by Leah Robbins, Administrative and Marketing Assitant
January 1st… It’s coming.
The new year brings with it a sense of infinite possibility, a childlike sense of hope, a renewed faithfulness in our capacity to fundamentally transform ourselves and the world around us. Of course, we Jews already had the opportunity to take stock of ourselves and strategically envision a more promising future over Rosh Hashanah. Thankfully for me, though, the secular new year allows me to reevaluate and rededicate myself to the difficult soul-work once promised.
But it also carries with it a panicky pit in my stomach. Who’s got time to dream? Where, among the tragic headlines, bloodied newsfeeds, work agendas, and piles of dishes is there space to breathe? The fabric of our planet is disintegrating and communities are in tatters. What’s to keep us from crumbling? How do we cope? How do we vision for the year ahead?
I hate to be predictable, but the answer is right in front of you. Shouts from the rooftops: Mikveh!
Our tradition tells us that the mikveh is lo mekabel t’umah, meaning that it can never contract impurity. I’d like to expand this idea to mean that the mikveh, in fact, conceals us from impurity. Its protective embrace provides a ritual sanctuary within which we are perfectly untouchable, just beyond reach of reality. The news, the violence, the to-do lists, the status quo – they all disappear, even if only for a brief moment. You can dream, pray, play, be.
I wrote these words around the time of the High Holidays, and they ring true now more than ever:
Ritual immersion was built into the blueprint of our spiritual repertoire to pull us, often by our kicking feet, into a place of stillness – to force us, against the demands of all else, to bring our full bodies into sacred space and ask: What will I let wash away? Who will I leave behind in the water? Who will I be when I emerge?
As the new year approaches, I invite you not only to take the time, but make the time. Don’t just get ready, feel ready. The mikveh is calling. How will you answer?
Consider an immersion in the spirit of the new year!
Leah Robbins is the Administrative and Marketing Assistant at Mayyim Hayyim.