Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Mikveh Art

22 February, 2004

Question:

I have been honored to design some artwork for a new mikvah.

I noticed the use of the rose on one web site…is there any specific reason for this symbol?

In addition to water images,I think in terms of sun/moon, sunset, family, immersing figures…can you add anything you've seen that is inspirational?

Thank you


Answer:

The rose imagery derives from the following story related in the Talmud:   "A hedge of roses" (a phrase from the Song of Songs). That even a hedge like roses is not breached. And this is what a heretic said to R. Kahana: "You say that a husband can be secluded with his wife when she is a niddah. Is it possible that fire will be with flax and it will not be kindled?" R. Kahana answered: "The Torah testified about us when it employs the phrase 'a hedge of roses'. Even if the hedge is like roses, it will not be breached." (Sanhedrin 37a) There is also a midrash (VaYikra Rabbah 19:6) that refers to a menstrual stain resembling a red rose.  Elsewhere, a woman is likened to the lily of the valley in that these laws keep her forever fresh and beautiful.

Images from Rashi on Genesis 24:67 describe aspects of Sarah's tent revived by Rebecca: a lit lamp, a blessing in the bread dough, and a cloud.  The Maharal of Prague linked each image to the three central mitzvot preferably performed by a woman: Shabbat candles, separating challah from dough, and observing the laws of family purity–thereby causing the cloud of the divine presence to dwell over the home.

Other ideas: imagery from the Song of Songs; wedding imagery–since family purity laws are described by the Talmud (Niddah 31b) as ensuring that the woman will always be as precious to her husband as she was on entering the wedding Chuppah.


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