Marital Intimacy

Marriage Laws and ConceptsBy Rabbi Dovid E. EidensohnContents


There is now a crisis in the Torah world about broken marriages, divorces, nasty divorces and invalid divorces, broken children and mamzerim. This is the small crisis. The major crisis is that today there is a new Torah different than the real one. Even in an area such a Gittin, which was always controlled by gedolei hador, the new generation has decided to do things its own way. This results in many divorces that are invalid and the children born from them are mamzerim. Even when gedolei hador issue letters and make demands in the laws of Gittin there are many who continue to make Gittin considered by these gedolim as invalid. Children born from these chutzpah dayanim’s Gittin will be mamzerim or at least possible mamzerim so that nobody can marry them. And who talks about this? Who cares? Who cares when the people who should be caring are the ones doing the opposite of what the Torah says and the opposite of what gedolei hador say?

 The last two years I have been engaged in brutal battles with Roshei Yeshiva and rabbonim in America because they tried to force a GET on somebody, because one of them was the cousin of the wife. The others signed without ever talking to the husband. And when I talked to them and mentioned the problems in halacha they were obviously unaware of the problems in halacha. They just signed because the cousin of the wife told them to sign. Even when HaGaon Reb Chaim Kanievsky shlit”o and Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner shlit”o and other gedolei hador in Israel signed a letter and wrote in a book that what these Rosh Yeshivas did was wrong and produced mamzerim, I did not hear anyone announcing that he erred. It was quite a struggle until I published my opinions sufficiently to convince many people that these prominent Roshei Yeshiva and rabbis did not know what they were doing and were furthermore completely out of touch with the laws of dayanim and choshen mishpot. I issued a thirteen page attack on the leading posek of that group and so far nobody has answered even one complaint or proof in that work although thousands of people read it.

We obviously have a lot to explain and this is not the place now in the introduction. But what happened with invalid Gittin is happening in other areas. Precisely these Roshei Yeshiva and rabbonim with their “Daas Torah” that has nothing to do with Torah are destroying many Yeshiva students and turning many Torah families into destruction with divorces, broken families and broken children. I will show that the system of Yeshiva is against the Torah. And I was told this by two gedolei hador, one of the past generation and one yebodel lechaim of this generation. These two areas, families and Yeshiva programs, I have mentioned, but there is more.The Chofetz Chaim said that we don’t punch darkness. We must shine a light. And so after I concluded my battles and proved certain laws I felt I had punched the darkness and succeeded to some degree.

Now it was time to shine some light. But how?In the past two years as I battled the big name Roshei Yeshiva in America and prominent rabbis I was fighting a hopeless battle to a certain degree, because I don’t know anything about politics and fighting and mind my own business and don’t know how to mind other peoples’ business. I saw no solution. So I pulled the emergency lever. I called up a Rov whose father is my rebbe muvhok in halacha. The father is very weak and I cannot talk to him and even the son must find the right time to talk to him about anything. But I found out with earlier problems that when I called the son and told him my problem right for his father’s berocho, right away the phone started to ring and incredible things happened. So I called him again and told him that this time I am asking the impossible. Because I need to do things that I have no experience in and by my nature cannot succeed in them.

I sat down and cogitated, and I got an idea: I have to design a program for children and even for adults that provides for four goals: One, a child or even an adult must be taught Torah and encouraged to understand that they are going to go in a certain road and become astute in learning Torah, a Talmid Chochom. The first step is confidence, and a program can provide this confidence by learning the way Chazal wanted and not what goes on today. Two, I wanted a person to understand that he must earn a living, and that he must aim for wealth, as Rovo says in Horiyuse. Third, a person must be heavily trained in social and family skills. Especially today, people must be trained and retrained, because what they see is no good. Four, people must be given the opportunity to learn how to use their hands in a variety of ways, such as farming, learning how to use tools, how to fix the house, etc. This allows some people to realize their talents in certain directions and they can, from early childhood, train for these fields.

I told HaShem that this idea is the key to my efforts, but I want Him to prove it to me. I opened a Tehilim and it said, ישמחו השמים ותגל הארץ ירעם הים ומלואו יעלוז השדי וכל אשר בו. This posuk has four parts and they correspond exactly to my four stages. First, a person must realize how to begin learning so that he can be a Talmid Chochom, to be rich in Torah. That is ישמחו השמים which is a heavenly thing, Torah. Next, ותגל הארץ which is this world, or money. Next, the sea and its creatures will rejoice. The sea has fish,and fish is a sign of marriage as fish multiply. And fish in the sea are invisible so there is no evil eye on their increase. Thus fish are a sign about family. Finally, “the field rejoices, with all that is in it” refers to the various ways of using the field, using one’s hands in farming as our forefathers did, or perhaps other endeavors, as we find that our forefathers had various trades. The  projects I envision require substantial backing. I decided to test the waters with one call to someone I never met but who has a lot of experience in the outer world. I called him and we had a very long conversation. It really taught me and even moved me. Thus, it greatly encouraged me. 

At the same time, a friend said he would talk to somebody who is very involved with the kind of things I want to do. I spoke to a major investor who liked me ideas. I even had a miracle that he was impressed with my ideas for the fiscal aspect of the program and told me about an investment he was interested in. I told him why that was a problem and he accepted it right away. But then I told him how to do such and such and then the investment might be a good idea. He was impressed. And I was encouraged. So I am now putting out this material, which is basically the program of teaching the Torah as it was meant to be taught and lived. This will affect the Yeshivas and the families. May HaShem help me.

The rebbe of the Baal HaTanyo wrote in his sefer that some people work very hard to purify themselves and achieve holiness, but they have problems that seem to put them in the other direction. He said this happens when people attempt to do too much, when goals are unrealistic.  Such goals can lead to destruction. When we have a world where students fail because they are told to become “gedolim” great ones, which is unlikely, and where people don’t make a normal living because they have to have faith while they spend their time learning, we cannot be surprised that many of these candidates for greatness are not great and may even be frustrated and worse. That is what we are producing today. By creating impossible goals, we force destruction. And all of those “gedolim”: where are they? Are they the ones who make the invalid Gittin? The ones making the invalid Gittin are the cream of the crop of those people like to call “gedolim.” That is our world.I studied under European gedolim from the age of twelve until much later. I had personal shimush training from Reb Aharon Kotler, Reb Moshe Feinstein, Reb Yaacob Kaminetsky, Reb Yosef Shalom Elyashev and many others. I know that they had different ideas from what is going on today. And if I fight, I do so because my rebbes wanted this.


Years ago the Gadol Reb Yaacov Kaminetsky zt"l told me that he wanted a book about marital intimacy. The Shelo HaKodosh says clearly that a rabbi must lecture regularly in public on the laws of marital intimacy. The happiness of the couple in intimacy produces good children, and unhappiness can produce the opposite, as the Eshkol writes in his Laws of Tseniuse. This is based upon a gemora in Bovo Basro 10b that if we want good children, the husband must arouse the wife to rejoice during intimacy. That is the text of the gemora according to the Eshkol.Today there are Torah Jews from the finest Torah families who simply refuse to marry. So many divorces and horror stories about broken families exist that some people are just not willing to risk their lives in marriage, rachmono litslon. So this material is not just to talk to people about marriage and its laws, but it is hopefully going to explain to people why marriage is so crucial. There is much more to say, but some things are just too painful to write at least at this point. So let us get to work on understanding Torah values in marriage, family, and divorce. We hope along the way to deal with many problems that we don’t mention right now. 

