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Apr 28, 2010

The mikvah issue from the Haredi point of view

Catriel Lev, a resident of RBS and one who is active in the many aspects of the community, met with Rabbi Malinowitz to hear "his side of the story" regarding the mikvah issue.

Here is his report, and it accurately relates Rav Malinowitz's POV, and has been verified as recorded accurately by Rav Malinowitz.

I met with Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz on Monday, the 26th of April, 2010, to hear his opinions on the Mikvaot controversy.

I request that those people interested in the situation read all of his opinions (which are listed below) carefully, and not be deterred by whatever they do not agree with; since, though I am quite certain that some of his outlook is mistaken, it seems to me that most of the disagreements are about what happened in the past, but that there are many points where his opinions as to what should be in the future are identical with what the Dati-Leumi community feels should be in the future.

So, since Rabbi Malinowitz is certain that what he has stated is absolutely the way the Mikvaot should be run, there should be a way to work with him to ensure that this is what occurs in practice, even if it has not been occurring until now, though Rabbi Malinowitz disagrees about the past and is certain that everything has been done properly even in the past.

Here are Rabbi Malinowitz's opinions as he has told them to me and what, to his knowledge, is true:

Since RBS-Alef is at least one half Chareidi, and based upon the last election probably at least 60% Chareidi, that segment of the population deserves to have the nihul of at least one half of the Mikvaot in RBS-Alef done by its Rabbis, as indeed is anyway the case in much of the country (that the mikvaot are under the nihul of Chareidi Rabbonim).

All that the Chareidi Rabbis of RBS-Alef are demanding now is to have the nihul of one half of the Mikvaot in the neighborhood as per the signed agreement; no Chareidi Rabbi, to his knowledge , is pressuring the Mayor to give total control of the Mikvaot to Chareidi Rabbis. He does not know if Chareidi politicians are doing something like that or not, but to the best of his knowledge the Chareidi Rabbis of RBS-Alef are not applying such pressure.

What is happening is that certain non-Chareidim are demanding annulment of the existing signed agreement. What needs to be investigated is: who is the source of the statements that Chareidi Rabbis want total control of all Mikvaot, and the other lies. These lies are being orchestrated, in his opinion, in order to annul the existing signed agreement.

He agrees ,and all the Chareidi rabbonim agree, that one must be very careful not to cause women to stop keeping the Mitzvah of being tovel in a Mikveh. All Mikveh ladies (balaniot) in the Chareidi-run Mikvaot of RBS-Alef are instructed to accept whatever a woman says is a Psak from her Rabbi (whether he is Chareidi or not), not to coerce her into things which are against that Psak, not to touch a woman's body without her permission, and not, chas veshalom, to refuse her the use of the Mikveh because of these things.

Rabbi Malinowitz expressed that he wants to know about any case where a Mikveh lady did not follow these directives, so that he, and the other Rabbis, can ensure that it will be corrected and not happen in the future. If a woman does not feel comfortable discussing these situations with him, he requested that she have her Rabbi contact him with the details, so that he, and the other Rabbis, can ensure that whatever objectionable behavior occurred will not be repeated.

When women contacted him regarding the Mikveh situation he never asked them for details of incidents which they claimed occurred to them, he only told them that Email is not an appropriate way to discuss such matters and that they should meet.

The Chareidi Rabbis of RBS-Alef are making great efforts to have the Mikveh built which is planned for Nachal Luz; but the recent financial problems in the world have made this very difficult, and the ground has yet to been broken for the building of that Mikveh. It is planned to be a Mikveh with American-style amenities that will attract women to be tovel in the Mikveh, and will be under the auspices of Rabbi Davidowitz whose directives, as mentioned above, are to accept whatever a woman says is a Psak from her Rabbi (whether he is Chareidi or not).

According to the present signed agreement, after the Mikveh on Nachal Lachish is renovated , it will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Spector, and the Mikveh on Nachal Dolev will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Davidowitz until the Mikveh on Nachal Luz is completed. After the Mikveh on Nachal Luz is completed, the Mikveh on Nachal Dolev will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Spector, and the Mikveh on Nachal Lachish, in addition to the one on Nachal Luz, will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Davidowitz.


