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What Makes Me Watch Pornography? Question:
Time and again, I have tried to stop watching pornography on the Internet, but a day later, and sometimes after just a few hours, I'm back at the keyboard, unable to withstand the urge, as if compelled by some kind of magnet whose strength is far greater than mine. Can you tell me what's at the root of this, and what I can do to stop?

They Scoffed at Noach Too! Question: Don’t you think that over-emphasizing sex is making a mountain out of a mole hill? Answer: They scoffed at Noach too! They ridiculed him. They laughed. No one paid any attention to his warnings. For 120 years, he worked on building the ark, so that people would pass by and ask what he was doing, giving them a chance to repent.   Read more...

About to Fall Off the Cliff Question: I had a great summer in Israel, learning about Judaism at a yeshiva for beginners, but ever since coming back to the US for my last year of college, I’ve been smashed by my yetzer hara (sexual drive) and I’m on the verge of giving in with a non-Jewish girl who’s been making a pass at me for some time, letting me know that she’s available to fulfill all of my fantasies. On the one hand, it’s hard to keep close to the Torah here, and on the other hand, I can’t stand feeling guilty for all of my passions and want to have some fun. And I’ve heard  that the Torah prohibits marrying gentiles, but not necessarily having relations with them (I’d use a condom to avoid pregnancy.) I know that I’m playing with fire but what can I do? I’ve spoken to the campus rabbi about getting married but he says I’m too young.   Read more...

Canít Stop Watching Porn Question: I realize that watching erotic Internet sites leads nowhere and makes me feel spiritually and morally corrupt, but I can’t stop. I have tried everything in order to give up the addiction – mikvahs, cold showers, jogging, learning more Torah, making vows that I would stop, trying the 12 Torah Steps, confessing my problem to a rabbi, but after a few days of going clean, I’m back at the keyboard with a frenzy. I even installed a reliable filter, but I keep punching in the by-pass code. What more can a guy do?     Read more...

Waters of Eden PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tzvi Fishman   
Friday, 19 October 2012
The Baal Shem Tov revealed to his students that it was due to his mikvah immersions that he attained his transcendental levels of holiness. And even though it is also said that he attained his exalted stature due to his fervent praying, both explanations are true, for it is precisely the purification of the mikvah that brought an awesome holiness to his prayers. 

Since it is the beginning of Shovavim when we are engaging in tshuva and spiritual purification, it is a fitting time to remember the powerful purifying powers of a mikvah. In doing so, we will draw from the fountains of insights found in the wonderful book, “Waters of Eden,” written by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, may his memory be for a blessing.
Conveyed in the word mikvah is the work mikaveh, meaning hope and the belief in a better future.

Conversion to Judaism requires immersion in a mikvah, highlighting the power of the waters of the mikvah to bring about transformation and change. 

In Jewish law, a mikvah is more important than a synagogue. It is the first thing that a Jewish community must establish, even before a synagogue is built.

A Jewish bride must immerse in a mikvah before her wedding.

At the end of a woman’s monthly menstruation, she must immerse in a mikvah before she is permitted to have marital relations with her husband. 

Both men and women converts to Judaism must immerse in a mikvah before their conversion is valid.

The pious immerse before the Sabbath and Jewish holidays to reach a higher level of holiness.

It is proper for a man to immerse in a mikvah to cleanse himself of the spiritual impurity caused by sexual transgressions.

In the days of the Jerusalem Temple, immersion in a mikvah was a necessary part of the Temple services, and still today, before a Jew can ascend to the permitted areas on the Temple Mount, he must immerse in a mikvah.

The power of the mikvah comes from G-d. It is His decree that mikvah is the path to spiritual purity. While human intellect cannot fathom all of its esoteric workings, our Sages have unveiled some of its many mysteries:

The purpose of mikvah is not physical cleansing, but rather spiritual purification and change. Mikvah is the gateway to spiritual elevation and attachment to G-d. 

When the High Priest immersed himself on Yom Kippur before entering the Holy of Holies, it was not to cleanse himself of spiritual impurity, for he was already pure. Rather it came to elevate him to the exalted spiritual stature needed when approaching the transcendental holiness of the day.   

The mikvah then, is not only a means of purification from impurity, transgression, and spiritual pollution, it is also the pathway to elevation, transformation, hope, and rebirth. 

This can be readily seen in conversion. Here, the issue is not uncleanliness or impurity, but rather a change in status, from a non-Jew to a Jew.

Immersion is a process of rebirth. A person emerges from a mikvah like a newborn child. In this light, the mikvah symbolizes the womb. When a person enters the mikvah, he or she is re-entering the womb. Emerging from the mystical waters of the mikvah, the person is as if born anew. In this light, he achieves a completely new status.

In the story of Creation, the world was in an original state of water. The word used to convey the gathering of the waters into seas is mikvah. Thus, the water of the mikvah represents the womb of Creation. When a person immerses in a mikvah, he is returning to a pure, original state of Creation. He is returning to his source. In a spiritual sense, he is returning to G-d. Emerging from the waters of the mikvah, from this metaphorical womb of Creation, he is spiritually purged and reborn.

This phenomenon of rebirth is the reason why mikvah is an essential part of the process of repentance. By abandoning transgression and his errant ways, the penitent is born anew. In returning to the waters of Torah, he is returning to his true identity as a Jew.

The River From Eden

In the Biblical account of Creation, it is written that “a river went out from Eden to water the garden.” These Divine waters are the waters of the mikvah. In the language of the Kabbalah, this river is identified with the sefirah of Yesod, the channel that brings Divine blessing into the world. 

The Zohar emphasizes that sexual sins block the flow of this river, cutting off a person from the blessings of G-d. Kabbalists stress that the majority of man’s tribulations, hardships, and illnesses stem precisely from sexual sin, which pollutes the river and clogs up the flow of blessing from Eden.   

The Talmud teaches that all of the water in the world has its origins in the river that emerged from Eden. In submerging himself in the waters of the mikvah, the penitent reunites with this channel of blessing, reactivating its flow and rectifying the damage which he has caused himself and upper spiritual worlds. Thus mikvah is man’s way of reuniting with the pristine waters of Creation, to re-establish a link to man’s perfected state.  It is his pathway back to the Garden of Eden, and to spiritual and physical healing. 

This explains why the mikvah must be linked to natural water. Even though man has been expelled from the Garden of Eden, a link remains. The heavenly purifying waters of the mikvah.


Last Updated ( Friday, 19 October 2012 )
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