SINNING ON YOM KIPPUR WHILE DOING A MITSVAHLet us begin with a gemora in YUMA 19b that tells the incredible story of many girls sinning on Yom Kippur with men, while they were busy doing a mitzvah! This is a central idea in our work here, that nobody can be sure he or she is safe from sin, because nobody is. And that when the Yetser Hora can present a sin as a good deed, he may succeed in a major way.The gemora tells how the service in the Temple on Yom Kippur was led by the Cohen Gadol, the High Priest.  For an entire night and day the Cohen Gadol who may be an older person had to perform difficult tasks regarding the sacrifices brought on Yom Kippur and the Temple service with burning fragrances lighting the menorah, etc. Some of the tasks were very difficult and required much training and were a strain on the Cohen Gadol. When Yom Kippur came, beginning at night, the Cohen Gadol was not allowed to go to sleep. And yet, as the Cohen Gadol sat in the quiet night, he became drowsy and was close to falling asleep. For this reason pious people would themselves not go to sleep. They filled the streets around the Temple talking and walking, making noise to keep the Cohen Gadol awake.After the Destruction of the Temple some pious people continued this custom, to remember the Temple and to hope that it would be rebuilt. These pious people, men and women, flocked into the streets at night on Yom Kippur and began chatting and making noise in the tradition of ancient Israel. People who stay up at night have a hard time fasting and praying all day. So it would seem that these people performed a difficult mitzvah.A great rabbi seeing the piety of the Jews, said to HaShem, “Why is Moshiach not here when the Jews are so pious?” Elijah the Prophet answered him, “On Yom Kippur many virgins sinned in the city of Nardoy.” This was a city of Torah and pious people, so why did these people sin? They sinned because they wanted to do a good deed. Never would girls have gone out into the street in the middle of the night for plain reasons. But to do a mitzvah, to remember the Temple, they flocked to the streets, and the chatting and the walking and talking ended in the worst ways.The Talmud continues the story. Rav Yehuda asked Eliyohu HaNovi what HaShem says about this, the sinning on Yom Kippur of the worst kind. And Eliyohu HaNovi replied, that HaShem says, “Sin crouches at the door.” Rashi explains, “The Evil Inclination forces people to sin.”Now this is incredible. Does the Yetser Hora force people to sin? So why are they punished? But as long as people obey the rules, they are safe. Once they endanger themselves by walking around in the middle of the night to chat and make noise, and men and women mingle, there is no safety. Sin will result.We see from this that “sin crouches at the door” even when we do good deeds, and yes, especially then. Because when we want to do a good deed we trust in the good deed and sometimes forget caution. Then we are lost.Once a Jew did a terrible sin that no Jew had been known to commit. A rabbi was asked how this was possible that a Jew should sin so much. He replied, “I don’t know. But this I do know. He wanted to do a mitzvah.” That is, a Jew has an Evil Inclination that always advises him to do a sin. But a Jew knows that a sin brings punishment, so the sin the Jew will do has a limit. But when a Jew feels he is doing something to serve HaShem, he can sin beyond any measure, because what will restrain him?Thus, when we talk about marriage, when we talk about divorce, when we talk about sinning, we must mention that the Satan crouches at the door especially when the door is labeled “a mitzvah.” Then we have no hope. Thus, the first step in purity is to find a door labeled “a mitzvah” and be very careful before we go there. Because once we start there, “sin crouches at the door” and who will save us from serious sin?If you ask a Jew whether he or she should marry, the Jew knows the answer. The Torah, in its first command, tells us to marry and procreate. So why are so many people today not marrying? Not just people who divorce and suffer terribly refuse to remarry, but some people are not marrying at all, even young people from the finest families. Why? How can they defy the Torah? But the Satan has for them excuses labeled “Mitsvah” and that is the end of the story. Sin crouches at the door when people decide that it is better not to marry than to marry and have a divorce or broken children or what other things may happen from a marriage. Yes, it is good to avoid a broken marriage. But it is wrong not to marry. Let us hope that we can here give hope to people who refuse to marry that they can find a marriage that works. We will discuss our project of Shalom Bayis Beth Din whereby people marry only after they are connected to a Beth Din whose sole job is to make Shalom. This is not a Beth Din that divides up the family and the assets after a divorce. It is a Beth Din that trains the spouses to behave in marriage and guides them to a successful marriage.This book will present many ideas about marriage, children, family and divorce that may give people understanding and hope where there was no understanding and hope.Let us turn now to a topic that is crucial, the various teachings in the gemora and Shulchan Aruch about what is permitted and what is forbidden in marital intimacy.There is a story about a certain senior rabbi in Israel whose job it was to deal with divorces. But when he was in charge of this, there were no divorces. People came to him for a divorce, and the rabbi took the husband for a walk, and the husband never came back. Learning about intimacy did the job. Let us now study about the laws of intimacy in marriage.HAVING CHILDREN DURING A FAMINEThe Talmud in Taanis 11A clearly states that it is forbidden to have children during a famine. But Tosfose asks how this is possible. The mother of Moshe was born during a famine and her father was Levi, the progenitor of the Levites and Cohanim, the holiest Jews. How could Levi sin and have children during a famine? Tosfose explains that even though the Talmud says that it is forbidden to have relations during a famine, it is not really a sin, but just that some pious people may refuse to have children. That is, some pious people will refuse to have children then, but other pious Jews, such as Levi, will have children.The Talmud then says that Yosef did not have children during the famine, and yet, Levi did have children during the famine. Why did Levi and Yosef behave differently?We find that Yosef was very pure and resisted successfully the attempts of the Egyptians to seduce him. Levi together with his brother Shimon slaughtered a city of people who had shamed their sister. Levi was thus known for his temper and the Levites must be careful because they can become aggressive. People with such character must fear their evil inclination more than others. Levi therefore feared his Evil Inclination and had relations with his wife during the famine. But Yosef did not fear his Evil Inclination and had no relations with wife during the famine.We see from this that each person, even pious people, have different natures. And refraining from one's wife for a religious reason may be wrong if the person would possibly be led to sin by his evil inclination and biological forces.There are cold people and there are hot people. Cold people may decide to be pious and holy and they may not fear stumbling into sin. Hot people should fear stumbling into sin. Cold people must be careful to please their wives. Hot people must please their wives and themselves. Briefly, whether to limit one's marital intimacy depends on whether this is dangerous or threatening to the person who does it.I believe that in today's age, when walking down the street is a great spiritual challenge, people need special permission to embark on limiting their true desires in intimacy. If you are not satisfied, you are a menace to yourself and to others.HaGaon Rav Mayer Bransdorfer zt”l was one of the great rabbis and authorities on the Torah in the past generation. He was a proponent of severe holiness in marriage. Indeed, today many Jews especially some Hassidim favor this method. Some Hassidic husbands refuse to kiss their wives other than to perform the mitzvah. I  have always fought against this tooth and nail. When my son married the daughter of a Jerusalem Rosh Yeshiva from a very prominent family, I discovered to my delight that Rav Bransdorfer zt”l was my mechuten! Since my policy is to always pester great rabbis, I began to pester him during the wedding, and got one important law about the laws of Nida from him. But then the noise of the wedding made it impossible to continue, and so the next day, Erev Shabbos, I went to his house and he invited me in where I presented my objections to his opinions about holiness. I spoke for an hour, only sources, and the entire time he only said one short statement, which took me years to try to understand. That is, it took me years until I imagined that I understood, but maybe I didn’t.At any rate, it was Erev Shabbos and it was getting late. One hour is enough any time but surely Erev Shabbos it was time for me to leave. So I told the Rov that it was Erev Shabbos and I would leave. He walked me to the door with a smile on his face and said before I left: “You have the sources, but we don’t do things like that.”So if I have the sources, and who is more qualified to say that than the Gaon himself; I have done my job. Are there people who are super-holy like Rav Mayer? Yes, and there should be. But today in such a world, I don’t think that going against the open sources that I mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch and elsewhere is advisable. And that is how I will present the laws here. Let me be more specific. I was born in 1942 but Reb Mayer was older than me probably by a few decades. If so, he was born much before me and came to maturity during Hitler yemach shemo. One who lives in a time like that can be as holy as he wants. But I live in a different world, and for me to tempt my Evil Inclination with too much holiness is probably completely forbidden, because I would lose. So I stick with the Shulchan Aruch and the poskim.Let us now look at the Shulchan Aruch in the beginning of the laws of Nida Yoreh Dayoh 184:2: “During the time when the wife expects her period the husband must not be with her for one period, not from other acts but only from the act of procreation.” The Shach there says that “this indicates that hugging and kissing is permitted, as the Beis Yosef