  1. Shalom to All,

    I just want to reiterate that the report I produced presents Rabbi Malinowitz's opinions, not mine. The only place which has my opinions, to a certain extent, is my introduction explaining that I met Rabbi Malinowitz etc.

    I advise any woman who has been mistreated at a Mikveh to work through HER OWN RABBI, or other professional whose integrity she trusts, to have the mistreatment dealt with, and to ensure that it is never repeated.
    Every person, especially one who has experienced such mistreatment, deserves to have her privacy respected; so I do not suggest that any woman directly approach Rabbi Malinowitz.

    Rabbi Malinowitz suggested, as stated in the report that I produced, that Rabbanim of women who have experienced mistreatment should contact him with the information about objectionable behavior; and he stated that he will operate so that "he, and the other Rabbis, can ensure that whatever objectionable behavior occurred will not be repeated". So that is a possible way to deal with these types of situations: Rabbanim bringing the reports of mistreatment to Rabbi Malinowitz's attention (without compromising the privacy of the women who underwent these traumatic experiences), and Rabbi Malinowitz working to ensure that whatever objectionable behavior occurred will not be repeated.

    I hope that this will help resolve the problems and ensure that no objectionable behavior by Mikveh personnel will occur in the future, whatever may have been in the past.

    Whoever wishes assistance from me in any of this (though I do not claim to be a big "mover and shaker" or anything like that; just a sincere, caring, and honest person trying to help whenever he can) can contact me via Email:

  2. I find it very strange the Rabbi Malinowitz had his spokesperson tell everyone to contact him by e-mail for information about the situation. When they did he was surprised that it was not reported to him directly (at the time it went to another Rav who called Rav Spektor directly) and asked for details. He then declared that the conversation should not take place by e-mail and a meeting should be arranged with him but he would be unavailable for at least a week.

    This one way open door policy does not help anybody and only makes the situation worse.

  3. Sick of the fightingApril 28, 2010 11:25 AM

    If R. Davidovitz is in charge why is R. Malinowitz taking complaints?

    If Rabbi Malinowitz is really involved, where is the accountability for what already happened?
    Why did they either fail to provide the mikve ladies with guidelines or give them inappropriate guidelines that they are only now changing because of complaints?

    Is it possible that the original guidelines are from R. Davidovitz, and R. Malinowitz is pushing for them to be changed?

    Is Charedi-Litvish and Charedi-Sephardi RBS really ok with all of the charedi mikvaos in RBS being under Chasidishe auspices?

    Is there evidence that R. Davidovitz and friends really tried to take over everything?
    If yes was that only for now until lachish opened, or did they try to take that too?

    Has the DL side met with the Charedi side or are they only trying to work it out through the mayor?

    Are the differences so great that it is impossible to work together on one set of mikvaos for everyone?

    Why are all of the mikvaos being built so close to each other?
    Wouldn't it make more sense to spread them out to make them more accessible?

  4. Shalom to All,

    Women who wish to contact another woman about mistreatment at a Mikveh can write to the following Email address:
    it is an Email address run entirely by a woman, who also does not want her identity disclosed because of the delicate nature of the situation, whom I know and trust who is dealing with complaints about mistreatment at Mikvaot (yes, she is Dati-Leumi and also involved in other Dati-Leumi issues as the Email address indicates).

    I am sorry that I cannot provide a name regarding the above Email address, but because of the delicate nature of the situation, people, especially women, are very concerned about protecting their own privacy.

    This is the best I can do for anyone who wants specifically to contact a woman. As I have stated previously, anyone who wants to contact me can write to my Email:
    If they so desire, people can also contact my mobile phone: 050-205-7867

    May we be Zocheh to greatly improve the atmosphere regarding this issue, and to correct any improper or malicious behavior which has occurred!

  5. Can someone explain to me why Rabbi Malinowitz is so involved. He does not even reside in our town.

    Also I have heard from numerous sources that Rabbi Malinowitz cannot be trusted with information, so why would anyone turn to him with a topic that is so important?

  6. come on anonymous. if you are going to slander someone at least pput your name on it. what are you talking about "he cannot be trusted with information". what kind of shtuyot are you throwing in...

