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- London, UK, Malkhut she'be'Assiyah
well, someone has asked, so i suppose i should answer!Perhaps you could explain the difference in purpose and procedure between Tevilah and Christian Baptism - when is the Jewish rite performed?, for what reasons?, by whom? and how? What is its meaning?
basically, tevilah is more or less the same procedure - complete immersion in water - albeit with the stringencies one might expect:
1) the person has to be completely clean, unclothed and free of foreign objects
2) the water has to be "living"
as i understand it, the basic thing about "living" water (ie that connected to groundwater/rainwater) is that it enables one to convert the status of a person (or an object, like cooking utensils) from tamei to tahor. in Temple times, a further use of the ashes of the red heifer would have been necessary for people to actually participate in cultic rituals properly. nowadays we are all considered impure for this purpose even if we have immersed.
the practical uses for tevilah, currently, are the following:
1) conversion to judaism
2) ending a woman's status as a niddah (menstruant) so she can have intercourse with her husband until her next period
3) making kitchen utensils of uncertain status neutral so they can be recategorised as "milky" or "meaty" - NB, this is a complicated area in and of itself, so i'm not going to discuss it.
the difference between this and baptism, as i understand it, is that baptism admits you into the "salvation club" - whereas a jewish baby does not need to be toveled - this is because there is no concept of "original sin" requiring salvation - we are born jewish.
niddah is more complicated - the "starter for ten" is that it's a matter of the woman reconnecting herself to the "living water" after her system is "taken over", as it were, by the blood of menstruation, which is associated with the incapacity for life of her unfertilised egg. this is seen as being a separate category - we may not mix incapacity-for-life with life, just as we may not mix meat and milk or linen and wool. there are many levels of meaning, but this is a very, very personal thing - i can tell you what it means to me, but other people may have other interpretations. all we agree on is the process.