says from the writings of the authorities…and it seems that the Ramo agrees in paragraph 10.” He brings that the Bach agrees with this but says that one who is stringent will be blessed.We see that even though the woman is about to have her period and we should be aware of that and not have marital relations of procreation, it is permitted to hug and kiss the wife.Now, if somebody should actually do this, at a time when any second the wife may have her period, is a scary thing to contemplate. But I mention this because there are some people who feel that one may never hug or kiss his wife unless he is doing the mitzvah. This is clearly not the opinion of the great authorities in the Shulchan Aruch.I presented this proof to a Chosid who told me that today it is forbidden to hug and kiss one’s wife even when there is no problem of her period. This is because hugging and kissing will probably produce zera livatolo. If this is so, we are talking about a new kind of human being that didn’t exist during the generations of the poskim, because  nobody ever said this.And precisely in this communities where husbands are terrified of kissing their wives unless they are doing the mitzvah, that we have incredible problems of men running around and even women, rachmono litslon. This is the gemora in Yuma, that HaShem commented on the large number of young girls who sinned with men on Yom Kippur by saying, “Sin crouches at the door” and Rashi explains, people are forced to sin. Yes, when you invent a new Torah that you can walk around in the middle of the night and talk to men, sin crouches at the door and you are helpless. And if you refuse to have the pleasure of marriage with your wife, you are going to find the pleasure in another woman, or another outlet, men or children, rachmono litslon, which is a huge problem today.A prominent askon told me the following. He knew an Israeli who was becoming a baal teshuva, but was still very raw. The Israeli became a taxi driver, and told the askon the following story. He drove a lady in the taxi somewhere, and she told him, no, not there but somewhere else. He ended up sleeping with her. When he was finished he said to her, “I did this for the pleasure. But you are the wife of a prominent Chosid, a pious and important person. How could you do this?” She replied, “Yes, my husband is a very holy and pious person, so he stays away from me and I get very little marital pleasure. So I take it like this, because I can’t be alone so much.”I was once in the office of a rabbi who was in charge of matters of kedusho, meaning sexual sins, in a major city. Once I answered the phone and somebody said to me, “Look. Let’s speak English. My son is being molested by somebody who is very holy and pious. What should I do?” I told him to speak to the rabbi of that man who believed in holiness but did not believe in child molestation.Another man told me that he moved to a Torah city but had a past that was not so frum and he wanted now to really be frum. He was thrilled when a seemingly pious person took a personal interest in his child, until he found out that the child was being molested. Yes, many people who try in many ways to be very holy fail in the worst manners precisely because of the extra holiness they practice. Of course, there are many sick people who sin not despite their holiness but because they are the opposite.The Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 25:6 writes, "It is forbidden to have marital relations during a famine except for those without children." We see something forbidden but not for everyone. People who have not had children may have relations. We quoted the Tosfose Taanis 11A that it is really not forbidden for anyone, but rather very pious people may chose this path, or they may not. The commentary on the Shulchan Aruch Beis Shmuel writes that another leniency is when the woman comes from the Mikvah there may be relations even during a famine even for one who has children. We see from this that there are exceptions. See also Orach Chaim 574 in Shaarei Teshuva that there may be exceptions when someone has a need for intimacy. But all of this confuses people. We want to write here a clear understanding of exactly how to behave when and where.And now, we turn to another ruling in the Shulchan Aruch, which clearly shows that the rules must be understood clearly because they don't always apply.WHAT IS PERMITTED IN INTIMACY? The Shulchan Aruch in Even Hoezer 25:2 in Ramo states: "And one may do with his wife whatever he wishes. He can copulate any time he wants to and he may kiss her in any organ that he wants to and he can copulate with her in the normal place or practice anal intercourse even if he has zera livatolo if he does it only once in a while and does not make a practice of it. But even if all of this is permitted one who sanctifies himself with that which is permitted to him is called ‘holy’."We find just the opposite idea in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 240 that this that and the other thing are forbidden to do in marriage. The contradiction is terrible. People have told me that they spoke to many rabbis and never understood what marriage was all about until they spoke to me. So here we want to do away with the contradictions and the confusion.The answer to the contradiction is as follows. It all depends on the people involved. If a person has a strong biological drive, he is forbidden to endanger himself by accepting high standards of holiness and purity that will leave him hungry for what he may get the wrong way. There are today and there always were people completely devoted to the Torah who fell prey to their biological pressures and did the worst things. The Talmud talks about a group of people who sinned on the night of Yom Kippur while they were in the process of doing a mitzvah (Yuma 19b). The book of Mishlei is filled with this warning. You are not in control. You may only seize control by having a truly happy and functioning marriage. If you are a holy person and don't satisfy your urges, you are in great danger. Such a person is forbidden to embrace holiness by removing himself from permitted matters, and if he does, he is a sinner. And if he falls into sin, he is punished for intentionally removing himself from protection from sin.But the person who has a lesser urge for certain things and can easily contain and constrain himself, he may indeed seek holiness by refusing certain things and he is praised for it. Not only is he praised for it, but he may be judged for refusing the path of holiness. But for someone in danger of sinning with another woman, the path of holiness is to be with his wife until he no longer has problems, and staying away from those things that satisfy him can be a sin and lead to major sins.Thus we have two people, the person with great appetite for certain things who is forbidden to avoid his wife when she is permitted, and the person who does not have such urges and is able to embrace holiness and refuse certain things. Another level is when the husband has no problems but the wife wants more. In such a case, if the wife is not satisfied maybe she will sin with another man and the husband must protect her as he must protect himself.THE OBLIGATION TO MAKE ONE'S WIFE REJOICEDevorim 24:5: When a man takes a new wife he does not go to the army...he shall be solely involved with his house for a year and make his wife that he took rejoice." Rashi notes that the Targum renders the Hebrew that the husband must make his wife rejoice, not that he rejoices together with the wife. That is, the husband arouses his wife fully, and he surely has much pleasure. But his thoughts are to fulfill the wife and make his wife rejoice, that is his mitsvah. His happiness will surely come, but he must constantly think of the happiness of the wife. When she is aroused, he will have all of the happiness that he wants, but he must do this for her sake. The Zohar  notes the same thing, that the husband makes the wife happy for her sake not his own. Of course, when the wife is aroused, and appreciates the happiness given to her by her husband, the husband is going to get it back.This by the way is a major rule in marriage. The husband must think of the wife, not himself. The husband is a king, but a king must think of the community, not himself. In marriage, a husband who negates himself for his family gets the appreciation of the wife and children and becomes a king. But a husband who treats others as if they had better serve him reaps the whirlwind. Not only can the wife destroy his life, but a doctor of children has said that when we go toe to toe with a child, the child will outlast the father. The Torah thus prepares the foundation of the home when the husband takes the lead in honoring others, his wife, and even others in the house. A husband who demands this or that is looking for a lot of trouble.The classic Haredim (20:8) say that the above passage "and he should make his wife rejoice" is not just for the first year of marriage, but commands the husband to make his wife happy always with marital intimacy.He says that one who refuses to be with his wife during the usual time to be with her has violated a Torah ruling “and he should make his wife rejoice” that refers to marital intimacy, and he has violated a negative command “he should not diminish her marital intimacy.” HOW TO MAKE THE WIFE REJOICEThe Talmud advises the husband to "make his wife rejoice doing a mitsvah"  meaning making his wife rejoice rejoice during marital intimacy. From this comes good children. If the wife is not happy during intercourse there may be other kinds of children, heaven forefend. But how do we make our wives happy in marriage? Let us look into this in general, and only then can we enter a discussion about marital intimacy. Because if the wife doesn't like the husband in general, intimacy becomes painful. But if she loves the husband, intimacy becomes natural.We now begin a Kabbalistic study of the marriage of ODOM and CHAVO (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden. We want to know the good things that they did, things that marrying people should emulate, but we also want to know what went wrong, when CHAVO turned away from her husband and embraced the snake. That is probably the most difficult part of the entire Torah to understand, and to my knowledge I never saw anyone explain it thoroughly. But we have found something, a hint, in the writings of Reb Moshe Karduveru, the mighty Kabbalist of Tsefas, that may explain it.First let us learn from the story of