Three myths that keep women from the mikvah mitzvah


The renovated Staenberg Family Mikvah, located on the Millstone Campus. 


As a certified mikvah mentor, I hear married Jewish women hesitate about going to the mikvah for a variety of reasons.  Many of these reasons are actually based on misconceptions about the mitzvah of mikvah, and I think it is time to publicly clear up some of those misunderstandings.

Like the Discovery Channel show “MythBusters,” here are the top three myths about mikvah, and the truth about them:

1. In order to immerse in a mikvah, a woman must remove her nail polish.

If you are the type of woman who feels naked without polish and never leaves her house without her nails done, this would be a great deterrent — if it were true. But it is not. If you have a gel or a powder dip manicure that is well done and not chipped, you absolutely can immerse in a mikvah, with a blessing and all.   Get your nails dipped, and then come dip.

Mimi David is Director of Women’s Education at Aish St. Louis and she has been a longtime teacher at Esther Miller Bais Yaakov of St. Louis.

Nail polish must be removed before mikva? That’s a myth, which is now busted!

2. I am not an observant woman in general; going to the mikvah would be hypocritical for a secular woman like me.

If you are a nonobservant Jewish woman who is looking to add a little bit of spirituality to her life in a way that will not make a huge statement to the rest of your family but will have a powerful spiritual impact, mikvah is the perfect mitzvah for you.

Mikvah is one of the few mitzvahs that is kept entirely private and is the business only of the husband and wife. Keeping things like kosher, shabbat and modesty laws are amazing mitzvahs but are certainly not private endeavors. Mikvah, on the other hand, is nobody else’s business and have a super spiritual impact on the couple and their family.

It is not hypocritical to go to the mikvah, even if you are not observing other mitzvahs. It is incredibly beautiful and makes the most sense if you want to choose something private that has a big impact.

Going to the mikvah is hypocritical? That’s a myth, which is now busted!

3.  I am in postmenopause. It is too late for me to go to the mikvah.

It is never too late to go to the mikvah. If you are in postmenopause, you can still dip. And doing so at that stage retroactively brings blessing on your entire family, even if your children are all grown up.

I have had the privilege to bring many women in this stage of life to the mikvah, and every one of them had a profoundly meaningful experience. Just because you are no longer having a monthly cycle does not mean you cannot go to the mikvah. The opposite is true: Mikvah is for every married Jewish woman.

Postmenopausal women cannot go to the mikvah? That’s a myth, which is now busted!

Immersion in a mikvah is one of the most beautiful, spiritual and powerful mitzvahs, and it is only for married Jewish women.  There are so many reasons to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, and so many misconceptions telling women why they should not.

Learn more about it, and then join me to take the plunge. You will be so glad that you did.

Mimi David is director of women’s education at Aish St. Louis and a longtime teacher at Esther Miller Bais Yaakov of St. Louis