Monday, 27 July 2009

Our Mikvah Project - Information and Advice

Over the few months of co-coordinating our Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity, some important information has come to light. Before outlining some difficulties, I would like to clarify that I do so only so as to help to strengthen the Jewish women concerned.

The Rambam teaches in his 8 levels of charity that the highest level is to help a Jew to be independent. After much thought, I have decided to mention a few factors, only with a view to outlining potential solutions.

The Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity has been set up to assist women in genuine financial difficulty that they can still fulfill the mitzvah of Family Purity in Dignity. In talking to several Mikvah Ladies, it has become evident that the costs to the Mikvah in addition to immersing at the Mikvah and preparing at the Mikvah, include cost of a towel, shampoo, soap, toothbrush etc. Each of these items costs and the Mikvah has to charge even though a nominal fee.

What is intriguing is that very often those women who can not afford the basic fee to immerse, order all the possible items, therefore running up a bill that someone has to cover. What is the reason to mention this? Purely to advise, if G-d forbid, you find yourself unable to cover the Mikvah Costs, take your own towel from home. Put together your own toiletries from home and this will make sure that you are not left with the debt of these items but rather only of the expenese to prepare at the Mikvah (i.e. use of the bathroom) and immerse at the Mikvah.

Every woman likes to be pampered and to feel she is being given something. However, the Mikvah night is not a time to worry about being pampered but rather about fulfilling your role as a Jewish woman correctly. If you do not have the means to pay for the extra's, take your own and make sure you are being blessed from Above for being honest and responsible.

A beautiful tip given by one Mikvah Lady was that when receiving any money, women should put aside the amount they need for the Mikvah. Keep it in a safe place that can not be used for other purposes. Then when your Mikvah night comes, you will have the money already set aside and ready to take with for your Mikvah expenses. If you need to, put a shekel aside each day for this purpose. Make your own system but stick to it. Remember, your responsibility to fulfill mitzvos comes before any added extras.

A word to the husbands. Someone asked why do the husbands not cover this expense. We have discovered that there are times that the husbands do provide this money, however since the woman has so many expenses with taking care of the children, paying for their various needs for school, food etc, this money might get used up and not arrive at the Mikvah with the woman. We would advise, for those who are in financial difficulty, if the husband is covering the expense of the Mikvah, then it is the expense to go to the Mikvah. Perhaps the husbands can arrange for the money to be given directly to the Mikvah. In addition, each Mikvah must give the women a receipt that they can show their husbands. This helps to maintain Shalom Bayis as the husbands will no longer need to doubt where the money was spent. Many Mikvaot do provide receipts and this is a practice that is advisable for all Mikvaot.

Lastly, there is much work to be done with this beautiful project. Unfortunately we are finding some women already, who wish to rely on this project rather than honouring their mikvah costs. This fund is only for those women who genuinely can not afford the nominal fee to the Mikvah. Should we, G-d forbid, find this beautiful service being mis-used, we might need to institute the women being interviewed by a social worker to verify that they do in deed qualify.

We hope and pray that all the above advise be put into practice. However, in the meantime there are still outstanding debts with many Mikvaot in Israel and there are many women who honestly can not meet the nominal costs of going to the Mikvah each week. Since Tisha B'Av is fast approaching, please help us with this important mitzva.

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