Creation what good things ODOM and CHAVO did to merit a good marriage. Then we will discuss any problems with their marriage that resulted in CHAVO embracing the snake and sinning and destroying the world.The Zohar in Beraishise 49a has a lengthy discussion about the good things that were done in the marriage of ODOM and CHAVO. The Zohar quotes the passage in the Torah that HaShem brought CHAVO to ODOM. This teaches us that the parents of the woman bring her to the husband. A wife whose parents are behind the marriage has a different level of confidence than a woman who was attracted to the husband on her own. Studies have shown that arranged marriages may succeed better than marriages not arranged. One of the reasons is that when a person marries it is a leap into the unknown, no matter what. A spouse who is guided by parents feels much less fear. This allows the woman to accept her marriage and the husband's efforts to please her more readily.Parents can surely lend their support to the marriage. And this support will help the marriage survive, and alleviate fears and suspicions that should not destroy the marriage.Parents must always remember this whenever they talk to a married child or a child thinking of marriage. One critical word can make a lot of problems and ruin a child's marriage and life.Parents are important but not just parents. Older people, surely some rabbis who are experienced in teaching about marriage, are to be sought out and pestered without mercy. I wrote a sefer about family  and in that sefer one can understand what a pest I was when I ran after rabbis and experienced people to help me with my family issues and other things as well. There is a custom among some people in Jerusalem that after the wedding both sets of parents go with the newlyweds to their new house and wish them well. Parents have a task and role of supporting marriage, but they should minimize their involvement in criticizing the marriage. The Wife is a Queen in the HouseAnother idea in the above Zohar is that a woman is a person of the home. She raises the children and does other tasks in the home. She has a home before she marries with her parents and she has a home after her marriage with her husband. The difference is that when she is a child in her parents' home she is not in control of anything. But when she marries and now becomes "the mainstay of the house" she does have a certain control over the house. The Talmud says that regarding worldly matters, the husband should bend down and listen to his wife, meaning, he must greatly value his wife's opinions.The Torah begins with the letter BEIS meaning "house" because that is where children grow and all of our values begin and are nurtured there. For this the wife is greatly honored because she is the major person regarding the function of the home, and her husband must respect that, even if sometimes they may disagree about something.The Zohar says, "The house belongs to the wife" also "and the  husband must ask her permission to enter." This refers to intimacy that may only be done with the permission and good feelings of the wife. But it also alludes to what we said before, that the house is the dimension of the wife in other areas as well. If she feels respect in general in the house and life of the house, marital intimacy will come naturally. But if she feels slighted by an arrogant husband, everything else suffers. Furthermore, from such a marriage could come problem children, because the soul of the child is influenced by the happiness of the wife during intimacy.It may seem logical to assign more respect to the husband who learns Torah than to the wife, but the husband must honor his wife more than himself. We will discuss this in more detail. Indeed, I have written a book about gender filled with sources from the revealed and hidden Torah about male and female . We will touch on some of these things here, but for now, we will stick to our topic, the marriage of ODOM and CHAVO.We continue here with the previous selection from the Zohar I:49, about ODOM and CHAVO and how ODOM dealt with his new wife.The Zohar says that the husband must take over from the parents (or HaShem) the role of guide of the wife. “One who seeks intimacy with his wife must come to her and sweeten her with words, and if not, he should not sleep with her.” “Sweeten her with words” means just that. The husband talks to his wife and makes her relax, interested in him, and excited about marriage. Everything is sweet, lovely, warm and exciting. All of this is a pre-condition to marital intimacy.Now ODOM and CHAVO were in the Garden of Eden. They had no financial worries. They had no pressures from the in-laws, or indeed, any kind of bad pressures. It was therefore not a great trick for ODOM to speak to CHAVO and sweeten her. But as we will discuss later, it is not that simple. We mention all of this here because of an obvious objection. How many people are married and unable to divorce because they have children but the husband and wife don’t feel sweet thoughts towards each other? Is it forbidden for them to have relations?In fact, in the world we live in where having children may preclude a divorce, people are stuck with each other. They have no other way to relieve their biological drives other than to be with each other. While the hate is foaming away, they relate to each other and may have a child. The literature on such a child is not encouraging. But what should they do?A friend of mine who is known as a rabbi and fighter for holiness was once walking down the street and somebody in a car called to him. He got into the car and the man in it said to him, “I am married many years and my wife and I have no relations. I can’t stand it. I must do something. But what should I do? My friend went to a prostitute and she blackmailed him. So I have no choice but to sleep with a married Orthodox women who will surely never reveal what we are doing. Do you have another idea?” My friend suggested maybe a divorce, but the man in the car said, “If I divorce my wife my children will be children from a divorced house and will not get good shidduchim.” And so the discussion had no nice ending.The Zohar writes briefly that the husband approaches his wife for intimacy and meets her. The commentary Derech Emes states that this means that he must first deal with any problems in the relationship. Maybe she is angry at him for something. So first he deals with the negative things. Then begins the process of sweet words that build to the climax , the act of procreation.The Zohar concludes this idea by saying “in order that the mind of the two be as one that the act is not forced.” This is a long sentence. Why not just say “in order that the act not be forced.” Why add “that the mind of the two be as one.” But this is a new level. The man is coming to the wife and he wants something from her. He wants it very badly. His liquids are cooking. And she? She is not cooking. This is not good. The man must approach the woman and say such good words that she begins to cook. And finally, the two of them unite in wanting intimacy very much. But there is more to it than that.Just as the husband has enormous biological drive to be with his wife, in which could be the greatest of lusts, the wife must feel the same way. In fact, the great Gaon Rav Chaim Felagi states that the desires of a woman in intimacy may be stronger than the desires of the man. At any rate, if the husband does his job properly, the wife should march along with him to the apex of the intimacy, so that both of them are as one, two people exploding with love and desire.The husband approaches the wife because he is obligated by the Torah to make her rejoice, especially with intimacy. And the wife senses his interest, not in his own pleasures, but in her happiness. That is the key to the entire moment. Once she senses this, she loves her husband and the deal is done. But if she senses that the husband is using her as a machine for his own pleasures, that is quite different.Intimacy by NightThe Zohar continues, “It is forbidden to have relations during the day.” It is not so simple. The gemora in Shabbos 86a says three things. One, Jews are a holy people and they do not have marital relations during the day. Two, if during the day there is a dark room one can have marital relations. And three, if the room is not dark but a Torah scholar wants to have relations with his wife he can cover his eyes with a garment and have relations with his wife. The sin is to look at the wife during intimacy because maybe the husband will see a blemish on his wife.We quoted the Shulchan Aruch whereby one may be with his wife anytime and whatever he wants to do with his wife he may. So why is it forbidden to have relations during the day? Perhaps it is one of those things that are better not done, but if one has a strong desire to do it may do it. Or perhaps since the sin is to see a blemish on his wife that may damage the marriage, it should definitely be honored. If, however, there are certain extenuating circumstances perhaps it could be relaxed as we explained earlier.Or perhaps the Zohar itself would forbid relations at night, but the gemora has a different opinion. Let us now turn to the basic source of these laws in the Talmud, Nedorim 20A.The Talmud On IntimacyTalmud Nedorim 20A: “Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavoy said, ‘The administering angels told me four things: Why are there cripples? Because in intimacy the couple is turned the wrong way. Rashi explains this means anal intercourse. Why are some people dumb unable to speak? Because they kiss that private place. Why are some people deaf? Because the parents talk during relations.  