  7. Why can't you rabbis,leaders, gossipers, rumor mongers (FROM BOTH SIDES!) work this out like adults in a peaceful manner?
    Do you (and all of the other generally rude people here) want to make the olim (gerim and baalei teshuva) feel like returning to where they came from?

    Well, you are!
    (and maybe the natives want to come with them)

  8. V'ahavta L'Raecha KomochaApril 28, 2010 1:28 PM

    Instead of wanting to return to from where you came..stay here and live as a Torah Jew here in RBS.

    And by the way...Torah Jew does NOT mean having to discuss every aspect of your life with only certain rabbanim.

    There are talmidei chochomim among the DL just as there are among the charedi, chardal,sefardi and chasidish chevre.

    And there is room for every Jew of every stripe in our community.

    Some mutual respect and tolerance would go a long way.

    Actually the 2 sides of the mikve,while not optimum, was still a reasonable and peaceful situation.

    Women should have a choice. There is no need for one party to have "shlita" over the other.

    Our mayor "for all of the people" should be respectful of "all the people" not just those who bully and mafia strong arm him.

  9. To Rafi,

    Yes, Personal information was given to Rav Malinowitz regarding a very important matter which Rav Malinowitz used against the person that shared this information. This has happened to quite a few people, as I have heard first hand. This is not slander it is awareness.

  10. You'll forgive my incomprehension of the matter. Besides the fact that I disagree with R' Malinwitz stmt that mikvaot are under chariedi supervision all over the country - as far as I know all public mikvaot are under supervision of the local moetzot hadatiyot in each city and region regardless of who the rabbis are who work for them and that's the way it should be - public services should be run by public agencies.
    But putting that aside, the "agreement" that R' Malinowitz quoted stated:

    "after the Mikveh on Nachal Lachish is renovated , it will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Spector, and the Mikveh on Nachal Dolev will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Davidowitz until the Mikveh on Nachal Luz is completed. After the Mikveh on Nachal Luz is completed, the Mikveh on Nachal Dolev will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Spector, and the Mikveh on Nachal Lachish, in addition to the one on Nachal Luz, will be under the sole auspices of Rabbi Davidowitz"

    If in the end of all this mess, the Lachish Mikveh will under R' Davidovitch and Dolev under R' Spector so let's just leave it as it is now with the mikve being split and when Lachish is finished being renovated then R' Davidovitch will get that one and the whole Dolev mikve will go back to Rav Spector. Why switch back and forth.

    I think during this period of Sfiras HaOmer we should all be more concerned with being Machmir on Bein Adam Lachaveiro and less concerned with which shul the balanit in the mikve davens in.

  11. Was Rabbi Malinowitz asked the following questions:
    1. Are there differences in halacha/chumrot betweent he two sides of the Dolev mikva relating to pool/well/water collections/pipes? Women would like to know what those are if so to determine which mikva they and their husbands and rabbis choose to use. Saying one side is "better" doesn't help us.
    2. Does Rabbi Malinowitz hold that women should do "super-checks" of 20 minutes, or does he think the women should prepare on their own as their mothers did and is done in most places in the world, and then have the mikva lady check nails, check for hair on the woman's back, and see that she goes under the water? IF he believes in "Super-checks," what is the source in halacha for this. If he doesn't believe in them, why is he not saying women should stop them?
    3. Under the current system of half-half control, or the future, which rabbi is responsible on the charedi side to a)answer shailos b)instruct mikva ladies about what to do and when to call and c) listen to complaints and set up a system where people can call to complain. As for this last point, it is 100% clear that people have complaints (Sefardi women told not to tovel bein hashmashot Friday nite, women told by a mikva lady that they have to do xyz or they can't tovel - and since women who live locally have to go to the closest mikva on Friday night, there may not be an option of choosing a non-Charedi mikva if Dolev and or Lachish falls to the charedim now or in the future.

  12. why do women "have to" go to the closest?
    If you can walk to one, the other is not that much further.
    Although, it would definitely be appropriate to try to make it more convenient, for people whether on Friday night or not (not everyone has a car).

