Immersion in the mikveh (sometimes pronounced mikvah) actualizes the transition between the convert’s old identity and his or her new one as a Jew.
By Rabbi Maurice Lamm
Excerpted with permission from Becoming a Jew (Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.).
What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Is there a sign so dramatic, dynamic, and all-encompassing that it could represent the radical change undergone by the convert to Judaism?
Jewish tradition prescribes a profound symbol. It instructs the conversion candidate to place himself or herself in a radically different physical environment–in water rather than air. This leaves the person floating–momentarily suspended without breathing–substituting the usual forward moving nature and purposeful stride that characterize his or her waking movements with an aimlessness, a weightlessness, a detachment fromRead Full PostGo to Comments
A recent post on Junior Ganymede mentions the ritual bath called a mikveh where Jews practiced ritual immersions in pools of water. The parallels to Christian baptism (which means to dip or immerse) are many. In both rituals the purpose of the immersion is a symbolic cleansing or refreshing. Anciently, immersion in a mikveh was required for those converting to Judaism.
Today, these are the modern cases in which a mikveh is used:
- by Jewish women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation or childbirth;
- by Jewish men to achieve ritual purity (see details below);
- as part of a traditional procedure for conversion to Judaism;
- to immerse newly acquired utensils used in serving and eating food.
The Wikipedia article I’ve been referencing here cites a source that says “The existence of a mikveh is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikveh before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for the construction.” (Berlin, Meshib Dabar, 2:45)
These ritual immersions can happen many times throughout the year for many reasons. It was a powerful physical reminder ofRead Full PostGo to Comments
I’d like to thank my good friend Mike King for being the catalyst that inspired this article. The Bible verses are all from the New American Standard Version just for kicks, thanks, Andrew T.
There’s a verse in the Book of Mormon that I have seen get plenty of criticism from some who think that the verse teaches some kind of “works-based salvation” that diminishes the role of Christ’s grace.
On the other hand, however, I’ve seen Latter-day Saints misunderstand this verse as well. Read the following verse and ponder what you think it is getting at:
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
At first glance, it might seem like this verse is saying that our efforts actually make up a portion of our salvation. That us “doing things” makes up the first part of our salvation and that Jesus Christ’s atonement kicks in to cover whatever is left over. That is just one way that it can be interpreted, but there’s a glaring problem with that interpretation Read Full PostGo to Comments
I have felt lost at various points in my life; for different reasons and in different ways. I would like to focus specifically on the question of “Where does one begin?” in the context of finding the point in which one begins to return to God and in what manner it is done.
When I began, my path was full of detours, looking beyond the mark and simply being confused in mists of darkness. If I had understood the scriptures properly I might have found what I was looking for earlier on, but fortunately, we have a very patient and intensely wise Father in Heaven who never gives up on us.
So here we go then; I hope the information provided here can be of help to others that are searching as I was.Read Full PostGo to Comments