Mikveh ( Hebrew מִקְוֶה or מקווה, Plural מִקְוֶוֹת or מִקְוָאות Mikwaot ; fromקוה"Flow together"), German formerly Jewish bath , in Judaism denotes the immersion bath, the water of which is not only used for hygiene , but also to cleanse ritual impurities by immersion .
According to Jewish tradition, the dead, for example, are considered ritually unclean. Anyone who comes into contact with a dead person becomes unclean and had to be cleansed of this uncleanness at the time of the temple in Jerusalem . Certain body fluids also cause impurity.
A mikveh must have seven steps that lead down into the water and a minimum capacity of a little more than 500 liters. The water must be "living water". Therefore, groundwater micwaot were built in many places, most of which were located underground at the level of the local groundwater table. In modern times, rainwater is also often used.
In the past, every Jewish community had a ritual immersion bath. In Germany , Mikwaot can still be detected in over 400 locations - for example in Andernach , Friedberg (Hessen) , Erfurt , Cologne , Petershagen , Sondershausen , Speyer , Worms .
In the mikvah in Rotenburg an der Fulda , a modern bathing basin (1835/1925), a groundwater immersion bath from the 17th century and a separate shaft for toweling kitchen appliances were found.
In Kirchheim (Lower Franconia) , where a small rural Jewish community existed from the 16th century to 1908, a mikvah was discovered in a house built in 1667 in 1993.
Mag. Harald Seyrl, operator of the Vienna Crime Museum, confirms the discovery of the remains of a mikvah in the basement of the house at Große Sperlgasse 24, 1020 Vienna.
The Humberghaus in Dingden has a rainwater mikveh that is fed from the outside via a rain gutter. The basin has no drain and is originally plastered waterproof. The mikvah had been built privately because the nearest synagogue was far away. The Rhenish Monument Office judges: "The finding of a mikveh is of particular architectural historical importance."
Regulations and customs
Orthodox, Conservative and Liberal Judaism
In orthodox and conservative Judaism , a visit to the mikveh is compulsory when a married woman has menstruated or given birth . The woman makes her first visit to the mikveh as a bride, usually on the eve of the wedding day. She traditionally celebrates this event with friends and female members of the family. The commandment "Nidda we 'Twila" (separation time and immersion in the mikveh) applies as soon as a Jewish woman has or wants to have intercourse with a man - regardless of the status of the relationship.
Immersion in the mikveh is a condition for a conversion to Judaism of the orthodox, conservative and liberal directions for both men and women.
During the ritual cleansing, nothing foreign must be on the body, nothing must prevent the pure water from coming into full contact with the body. Any kind of clothing and jewelry , lipstick , nail polish and the like must be removed before bathing. It must be ensured that the entire body including the hair is submerged. The process of complete immersion is called Tewila or Twila (Hebrew טְבִילָה).
A sofer (writer of religious scriptures) is obliged to immerse himself in the mikveh in a state of complete ritual purity before writing the name of God in a Torah scroll. Otherwise, visiting the mikveh is only required for women. In ultra-orthodox Judaism , however, the mikveh is sometimes used by men for immersion before the start of the Sabbath or on public holidays, especially before the Day of Atonement .
In addition, the mikveh is used to towel dishes before first use, but this is usually done in a separate basin. If there is no mikveh, the obligation to submerge can also be fulfilled in the sea, in a lake, a river or a deeper stream.
Although the attendance of the mikveh is prescribed for women in conservative and liberal Judaism, the command is practically only obeyed by strictly orthodox women. Efforts have recently been made to promote visits to the mikvah even among women who are not strictly religious - even in Reform Judaism with American influences, which traditionally has no mikveh. In this way new uses of the mikvah that are not based on the halacha are created, which in some places leads to the construction of new mikvah.
Current situation in Germany
The mikvahs are modern heated bathing facilities, of which there are currently almost 30 in Germany's over 100 Jewish communities. There are three functioning mikvehs in Berlin , one in the Chabad house, one next to the orthodox synagogue on Joachimstaler Straße (where the water is pumped up from 42 m depth) and one in Oranienburger Straße (which draws its water from a water tank on the roof receives).
The recently built synagogues and community centers usually also have an immersion bath. In Bad Segeberg in Schleswig-Holstein , with a Jewish community of 150 members, there has been a synagogue with a mikveh since 2002. The construction was made possible by the “Holsteins Herz” foundation . The mikveh is not operated with groundwater, but with rainwater. In Constance , where parishioners used to use Lake Constance for their ritual baths, a mikveh was inaugurated in summer 2008. The 300,000 euro building was privately financed. The water comes from a rainwater collecting basin on the roof of the building.