Why are some people blind? Because they look at the private place…“Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘This is the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavoy. But the sages teach that the law is not as RabbYochanan ben Dahavoy says. But anything that a man wants to do with his wife he does…” “Amaymar said, ‘Who are the administering angels [quoted by Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavoy]? They are the sages [not real angels.] Because if he was quoting real angels, why would Rabbi Yochanan rule in favor of rabbis who are human when the angels know more about the forming of children than the rabbis do?” Amaymar adds that these sages are called administering angels because when they put on their talis they looked like angels. But this is a problem because most rabbis disagreed with Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavoy, and these rabbis also wore a talis. So why did Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavay select the opinion of some rabbis who wore a talis and reject the majority of the sages who permitted the above?But we have said all along that the laws of intimacy are about two kinds of people. Some people are without terrible biological pressures and they can be very holy and modest. But others cannot do this because they are afraid of their biological pressures.The Talmud says that some rabbis who were as the administering angels forbade this that and the other thing in marital intimacy. But rabbis who were not called angels permitted it and even said “Anything that a person wants to do with his wife he does.” It seems he does and he should do it, as there is no caution and no warning to try to be holy. Because if a person fears his passions it is a sin to avoid satisfying them in marriage. But if a person is pure and clean so much so that people refer to them as “administering angels” they can and should be holy, and if they are not, they could have punishments.The gemora there asks why some rabbis are called “administering angels”? It explains, “Because they are distinguished in their dress like angels.” Rashi explains that they are covered with tsitsis, or a Talis. The Ran explains because they are apart from others. Rashi can explain that one who goes covered with a talis or tsitsis is one far removed from sin and wrong appetites because the tsitsis remind us to obey HaShem. Because we wear tsitsis the Torah says, “you will not go astray after your heart and your eyes.” Thus, such people were as angels and were able to be very pious and refrain from doing whatever others had an appetite to do. So for them these appetites were wrong, but for others they were necessary.The Ran says that these rabbis who were so strict in marriage were set apart and thus special and were considered angelic but of course not everybody is an angel. For most Jews, these rules don’t apply. To obey them would endanger a person who may do a serious sin when he is not satisfied in marriage. We find a similar battle in the Talmud between Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi and Rabbi Yishmael about working long hours of the day to make a living. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi is against it, because one must spend the major time of his day in learning. But Rabbi Yishmael permits it and even calls it a blessing that one may toil the field especially in Israel. The gemora in several places says clearly that the law is that people may be farmers and may work long hours and it is not sinful. Indeed, the gemora goes so far as to say that although some pious people in early generations did refrain from working  most of the day, the law is that people may work as much as they need to make a proper living. The gemora says clearly that in the time of the gemora people cannot sustain themselves without a heavy schedule of work. And this is the final law.Farming is fine, despite the fact that it consumes enormous amounts of time and leaves a small amount of time for learning. And even Rabbi Shimon who is against farming must base his opinion on passages that clearly deal only with the coming of Moshiach when gentiles will toil the fields. Rabbi Shimon, who was a person connected to the higher worlds, was comfortable in calling for such a standard even today. But it is rejected by the major rabbis and the Talmud.The same thing applies with marital intimacy. Those who are super holy and do not need these things are called “administering angels”. But most rabbis were not of this opinion and were not themselves called “administering angels”. But if there be somebody today who is an “administering angel” in his lack of need for certain things, he should certainly refrain from these things.There is a new twist to all of this in the Eshkol, a major authority who is considered one of the Cabalists visited by Eliyohu HaNovi to teach them the secrets of the Torah.  They are the Eshkol, his son-in-law the Ravd who argued with the Rambam, the son of the Ravd who was blind, the Ramban and the Ari z”l.  The Eshkol in Tseniyuse says that although the gemora clearly rules that all that a person wants to do with his wife he does, a person should be ashamed to do these things!So why do chazal permit this if it is such a disgrace? Because not to do it and to be unsatisfied is a real problem and leads to the worst sins. Therefore, if a person feels the pressure he is forbidden to be strict and refrain from doing that what satisfies his urges. But if he doesn’t need it so much, and does it, this may be disgrace. But it is not forbidden. If however one has absolutely no need for such things and wants to do them to arouse his lust when he has no need to do so, this is probably wrong. Because we are commanded to be holy. But holiness begins with satisfying our urges so we have no interest in sinning. Only when sinning is out of the question may we consider holiness and avoidance of this that and the other thing.We now come to another topic covered in the above gemora, known as the Nine Traits, behavior in intimacy that can produce problems with children chas vishalom.Intimacy is Like Eating?The above gemora mentions about rabbis who are like administering angels. Then it tells a story of Rebbe and Rav who received complaints from women that their husbands were doing things that were wrong in intimacy. Rebbe and Rav told the women that the Torah permitted the husbands to do these things with their wives. Rebbe said, “The Torah permits it. What can I do for you?” That is, Rebbe was known as Rabbeinu HaKoshoshe because of his extreme holiness. Surely Rebbe did not do such things. But he told the woman, if the husband needs to do such a thing, the Torah permits it.But Rav answered differently. He told the lady, “What is the difference from this and eating a fish?” What does that mean?Both rabbis were referring to the above mentioned gemora that a man may do with his wife whatever he wants. The gemora says as follows: “Anything a man wants to do with his wife he does. This is like mean that comes from the slaughter house. One can eat it with salt, eat it roasted, eat it cooked, eat it strongly cooked, and the same is true of a fish that comes from the fisherman.”Is a wife a fish or something from the slaughter house?But marital relations are similar to eating in that in both cases it is the base appetites that govern the eating or the intimacy. And since intimacy is like eating, a bodily function, it, like eating, offers a menu and a variety of ways of doing things. That is, just as in food, say fish or meat, there are many ways to prepare it, because people have a need for expression in different venues in eating, the same holds true in intimacy. People need a change once in a while. Therefore, “a man does what he wants with his wife” and he has permission from the Torah to seek new things. It seems from the gemora above in Nedorim that the wives protested at having anal intercourse. Tosfose (in Yevomose 34b d”h and not as the story of Ayer and Onan) quotes our gemora in in Nedorim 20b that a man may be with his wife in anal intercourse but says that the wife has pain when this is done. Tosfose says that if the change in position was that she was above and he was beneath she would have no pain and would not complain. Therefore, she complained about anal intercourse because it was painful. Tosfose brings passages in the Torah to prove that it is painful for a woman who has anal intercourse. But we see from this that a husband may cause his wife pain if he has a genuine hunger for such an act, because other than his wife he cannot satisfy himself. And anal intercourse is considered Biyah, or intercourse, for other things as well. But if he caused his wife other kinds of pain during intimacy, this may be something else. We hope to discuss this soon in the section on the Nine Traits.Tosfose there says that one way to understand the permission of anal intercourse is because there was no emission of seed. But Tosfose concludes that this is not necessarily true. Perhaps there was emission of seed but it is permitted if he did not intend to destroy the seed so there would be no children born from the intercourse. Also, says Tosfose, it is forbidden only when he does this constantly, meaning, he practices anal intercourse so that there will be no children. This is a great sin because it prevents one from having children. But the deed itself, done once in a while, and not designed to destroy procreation, but to allow some pleasure for the husband, is permitted.The Ran there in Nedorim quotes the Rambam that anal intercourse with emission of seed is forbidden.Reb Moshe Feinstein has a discussion about a wife who refuses to become pregnant and will only be with her husband with anal intercourse. Tosfose permits this only if done sporadically and if the intention is not to prevent seed. But here it is done all of the time and is done to prevent seed. And yet, the husband is not doing it to prevent seed, but because the wife refuses the other way. I once discussed this with a Gadol HaDor but for now let us go further in our basic discussions.  