Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For Men Only: Esser Agaroth's Miqwah (Mikveh) Guide

ט"ז לחודש הראשון תשע"ג

I am sure that there are women sneaking peeks at this post, even though it is only for men. And so, I will try to be modest careful with my wording. If you would like more detailed information about men and miqwa'oth (Jewish ritual baths), you may contact me personally by leaving a comment, which will only be published if you say so, or you may contact your local [Orthodox] rabbi.

Miqwah customs for men vary greatly. Many Hassidim tovel (immerse) everyday. Even though the gezirah of Ezra haSofer has not been in force for some time now. Some Jews tovel Erev (afternoon before) Shabbath and Erev Yom Tov. Others only before Yom Tov (holiday). Still others, only on Shavu'oth and Erev Yom Kippur, or just Erev Yom Kippur, which many consider to be a universal custom among Jews.

One of the first things I learned about the miqwah was the custom of not covering oneself with a towel or otherwise, so as not to show embarrassment over ones brith milah of Avraham Avinu. The are customs of specific groups related to tzni'uth (modesty), such as Satmar and Toldos Aharon/Avraham Yitzhaq Hassidim, and others. However, if you do not have these group specific customs, I would like to suggest that any issues with nudity in front of other men may stem from the values and sensibilities you grew up with in galuth (exile), and may want to look a look at those. Just a suggestion...

Below are my list of pet peeves, to help you lighten up about taking advantage of your local miqwah. But, the bottom line, in my opinion, is better to go to the miqwah, and do what is comfortable for yourself (ie. covering yourself with a towel), than not go at all.

After the pet peeves is a review of the miqwa'oth where I have been, followed by a couple of helpful miqwah links.

Esser Agaroth's (2¢) Miqwah Pet Peeves

10. Men who take up more bench space and wall hooks than they actually need.

9. Men who do not take responsibility for their children's behavior, OR outside of the miqwah.

8. Children who play around in the pools, and do not allow men room enough room to tovel. (*Children who do get out of the way, and only play when no one needs the space are fine, in my book, but should be supervised.)

7. Men who are super-duper uptight,...and think that everyone else should be,.

6. Men who want to impose their customs on everyone else.

5. Men who go into the miqwah without washing, either in the available showers there, or at home.

4. Men who splash all over the place when they tovel, and do so voraciously.

3. Men who doing cannonballs to enter the miqwah. (Yes! I have personally witnessed this!)

2. Men who tovel (dunk/immerse) a bazillion times, when there is a line, and room for for only one or two.
And Esser Agaroth's (2¢) No. 1 miqwah pet peeve is...
1. Men brushing up against me, when they have to yet to shower. That's not just inconsiderate; it's gross!

The Esser Agaroth (2¢) Miqwah Guide
(listed from north to south)

The Ariza"l's Miqwah, Tzfath
Ariza"l's Miqwah - Freezing!! I was told that this feeling was due to the difference in temperature of the water vs. the air in the summer. Heimish (homey). Room for only one at time, so I hope that you don't get stuck in line behind someone with the custom of dunking over a hundred times!

The Kinnereth (Sea of Galilee) - I was here once with friends, and enjoyed it. Swimming out far enough provided plenty of privacy. Friends can guard each others bathing suits while toveling. See the notes below on The Mediterranean, as well.

The Mediterranean Sea - depends on where you go for your miqwah experience. I, myself, have only been to Tel-Aviv (religious beach - heimish), Netanyah (salty), and Nahariyah (very nice). The only advice I would give to you is to find an uncrowded, quiet place, not just for your privacy, but for kewannah (intention, thoughts). Please also do not go alone. The old, curmudgeony lifeguard in me insists on reminding you how dangerous the sea (and pools) can be, no matter how good of a swimmer you are. Anyone can bump his head by accident, or get sucked out by a particularly strong riptide and drown (לא עלינו).

Giv'ath Shmu'el:
Add this miqwah to the list of uptight communities. The advantage of this miqwah is that it is not very crowded, even though there are only four showers and one pool. Even Erev Yom Kippur I did not have to wait long to dunk. Everyone went in and out in an orderly fashion. Giv'ath Shmu'el is a Tel-Aviv suburb, surrounded by Petah Tiqwah, B'nei B'raq, and Bar-Ilan University

Har Berakhah:
On the way to the main town from the Hawarah Road, there is a natural miqwah on the left. There is willow tree conveniently located there, too, where many cut their "arvoth" for their lulavim an Hoshana Rabba bundles.

K'far Tapu'ah:
The now closed, old miqwah was very heimish. Once in a while we would dunk on hot Shabbath afternoons. The new miqwah, which is the old women's miqwah is nothing to write home about.

B'nei David Yeshivah - Very small, not a lot of room in the entire space. Four men would feel crowded, six even if you're close friends.

