A Chossid, A Mikvah and the P-Word

I’ve been helping out for a few days in a small kosher business, basically just me and a fifty something Gerrer chossid. It was my turn to wash up, but that water was too hot for me (I don’t like hot water, seriously, I take lukewarm showers). Someone else mentioned how he likes to start the day with a scalding hot bath. The chossid nods and says, (heavy yiddish accent) yeah, I like to start the day right in a hot mikvah. I joked at the differences between us, we take baths, while he takes a mikvah. I then mention that I don’t like going to mikvos. And why not? You’re a yid, you go to the mikvah. But I don’t like going to the mikvah I tell him, for one it’s gross. Nu, you go early in the morning before anyone and the water’s clean. Isn’t it the same water from the day before? A mikvah is rainwater and it doesn’t rain enough to replenish the mikvah everyday. Nu, its clean water every day.” He couldn’t explain how though.

He’s basically insisting that a mikvah is a requirement for a frum yid. I play along, and ask him if Moshe Rabbeinu went to the mikvah. Of course he did. There were mikvas in the desert? Nu, obviously. But it’s a desert. Where was the mikvah in a desert?

I then ask him if Moshe was a chossid or litvish. He thinks for a moment, and decides Moshe must have been a chossid. I ask him if Moshe was Ashkanazi or Sephardi. He didn’t have to think about that one, and says Moshe was Ashkenazi. I could have gone into the genetics and history of that one, but what’s the point?

Now, you’re in for a treat. I’m going to explain what I didn’t want to explain to him, why I don’t like the mikvah. And I’m going to have to use a word that is almost never used on a J-Blog. Penis. I’m setting a new standard here, and probably assuring that nothing I write will ever get reprinted in The Jewish Press. May as well say it again. Penis. My aversion to mikvos started from the very first time I went to one. I was about nine, I think. And my dad took me with him on erev Rosh Hashonah. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the sight of every adult male in the neighborhood naked, just chilling. I remember this next bit very clearly. I found a closet to change in, and wrapped myself in my towel because I just wasn’t feeling as carefree as everyone else seemed to be. I stepped out of the closet, with my modesty intact, only to discover that someone had decided to change right outside the door. Now I was a short kid, so I stepped out that closet only to be greeted by Reb Happyowitz’s Mister Happy dangling at eye level.

It was years before I went to a mikvah again. I was in high school, and feeling all pumped full of frumkeit for the new year I decided to go to the mikvah on another fateful erev yom tov. Nothing quite as traumatic as what happened all those years before, but as I came out of the mikavh, I noted that while I was supposed to be spiritually clean, it was hard to focus on that while picking other peoples pubic hair off my shoulder. I then glanced back into the murky green water and noted with horror the sheer amount of shedding that appeared to have taken place by everyone before me. I decided no amount of spiritual cleansing was worth the amount of physical cleansing I would have to do afterwards.

28 Responses to “A Chossid, A Mikvah and the P-Word”

  1. Interestingly, if there is no mikvah, one can immerse themselves in sand, and that purifies as well. this is how the Jews were generally believed to have kept up the purity thing while in the desert.

  2. Score one for him then. Thanks Miri. I wasnt even thinking about taharas mishpacha.
    Good video as well. I remember that from ages ago but I’d forgotten about it.

  3. There are private mikva’os.

  4. My stomach is turning over.
    Maybe immersing in a mikvah was the best way to keep clean when homes didn’t have private baths. That’s no longer true, and the thought of all those naked hairy men dipping into the same water is just repulsive.

  5. I didn’t have a problem with the P-Word at all, being a veteran mikvah-goer myself. I did want to point out however (no pun intended of course) that the “Possibly related posts” listed here DEFINITELY have no relation to your post. Whew, I’m glad i got that out of the way.

  6. So in other words you were eye to eye with the one eyed snake. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    dbd, I’m sure if you drink mikva water, you gonna lose a lot of weight very quickly.

    I don’t know where you people find these mikvas, the ones in Brooklyn that I’ve been to were very clean.

