jeudi, août 11, 2005

mikvah post for those women whohave written asking about what the mikvah experience is like

NB I wrote this a while back and really want to keep itonline for those women who write asking about this experience. It's in very unprofessional form so I'm terribly sorry, but of course if you have questions please write to me and I will do my best to answer any queries you have.

mikvahs are scary primarily because you don't know what they're going to be like. They're
> actually usually warmed up so it's like being in a large bathtub. You'll
> have privacy as only one woman goes in at a time, the attendant will just
> make sure to check your back for loose/stray hairs if you've long hair,
> generally they are good about respecting your privacy and won't ask to
> inspect anything which would make you feel embarrassed, though she may ask
> you if you checked here or there. They might ask you but probably won't
> look to see if you have washed your hands and cut your nails. Basically, as
> long as you look like you'll be okay, they'll be okay with it. You won't
> ruin the mikvah if you don't have all this stuff cleaned up is the thing,
> you'll only ruin your own tevilah,which is really the reason they trust you
> so much. You can't really ruin your tevilah if you follow the directions,
> so it's pretty much a low-key, low stress sort of thing. You might feel a
> bit like a lost wet puppy or wet cat throughout the process, because it's so
> daunting, and can encourage the forlorn lost feeling with it's strangeness,
> but really it is a very simple and quick thing. You'll walk down the stairs
> into the big bathtub, and will be asked to let go of the robe or sheet as
> you walk in and you'll be able to keep your back to the attendant the whole
> time. Occasionally, they don't wan the sheet going with you so they'll tell
> you they'll turn their back to you and you'll leave the sheet up at the top
> where there is generally a railing and then you'll walk down the stairs
> (which are a normal size for stairs) and once you're in you'll say so and
> the attendant will turn back around. The attendant may be overly
> helpful -like trying to help you take off and wrap up in the sheet, but it
> isn't a really big deal since you are always free to assert yourself and say
> if you want her help with the sheet or not and generally, she's just trying
> to keep things going . Usually the mikvahs aren't any bigger than about two
> bathtubs in width and length, height about the same as two-thirds of a
> shower stall.. the floor will be sloping so that taller people go farther in
> and shorter people stay closer to the stairs or it will have a short
> section -about the size of a shower stall and a tall section also about the
> size of a shower stall, where there's a step from one into the other section
> in the mikvah itself. A lot of short people walk to this step, part and do
> tevilah at the junction because it is easy to pick up your feet here float
> for a moment and come up. then you'll back up onto the short section of it
> and say the bracha. The short section was water just below my armpits to
> give you a sense of how short the short section is. You can easily stand up
> there and be totally aware of your surroundings. You'll pick up your feet
> and kind of do a curled up ball thing for tevilah, since your feet can't
> touch the floor of the mikvah. Tuck your head so your hair gets all wet,
> hold your arms out and your legs somewhat apart. It's actually fairly
> pleasant. I wish I could go again, too. :) Heck, if we could have dual
> appointments at the mikvah I'd go too. :) It's actually like an all too
> brief moment at a spa. Sometimes the attendants do silly things like chatter
> on about their children, but usually the attendants are quiet and just do
> their job. Generally conventional wisdom says that they only chatter if
> they know you well and otherwise stay quiet respecting your space. The
> attendant is really not interested in you or your body. She's just going to
> watch you go under, so she'll tell you how to do the tevilah and there's
> usually a sign someplace in the big bathtub with the bracha and she'll let
> you go under and when you come up she'll probably (depending on frum the
> mikvah people are) put a towel on your head so your head is covered while
> saying the bracha. that last part isn't halacha, but custom. she might
> also instruct you to put your arms over your breasts or to cover your body
> in some way while saying the bracha. Again more minhag, etc. I find that
> part silly. After all you're naked and supposed to be naked. so then after
> that the attendant will leave and you can come up however you want to, no
> one will see you and then you hop back into the changing room which is
> adjacent to the mikvah and you can either shower or whatever, but you'll
> have a towel or a few, your clothes, usually a hairdryer, etc. to regroup
> back into the normal world ;) It's not so scary, really. Any questions?