Between Shilo and Eli there is a natural miqwah on the way to the Eli Cemetery. Many have told me that they like this miqwah. It's popular for kids to go down there.  But, be careful.  There has been at least one terrorist attack there.

Old - Heimish, but is it still open? It is also down at the bottom of the hill.  Once you climb back up to the top of the town, you're already sweaty! The new miqwah in the Hesder Yeshivah, is extremely uptight! Individual changing rooms. A pain in the neck, having to knock and wait for someone to come and open the door. This is my least favorite miqwah.  Although, I have been told that is it kasher for ascending Har HaBayith, and those who tovel for that purpose are not required to pay.  So, that is on the plus side, being supportive of ascending Har HaBayith.

Beth El B'
Standard, heimish, not uptight. Plenty of private shower stalls. Private, one at a time, pool available.

Private showers and bath-rooms available. My guess is that it's the old women's miqwah.

Photo Credit: Lametayel
Batei Rand, Nahla'oth - Shy men be forewarned! There are no secrets in this miqwah! There are three pools, and it's very heimish. But, it can get very crowded Erev Shabbath in the afternoon. So arrive early. The kelim miqwah (shown left) is always open. I large rocks sits on top of the cover to prevent any hazards.

Lifta - Below the Giv'ath Sha'ul and Mattersdorf neighborhoods, at the entrance to the city, below the Ramot Road, Lifta is formed by the outpouring of a natural, underground spring. People can be seen bringing empty bottles to fill for drinking. I would make sure that no one is touring the cave with muddy shoes, before deciding to do the same. Lifta was once the name of the surrounding village, abandoned by Arabs during the Israeli War of Independence. The main problem is that it is crowed in the summer, including women and families, which makes toveling awkward.

Zupnik on Strauss St.
Zupnik, Strauss Street (Eidah Haredis) - One of, I believe, only two miqwa'oth in Jerusalem with steam rooms. The other one, I was told, is somewhere in the Ramath Shlomo neighborhood. I have heard that men are now required to wear a towel-skirt in order to go into the steam room. There are other restrictions, too. I recommend asking before entering. A long list of rules is on the wall inside. This miqwah installed automatic water shut-off nozzles long ago, for water conservation. I believe that all miqwa'oth should do the same.

Stern's, Me'ah She'arim - Refurbished, heimish, plenty of room. The men are know to share showers, military style, so you don't have to waste time waiting, when it is crowded. There are three good sized pools, hot, warm, and cold.

Zupnik, Giv'ath Sha'ul - Cleaner than most, never too crowded, except close to sheqi'ah. The Kelim Miqwah is always open. It's high enough and on an angle to prevent children from getting into it.

R' Hayim Vital Street, Giv'ath Sha'ul - Pretty standard, two pools, plenty of room, 9 or 10 showers. Friendly.

Beth HaKerem - Small, can get crowded later in the afternoon. The kelim miqwah is open on Erev Shabbath.

Erloi Yeshivah, corner of Rachel Imeni and Hizqiyahu HaMelekh, Old Qatamon - old school, very mixed, as in all kinds of men are seen there. Don't be afraid to ask "What do I do now that I'm here?" They're used to it.

Rabbanuth - a few blocks south of the Central Bus Station - Nice, clean, multiple changing rooms, pools on both ends, cold on one side, hot on the other. They is at least one other miqwah in Rehovoth run by Vizhnitzer Hassidim.

Bat Ayin:
I have not been to this natural miqwah south of Jerusalem myself, but I have been told that it is the favorite of many. A man-made structure surrounds it.

Ein Gedi:
The Hidden Waterfall, up from to The Dead Sea - the "other" trail, which begins south of the main trail, is less crowded. The goal is to reach the "hidden waterfall," a great spot for toveling and picnicking alike. There is an entrance fee.

The Red Sea - I have been living in Israel for almost 16 years, and still haven't made it to Eilat! One of these days...

Miqwah Resources

Mikveh Net


Jewish/Mystical-Teachings said...

the Arizal taught if one skips Miqweh on erev shabat can't receive the shabbat soul...

Esser Agaroth said...


Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

Shtiblach Katamon has a Men's Mikveh

Esser Agaroth said...


Thanks. I forgot about that one.

I'm so glad you said "Shtiblack Katamon," and not just Shtiblach.


Unknown said...

I went in the Bat Ayin mikveh once, during the winter.... it was the coldest mivkeh I've ever dipped in in my entire life (including having gone to the Ari Mikveh during the middle of winter at night). I don't know how it is in the summer but IMHO during winter it may be one of if not the coldest mikvot in the world :p

There is a mivkeh in Kiryat Sanz in Jlem that is open almost 24 hours a day and is clean as a whistle with 3 pools - hot cold and warm. It's spacious and usually empty but it gets more expensive the later in the day/evening you go.

Esser Agaroth said...

Thanks for the additional information, and your personal experience.


ylw said...

What's the address?

Esser Agaroth said...

Address for what?

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