Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Family Purity, Part 7
The Zohar in Parshas Shemini writes that King David married BatSheva, and Aharon the Priest married EliSheva. Both their wives have in their names “Sheva”. On this fact, the Zohar explains the difference between the two names: EliSheva alludes to the sphere of Chessed, loving kindness, which is the first of the seven (sheva) spheres of G-dliness that are revealed in this world. Aharon, who married EliSheva, received the character trait of loving kindness, in which he excelled! All the power of Aharon, his ability to make peace between husband and wife or between man and fellow man, comes from his wife!
The name BatSheva, the name of King David’s wife, alludes to the sphere of Malchut, or Kingship, which is the lowest in the seven revealed spheres (ibid). This comes to teach us that David’s entire kingdom came from the power of BatSheva, his wife! Righteous people like Aharon and David, may their merit protect us, received all their power and strength by virtue of their wives!
Purity of the Family
A woman who listens to Hashem, who guards Hashem’s commandments - specifically the important and precious Mitzvah of Family Purity – accrues limitless merit! Why do we say Family Purity? Wouldn’t it be more correct to call it “Purity of the Wife”?
From the fact that this command is called “Family Purity”, we learn that the purity of the woman is the purity of the family! First, it is her purity. Secondly, it is purity of her spouse, for if the woman is impure, then her partner will become impure as well. Finally, she is the purity for the children. If someone is born while the woman is Nida, then that soul will carry that impurity in it. Consequently, a woman that purifies herself of Nida purifies the children she gives birth to as well.
The Moment of Trial
Our Sages tell us that negligence in fulfilling her three most important mitzvoth can lead to death in childbirth:
1. Family Purity;
3. Shabbat candle lighting.
These three commandments are unique to women. Chana pleaded to Hashem that she was careful with all these Mitzvot, so therefore she should have children in this merit. And Hashem gave her a magnificent son, Samuel the Prophet!
Why should a woman be punished specifically during childbirth for being lax in her three mitzvot? When giving birth, she needs a lot of mercy. Therefore, the attribute of stern judgment begins to protest and that the woman does not deserve so much mercy, because she does not guard the laws of Family Purity, or lighting candles Erev Shabbat, or separating Challah when she bakes bread.
Not just once have women come to me who have had post partum depression, suffering terribly. Understandably, they were petrified to become pregnant again. I said to them, that if they would be meticulous about Family Purity, they would have nothing to fear. This would be a rectification for them, and repentance on the past, and the post partum depression would not return. They asked, “Do you promise?”
“Certainly,” I answered, and explained. “The depression you received from previous births did not come without reason. This was a consequence of not keeping Family Purity, for which the punishment from the Torah is death. Depression, which is spiritual death, comes in place of physical death. There are women who die during childbirth, and there are women who become depressed, G-d forbid! Now, if you do Teshuvah, there is no reason for you to be punished.”
Many women don’t know that having relations with their husbands without immersing in the Mikva is more serious than eating on Yom Kippur! What man or woman does not refrain from eating on Yom Kippur? Most Jews honor Yom Kippur and fast. Eating on Yom Kippur is punished by Karait, which means either not living past fifty, or dying without children. However, a woman who doesn’t immerse in a Mikva is not only punished with one Karait, but every time she and her spouse have relations, they both are obligated karait! So all their life together they deserve more and more, until there are a thousand-fold deserving Karait which means a thousand times awakening the prosecution of “And that soul should be cut off (Karait) from its nation”. Hashem delays punishment. But, if a person fails to repent, the result is the severance of a soul. This explains the many traffic accidents in our generation, which particularly strikes our youth.
You are Praiseworthy, Israel!
We prefer not to delve into consequences of not keeping Family Purity laws, but rather to stimulate every Jewish man and woman to contemplate this issue in a deep manner. Every person should ask himself or herself how the Nation of Israel survived this long Exile? How is it that the vestige of the Jewish Nation remains after everything it went through – endless harassment, holocausts, and expulsions? How many people have tried to erase this nation from the map, and nothing has availed! The Jewish Nation remains and constantly re-strengthens itself. The Jewish Nation is alive and exists!
On the other hand, many great and powerful nations have disappeared from the face of the earth, with no trace of them left. At all times, many have tried to take away from the Jewish nation our spiritual content, our Torah, our Mitzvot. Where does the Jew have such inner strength to take such a stand, to remain a Jew and not break down after all these persecutions?
All this is in the merit of the holiness and purity of the Jewish people for the length of our history, that we have guarded the Mitzvah of Family Purity! The women of Israel have known throughout the generations that this Mitzvah makes us Jews. This Mitzvah acquires internal fortitude for our children and causes Hashem to dwell in our homes, which is what guards the women and the home. For Hashem to dwell in the home, the home needs to be holy and pure.
It does not come easily. Our people have kept this Mitzvah with self-sacrifice. How many miracles have occurred for the Jewish nation in the merit of the self-sacrifice of women keeping the Mitzvah of purity? They have immersed in deep, dark pits of water, as cold as ice. They have immersed in times of terrible decrees, and under threats of utter destruction. Even those who seemed far from Judaism have kept this particular Mitzvah for some reason.
Every day, women come to me who are far from keeping most Mitzvot. They’re not Orthodox, they don’t keep Shabbat, and they even dress immodestly (without knowledge, of course). Yet, they don’t give up on keeping the Mitzvah of Family Purity. When I ask them why they keep this particular Mitzvah when they don’t keep the others, they answer me - this Mitzvah is unique! We will not let go of this Mitzvah! They realize in the depths of their souls, that from guarding Family Purity, they gain all their strength! They don’t know how to explain why, but they feel that it’s something they need, they are obligated to, something that their souls must have.
The women of Israel are righteous! So even if a woman does not go to Mikva, it’s just because she doesn’t know. But now, when she reads this book, she will know and she’ll hopefully begin to keep Family Purity laws. She’ll encourage other women to keep this precious Mitzvah, and this will atone for the time when she didn’t keep it. The more she influences other women, the more atonement she will attain. And in her merit, more good will come to this world, and certainly more good will come to her husband, children, and to herself.
We say in the Amidah, “You are holy, and Your name is holy, and every day holy ones will praise You! Selah!” The word “Selah” means without end. So we can understand this phrase to mean that a person who is holy constantly praises Hashem, without end. Therefore, every woman who begins to guard the holiness of the Jewish nation opens up before her the gates of prayer and praise. She will merit, as well as all her household, Divine blessing. And through this, we will all merit that the Jewish nation will be a holy nation to Hashem, like it says in the Torah, “You shall be holy, for I am holy!”