- Thea Altaras (1924–2004, from the estate): Synagogues and Jewish ritual immersion baths in Hesse . What has happened since 1945? A documentation and analysis of all 264 Hessian places whose synagogues survived the pogrom night of 1938 and the Second World War: 276 architectural descriptions and building histories. Ed .: Gabriele Klempert and Hans-Curt Köster. The Blue Books, Königstein im Taunus 2007, ISBN 978-3-7845-7794-4 , p. 31–59 ( Basics of Mikwa'ot).
- Peter Guttkuhn: Zores about a mikveh . How the Lübeck Jewish community won a legal dispute over the operation of its ritual bath in 1852. In: Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung, year 51 . No. 18 . Bonn 5th September 1996.
- Katrin Keßler: Jewish ritual baths in Germany - typology and history of development . In: INSITU. Zeitschrift für Architekturgeschichte 7 (2/2015), pp. 197–212.
- Heinrich Nuhn : The Rotenburg mikveh . Cultural monument and testimony to the diversity of Jewish life. Verlag AG Spurensuche, Rotenburg an der Fulda 2006, ISBN 3-933734-11-8 (With an afterword by Avital ben-Chorin (née Erika Fackenheim, Eisenach) and explanations by Martin Schaub on his Mose sculpture, e-book ( PDF; 3.2 MB)).
- Mikveh . In: Ernst Seidl (Hrsg.): Lexicon of building types. Functions and forms of architecture . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-15-010572-6 .
- Sylvia Seifert: Insights into the life of Jewish women in Regensburg . In: Kätzel / Schrott (Ed.): Regensburger Frauenspuren. A historical journey of discovery . Pustet, Regensburg 1995.
- Jewish Museum Franconia, Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main, Jewish Museum Hohenems and Jewish Museum Vienna (ed.): All in! Jewish ritual baths. Photographs by Peter Seidel. with contributions by Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek , Gail Levin, Gerhard Milchram, Hannes Sulzenbacher and Annette Weber, approx. 100 pages, 20 color images, Holzhausen Verlag, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-85493-172-0 .
- Tahara, Tumah and Mikvvah: Explanations in the context of ritual purity laws
- Jewish Education Center Baden: Mikveh - family purity . Purifying water
- Bettina Dyttrich: The mikvah. Whom the living water enlivens. WOZ, June 24, 2010
- Purity rituals in medieval Judaism DFG Science TV
- Evyatar Marienberg: Enlightenment as an internal Jewish challenge. Rabbi Moses Schreiber, “Heretical Jewish Doctors” and ritual baths. In: DAVID: Jüdische Kulturzeitschrift 94 (Sep. 2012), pp. 68–71.
- Rothenburg | Sensation in Judengasse 10. www.radio8.de, June 26, 2019, accessed on August 13, 2020 .
- Heinrich Nuhn: The Rotenburger Mikwe. Cultural monument and testimony to the diversity of Jewish life. Verlag AG trace search, Rotenburg an der Fulda 2006, ISBN 3-933734-11-8 . e-book (PDF; 3.2 MB).
- Bernhard Purin (ed.): Jewish Museum Franconia . Fürth & Schnaittach, Munich 1999, p. 5 f .; Katrin Bielfeldt: History of the Jews in Fürth . A home for centuries. Nuremberg 2005, p. 16 f. and p. 24 f.
- Joachim Braun (collaboration), article on the history of the Jewish community, synagogue and the discovery of the mikveh. Here also literature and links on the topic.
- In: Archeology in Germany 2/2001, p. 53.
- Reviewer Julia Baumann, November 3, 2003.
- About the different types of water in the mikveh and why there may be no drainage.
- Do men go to the mikvah too? Chabad.org.
- Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert: A mikveh for feminists .
- Judith Baskin, Shimon Gibson and David Kotlar: Mikveh . In: Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (eds.): Encyclopaedia Judaica . Volume 14, 2nd Edition, Macmillan Reference USA, Detroit 2007, pp. 225-230 online . Jewish Virtual Library ( English ).
- Donig Mikva
- Mikveh in Berlin.
- Lohmühle Jewish Community Center. (No longer available online.) Holsteins Heart Foundation, archived from the original on September 14, 2007 ; Retrieved February 7, 2011 .
- Mikveh in Bad Segeberg. (No longer available online.) State Association of the Jewish Communities of Schleswig-Holstein, archived from the original on February 9, 2010 ; Retrieved February 7, 2011 .
- Jewish community dedicates its new mikvah . Central Council of Jews in Germany.