By Rabbi Lori Shapiro
I met someone fascinating this week – her name is Sarah Waxman, and she created an amazing organization called At the Well Project. Sarah was called. Literally. By a mikveh lady in her hometown outside of Washington DC, who thought she would make a great part of the mikveh team. (These were not the mikveh lady’s precise words). Basically, they were looking for a young person to engage other young people in mikveh education, and so, Sarah was called.
What makes Sarah exciting is that not only did she rise to the call, she dove into it and she is still submerged, coming up for air to invite us all in with her. In becoming involved in mikveh, Sarah asked herself, “why is this ritual not more celebrated?” Sarah saw the connection between the ancient rituals of cleansing and the way that most people feel out of sync, and is helping people find their internal rhythms once again through popularizing mikveh, and its corollary wisdom of women’s healing and wellness, the ritual of Rosh Hodesh – the New Moon celebration. Her efforts with At the Well are growing, having already reached four continents.
This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, concerns itself with our bodily struggles, as the P’shat (the literal translation of the text), is all about bodily emissions and fluids. The rabbis teach us that tz’ara is a kind of leprosy or skin affliction, like the scales Miriam contracted after her wanton remarks about Moses’ wife. The rabbinic commentary carries the conversation away from the ideas of impurity of body, and connects the matter to that of the soul. This week’s Torah portion is the Torah portion that acknowledges that bodies are messy, complicated, unruly and mysterious until we turn ourselves inwards and beyond to connect the external and the internal. Our internal rhythms are impacted by how we nurture our bodies, what foods we put inside of them, our daily, weekly and monthly ablutions and more.The rabbinic commentary reveals our ancestral wisdom of mind-body connection, and turns us towards methods to regain equilibrium through rituals of purification, cleansing and detox.
Atthewellproject.com totally gets that. Under the “learning” tab of At the Well’s website, is the quote: Dive deeper, with comprehensive guides to cycle tracking, the history of the female orgasm, menstruation options, breastfeeding, and more. It’s like a modern day feminist commentary for Tazria (and its companion Torah Portion, Metzora); however, At the Well Project extends their learning beyond those who identify with breastfeeding or menstruation, and invite all of us to consider our upcoming Passover cleanse. Sarah’s Holisitc Passover Detox resources are a great companion piece to Open Temple’s upcoming Passover Cleanse on April 27. On that day, 25 of us will engage in a 7-hour ritual of detox, connection, mikveh, and mind-body-soul restoration.
As this week’s and next week’s Torah portions suggest, it is cleansing time. Spring Cleaning of our homes. Of our Minds. Of our Bodies. And our Souls.
Let’s Do This. May we all regain our balance through whatever lies ahead.
With Love and Torah Light,