Why all the brouhaha about Mikvaos in Israel for Reform

The laws of a Mikva are of the most complex that exist. They are riddled with minutiae and disagreement among even later day Rabbis. Reform has never shown an interest in archaic Rabbinic tradition, their arguments, Talmudic or otherwise; it’s about a ritual. As such, I don’t see why a Hot Pool of any type can’t be used for Reform conversions (I am unaware of them ever ruling that the minutiae of “old archaic” Rabbinic tradition should be upheld). It would be much cheaper.

Reform Judaism’s governing bodies dropped the requirement for immersion more than a century ago. The Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 stated: “We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its [ancient] national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only the moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives, but reject all such as are not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.” Thus did the Reform rabbinic authorities renounce – without banning – any and all requirements for ritual, including those involving mikveh. In 1977 Rabbi Walter Jacob commented that “the custom has fallen into disuse….Ritual immersion has completely ceased to be practiced for niddah [separation of spouses during menstruation] and is followed only by a small percentage within the Orthodox community” [Contemporary American Reform Responsa].

If they want to revive it, , perhaps in keeping with Reform philosophy, it’s time to invent an up to date,  modern “equivalent”.
If for some reason they would like a specific set of pools for this purpose, then let it be a user-pays situation.

Reform Jews are using mikvaot today in a wide variety of alternative ways: to mark lifecycle events or a change of personal status, to celebrate joy or sanctify grief. Immersions before a bat or bar mitzvah, to mark divorce or the death of a loved one, to celebrate graduation or a trip to Israel, as gratitude after recovery from a serious illness are increasingly common. And while mikveh is traditionally practiced in privacy, some liberal mikvaot are hosting groups, including women marking the onset of menopause and men taking their sons before the High Holidays.

See here for more

Sarah Hatsman, Reform Clergy, introduces new hand washing procedures with the Mikvah, and mindfulness.

 

 

The Mikvah is used by Orthodox women monthly. It is most likely that it is only used for a Reform Conversion and perhaps? before a wedding. On that basis, the State should withdraw funding from all Mikvaos and make admission based on a user pays affiliation to the type of Mikva.

Would the State fund Baptism Pools as well?

The same if true of Conservative (Masorti). There are plenty of US donors who would pay for these customised pools and rules.

Separation of Religion and State needs to occur in Israel. The Chief Rabbinate no longer is respected and has managed to descend a level each time there are new appointees.

Which Mikveh does the transexual, or fluid sexual go to?

The majority of people are aligned with traditional orthodoxy and will always be and have little to do with Reform  or Conservatives. These are mainly American phenomena that has been imported in small quantities into Israel.

Finally note the inequality. Male Orthodox Jews do not have the same requirements of a Mikva as a female. As such, according to many authorities they may be ritually cleaned in a swimming pool or a 4-5 minute shower. Certainly, it doesn’t have the “feel” and “preparation” of going to a Male Mikva, however, there is much that needs to be improved in the lack of Tznius in Male Mikvaos, which unfortunately isn’t being addressed by anyone it would seem.

Nobody complains about that. Perhaps feminists should argue they should have the easier rules as per men?

PS. The “diplobabble from some Shas MPs makes me cringe”.

Top court rules public ritual baths open to all Jewish conversions

The following story appeared in multiple news outlets. Reform and Conservative will see it as a “victory”. I see it as stupidity if they do:

It’s a secular civil matter involving money of the state. As such, Xian, Hindu, and Arabs would also be able to apply to use such Mikvaos for ritual cleansing if they applied and were Israeli Citizens. Melanie Landau might delight in this “equality”, but the difference is that Open, Conservative and Reform versions are simply closer religions to Judaism. That’s all. Their converts are not accepted as traditional Jews any more than RMG Rabi’s are.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that people undergoing a non-Orthodox Jewish conversation are entitled to immerse themselves in a public ritual bath as part of the ceremony, striking down a lower court’s decision to the contrary.

The justices accepted an appeal by the Masorti Movement and the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel against a ruling which banned non-Orthodox converts from using state-funded mikvehs.

