Re-architecting our Mikvaos

The scourge of male perverts, pedophiles and sickos is challenging communities across the globe. The Halachos of a Mikva are complex and need expert Rabbinical advice and architectural nous. Our Mikvaos are cleaner and more acceptable than in times gone by. My father’s description of the scene at the Mikva in Rawa Mazowiecka in Poland before World War 2 was, how do I put it delicately, “off-putting” especially by today’s standards.

I recall when I was learning in Israel that, before Pesach, I sought out a Mikvah near Rechov Har Sinai in Ra’anana. I was the only person there apart from the Mikvah Warden. After completing my spiritual oblution, I opened the door to leave the Mikvah proper only to find the warden “too close to the door”. I had the distinct impression that he may have peered through the key hole. You don’t forget scenes like that.

I do realise that it is only Chassidim who dip in the Mikva daily today. Some, like me, have the custom to do so before the שלש רגלים. Most will do so on Erev Yom Kippur. Strictly speaking, one could also dip in a swimming pool (heated, one would hope 🙂

It’s perhaps worth considering a few changes to future or renovated Mikvaos. My suggestions are:

  1. The change area no longer be a common open area. Rather, there should be a series of say 10 little cubicles with a swinging door behind them where one undresses and then girds a towel.
  2. Showers must have self-closing doors behind them
  3. In high use communities, for example, Chassidim, a total of four consecutive mikva pools should be available. Each pool should be fully enclosed so that nobody can peer in.
  4. There should be a maximum of one person in a pool at a time, unless it is an older or incapacitated man who brings someone to assist them.
  5. The absolute maximum time for an individual to be in the Mikvah should be 60 seconds. There should be an LED timer on the back of the self-closing door which should start warning that time is elapsing, from 30 seconds into the process.
  6. There should be a separate entry door and exit door to each pool. The entry door should be accessible from the shower area. Only when a person has exited through the exit door, should the entry door unlock and indicate that the pool is available.
  7. If a person has not emerged after 120 seconds an alarm should sound.

It is important that we not only strengthen Tzniyus in our community by focussing on the translucency of female stockings (which is only a matter of Minhag) but return to fundamentals. Some reformation of Mikva architecture, based loosley on my suggestions above, would seem to be necessary in our times.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have nought to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

11 thoughts on “Re-architecting our Mikvaos”

  1. Isaac your idea has merit.
    Each community would need to consult its members.
    I believe that those who have accepted upon themselves Minhogim i.e. translucent stockings should be admired not derided.
    As you know the customs of the People of Israel gains the strength of a Torah Law.
    Mutual respect must be mutual.

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    1. I agree with Pinchos. You seem to have an obsession with trans.. stockings. Fact is they can and do keep people from transgressing issur Mideoirayseh.

      Your plan for a high use mikva would never work. Such mikvaos in Eretz Yisroel and other places have at least 10,000 men on a Friday afternoon, Yom Tov much more. Yours gets 720 through in 3 hours. If a menuvel wants to see, it’s almost impossible to stop him. The first is to get rid of those who actually do their disgusting things with kids in empty quiet mikvaos.

      BTW there are mikvaos overseas with curtains on each shower. Also Adass put mechitzes in the dressing room, which limits at least some of the view.

      The photo at the bottom re mixed mikves. Where does it come from?

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      1. Do some research on where the figure for the denier of the Satmar zoken comes from. It’s … er … Rather ridiculous!

        I don’t know where the pic is from. You can see the original source when you click on it I presume

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      2. Have you got a list of menuvalim, and perhaps a way of identifying them at an early stage? It seems to me that while arayos are yeharog veal yaavor, tevilah of this sort is merely a hanhaga tova. If Isaac’s solution isn’t possible then perhaps mandate the use of swimming costumes.

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        1. Yeharog veal yaavor for who? The perv? Yeah that’ll stop them. YHVAY is about something else(doing a certain act/s) not peeping toms.

          Anyone who doesn’t want to be perved at should wear their towel around themselves until entry into mikva and leave towel at the entrance of the bor. And the same from exit. People do it.

          Many Gedolim(not only Chassidic) held such mikva very important.

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          1. We aren’t talking about peeping toms. It’s not about us not being wanted to be perved at. It’s all about another plank in the creation of an environment which no longer uses orthodox Judaism as an easy target of prey by the pedophile and more.

            I become a tad wary when The Gedolim card is used without context

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            1. Speaking of context, your experience in Ranana, sounds like your issue is being perved on.

              Sorry about not adding context to my Geolim claim, I thought their importance of mikva was known.

              Here’s a few of many: Harav Aharon Hagodol of Karlin said: Mikva is not a Mitzva, but what the heights that tevila in mikva can bring, no Mitzva can(he said the same about Simcha and the opposite about Atzvos).

              He also said that in doros ha’achronim it will be hard to keep Emunah, giving 3 segulos to help, one being Mikva.

              The Chazon Ish said that Chasidim have 3 minhogim he holds of very highly, one of them-mikva. And the Steipler used to Toivel in a warm Mikva on Shabbos morning.

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            2. Hardly. I just mentioned that Mikvaos have that element. They aren’t just empty rooms. These are rooms where naked men parade.
              I’ve been to the Mikva and seen a kid doing laps. He seemed to be in there forever. In our climate, this is not advised.
              As to your other quotes, they do not relate to Joe’s point.
              You can have your cake and eat it.

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            3. My other quotes were not responding to JOA. You complained about lack of context when using Gedolim. So I brought context.

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  2. I’m not talking about some pervert apparently gratifying himself by observing unclad men; there have been multiple reports of people who were sexually assaulted in mikvaot. The perpetrator of such acts has (as I understand it) the same din as a rodef; we can do anything to prevent him committing his crimes. Frankly I think it is obvious that if we can be mevatel a mitzva aseh mideoraita (e.g., shofar on Shabbat) we should be willing to do the same for a mere hanhaga if it were necessary to do so. But I don’t think it is actually necessary: these assaults apparently took place because the environment is stimulating to a person with this nature, and the victims are vulnerable when they are unclothed and the assailant has some privacy. A redesign of mikvaot combined with the use of bathing suits would not involve any halachic problems, but it might go a long way to making mikvaot safer.

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    1. Then you could only mean an empty mikva. These types of crimes are not commited in a mikvah where even one other person can see the crime. It has always happened in empty mikvaos. As you wrote “where the assailant has privacy”. I can’t see how bathers or anything else written here would stop these perpetrators. The big mikvaos with multiple boros, do not have these issues. Maybe parents should control where and when their young teenagers go to mikva.

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