By Leta Van Brussel
“So it will be afterward, I will pour out My Ruach [Holy Spirit] on all flesh.” (Joel 3:1 TLV)
Now I understand why I, following the worldly ways of sin most of my life, so unexpectedly came to know G-D, love Him, and desire to follow His ways. It is the fulfillment of this prophecy.
“John [the immerser -”the baptist” to Christians] appeared, immersing in the wilderness, proclaiming an immersion [tevilah] involving repentance [teshuva] for the removal of sins. All the Judean countryside was going out to him, and all the Jerusalemites. As they confessed their sins, they were being immersed by him in the Jordan River [mikvah]. John wore clothes made from camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. ‘After me comes One who is mightier than I am,’ he proclaimed. ‘I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandals! I immersed you with water, but He will immerse you in the Ruach ha-Kodesh [Holy Spirit].’” (Mark 1:4-8 TLV)
In preparation for immersion, over the course of several days, I examined my conscience seeking out all the sins of my past life. I analyzed why I did these things so I can avoid the circumstances or that faulty thinking in the future. I realized my sinful actions were caused by hurt and anger over feelings of rejection in neglectful, selfish or deceitful human love shown toward me. Human love is not “perfect” love.
I felt acute remorse for having hurt the G-D I have now come to know and love. Through many tears of sorrow I asked His forgiveness.
On a beautiful summer day, Rabbi provided for our congregation immersion in Perdido Bay, which is part of the ocean. Those of us who desired to be immersed gathered with him at the edge of the water. He prayed over us and then we waded out into the water as he stood on the shore watching over us. We went out to chest-deep water where we could immerse ourselves (go under water). Each of us prayed privately to G-D until we felt ready to immerse to be washed clean in our spiritual purification. (Our body and our spirit are all “one” - just different attributes of our “one self.”)
I prayed the tevilah prayer: “Barukh atah Ad-nai, Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’tevilah.” “Blessed art Thou, O L-RD our G-D, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments and commanded us about the immersion.” Amen.
Then I immersed myself. Upon coming up from under the water, I began weeping for joy over G-D having preserved my life and my good health that I was able to walk out into the water and immerse again this year.
I then said the Shehechianu prayer thanking G-D for having sustained me for another year. I was celebrating! “Barukh atah Ad-nai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, shehechianu v’kimanu v’higianu lazman hazeh.” “Blessed art Thou, O L-RD our G-D, King of the Universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this time.” Amen.
I then immersed again, and came up from the water and was totally overcome by a physical feeling of G-D’s love surrounding me - His perfect love! I began to cry again, saying, “G-D is so good!” He forgave me. I didn’t deserve to be forgiven! I was filled with joy beyond description. I immersed a third time and upon arising, prayed over Linda who was standing next to me and had walked out into the water with me.
“I will put My Ruach [Holy Spirit] within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My love, so you will keep My rulings and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27 TLV)
Linda prayed for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to come to her, she immersed, and upon coming up began to weep with joy as were both surrounded by the Spirit of G-D. We just stood there, unable to move for several minutes, crying joyfully.
If I should never see another day, this was one of the highlights of my earthly spiritual experiences.
Thank You, Ad-nai, for showing me Your “perfect love.”
Thank you, Rabbi Eric, for providing the mikvah experience for us, and for leading us through it. You are a “good shepherd!”