New Age Judaic practice always strikes a weird note with me, it sounds good, you can make some great points from it, but in similar vein that many chumras become halacha at what point will these made up rituals and practices be perceived as halach? Then again many of our traditions were made up at some point and have since become more the norm. I’m sure that at some point out traditions may have been thought as strange by the mainstream and eventually they became accepted, but who knows?
Zeek has an article about period parties and in theory it’s not a bad idea, celebrating the gift of life, sounds good to me, teaching a young girl the difference between tampons and pads, great! I hear they are even making kosher for shabbos feminine care products without any risk of cutting any sort of writing and maybe the girl will get these as gifts too.
And so, at Meira’s period party, we began with a ritual immersion in the mikveh (luckily I happen to run the mikveh at Kibbutz Hannaton, where we live, and so I did not have to convince anyone that this was appropriate). Michal and I welcomed Meira into our family’s circle of women and offered to be there for her as she embarks on her journey as a woman. Then Meira immersed three times, each time reciting a blessing—first a blessing on ritual immersion in the “living waters,” then a blessing praising God for making her a woman, and then the blessing praising God for giving her life, sustaining her, and bringing her to that very special moment. Of course she did not get through the mikveh ritual without a few giggles, but she was amazingly present and cooperative.
I guess the girl can not only have legally sanctioned sex until her next period, but if she wasn’t bas mitzvah yet she doesn’t even get those 3 hefty sins corresponding to the 3 bracha livatahlah’s she just said.
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking, if we can have period parties to celebrate a woman being able to give life, why not have a seminal emission party? This was broached in two pretty good comments on the post:
When something is “taboo” as are many necessary bodily functions, perhaps it is a matter of maintaining a level of privacy and tsinuah which are sorely missing from society. It isn’t because something is “bad” or “dirty”- just private. In addition, although a young girls body is ready to bring forth new life, hopefully, it will not do so until within the context of marriage. Then it is fitting and meaningful for the Calla to immerse in the Mikvah, and when required thereafter during her reproductive years. Remember…the period is a sign that no new life was created. In Judaism we celebrate life, not the absence, and not even the potential.
I personally am just allergic to all New Age self made rituals. They are not in service to God, but to our own whims and whatever the current code of political correctness are need for pseudo-spirituality is. Our Torah is already replete with myriad ways to elevate what otherwise might be mundane physical existence.
Should we celebrate a boy’s first seminal emission as well? After all, it too is full of the potential to help create a new life. Hey! What a great idea- I hope I don’t start something!
The difference is that the culture that has been built (yes, built. By people. Niddah as it is practiced now is a cultural construction) around niddah has been horribly damaging to a woman’s sense of self, and has, indeed, been thought of throughout our cultural memory as “dirty” and as something that makes women inherently “dirty.” For most feminist Jews, even those who are committed to observance, the baggage that comes with the practices traditions and halacha of niddah is simply too unpalatable, and therefore gets abandoned altogether. What Haviva (and others) are trying to do is to create a new understanding of niddah which will encourage MORE PEOPLE to follow the halacha when it does apply, by reframing niddah as something we need not be silent about or ashamed of. It is important kiruv work, and if it is just too new agey for you that is fine… you are not who we are trying to reach. You clearly don’t need it… but others do and your casting judgement on others kiruv work which in no way violates or runs counter to Torah observant Judaism is just… well, it’s baffling to me.
search for bat mizvah on 4torah.com