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Holy Women, Holy Families, Holy Nation in Holy Land

By Tzvi Fishman
5/31/2007, 12:00 AM

A reader tragically comments that the Divine laws of family purity are some primitive, chauvanistic invention that have no place in our enlightened modern world. Because the laws of family purity, known as the laws of "niddah," or "taharat hamishpachah," are the holy foundation of the Jewish Nation, we are posting a proclamation that Rabbi Kook wrote, emphasizing the great importance of safeguarding this sacred cornerstone of Judaism.

A New Beginning

The holy Zohar teaches that during the bondage in Egypt, because the Jewish women observed the laws of family purity, the nation was redeemed (Shemot 3b). The Zohar stresses that the observance of these laws, or their negligence, G-d forbid, influences the spiritual and physical health of children. The observance of these laws also contribute to harmony between a husband and wife, and to the overall wellbeing of the home. This understanding is so a part of the Jewish psyche that hundreds of thousands of Jewish women who do not keep all of the commandments, dutifully observe this one. Because there are many details relating to the laws of family purity, the subject must be studied in depth to insure its safekeeping. A Jewish husband and wife may have sexual relations only after the woman has immersed herself in a proper mikvah following her monthly period. Rabbi Kook emphasizes that this is a matter of spiritual, not physical, purity. Since the family is the building block of the nation, to insure the revival of the nation in its Holy Land, Rabbi Kook urges the people of Israel to return to our holy foundations and safeguard the purity and holiness of our lives.

Insuring a Holy Foundation

A MESSAGE ON FAMILY PURITY TO OUR DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE HOLY LAND AND THROUGHOUT THE DIASPORA

It is with the great love that I have in the innermost recesses of my soul that I find there the strength to bring you my words in this letter.
Please safeguard, my brothers and sisters, safeguard your soul’s glory, preserve the holiness of the nation, the holiness of life, the holiness that was guarded for generations.

Judaism is modest and holy, and because of this, paradoxically, it is neither frightened nor shy; it knows when to remain silent and when to speak, it knows tact and manners, and also knows, at times, to put itself above these conventions.

On this basis, I allow myself to speak with you, brothers and sisters, of matters that, I have no doubt, will be difficult for a number of you to hear. I am certain that the Jewish soul will sense, with its pure heart, the beauty and sublimity that lies in taking interest in this holy matter, which I strengthen myself to bring before you, with the deepest sense of respect for you fixed in my heart.

I well know the great desire hidden in our nation’s soul to see the national rebirth in Eretz Yisrael approaching us in all of its glory, in all of its completeness, in all of its perfection, in all of its splendor and light, and for this reason we demand that that this national rebirth not be marred in any way or form.

For this reason, when I see that in the midst of our national rebirth, the glory of holiness is becoming dim in comparison to our secular life, I weep in my heart, and when I hear the echoes of self-examination and repentance, of holy spiritual fortification which streams from the within the currents of rebirth, my spirit returns and lives.

"T’shuva" – this word is the savior and it will redeem us. This repentance and return includes returning to the word of G-d that was revealed to us, and by which we fulfill our national destiny.

Our t’shuva is a return to our true life, knowledge, thought, feeling, ideas, and deeds. And now, I openly speak to you on the purity of life, our life here, in the Land of rebirth, in this era of deliverance and Redemption, and I ask of you, brothers and sisters, complete purity of deed in life, as laid down in the Torah.

Sanctify your lives in the holiness of Israel, which is a legacy from countless generations, in the holiness of the Torah and faithful tradition. Proper immersion, the purity of home, the purity of the daughters of Israel, in a kosher mikvah, for the preservation of purity, is the secret of existence.

Please safeguard, my brothers and sisters, safeguard your soul’s glory, preserve the holiness of the nation, the holiness of life, the holiness that was guarded for generations.

Ancient Ritual Pool at Masada

This commandment must not be taken lightly, my dear brothers and sisters!

Do not deceive yourself with the lies of modern times, whether they are fostered by individuals or the community. Do not think your can find any purity in any other type of bathing, other than the Divine path of purity in a kosher mikvah according to the law of our holy Torah.

Even the most exquisite baths are invalid and will not grant the purity that Israel’s holiness demands. The purity which has stood and which will endure for Israel for endless generations is that purity that is found in the eternal word of G-d, who gave the Torah to His people Israel in holiness. Any substitution for this is a dreadful and horrible error, horrible and dreadful is the stain of this sin. It pollutes generations and blackens the beauty of life.

Waters of Eden

Do not confuse the word of G-d with the contentions of men of education. The word of G-d lives and endures forever, and He will not change nor amend His law. The eternity of Israel will not lie, and His words live and endure forever. Safeguard the holy purity of family life, and take the purity of life with the same seriousness and the same awe fitting the cornerstone, the foundation of generations, the reestablishment of the nation, and the illumination of its soul, and the preservation of its character. Guard your souls from being cut off, and beware of the pollution of death. Return to the words of G-d, to His righteous commandments, and to His great trustworthy testaments.
Daughters of my people, be vigilant in guarding your purity. Take care that when you have any doubt, you ask with respect and the modesty characteristic of Israel, rabbis who know the principles of the Torah of our life, just as did your holy mothers who bequeathed to you your holy heart as a legacy, a heart of gold, clear and pure, living forever, which defeats all of those who rise against it in its heroic strength. Do as those pure souls did, and revive the nation, which stands to be redeemed in perfection and built on its Land.

Preserve family purity and observe proper immersions. The light of joy and life will then be manifest in all aspects of our rebirth and we will be blessed in the Land of our yearnings, so that generations on end will rejoice in the building of our people on its Holy Land.

Indoor Mikvah

Hear the words of your loyal friend, who wishes you blessing without end, from the foundation of our lives, the holy mountain of Jerusalem. Your dedicated servant and brother, with all of my heart.

Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook
(Translated by Tzvi Feldman, "Selected Letters," Letter 34)

Readers interested in learning more about the Laws of Niddah will find an overview at www.milknhoney.co.il/holy/index.html