We could add another latent function: the mikveh gives the Haredi the chance to examine his body, to experience it, and compare it with others. It is virtually the only opportunity available to Haredim to satisfy their curiosity about their own body and bodies in general, as the family structure and their tightly-packed homes offer them hardly any privacy, and because Haredim do not usually participate in sport or leisure activities that require undressing, such as a swimming pool.
The mikveh is the place where Haredim are closest to their own bodies and those of others. Because the mikveh is usually crowded, there is a certain intimacy between Haredi men.[i] And despite the crowds, it also affords a degree of intimacy of each Haredi man with himself.
Out of respect for the research subjects’ right to privacy, ethnographic data collected during participant observations at a mikveh will not be presented. We shall Continue reading