What is a Mikvah?
The word "Mikvah" means "a gathering of waters." A Mikvah is built according to precise rules of location, dimension and source of its natural water. The Mikvah looks like a small pool, is about four feet deep and is filled with warm (92 degree) water. This "mayim chayim," "living water," reminds us of the pure waters of the Garden of Eden. The ritual of immersion in a Mikvah is a means of spiritual purification, helping us to prepare ourselves for events in our lives of great spiritual importance. In the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the high priest immersed himself in the Mikvah five separate times during the services for Yom Kippur. According to the Talmud, if a new Jewish community is established, it is incumbent upon the community to build the Mikvah first, even before building the synagogue. Performing the rite of circumcision and immersion in a Mikvah are the two oldest rituals in any religion, having been performed continuously for almost 3,500 years.
A Mikvah recently discovered in Israel.