  7. HAHAHHAHA Frumpunk, I have never loved you as much as I love you right now.

    1. I say worse than “penis” on my blog, and you’re right: I’ll probably never write for the Jewish Press, but I do write for a very well known men’s magazine, so there is always that hope. Don’t give up.
    2. Most mikva’ot – in fact, I don’t know of any – are not completely made of rainwater. Usually, a small amount of collected rainwater mixes via its own pipe, with clean (changed-every-day) regular bathwater. But clearly, I’m not a rabbi. Anyone shocked?
    2. Pubic hair. Oh. Dear. I’m just so sorry for you, but you should know that going to a women’s mikvah is creepy for its own reasons.

  8. Mrs. Lakewood falling down Says:

    lol! nameless,faceless is right about the mikvahs in point 2a. i have a friend who is a mikvah lady outside nyc. she always complains after the men get through how much scrubbing is required and the amount of cleaning the rest of the place needs as well. lady’s spas are really clean, privacy is paramount and the amount of scrubbing required pre-dip really keeps the water clean. btw, the water also has chlorine in it. as for the hair well not much to be done for it at least its clean.

  9. Moshe: Is that your version of a desperation diet? (When all else fails)

  10. No, it’s my version of an inspiration diet. When you see what you’ve been drinking, you’ll be inspired to never eat again.

  11. ok now that all sounds very gross, I can understand why people wouldn’t want to go to the mikvah.

    My twin brother is very into it though. I asked him about it, and he said that its not so bad. I asked if it’s like a swimming pool full of men, and he said its not like that, that its basically one person at a time.

    and Mikvah’s can’t have filters in them?

  12. ew ew ew! Thank g-d women’s mikvas are clean! I could not imagine going if they were gross. ew ew ew! now i can’t get that thought out of my head!!!!!!!!!

  13. why cant the men go one at a time to the mikvah instead of together for a group swim?

  14. Takes too long as it is and unlike women’s mikva where only those women that need to be there are there, men’s mikva is a lot more crowded.

  15. hehehe! thats all i can say here! lol…its very funny! ur obviously very talented at writing!

  16. hehehe, very funny is all i can say here! ur oviously very talented at writing.

  17. Thank you for sharing that – i always wondered what happens in a men’s mikvah. Yuck Yuck!!
    Now about that heter of using the sand to purify oneself,,,, erm, just thinking about getting the sand out of all the cracks makes my eyes water!

  18. Don’t men also have halachot of tzniut? The Mikva doesn’t sound very modest or… pleasant.

  19. We do?! And it’s a halacha?!
    Stop calling everything you have ever heard of or read about a halacha.
    Women’s mikva is a lot less modest, at least there’s no “mikva lady” in men’s mikva.

  20. Lost and Not Yet Found Says:

    I never said it was a halacha, it was a question.

  21. Mrs. Lakewood Falling Down Says:

    Moshe-

    “Womenโ€™s mikva is a lot less modest, at least thereโ€™s no โ€œmikva ..”
    The mikvah lady’s are extremely tzniut!!! They don’t look at anything unecessary and their role is absolutely vital to ensure a kosher dunk.

  22. And a good thing men don’t need them.

  23. Men’s mikva’s are laid back places where old chassidishe dude’s discuss the latest news.

    Penis never botherd me too much, unless it was some little kid using it to see how far into the mikvah he can pee.

    My main problem with the mikva is plain and simple: Dirt.

    In a neighborhood like mine, hundreds of guys go every day. Not all bother showering first, other’s seem to think that the mik is a place to soak in hot water and pluck beard hairs, pick dingleberries, or worse.

    Worst of all is Shabbos morning. Guy’s just finished loving his wife the previous night, loves juices and all are still fresh so where better than to go than the communal pool when showering is forbidden to all?

    I go once a year on Erev Yom kippur when it is obligated by Shulchan Aruch, though I do go in the river or lakes whenever I’m out on the water and the water temp is over 68 degrees.

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  25. HELLO, U KNOW U R ALLOWED TO TAKE A SHOWER AFTER!!!

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