When a woman is on her period and for at least seven days after, she is said to be “in niddah,” and considered to be unclean.I know, I know, to the shiksa ear this sounds incredibly misogynistic. ), the woman visits a ritual purification bath called a mikvah, where she is to bathe totally naked (no jewelry, no nail polish) and cleanse herself in what must be a natural water source.
You have never liked shopping at this store because of its less-than-wonderful service. Usually you have to pick up your change off the counter, but today the cashier places it in your hand, and for a brief moment you feel the warmth of his or her hand on yours. For some reason, you’re feeling more warmly toward this store than before. Hope you enjoyed your meal, he says with a smile and a parting pat on the shoulder.
Today is no exception you have been waiting to pay for what seems like an eternity. Another scene: You have just finished dining at a restaurant. Watching him return to the kitchen, you suddenly feel a surge of generosity and leave a far bigger tip than you had intended. We don’t know how he does it, but he pulls in at least thirty percent more in tips than anyone else.” In each of the above incidents, both based on true stories, you have fallen prey to one of the most subtle yet powerful forces in human relations: touch.
One of my Modern Orthodox friends frequents a particularly ritzy mikvah on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. My friend is very much Orthodox, but is of her own admission someone who “likes to dance around the lines of what [Jews] are supposed to do.” Despite her casual attitude, my friend believes in tradition and the ways it can benefit a relationship.
When I was interviewing her, she was in fact in niddah, so when she asked her husband for a glass of water, he went as far as to place it on the table beside her as opposed to handing it to her directly. “During this period," she said, "you have to engage in talking to your spouse, and it’s more or a spiritual connection.
“It’s not about denying physical beauties, but about being able to de-emphasize [them] so that we can focus on what’s really important in life and in another person.” Preach, my fellow chosen sister. Not too long ago, my very waspy boyfriend (sorry, Mom) and I landed at JFK at the same time as a flight from Israel.
There was an Orthodox man who needed some assistance in passport control, and he asked for help.
For more observant Jews, foregoing foreskin is just one of many rules and customs that govern how and when a couple can canoodle.
But before we get that dreidel rolling, it’s important to note that Orthodox Judaism covers a wide spectrum of sects; from the ultra-conservative (Hasidism) to the more secular (Modern Orthodoxy).
Even when not fueled by desire, touch can leave people feeling distinctly warmer and more connected to each other.