In Temple times, pilgrims would flock to Jerusalem at least three times a year to celebrate the holidays of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. Before entering the city, they would stop to immerse in a mikveh, a ritual bath, to purify themselves. Two thousand years later, two ritual baths, located close to the special spot along the road where pilgrims could get the first glimpse of the holy city, are overflowing with water again, thanks to the abundant winter rains and to the joy of contemporary visitors.“These two pools are located on the Mountain Road, one of the three roads that crossed Israel from north to south,” Assaf Brezis, manager of Gush Etzion ATVs Tours, told The Jerusalem Post. “In the [Talmud], there is a debate on whether pilgrims should purify themselves at the entrance of Jerusalem or when they first saw the city on their way. This mikveh is located just two miles from this point,” he said.The ritual bath is located south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, near the settlement of Neveh Daniel, and it is one of the destinations of Brezis’s company’s tours.“We bring tourists, many Jews but also Christians, to explore the land and the places described in the Bible. It is very powerful for them,” Brezis added. “Sometimes, after they hear the explanation about the mikveh, they start crying.”These two pools were discovered in two separate excavations led by archaeologists David Amit and Yuval Peleg in 1990 and 2000, respectively, as Dr. Yonatan Adler, a visiting associate professor at Yale University and an expert in ancient ritual baths, told the Post.“They date back to the early Roman period, or late Second Temple period, but were used later as well,” Adler said. “Mikvehs were not necessarily connected to Jerusalem; people immersed themselves for ritual purity all over. We have uncovered around 1,000 ritual baths around the country. However, most of them were built in villages or next to other facilities, such as vineyards. These two pools are in the middle of nowhere except for the main road to the city.”The structure of one of these mikvaot, as well as its unusually large dimensions, reflects how these pools served as public baths for huge crowds.“We have two flights of stairs and two doorways leading to the mikveh, separated by a wall. We think that this was meant to separate those who were going down to immerse and were still [ritually] impure from those coming up already pure,” Adler explained.Adler also pointed out that according to several Jewish sources, including the Mishna and the Tosefta, it was around this time of the year, early spring, that public officers would be sent out to take care of the mikvaot around the land.“On the 15th [of Adar]: they read the megillah [Megilat Esther] in walled cities, and they fix the roads and the streets and the ritual water baths,” reads Mishna Shekalim 1:1.The 15th of Adar marks Shushan Purim, which this year will fall on March 11.“They were getting ready for Passover,” Adler concluded.