THE POOL of a medieval mikve in Speyer, Germany, dating back to 1128.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
This week, we read two Torah portions: Tazria and Metzora. They deal with a group of men and women who are forbidden from entering the Temple due to various kinds of “impurities” in their bodies, and they must undergo a process of “purification” in order to be able to enter.The “impurity” is not a punishment or even evidence of being diminished in any way. These same men and women did nothing wrong, and with some, the “impurity” is natural and even joyful. For instance, a woman who has given birth is considered “impure” for a period of time after the birth and must undergo a process of purification in order to be able to enter the Temple. A woman who is menstruating is forbidden to enter the Temple until she undergoes a process of purification that includes counting seven clean days and then immersing in a mikve (ritual bath). Other than that, it is forbidden to have marital relations until the woman has completed the purification process.