Esther Feinstein

A four-hour drive

The nerves and anticipation — after marking fifteen years of marriage — still make me feel like a bride on my wedding day. 

It’s Mikvah night! These words dared not be spoken out loud, but words that dance on one’s soul. The excitement, embedded in my husband and me, stands behind our two-week wait, our newly founded platonic relationship.

Who would ever believe that my husband and I are just best friends for two weeks out of the month? It is said all the time between couples that they are “best friends,” but mostly, it is just said, and couples are not”just” friends. However, there is no hugging, kissing, touching, flirting, or even giving each other the eye for two weeks every month in our life. 

 As people, who would ever want to be told what to do? Our laws have rules stricter than the army that tell the closest of couples; you are on pause! 

 In our sincere attempts at modesty for ourselves, and those around us, one can not even mention certain words out loud, but instead, one communicates with masked phrases or secretive modest hints.

After the average person gets married, most have a bittersweet feeling, knowing that the magical day is gone forever, but what if each month you can capture it all again?

Each couple exudes that freshness when celebrating royalty for their first year, experiencing the knowing glances people give to newlyweds when one overhears whispering and bothering over each other.

To keep the time capsule still and capture that moment forever, Taharas hamishpacha, family purity are kept. It then naturally becomes a deep, concentrated effort on all sides around to embody a special relationship.

Our family, friends, kids, parents, and in-laws are all kept in the dark because our world’s intimacy is done behind closed doors. Some wonder, why don’t we show open affection for each other, and do we even love each other at all? 

I remember when it was our Sheva brachos (7 days of blessings and celebration after a couple gets married), and we spent the last one with my in-laws. My mother-in-law and I were getting to know each other, coming from different places in life and trying to embrace each other, like a new mother to a new daughter.

Worried that her son, my husband, wasn’t paying enough attention to me, so she said to him emphatically: “Is she your sister? Are you brother and sister? Will you at least kiss her for me?” She looked distraught and sincerely worried for us. It put us in an uncomfortable situation, and we both just looked at her and smiled.

I always joke with my husband that what holds us back from each other is the thick book of Halacha (Torah law), the Jewish book of law that prohibits couples from intimacy each month. Each wait gets us used to just being friends again, feeling restricted, but yet at peace with our two-week wait.

Who would believe that we take a four-hour drive each month with my schedule, seven kids, and our community obligations? The long drive happens, and the immersion into holy waters finishes with blessings for my family, husband, and the world. This then completes a two-week wait and begins our monthly honeymoon.

My husband taught in the university near our home and explained in his Authentic Torah class that he has a honeymoon each month. They probably thought he was joking because, with his long beard and yarmulka (male head-covering), I’m sure they couldn’t imagine him on a honeymoon in the traditional sense. 

However, he continued with his explanation that even with seven kids and a very hectic (fast-moving) lifestyle, he is privileged to have a honeymoon once a month. All life stops, and his wife goes to these holy waters and blesses the family, community, and world.

 I could only imagine their reactions, but with his beaming smile and happy attitude sharing his story with me, that made me take even more pride in this special, difficult, but divine command.

It can be the most exciting of times and the loneliest of times. The race to the finish line is most important because it is the long-short road to real love and friendship.

The busy life continues for the two weeks off each month, but the mind, heart, and soul yearn for your spouse like never before. It awakens a deep love that gets stuck in the mundane rut that takes for granted your other half. 

The nerves and anticipation — after almost fifteen years of marriage — still makes me feel like a bride on my wedding day with butterflies in my stomach and my heart dancing to its own rhythm as I begin my prep for Mikvah, bath for spiritual purity.

 One would think we would be bored with each other as a couple, but when the car pulls up, and I see my husband smiling, my stomach still gives butterflies. 

Sometimes, in the midst of incredible news, Simchas (joyous times), and happy times, I could become a niddah (when a woman has her menstrual cycle), and our relationship temporarily changes, but faithfully I still stand in my mitzvah (commandment). One may want to share and romantically laugh with one’s spouse, but the two-week wait forces us to be on a G-dly pause, whether we want that pause or not. 

