a lifetime.

I address you with words. However, the feelings that fill my heart are beyond words.  I feel like the luckiest woman in the world!

The Torah and its precepts are G‑d’s gift to us, His beloved children.  Specifically, as a Jewish woman I was given the gift of Mikvah, arguably the most fundamental mitzvah in all of Judaism, the foundation for Jewish family life.  It is a beautiful mitzvah, one that enhances marriage and makes it work.  Indeed, a precious gift.

I always yearned for opportunities to share this gift with my soul sisters, my fellow Jewish women, in a way that they would appreciate its beauty and its blessings.  The beautiful mikvah we dedicate tonight gives me the opportunity to present mikvah in the manner that it deserves. Now you know why I feel so fortunate.  What greater joy can there be in life than to be able to present a precious gift from a Father to His daughter;  a cherished gift from G‑d to us, His precious daughters, Jewish women everywhere.

***

Allow me to give you a brief overview of Mikvah and it’s meaning:

“In the beginning there was only water.”  Water represents life; it has the power to energize, to restore, to purify.  The world’s natural bodies of water are Mikvahs in their most primal form because they contain waters of divine source. For reasons of practicality and privacy, Jewish life necessitates the construction of mikvahs -mikvah pools, and indeed this has been done by Jews in every age and circumstance.

What looks like an ordinary pool, is in reality two pools; one on top of the other. While the accumulated natural rainwater is kept in the lower pool, the upper, immersion pool is filled with tap water which is filtered and chlorinated. The waters of the two pools touch through an opening conferring upon the immersion pool the legal status of a mikvah.

Many people are surprised to hear of the significance of Mikvah in Jewish married life – that it is a Biblical injunction on a par with not eating bread on Passover, fasting on Yom Kippur and Brit Milah. 

Mikvah offers couples the possibility of repeated “honeymoons” during the course of their marriage. Boredom and disinterest can beleaguer any relationship and chip away at its foundation. In Jewish life there is a 12 day monthly physical separation, according to the woman’s cycle, followed by a visit to the Mikvah and a reunion which lasts for two weeks.   This mandatory separation fosters feelings of longing and desire – at the very least, a sense of appreciation – which is followed by the excitement of reunion.

There are two types of love: Ahavah Kamayim, love of water, like between brother and sister, parent and child. This is a calm, consistent love.  By contrast, the love between husband and wife is Ahavah Ka’esh, a passionate, fiery love, which waxes and wanes. This is why true intimacy in marriage is created by constant withdrawal and reunion.

The Mikvah system grants the married couple this dynamic. The monthly hiatus teaches couples to treasure the time they have together and gives them something to look forward to when they are physically apart. Every month they are separated – not always when convenient or easy – but they wait for one another. They think about each other – all the while counting down the days until their togetherness.  The day of reunion is a secret that only the two of them share. And each time there is a new quality to their reunion. In this regard the Talmud states, and I quote: “So that she will be as beloved to her husband as on the day of her marriage.”

Mikvah also introduces “stolen waters” into a monogamous relationship. What a novel scenario: one’s spouse – one’s partner in life, day after day, becomes temporarily inaccessible, forbidden, off limits.

While a physical distancing is mandated, emotional intimacy is encouraged and indeed nurtured. Meaningful communication – that precious and increasingly rare art form– is given full expression as couples must learn to embrace and hug, comfort and rejoice, all without touching skins. A new strata is uncovered in their relationship, a new possibility emerges; friendship.

***

This is a general overview of the special gift of Mikvah and how it can work to enhance your marriage and life.  It would be my pleasure to meet with you privately to fill in the blanks, to help you incorporate this amazing practice into your marriage.  I say to you dear sisters; woman to woman: this is a magical ingredient we are all looking for.

Even for the postmenopausal woman, one final immersion in the mikvah offers purity for the rest of her life, allowing for all subsequent intimacies to be special and blessed.

I love the way Mikvah gives me the chance to bring God into my life in a very real way. 

I love when I immerge from the first dip and recite the blessing – baruch ato hashem elokeinu melech haolam asher kideshanu bemitzvosav vetzivanu al hatvilah, a blessing only a woman can recite. Of the three mitzvahs given exclusively to women, the kosher diet brings God into my kitchen. Candle lighting on Shabbat and holidays brings God into my home. But Mikvah brings God into my most personal and intimate space, my marriage.

***

During the past four months since our mikvah first opened, I, along with the other wonderful mikvah volunteers, have had the opportunity of connecting with all types of Jewish women.

A tourist visiting form Alaska who found us on the internet as she was searching for a beautiful mikvah to use during her visit here;

A blushing young bride, accompanied by her mother, who herself had used the mikvah only once, before her own wedding.  The bride was so taken by the mikvah and she’s been back every month since;

A nurse from North Shore Hospital, a cancer survivor, who taught me a new dimension in Mikvah, that a woman being so in touch with her physical self saves many lives through early detection, etc.;

And so many local women who never dreamed of using the mikvah, or had tired if but stopped, who are now using it regularly because of its comfort and beauty;

I am awed and feel privileged to have the chance to make these wonderful connections.

***

Allow me to conclude by expressing my gratitude to a very special individual, a close friend of our family and a dedicated pillar of this Chabad House. Thank you ADAM for the amazing gift you have given us. 

As a Jewish woman, I am grateful to Hashem for the treasured gift of Mikvah. 

I am grateful ten-fold to be able to share this amazing, divine gift with you, my fellow Jewish women, and your husbands. 

And tonight I express my gratitude to you, ADAM.  Thank you for helping me wrap this precious mitzvah in the most exquisite gift wrap.
 
With your open heart and generous hand you built a Mikvah that is a stunning masterpiece of interior design.  People are often moved to tears when they first experience its sheer beauty, both physical and spiritual.  Thank you for giving me the gift of welcoming the modern American Jewish woman into a mikvah that is a virtual spa for body and soul alike.

Even as we are forever grateful for your magnanimous support in so many other major projects at our Chabad House, as well as your other worthwhile charitable endeavors, please consider this the crown jewel of your accomplishments.  Your Mikvah will affect the lives of our fellow Jews for generations.

And to you, my dear soul-sisters, I invite you to join me in un-wrapping this gift.  It’s all yours.

Thank you very much!

 Email