On the stronghold of the Mikvaot in Israel

The Chief Rabbinate agreed last week to adopt a “don’t tell” policy relating to the use of Mikvaot. To say the least, this decision came as a response to petitions made by organizations which are far less disliked than are the Orthodox establishments within Israel today. From now on the Mikvah attendant is forbidden from inquiring about the marital status of a woman who wishes to use the Mikvah.

The way I see it, this whole episode demonstrates a superficial understanding of Judaism on the part of the petitioners, and reveals a high probability of an underlying agenda.

As it appears, the petitioners are endeavoring to enhance Judaism by expanding some aspects of it, but are clearly doing so at the high cost of disregarding other critical aspects within it. Not unlike Christianity or Islam, this is clearly another offspring religion in the making, and not unlike them, their noble agendas are sure to be popular among the secular Israeli population who are likely to support anything detrimental to the orthodox stronghold on religious life within the state.

In reality however, either they fail to understand or they simply don’t care to know that the same sages who defined the many nuances surrounding the practice of Mikvah which they do adhere to, also asserted that an unmarried woman shouldn’t immerse in it. It may surprise the petitioners to know that the sages decided so in spite of the simple consequences which they too foresaw and nevertheless decided against. Being so, their decision is binding and is effectively inseparable from Judaism.

Indeed, Israel is a democracy and the petitioners are free to practice whatever religion they so please, but for the sake of the Jewish nation and for the sake of their own souls, they should have the decency to brand their religion in a way that isn’t misleading and cannot be mistaken for Judaism.

In my opinion, and clearly in the opinion of the sages who defined the laws of Mikvah hundreds of years ago, the most trustworthy safeguard of the Orthodox establishment today is the chief rabbinate in Israel. It is nothing less than ludicrous that the petitioners are seeking to enhance practices of the very same Torah which they are – by its very own definition – blatantly transgressing.

As for the argument that says a public-funded establishment ought to cater everyone, I don’t hear that being said of any other establishment, such as schools and hospitals, where the authority is entrusted to teachers and doctors respectively. The only authority that is repeatedly contested is that of the rabbinate, and it is done by contemporaneous superficialities devised by newly formed groups and propelled by a perceptibly confused generation of Israelis.

Just as a surgery wouldn’t be aborted because of an uninformed onlooker making a ruckus about the gruesome bloodshed, so too, the state shouldn’t abort the rabbinate from overseeing this very critical aspect in Judaism.

Rather than compromise on such important matters to please an uninformed society, the state would do well to educate the people about the crucial role which the rabbinate holds in shaping the future of the nation. The people need to be made aware that such decisions foster indefinitely a generation of Jews which, if they took only a moment to ponder, would be objectionable even to them.

About the Author
Sholomke is an ordained Rabbi and a Law School student in New York City, concentrating on International Law. He loves the people and the land of Israel and is passionate about dispelling bewildering myths surrounding the ongoing territorial disputes in the Middle East.