Prayer Before Going to the Mikveh by Enya Keshet
The traditional observances pertaining to the woman’s niddah status, during and immediately following her menstrual period, deal with one of the most intimate aspects of Jewish life. A woman’s niddah period testifies to the loss of potential life – the loss of a child who has not been conceived – and, as such, she is symbolically “tinged with death”. Since death represents the paradigm of ritual impurity that can be removed only by immersion in a mikve, a pool of “living water”, the woman must immerse herself in a mikve before she engages in the potential creation of life by resuming sexual relations with her husband. The text of the traditional prayer is surrounded by the aqua blue of water and is followed by the meditation said by women as they leave the mikve (Huppat Hatanim, Rabbi Raphael Meldola, Livorno, 1797 edition). The series of borders evokes the barrier between the couple that is washed away by the living waters. There is a special mitzvah for the couple to have marital relations the night of her immersion, and the micrographic text weaving through the waters of the border spells out the traditional meditation for a sanctified and fruitful sexual union, one that will result in a healthy child.
Single page print from the collection, Hadara Beauty of Women’s Prayer