  13. question 20 minute inspectionsApril 28, 2010 2:40 PM

    A body cavity search is either a visual search or a manual internal inspection of body cavities such as for prohibited material (chatzitza)such as extra skin, freckles, skin pigment, or fingernails. It is far more invasive than the standard strip search that is typically performed on individuals taken into custody, either upon police arrest or incarceration at a jail, prison, mikve or psychiatric hospital.
    Some inmates and human rights activists argue that body cavity searches are done not so much to stop the flow of contraband but rather to harass and humiliate detainees.

  14. Does R' Malinowitz deny that for a very long time there was a hateful sign hanging in the Dolev mikva stating that according to the gadol hador, no woman may tovel bein hashmashos and specifically stating that this applies "l'chol ha'eidot" clearly referring to Sephardi ladies? How does this jive with his claim that the Chareidi leadership has in the past, and will in future allow every woman to follow her own Rav's psak even on the mehadrin side? For over a year Rabbanim tried to intervene and many women begged to be allowed to use the mehadrin side during bein hashmashos and were denied that opportunity. Only recently, when the Chareidi rabbanim were forced to give in, did they finally remove the sign and allow women to start going bein hashmashos. What is the explanation for this?

  15. By Far NOT Mehudar!April 28, 2010 3:44 PM

    "For over a year Rabbanim tried to intervene and many women begged to be allowed to use the mehadrin side during bein hashmashos and were denied that opportunity."

    What's Mehadrin about bitul of other daios?

  16. WHAT THE ****? Body cavity searches? Super checks? What religion are y'all practicing down there? Because it does not sound like Judaism to me.

    As far as I learned from my competent kallah teacher, it's the woman's responsibility to complete the hefsek and get herself ready for the mikveh. The balanit is there to check for stray hairs, extra makeup, bellybutton lint. Body cavity searches? Are you serious?

  17. I never heard that they are performing body and cavity searches, nor do I believe it

  18. To Anon:

    Yes, women do walk far to go to the mikva Friday nite when they have to - but why should a woman who lives on, say, Nahar HaYarden and Meor have to walk all the way down Lachish and back up hill after with her family waiting when there is a mikva she passes that is much closer on Dolev? This is a major difference in distance. Why should a woman who lives in the Mercaz have to hike uphill to Dolev? In every other community in the world, i.e. Brooklyn, people go to the CLOSEST mikva.

  19. confused in rbsApril 28, 2010 9:57 PM

    Catriel Lev:
    Thanks for trying to clarify, but I am still very confused.
    Is Rabbi Malinowitz saying he thinks women have been mistreated? He seems to say, if you have been, contact me, indicating that he thinks they have been on occasion. But he also is quoted as saying that the charedi side always encouraged mikva ladies to tell women to do whatever their rabbi told them to do and not try to enforce their checking or psak. So which is it, is he saying the charedi mikva ladies have been behaving the right way or not? If they have not been doing the right thing, what is being done to ensure they do in the future? If they have been doing the right thing, why does he tell people to call with complaints that are presumably lies?
    As a previous comment asked, how does he explain the sign hanging -which we saw with our own eyes -that said women may not go Friday nite bein hashmashot - which is l'chatchila for sefardi women - if the charedi mikva ladies were instructed to tell all women to follow their rabbis? (For those of you who are out-of-it Ashkenazim, Rav Ovadia Yosef holds women should go bein hashmashot Friday nite and not wait.)
    Can someone please explain?

  20. Hiney Ba HaShalomApril 28, 2010 10:21 PM

    One BIG question:

    This has become a he said/he said, heskame/no haskame game.

    Obviously this change in situation in the Dolev Mikve is creating a terrible Chilul HaShem and much discord.

    Why can't the Charedi rabbonim just be mvater and let it remain 2 sides?

    They will not have "lost" as they will still have a "Mehadrin" mikve while the DL will have a mikve in their area that they are comfortable.

    They will actually gain as people will see that they can be reasonable, understanding and accomodating to other opinions.

    Just imagine how much loshon hara, agmas nefesh and chilul HaShem we could prevent.

  21. To "confused in rbs":

    As far as I can tell from Rabbi Malinowitz's attitude and what he said when he spoke with me, he does not believe that there were any cases of mistreatment; but, on the off chance that some Balanit (Mikveh lady) might have possibly misunderstood the instructions or might possibly, Chas VeShalom, have violated the instructions of her own accord, he is willing to hear allegations of women who claim to have been mistreated, but he thinks that these allegations are probably lies.