The Nine TraitsFirst the gemora above from Nedorim 20A mentions four traits that the angelic rabbis prohibit but the general sages permit it. The gemora then lists nine traits of marital sin and problems that can cause problems with offspring.The four traits forbidden by the angelic rabbis are1) anal intercourse 2) kissing the private place 3) talking during relations 4) looking at the private place.These four are permitted by the majority of sages and that is the law quoted by Ramo in Shulchan Aruch.So what is forbidden? The gemora says that one may not have relations with his wife and look at another woman even if she is also his wife. It seems that the gemora learns this from a passage “and you shall not turn astray by following your heart or your eyes.” The Rosh in his commentary on the page of the gemora says that is the husband has relations with one woman and thinks of another the child produced from this is close to being a mamzer. This is stated in the gemora about Rabbi Eliezar and his wife who had very special children because he feared to think of another woman when he was having marital intimacy and procreation. It would seem from the gemora that the sin of looking at another woman while cohabitating with his wife is a Torah sin that can destroy the children. And the plain meaning of this is that although the rabbis disagreed with the angelic rabbis in four things and permitted them, they did not permit everything. They did not permit being with one woman and thinking or looking at another woman.Again the four traits forbidden by the angelic rabbis are1) anal intercourse 2) kissing the private place 3) talking during relations 4) looking at the private place. These are permitted by the majority of  the rabbis. But it is forbidden to be with one’s wife and think or look at another woman and this can make the child born from this close to being a mamzer.What is the difference? But if a husband thinks only of his wife even if he performs various things with her he is still dealing only with his wife and the child can emerge from this properly. But if the husband is thinking or looking at two women and is not totally concentrated on his wife then everybody agrees that this is harmful for the children.Let us now turn to the Nine Traits that destroy children. They are 1) Children born when the mother is frightened or children born when the mother is forced 2) children born from a couple where there is hatred 3) children born from those who are put in Cherem 4) children born from a woman that the husband thought was somebody else 5) children born from a couple that fights 6) children born from someone who is drunk 7) children born from somebody who wants to divorce his wife in his heart 8) children born from a woman who is one of many and the husband doesn’t know who he was with and 9) children born from a woman who is brazen.From the plain understanding of the gemora although the Four Traits of the Angelic Rabbis are permitted, the Nine Traits are forbidden. That is, it is forbidden to force the woman or to frighten her into having relations. It is wrong to be together when the husband and wife hate each other. If someone is in Cherem this is not a good thing for the child, and if the couple fight, or are drunk, or the husband wants to divoce his wife or the husband mixes up his wife with other woman and doesn’t know who she is and if the relationship is done with a brazen wife. All of these violate the basic rules of a good marriage and can produce bad children, and if the husband asks if he is permitted to have relations with his wife, it would seem that the answer is that he is not permitted. But what if the couple does hate each other, and it can’t be fixed? What if the husband or wife cannot control their drinking? These are problems that we will not deal with here, but we will say, that problems like this are terrible and if not fixed can destroy the children and even the parents. We don’t find in the gemora that rabbis permitted rape and hate and such things. But the Four Traits are permitted, as we mentioned. But this, as we said, applies when one has a strong desire for such lust, and to deny it may produce problems.The last of the Nine Traits is that the wife is brazen and demands intercourse. The gemora presents a contradiction to this in the teaching that “when the wife asks for relations the couple merits children that were not found even in the generation of Moshe.” The gemora answers that the woman can hint to the husband without being perfectly explicit, and that is meritorious. But to say exactly what she wants is brazen.The gemora brings that Leah the wife of Yaacov came to him and said, “Come to my tent” and they merited to have a son Yissochor whose wisdom surpassed those of the generation of Moshe.The husband must encourage the marriage and get the wife interested, and the wife should encourage the husband and get her interested. Such a marriage can produce lovely children.It would seem from the gemora that a wife who wants a child greater than those of the generation of Moshe should go to her husband and say, “Come to me.” While the lady who does this silently hinting without such direct verbiage loses out. That does not seem to be fair. But as we say here many time, it depends on the people and the circumstances. Yaacov worked for years for the hand of Rochel but her father substituted Leah. Yaacov was bitter about this and did not want Leah. Even when things settled down and Leah remained the wife of Yaacov, the relationship was still not good. Furthermore, the night that Leah told Yaacov to come to her was the night when Yaacov had planned to go to Rochel. So a simple hint would not do for Leah what she wanted. She had to be direct. And she was direct. She said, “Come to me.” That is pretty direct. But since she did this because she had to do it, it was not a sin, it was a mitzvah and it brought with is great fruition as a child superior to the generation of Moshe.But somebody else who goes to the husband and says, “Come to me” may be doing  the wrong thing. It depends on the people and the circumstances.Thus we find people who don’t get along who have wonderful children. How can this be? But if people are married and have children and don’t divorce, and therefore have to be together without perfect love for each other, they are doing the best they can and may merit the best children.When the majority of the rabbis said “A man may do with his wife whatever he wants to do” they did not mean that he may do it and have bad children. They meant since he had a genuine need to do those things he was within his rights and he could merit good children.Sleeping on StonesThe Zohar I:49 continues: “If a king has a bed made of gold and the fanciest bedding to sleep in, and his wife prepares a bed made of stones, he must not use his bed but only what his wife has prepared.”We can assume that a king raised in utter luxury would have a hard time sleeping on stones. And yet, if the wife wants a bed of stones, the king must go there and suffer rather than disappoint his wife.Of course, he is a king, and his honor is not a private thing, but a recognized right. His wife also has to honor the king who happens to be her husband. But marriage is a private matter where the king must obey the rights of the wife. He goes where she designates.Ramban in Mishpotim 21:9 says that a husband is obligated to his wife in three things by the Torah: One is to be with her flesh to flesh without clothes during intimacy (but it is not wrong to have a sheet or blanket on top of the man so that their nakedness is covered). Two, the wife is honored with a special bedding that everyone recognizes as belonging to and signifying the wife of the house. Three is the marital intimacy.We see that the wife who is the mainstay of the house deserves that the bed used by her has a special bedding to signify that when the husband comes to her he honors her. Another husband may just put  his wife up anywhere and have relations with her, and such is close to prostitution and forbidden.To return to the Zohar: the husband is a king and is not comfortable in a bed of stones. But if the wife sets for him such a bed, he must go there and have relationships where she specifies. It is possible that there was never a woman who preferred sleeping on stones to sleeping in a royal bed. But it is possible that the honor that the woman demands as the one who selects where she will be comfortable overcomes her natural preference for a better bed. Honor is the most pleasures thing. And for the wife to prepare a stone bed to show who is the boss in intimacy is understood, and the king must  understand it as well.In marriage we have two different people, and moreso, we  have two different kinds of people. There are great differences between men and women and thus husband and wife. And there are rules when either the husband or the wife can make demands. The bed of intimacy is in the realm of the woman to demand where it will be.The husband and wife may really disagree with something the other spouse wants. But if there are rules, things go smoothly. The husband is a king and finds only pain on a bed of stones. But rules are rules. And if he follows them and honors the wife, she will make sure that his experience on the stones will not be unpleasant. That is the way things work. You are pained by giving in. But giving in can often produce its own pleasure, which is worth suffering for to obtain. All of human relations are like this as it is said “And buy for yourself a friend.” Do you pay him money to be your friend?” But people are different. Sometimes, to have and maintain a friend, you have to do something you don’t like. This is “buying your friend.” And it is worth it, because your friend will be obligated to “buy” you as well, and there will be two good friends who get along nicely.Again, human relations, and especially marriage, are relationships where it is unnatural to always agree and get along. And so there are rules. But one major rule is, “buy your friend.” Give in, and get it back when he gives in. And if he doesn’t give in, having a friend is a priceless thing. It may be worth your while to hang in there.Sweet Words from Husband to WifeThe Zohar I:49b continues about husband and wife and how the man must talk to his wife to arouse her to happiness in the marriage. It is obvious from the passages in the Torah Ber. II:23 that the initiative in the marriage belongs to the husband. He must say the right things to the wife and arouse her. So it was with the first husband and the first wife, and so should it be. The Zohar learns from ODOM and CHAVO how all husbands should talk to their wives to arouse them.But let us go slowly here. The Zohar is based upon the Creation story and the creation of ODOM and CHAVO. Let us review those passages.Ber. II:22 “And G-d built the rib that He took from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” The Zohar above says that this teaches us that in marriage the parents of the wife must bring her to the husband. In the Creation story, the woman had no parents other than HaShem so He brought her to ODOM.The next passage has the reaction of ODOM to his wife when he saw her: “And the man said, ‘This time is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. To this will be called ‘woman’ [Hebrew ISHO] because this was taken from the man [Heb ISH].”ODOM sees the woman and calls her ISHO meaning from ISH the man. He notes that she is from his rib and thus is bone from his bones and flesh from his flesh. She is thus from him. What does this mean?One thing is that it is a statement of fact and has no special meaning. But the Creation story begins with the lowest creation and ends with the creation of people, the purpose of creation. Thus, the final creation was the woman. She came after the creation of the man and thus may be considered superior to him as she, not he, was