The Supreme Court’s decision was hailed as a victory for non-Orthodox streams and a blow to the Chief Rabbinate. Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef called it “outrageous.”

The court made clear that while it ruled on a specific case against the religious authorities in Beersheba, where the case was first discussed, its ruling applies throughout Israel.

The appellants argued that immersing in a mikveh as part of the process of conversion ought to be considered a “religious service” and as such should be provided by local religious authorities by law, with no distinction between conversion or other ritual needs. The appellants added that the attempt to distinguish between people using the mikveh when converting in the state’s official program and those converting via an alternative stream constituted illegal discrimination.

They contended that in so doing, the religious authorities in Beersheba also discriminated in granting services, products, and entry to public facilities.

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who ruled in the case along with Salim Joubran and Chief Justice Miriam Naor, wrote in the decision, according to Haaretz: “Once it established public mikvehs and put them at the service of the public – including for the process of conversion – the state cannot but be evenhanded in allowing their use.”

“The State of Israel is free to supervise the use of its mikvehs, so long as it does so in an egalitarian manner,” he added. “The state’s choice not to supervise immersion done as part of private conversion programs does not justify the prevention of such immersion.”
Chief Rabbi Yosef said the court’s “miserable decision to allow reform Jews and Conservatives to immerse in mikveh baths intended to serve the entire public is outrageous. Reform Jews are making use of halacha for their needs when it is convenient and are undermining the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. The court cannot on the one hand satisfy a small minority, and on the other gravely harm thousands of Jews interested in Jewish life according to halacha and in keeping the true Jewish identity of the state.”

Representatives of the non-Orthodox movements commended the court’s decision.
Director of the Masorti Movement Yizhar Hess said that the ruling “echoes from Jerusalem to the edge of the land, and will resonate across the wide Jewish world,” calling it “a clear decision that Conservative and Reform Jews are not stepchildren in the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of Reform Jews in the country, said the verdict “is another significant step on the road to full recognition of Reform and Conservative Judaism in Israel.” He promised: “We will continue the effort to complete this journey in the coming years.”

A sensible start to Mikva reform

Dear Mispallelim,

Due to our concern for the safety of children, the Mikva will not be available for any children under 18 years old. This applies whether or not they are accompanied by an adult. Failure to adhere with this rule will result in the closure of our Mikva.

Mispalelim should remain cognizant of their responsibility to ensure their children’s safety. Parents are reminded to supervise and ensure the safety of their children while in our Chabad House

We would like to take this opportunity to again convey our unequivocal recommendation that anyone who has been abused, knows someone else who was abused or has concerns about inappropriate behaviour of an individual, should report it to the police immediately. If for any any reason, the individual is apprehensive about contacting the police directly, s/he may feel free to report it to myself or Rabbi Shmerling who will then pass on the information to the police, as we have indeed done recently.

With wishes for only good in the future,

Rabbi Y. Gutnick
Chabad House of Caulfield

I would say this is a proper position based on

  1. עת לעשות לה׳ הפירו תורתיך
  2. It’s a Middas Chassidus, which is outweighed by the scourge
  3. Some Poskim hold that a shower is a Mikva (for a male)
  4. They can get sound חינוך that they can’t go because of potential danger until they are older.
  5. It’s not a Chiyuv today anyway but a good הנהגה

Ask your Posek and report back

It is my strong halachic opinion (I am not a posek, and my comments are not LeHalacha and not L’Maaseh) that any male who is (also) attracted to the same gender, should be absolutely forbidden to go to the Mikvah, other than in exceptional circumstances where it is necessary and only then, when they are the only person in the Mikvah, and supervised from outside, to be so (in a quiet tzniusdik way so as not to embarrass)

Ask your Rav for his Psak on such a matter. Point out that Shulchan Aruch already wrote that it is forbidden to stay alone (Yichud) with a male, if there is a concern that they have proclivity towards same gender attraction. Your Rav may not want to reveal his name (everyone seems to want to go under the radar today) but I’d be interested to know what your Posek, anywhere in the world, feels is the Halacha for someone in the class above.

(If Mikvaos are re-architectured, things may change. I’ve argued they should be)