    This is another reason that I believe that any woman who has been mistreated at a Mikvah should work through HER OWN RABBI, or other professional whose integrity she trusts, because such a person would not be questioning the woman's integrity from the start and would be able to collect the facts objectively. Then THAT PERSON could meet, without compromising the woman's confidentiality, with Rabbi Malinowitz, and perhaps others who claim they will help rectify the situation.

    Regarding signs at Mikvehs and other indications of Chareidim denigrating Halachic positions held by non-Chareidim, it seems to me from Rabbi Malinowitz's attitude and what he said when he spoke with me, that he does not believe that any of this actually occurred.

  22. who the heck is Rabbi Davidovitz anyway? the guy picks up fromt zfat and moves to rbs and now he is an authority over us? is this a joke? how do you become an authoritative rabbi in RBS? is it because he wears black smelly socks that makes him an authority? the list of DL rabbis in rbs who know more than him is endless.

  23. Travelling RabbiApril 29, 2010 10:38 AM

    "the guy picks up fromt zfat and moves to rbs and now he is an authority over us? is this a joke? how do you become an authoritative rabbi in RBS?"

    He became an authority here the same way Malinowitz (who doesn't live here, pay taxes here, send his kids to school here) did.

    What vested interested does he have beyond his kehilla

    Alot of people willing to submit to his authority

    If a rav wants to really make a difference he should have the where with all to move here.

    I'll give that to Davidovitz who at least picked himself and moved here.

  24. Being that this post is based on Rav Malinowitz's POV I would like to bring in a point for his mouthpiece Aryeh:

    Aryeh has posted on the lists that Likud members should join him in protest of Bibi's attempt to take control and extend present Likud leadership.

    He is 100% correct in his idea and efforts against "back room" and unfair politics.

    I just hope that he will realize that his support of Charedi side of the mikve issue is also support of "backroom" and undemocratic politics.

    He should recognize the parallel.

  25. @ Catriel Lev 9:32
    >>he is willing to hear allegations of women who claim to have been mistreated, but he thinks that these allegations are probably lies.<<

    He thinks that me and women like me are lying??????? Where in the world does he get off saying/thinking that people who have seen and felt things empirically when he has not are the ones who are wrong? How arrogant does one have to be to assume someone would lie openly about something so private. When I was in touch with him he told me he felt it was a case of "Chareidi Bashing"- excuse me?!?! Seriously, the chutzpah of his blame/discredit the victim behavior is revolting.

  26. Catreil Lev:
    Thank you for your posts.
    So, women who saw the sign with THEIR OWN EYES, that said Sefardi ladies are not allowed to dip int he mikva bein hashmashote are hallucinating or liars? There was an actual sign that stated this, and the Sefradi ladies had to stand up and say, I want to go to the mikva now and not wait, with the sign saying it was assur hanging there. Does Rav Malinowitz think that never happened, or that that was okay?
    Obviously, we don't know if every story is true, but you are saying that you think Rav Malinowitz thinks the women saying they were mistreated by mikva ladies are liars? Did he say that, or do you just assume that? Why would women or their rabbis bother contacting him with their stories if he thinks that? Some people have been posting questions they would like answered by Rav Malinowitz, can you go back and ask him the questions, many of which are yes/no questions?

  27. Call a Spade a SpadeApril 29, 2010 12:26 PM

    Remember that this the SAME Rabbi Malinowitz who told a large gathering of women in his shul to NOT go to the authorities when child abuse is suspected.

    This is the SAME Rabbi Malinowitz who punishes the poor (by banning Lema'an Achai from his shul) because he has issues with David Morris's fight for children's protection.

    And you want to believe and trust such a man?

  28. Call a Spade a Spade:
    I don't believe Rabbi Malinowitz made an announcement in which he said that suspected child abuse should not be reported to the police. That is impossible.
    I also don't think that his saying he does not want an organization to make an appeal in his shul because he has issues with the head of it is called "punishing the poor." He NEVER said not to give to LA, just that he didn't want to host an appeal for them. He doesn't host appeals for many other organizations in his shul either.
    Please stick to discussing the mikva. People really would like to hear the opinions of the rabbis, the point is not to bash them, but to get information on their views.