the final creation, which begins from the lowest creation and ends with the highest creation.If so, ODOM is saying that since the woman is taken from the material of the man and improved, a woman is higher than a man. This is a topic of its own and in my book Secret of the Scale I delve into it at length, but now we are not going in that direction. Here we only notice that marriage rests upon this idea, that the man appreciates his wife and expresses his appreciation to her. And this expression of words is praise uttered by the husband about his wife.Again, marriage is based upon this idea, that the woman is very special and the husband feels this way and tells her how special she is. Obviously, if a husband feels that his wife is a kind of servant this is not the proper approach to marriage.The Torah continues the Creation story in passage 24: “Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they will be one flesh.”The next passage is: “And the two of them were naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.” The next passage is about the snake and the Evil Inclination. Then everything fell apart. This is a major problem. Why did everything suddenly fall apart? The man and woman were in the Garden of Eden. G-d spoke to them. How can a snake entice the wife to defy G-d and succeed in doing it, in the Garden of Eden? Yes, something is missing. Something very important is missing. But what is it?Let us return to the Zohar and develop what we must in order to answer this question.First of all, the style of the rabbis and certainly the Zohar, is not to speak unnecessary words. But we find here on the page 49b of the Zohar, constant repetition about how the man praised the wife and aroused her. Let us quote the passages there: First we are told that “if the man wants to be with his wife, he must come to her and sweeten her with words, and if not, he should not sleep with her.” The Zohar then explains why this is true: “In order that their wills be united and not with coercion.” That is, the husband and wife must want on their own to have relations, not that the husband pressures the wife to have relations. Therefore, the husband must say sweet things to the wife to make her interested in loving him, and if not, he must not come to her for relations.The Zohar then mentions that the wife will select the bed she wants for the relations, so that even a king with a golden bed must sleep on the stone bed if his wife wants it that way.The Zohar then turns to the actual words that ODOM told CHAVO: “What does it say here? ‘And the man said, ‘This time bone from my bones, flesh from my flesh, etc.” The Zohar continues, “Here are the sweet words to create with her a mood of friendship and to bring her to his wishes and to arouse with her love.” Here are three phrases that are the goals of the sweet words from the husband to his wife. First, the sweet words are to create with her a mood of friendship. Secondly, and to bring her to his wishes, and three, and to arouse with her love.In the Hebrew, the first phrase “to create with her a mood of friendship” uses CHOVIV for the term “friendship.” But the third phrase uses the word RECHIMUSO, which is an Aramaic term for love. CHOVIV can be used for any liking. A person can be a friend that you like, and the term would be CHOVIV. A person can like a certain food and it is CHOVIV. See Berochose 39A. But Rechumuso is a stronger love, and is applicable to a marriage.Thus, the initial effort of the husband is just to make his wife like him. And the Zohar uses in the phase, the phrase “to make with her a friendship.” That is, he makes with her, as they talk together, a talk that gives both of them pleasure. And the wife enjoys the talk and feels comfortable and friendly with the husband.The husband is just talking and she joins in and they are talking happily. “He makes with her a friendship” meaning he is not doing all of the work, but together, they talk or act in friendship. The next phase from the Zohar is “to bring her to his will.” Phase two is when the two are not just two independent people chatting or doing friendly things together. Now the husband pulls the wife to his will, whereby he will get her to participate in his will to have relations. The first phase has nothing to do with relations. It is just to create a mood of friendship talking about anything. But then comes the next phase where the husband beings pulling the wife to his desire to have relations. As the wife senses in her husband somebody who likes to be a friend with her who treats her nicely, she herself is prepared to go to the next phase, which is the wife who honors the husband by following his lead in their marital matters.The third phase or third phrase is “to arouse with her love.” At this point, both husband and wife know that the time has come for relations, and the wife allows the husband to arouse her but she responds with her own interest in arousal and they are doing this together. He arouses her and she arouses him. This brings the conclusion and fruition of the marital relations.The Zohar then returns to this subject and repeats the above ideas: “Notice how sweet these words are, how they are many words of love: bone from my bones, flesh from my flesh. In order to show her that they are one. And between them there is nothing to put them apart. “Now he begins to praise her: ‘To this shall be called ISHO woman. This is her, that there is none like her. This is the glory of the house. All women relative to her are as moneys are before people. But to this shall be called a completely perfect woman. This one and not another. All of this are words of love as it is said (Mishlei 31) Many women have achieved valor but you rise above all of them.”It would seem that the Zohar could have shortened this and done away with many repetitive ideas. But when somebody wants to do the right thing, he must find in his wife not one or two things to say, but many things. And the right thing is not to tell her one or two things, but many things. Also, the husband says things that sound like an exaggeration. And maybe when we love somebody we do exaggerate. But if this makes the couple happy, that is wonderful.Actually, ODOM who spoke this to CHAVO, was the only man in the world, and his wife the only woman. To speak of her being above all other women therefore seems to make no sense.But ODOM knew that from him and his wife would come others, generations of men and women. He told CHAVO that she was superior to everyone else. And this was true, because HaShem fashioned CHAVO but other women were born from humans. Thus, the perfection of CHAVO called forth incredible compliments, and ODOM provided them.And after the Torah tells of about ODOM telling CHAVO these incredible compliments, it goes on with the story of the Snake and how ODOM and CHAVO were driven from the Garden of Eden for disobeying G-d and eating from the Tree of Knowledge. What a disappointment! More to the point: How did this happen? How did the most perfect people every, created by HaShem and not humans, living in the Garden of Eden, obey a snake to defy G-d?One idea is that precisely the perfection of ODOM and CHAVO was a problem. This world is not designed as Paradise. It is a testing ground. The very fact that ODOM and CHAVO were so elevated and perfect was itself a challenge to the entire Creation, designed for challenge. But if this is the problem, how could ODOM and CHAVO escape it? What did they do wrong?The Zohar continues and explains that the next passage about the snake was that intimacy itself created pleasures for the body that were from the Evil Inclination. This challenge of having physical pleasures led to the snake. But why? And what could ODOM and CHAVO have done to save themselves? Surely there was a free choice, or were they forced to sin?That would be shocking. But probably there is something in it. The gemora in AZ tells us that two times the world was set to enter a higher dimension, the Jews at Sinai when HaShem gave the Ten Commandments, and when King David ruled over Israel. In both of these times, terrible sins destroyed the potential of the time. At Sinai the Jews worshipped the Golden Calf and King David stole somebody’s wife. The gemora says that this was deliberate because HaShem wants a world not of perfect people and angels but of people who have an Evil Inclination, do sin, and repent. It is possible that penitence is even higher than angelic perfection. Whatever all of this means is not our topic, but out topic and our challenge here is to identify the reality that the world was not designed for angelic people but for people with evil inclinations, and these people sin. And then repent. Why HaShem made our world with all of its problems is beyond us. But we do know that our world brims with Evil Inclination and that people do sin, but when they repent they fulfill the true purpose of Creation. As the rabbis taught, “In the place where the penitent stands, the perfectly righteous cannot stand.” Understand or not, the experience of failure and doing evil gives us a capacity to fight that terrible force and win and emerge higher than the angels. The angels “cry outside” say the rabbis because they have no Evil Inclination. But people are “inside” very close to HaShem because they suffer from Evil and struggle with it. That struggle, even a struggle that causes us to sin, is the purpose of Creation.We now understand the passages in the Creation story. First, ODOM spoke about his wife how wonderful she was. Then the passage tells us that the two of them were naked and were not ashamed. That is, they had no idea of evil only goodness. But this was not the purpose of the world, designed for people to struggle with evil, and yes, fail once in a while or more, and then repent. Thus, the next passage is “And the snake…”But all of this does not really teach us what exactly happened to flip ODOM and CHAVO from the holiest of holies to the other extremes. Something is missing. There is a hint about it, or more than a hint, in the writings of one of the very greatest Kabbalists, Reb Moshe Kurdovero of Tsefas. The Ari z”l lived in his time and was younger than him, and when Reb Moshe Kurdevor died, the Ari z”l said that he only died because other people brought sin into the world, but he never sinned. He wrote many works in Kabbala including a commentary on the Zohar entitled Or Yokor. We will find something in that work to explain our problems how ODOM and CHAVO went from the top to the bottom, and how was it that CHAVO should leave her husband and deal with the Snake.
