The image of the nation receiving the Torah in the middle of a vast desert has been interpreted by commentaries as highly symbolic. The Talmud (BT Bava Kama 82a) discusses the source of this practice and teaches that Ezra the scribe fixed reading from the Torah as we know it today on these 3 days. Yet, it adds that there is an even earlier source: After Am Yisrael crossed yam suf, they travelled 3 days and immediately cried out in thirst for water. From this the Talmud learns that thirst for water here was actually thirst for Torah, meaning that the people were weary and hearing the Torah rejuvenated them — just as water physically rejuvenates the body.
Water imagery throughout the Torah and midrash is symbolic of life, birth and rebirth. After the flood, the world was reborn. By crossing yam suf, the Jewish nation was delivered. Mikveh waters are also a source of renewal and potential for new life and new potential. If a woman’s ovulation cycle is in sync with the time she is due to go to the mikveh, a couple has the potential to be blessed with fertility. Even when a couple is not planning to conceive, or if they have experienced an unfortunate miscarriage or loss, the mikveh can represent potential for renewal, healing and positive change. If a husband and wife have had a hard month, or have fallen out of rhythm, the mikveh is an opportunity to press restart and refocus on their love and hope.
The connections between Matan Torah, restorative waters and intimacy are also expressed by the midrash, which characterizes Matan Torah as a marriage between Hashem and the Jewish people. These sources encourage couples to consider how to create their own feelings of renewal in their relationship. How can they establish a routine of spending quality time together that represents their desire to be together on an ongoing basis, like “every 3 days” of Torah reading? How can the mikveh be a source of positive potential in a relationship, whatever stage a couple is in? Each of us can figure that out within the context of our own relationship. May the imagery of love and renewal associated with the giving of the Torah be a source of inspiration for our interpersonal relationships now and throughout the year.