  29. Rabbonim should set an exampleApril 29, 2010 2:29 PM

    Anon of 1:49

    He did say it about abuse. I was there. I was shocked as were many of the women there.

    My problem with him banning LA is that he used to allow them, then got "into it" with david Morris and then banned them.

    Yes, that is punishing the poor.

  30. Nice try claiming that "he does not believe that any of this actually occurred" with regard to signs in the mikva. I had a sneaking suspicion that certain people might try to deny that there ever was a sign saying that women (from "all eidos") were not allowed to tovel bein hashmashos- if and when the day came and they were ever forced to remove it, so...I actually took a picture of the sign when I was there a few months ago! Now I just have to figure out how to get it off my cellphone. As soon as I can do it (or get my husband to do it!) I'll post a link bli neder. In the meantime anyone who tries to pretend that sign never happened- be forewarned- the truth will come out!

  31. An Israeli guy phoned my home today, said he was from machon somebody, who asked to survey about misradim mihamemshalah (Government Offices/Services), and then went on to ask specifically about misrad hadatot (Ministry of Religion), kashrut, and then several specific questions about the mikva.
    questions included:
    who runs kashrus, the mikva - the govt or the moetza?
    on a scale of one to ten: is the mikva clean, how do the balaniot treat me, who's in charge of the mikva, is the water hot, what's the most important thing on my mind about the mikva, how often do you go to the mikva, and other questions.

    Most peculiar.

    Has anyone else been contacted?

    If so, any idea who's ordered this survey??

  32. to "I knew it"- can you please contact me about the picture you have of the sign about bein hashmashot? Apparently Rav Ovadia is being told this never happened. We would like to show him that it did. Please send me an e-mail to beyachadbs@gmail.com . Thanks.

  33. There's a problem in our language and communication here. When we talk about "charedi" vs. DL - what do we mean? Am I "charedi" b/c my husband wears a black hat and we send our girls to Bais Yaakov? We would never dream of choosing the "charedi" side of the mikva, or davening in a shul led by any of the "charedi" rabbonim who have been connected to the mikva - who is who? I think the women who are clearly DL in this town want DL control of the mikva - but so do hundreds of women who don't look DL when you pass them on the street.

  34. Looks Can Be...April 30, 2010 5:32 PM

    Anon of 11:35

    You bring up an interesting point.

    I collect in my area for Lema'an Achai. When I began I approached a neighbor to donate and their response was "YOU collect for them"? But aren't you Charedi?

    I laughed and said:

    First of all..."them" includes the Charedim (and DL) that run it as well as the many charedim that they help.

    Second: who says that only charedim can do tzedaka and chesed? Lema'an Achai does a very good job and I want to support them.

    Third...I said just because we send our kids to XXX, wear a black hat and don't fly a flag doesn't mean that we won't recognize and support their amazing work.

    So I can relate from where you come

  35. In response to a number of questions to me about Rabbi Malinowitz and his views, I must reiterate that the report I produced presents Rabbi Malinowitz's opinions, not mine, and that it is up to him to answer any questions about his opinions and attitudes. Along the way, in answer to some questions, I have also posted what appeared to me to be Rabbi Malinowitz's opinions based upon what he told me and what his attitude was when I spoke to him that one time, but any further questions must be directed to him.

  36. Who funded the building of the Dolev Mikve?

  37. yes but Cartiel, I can tell you from first hand experience that going to him with questions is a totally useless waste of time.

  38. The Action Committee for Integrity in Providing for Religious Services, which includes many of the most prominent Rabbis from Ramat Bet Shemesh, requested that I help the English-speaking public understand the issues encompassed in the struggle to ensure that Mikvehs provide any woman who wishes to utilize Mikveh services with amiable and Halachically-sound service which will promote Mikveh use.

    I may also write up some summaries in English of the material which has been publicized in Hebrew in the past several weeks; but, first of all, I wish to encourage anyone who wishes to hear the truth from someone who has studied this issue in depth, and whose purpose is simply to promote positive experiences relating to dipping in the Mikveh and other spiritual actions, to contact me by phone or Email for more details.

    Catriel Lev
    Mobile Phone: 050-205-7867
    Home Phone: 02-991-4332
    Email: clev@actcom.com


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