It is frustrating to wait and to bottle up emotions of overflowing love for one’s spouse, which has to be rechanneled to use other forms of expressions during our time apart. It becomes a time to reflect and appreciate one’s other half. It allows us to dig deeper into our friendship and cherish the time we have as a couple.

Slamming doors, the jingling of keys, loud voices confirm with a helper that night. It’s time to go on our four-hour drive: Everything is paused, the place is standing still, and it’s only us two again. 

The world around us has temporarily lost its touch and is unfocused because we are called away to fulfill an oath with the third partner to all that matters in life. Even though this task is hard to complete, it’s worth its weight in gold. This journey then becomes a magical time with excitement to the finish line. 

After what feels like an eternity but in reality, one rekindles the romance in two long weeks. Developing awareness of what’s important in life emerges and creates waves of energy. This circulation of excitement pulls one forward and channels a deep, platonic friendship into a newly cherished relationship of doves.

Since life can throw the unexpected curveball, and windy roads are unpaved, then each step to the end can feel hard and long. The desire to do what’s right and the yearning to succeed no matter the effort can take their toll. 

When all the meticulous preparations, rescheduling classes, or waiting a bit longer for a program to finish happen, this could create holes in the excitement. The night and drive then bump into spirals to include a motzei Shabbos (Saturday night) together with a minivan full of tired children. 

At that moment, the enthusiasm slides down, and the eagerness of reunification just doesn’t seem so very magical or special. So, even our special time can become a tedious thing that must be carefully planned in our hectic lives. 

Bottling up one’s feelings, is this even healthy? In the society of today, all affection is encouraged outside and with an audience. The concept of waiting- and that being good- seems very backward.  

Most people understand that there are two partners to have a baby, but we count three. Hashem (G-d) is the third partner in our lives and is involved in our most personal moments. Despite all of the hardships, one also gets to embrace the two weeks on, making the journey worth it.

Living far away from an observant community and being emissaries means everything is that much harder and farther away. Ours is a four-hour drive to Mikvah, and that means our return will be in the wee early hours of the morning. The time won’t slow down, and Yom Tov (the holiday) is tomorrow night! So, my feet, my most important employee, will be angry at his extra-long hours once again. 

Sometimes my husband and I are privileged to have the drive to ourselves. We enjoy the quiet and the alone time together, a time which is rarely given to us, and a brief moment that we truly respect and appreciate. The anticipation and excitement are noticed on our eager faces: tonight is Mikvah night, and it becomes a honeymoon for us all over again. 

The truth is no matter the circumstance, in the midst of it all, everything stops, and one is forced to spend a honeymoon each month for which you are really excited and thankful. G-d is forcing that magic to continue regardless of life. 

I remember that once when we were on one of our drives, we suddenly got caught in one of the worst snowstorms. When I entered the waiting room, the Mikvah lady (the woman supervisor for spiritual purity) was so impressed. She found it hard to drive a block, let alone a drive like ours. I wasn’t going to tell her that it gets scary, and it wasn’t the first time we drove in a snowstorm, and it probably won’t be the last. These are the hard sacrifices that one has to make for the mitzvah of purity.

Fresh poems were written, quiet moments and whispered voices are part of another world behind the scenes. In the cosmos of keeping each hiddur (carefulness), the specialness is embraced that much more. 

It never becomes old, worn out, or empty; rather, the fire is undeniably alive. Each day the palpable, sincere, and heartfelt relationship is constantly reignited by a marriage of purity. So, what’s really in a four-hour drive?

About the Author
Born in New York state into a family on Shlichus, Esther was formally trained in Chabad institutions in America and Canada as an educator and community leader with the lifelong goal of helping an under-served Jewish populace. She and her husband, along with their children, have been serving the local community, as well as the Northeast Wisconsin region, for over a decade, providing for any and all needs of everyone's personal journey with G-d. Her recently released book - "The Lamplighter: Experiences of a Chabad Rebbitzin" - chronicles these experiences and is available for purchase through Mosaica Press at
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