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:
- 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.
- Showers must have self-closing doors behind them
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.