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Orthodox Judaism/What is the Meaning of the Mikveh?

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Question
Dear Ovadiah ben Avraham,

Thank you so very much for taking my question. I am doing research on the ritual bath known as the Mikveh. I am not Jewish and don't quite understand it. I was hoping you could help me with this issue.

What exactly is the purpose of the Mikveh? Does the cleansing the bath act as a symbolic cleansing, an actual spiritual cleansing, or both? From the sources I have read, it sounds like the traditional Jewish belief is that it is an actual spiritual cleansing, not just symbolic. Sometimes, however, it is referred to using language like "symbolism" so I wasn't sure.

Further, I read that the Mikveh is used when someone converts to Judaism. What then is the difference between the Mikveh and the circumcision? In other words, why both?

Thanks for your time and G-d bless!

Justin

Answer
Justin,
The mikvah is used for spiritual cleansing, not physical. In fact, one must shower thoroughly before immersion. I hope the following article helps in your research. Shalom

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/life/Life_Events/Conversion/Conversion_Process/M

Orthodox Judaism

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Ovadiah ben Avraham

Expertise

Willing to answer and research general Halakhah questions in any field, including medical ethics. No synagogue or ritual type questions except by non-Jews looking for a brief summary.

Experience

Yeshiva and self-study

Organizations
Jewish Spiritual Humanism

Education/Credentials
Doctorate Degree

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