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Orthodox Judaism/Is the Jewish Mikveh Symbolic?

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Dear Mr. Rosenblum,

Thank you so much for receiving my question. I am doing research on the Jewish Mikveh and I had a question I was hoping you could help me with (I am not Jewish). Is it a traditional Jewish teaching that the Mikveh is purely symbolic or that it actually has a real spiritual effect on the person? From the various sources I have read, it sounds like it was not only symbolic and that a real spiritual cleansing occurs. However, many descriptions also refer to it as "symbolic" or as a "symbol" and I am not sure what the right answer is. I suppose it is entirely possible that there are many different views within Judaism on this issue. Honestly, I have no idea and I was hoping you could help or direct me to someone who might be able to? Thank you so much for your time.

Most Sincerely,
Justin Haskins

Answer
Hello Justin,

The only people who claim that Torah laws are 'symbolic' and have no spiritual effect are those who do not study the Torah the right way.  Any Jew going to Torah schools knows that every little act prescribed or prohibited by the Torah has consequences.

There are various levels of spiritual impurity.  There are do's and dont's with each.  For example, certain impurities prohibit us from entering the holy Temple in Jerusalem.  Today, we are prohibited from entering Temple Mount because we are all impure and do not have the means to cleans ourselves.  The Mikveh serves to cleans us from certain impurities or are part of a certain stage in the purification process.

Best regards,
David.

Orthodox Judaism

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David Rosenblum

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I am an ex-student of yeshiva and I like to be presented with Torah study problems. If you have studied the Torah and have questions on the subject matter, I want to hear about it. I am not a Rabbi and not qualified to decide halachic issues. I am still interested in halachic questions for which I can sometimes offer general guidelines or present decisions in halachic works such as Mishna Berurah. I welcome questions from non-Jewish people but I cannot respond to religious references that are not part of Judaism. If you are working on a paper or doing research and want general information on a Jewish subject, I may or may not satisfy your need, depending on how comfortable I am with the question. If you have a personal problem, I am not qualified to help you but I will do what I can to offer you some assistance.

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