Mikvah Prayer

A woman's prayer before entering the ritual bath.

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Reprinted with permission of the author. Also published on Ritualwell.org.

Tehines, prayers written in Yiddish which flourished in the 17th through 19th centuries, were written to express the unique spiritual concerns of women. They have recently been reaching a new audience thanks to feminist scholarship. The tehine below is an original, modern tehine that  uses traditional tehine language and style but also expresses a contemporary sensibility about an ancient ritual.

Ribono shel olam, God of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, I stand before You as have countless generations of Jewish women, about to immerse in the waters of your holy presence.

 

mikvah poolBless me, dear God, in body and in spirit. Keep me, and those I love, healthy, safe and strong. Protect and nurture me the way a mother does her child. Bind me and my beloved husband in a long, peaceful, harmonious marriage. Give my children easy lives without strain or struggle. [Give me children who will have lives without strain or struggle.]

Grant me fulfillment and a generous sustenance from my livelihood.

Ribono shel olam, lead me in the path of righteousness and help me use my abilities to repair this broken world. Help me ease and gladden the lives of those I cherish. Give me the vision to recognize my unique capacity to make the world a better place, and the courage and stamina to do so.

Dear God, you created the world from a womb of water. You made me in your image, pure and holy, according to your will. I thank you for my miraculous body which keeps its own rhythms as do the sun and moon, the seasons, the Shabbos and the Holy Days. I bless your sacred name as I ask for your blessing upon me and those I love.

As I immerse in the mikveh waters, I am ever more aware of my dependence upon you. I know that my life is sustained by your mercy.

Be kind and beneficent to me. Help me purify my life from pain and sorrow, from bad influences, from my own faults and inadequacies.

As these waters embrace me, dear God, may I embrace your presence in and around me at all times and in all space, Amen.

Renee Septimus works as a geriatric social worker and teaches a course, "Jewish Thought and Culture," at the 92nd Street Y. She lectures on various Jewish topics as well as on women's spirituality, parenting, and aging. She began writing tehines several years ago for women's lifecycle events.