Blue in the sense of sad, because there’s apparently something wrong with the water in Seattle.
A friend recently sent me an article by Rabbi Yossi Azose that was – broadly – about halakhic stringencies and leniencies in America, and – narrowly – about the mikveh in Seattle in the years prior to 1963. More specifically, Rabbi Azose discussed the practice, prevalent at the time, of filling mikvaot with tap water.
I’m not going to get into the technical details, because I already gave you the hyperlink, but as I wound my way through the 5,500-word article, two things occurred to me. One, I found it fascinating that in an article of this length about mikvaot, Rabbi Azose didn’t seem to mention women once (maybe I’m just more alert to this after the uproar over Darrell Issa’s hearings on contraception). And two, I thought it was interesting that finding sufficient rain water in Seattle was ever an issue.
Both my musings were addressed just past the 4,000-word mark, with the first – and only – appearance of the word ‘women’:
[Rabbi Shapiro] had arrived in the city after Rabbi Halpern had already built the community mikveh using city water with the blessings of Rabbis Widrewitz and Gordon. Years later, when the mikveh was in need of repair, he spent much time delving into the laws of mikva’ot together with the members of his chevre shas study group, and they all concluded unanimously that, given the specific situation in Seattle, it was permitted to use tap water. They had in fact considered building a rain water mikveh, but discovered that the rain water in Seattle when collected emitted a foul odor, and it would be objectionable to the women to immerse themselves in such water.
Turns out, Rabbi Azose was fully justified in his exclusion of women from the article about mikveh. One second, you give them an opinion, and the next they’re complaining about the rain water in Seattle. Yes, that Seattle rainwater (article from 1977 – if anyone knows how to get rid of Google’s blue highlight, let me know):
OK, granted, the article does not quite describe said water as pure, but have you ever been to the rest of the country??
(Not that it ever rains in Seattle…)
Featured photo courtesy of PostSecret by way of Patricia