What Was the Power of the Snake?The Snake was whatever it was, an animal that spoke, that used its guile to flip ODOM and CHAVO from the highest holiness to the opposite. And this Snake was a creature created by HaShem to bring Evil into the world, because HaShem wanted a world with Evil in it for two reasons. One, to give people a challenge so they would conquer evil and get Eternal Reward. And two, to allow people to sin and then repent which brings a person to the very highest level. This is a simple way of  understanding things. But Kabbalistically, the forces of Evil do not heaven forefend have an independent existence. Only HaShem’s Will gives Evil a reality. The Snake, therefore, is a servant of HaShem. The Evil Inclination is a servant of HaShem. He does a very good job, unfortunately, but only because HaShem commanded him to do these things. And so with the snake. There are in chazal positive statements about the snake, that he could have been a true servant for ODOM and CHAVO and brought them jewels, etc., and that even when he was cursed and ate dirt, he did not complain. When the Jews complained in the Desert about their food snakes bit them. Targum Yonasan says that this was because the snake was punished and did not complain, but the Jews did.Kabbalistically, all Evil is potentially good, and is higher potentially than goodness. Thus, the snake represented an opportunity to challenge ODOM and CHAVO with evil. Had they withstood the challenge, they would have been much holier than before they had tasted of Evil.There are three levels: kindness, justice, and evil. Justice, the left force, is higher than kindness, the right force. Evil seems terrible and is terrible, but within it, waiting for somebody to conquer it, is a holy light greater than the light of kindness and justice. For this ODOM and CHAVO were tested.Let us now examine the teachings in OR YOKOR from Reb Moshe Chaim Lutsatto that may shed some light on just how things developed that the snake destroyed ODOM and CHAVO in the Garden of Eden while they were on the highest level of holiness. See the first volume Shaar IV:14. It seems that ODOM and CHAVO married by reciting the letters of the ALEPH BEIZ and rising higher and holier until they reached the point where they could marry. The beginning of the final phase, to marry, began with the letter PHAY. That is, they worked from ALEPH to AYIN and the Evil force left them alone. But when they achieved the level of letter PHAY which is the source of the project of marriage, the Evil Force in heaven was aroused. He rode a snake down to the Garden of Eden and he and the snake appeared to ODOM and CHAVO. The snake was his wife, the female angel of evil. The evil angels appeared to ODOM and CHAVO and introduced to them evil thoughts and the thoughts of sin. They did not sin, but the sight of what they saw aroused in them thoughts of evil and sin and the entire process of marriage stopped. Not only did it stop, but the remaining letters of the ALEPH BEIS after PHAY became enmeshed in the evil of the two angels of evil, and terrible things happened. One was that the snake enticed CHAVO and finally ODOM himself submitted to the evil inclination and he and CHAVO both did very evil things. This is the basic story, from the Zohar and the commentary on the Zohar from Reb Moshe Karduvero. Now let us look closer at the words of the Zohar and the commentary in Or Yokor from Rav Karduvero.
A Deeper Look at the Snake and Its SuccessThe above story about the heavenly angels of evil is in the Zohar. It is produced in full in the commentary of the Zohar by Reb Moshe Karduvero, Or Yokor Shaar in the first  volume at IV:14, and it is found in the general Zohar at the end of Volume I page 253 in the section of Hashmotose, missing statements.Let us begin with the words of the Zohar. It seems that before ODOM sinned there was a marriage ceremony between him and CHAVO. The ceremony was based upon the Aleph Beis. We can understand from this that as the two processed the letters beginning with ALEPH they came closer and close to the level of being a married couple. When the two reached the letter PHAY they had reached such a high level that the very heavens exploded from their holiness and all of the angels there came to earth to see the ceremony. But two angels remained, the angels of Evil. Finally, the Angels of Evil realized that if marriage ceremony was allowed to achieve its goals evil would disappear. They were angels designed to produce Evil and so they went to work. They went down to the Garden, and the angels were male and female. The main power of evil in this was the female who had the ability to seduce. The two Angels of Evil appeared thus to ODOM and he became infected with evil and sinful thoughts. This way they stopped the process of the marriage ceremony. One thing led to another, until CHAVO slept with the Snake and finally ODOM himself became a great sinner, and the two were expelled from the Garden of Eden. That is the basic story. We have to explain it more, but for now, let us take a look at the words of the Zohar and the commentary of Reb Moshe Karduvoro on this story.The Zohar says that the two angels of Evil, male and female, came to earth. But it adds the following phrase: “Immediately [after ODOM saw the angels of evil, probably after he saw the female angel] the letters were confused.” That is, the entire marriage depended on the completion of the Aleph Beiz from Aleph to Toff. Reb Moshe Kordoveru explains that from ALEPH to MEM the ability to join together came from the letters of their name where the lowest numbered letter was ALEPH of ODOM and the highest numbered letters was the ending MEM in ODOM. This was the beginning of the marriage ceremony.They then came to a level of Face to Face. The marriage was a ceremony of joining and first the letters of their name joined together using the letters from ALEPH to MEM. Then came a level of the next two letters NUN and SAMECH which stands for “He raises up those who fall.” NUN stands for Nefila, or falling. Thus, marriage is not just for perfect people, but even for those like most people who are not perfect. These letters encourage the couple to accept marriage with its ups and down. The next letter is AYIN that means “eye.” Now the angels looked at them, as they were on a very high level and worthy of being seen and understood by the angels. At this point and even before the angels left heaven because they sensed that greater holiness is happening in marriage than would happen in the heaven of the angels. Now that the couple is ready for intimacy the angels are left behind, because they have no portion in this and are thus inferior. The human being is “light from darkness” from using the Evil Inclination and conquering it, but the angels thrive only on pure goodness which is light from light, a lesser level than light from darkness.The next letters was PHAY which means “mouth.” PHAY also stands for PONIM or face. The two stood face to face, looking at each other, while the angels looked at them, trying to derive some holiness from this for themselves.The two stand now “mouth to mouth.” They are getting very close to the culmination of the marriage. Had they succeeded, evil would disappear. And the Angels of Evil would probably be out of a job, so they had no intention of allowing this. By coming before ODOM and getting him to see another woman, the angel of Evil who is female, ODOM did not disregard what he saw, and it made an impression on him. Let us understand this a bit.What should ODOM have done? The gemora in Taanis tells us of a gentile queen who was very close to the rabbis who was a great beauty. For her beauty she was called “one as beautiful as demons.” We see from this that demons can have great beauty, perhaps more than people. Chavo, created by HaShem, was the most beautiful woman ever created. Other women who were famous beauties were like monkeys compared to her. But an angel who is commanded to be beautiful to entice people is even more beautiful. ODOM had thus a terrible challenge. What could he have done?Recall what ODOM said when he first saw CHAVO. He emphasized that there is nobody like her. He did not just say that she is wonderful, etc. He said that everyone else is nothing to her. This is how marriage is supposed to be. A person who marries must know that his wife is the only one in the world. No matter who many women appear who may be stunning beauties, the husband has one love and one lust and ignores the other people. ODOM, born into perfection, had a challenge to love his wife as he had spoken, so much, that nobody else, even a beautiful angel, could turn his heart away from his wife. And this depended on the relationship that existed from the time ODOM saw his wife until the time he reached with her to the letter PHAY and aroused the angels of Evil. Had ODOM truly merged with his wife to the point of ignoring any other woman, when the angel of Evil presented herself he would not have declined in his ardor for his wife, and the marriage would have concluded properly. But he was not on that level, and now there was trouble.Another way of understanding this is that we explained earlier that there are three levels: kindness, justice, and evil. Kindness is lower than justice. And justice is lower than evil. This means, that to fight evil requires more than fighting kindness or justice, if any of that is appropriate. One who conquers evil has entered a new dimension called “light from darkness” which is higher than light from light.Thus, it is possible that the temptation of the angel of Evil for ODOM was a way of introducing ODOM to the world of evil in a way he could overcome it and achieve the highest levels. The passage in the Creation story tells us that ODOM and CHAVO were naked and had no shame. They had no idea of evil. Thus, they were light from light. Then the Torah talks about the snake. The snake is an opportunity for ODOM and CHAVO to realize what evil is and to conquer it, and thus merit the highest levels. This did not happen. What did happen?What happened was that the first letters of the ALEPH BEIZ released great holiness and forces for marriage into the world. When the marriage ceremony was so far advanced as to reach near the end of the ALEPH BEIZ with the letters PHAY, etc., might forces for union were unleashed. The angels of evil seized these forces and used them for evil. They actually turned ODOM and CHAVO into evil people by flipping all of their holiness released by the letters when they were doing things properly into the dimension of evil. The Zohar says that after the success of disturbing ODOM into thinking of the female angel of Evil, the male and female angels united and became as one. It would seem that prior to this they were two separate angels. Now, stealing from ODOM and CHAVO the forces of unity and marriage, they married their two separate angelic essences into one and destroyed the world with these forces.After ODOM noticed the female angel of Evil, the whole marriage process stopped. The Evil Force stopped any further holiness and stole the remaining letters in the Aleph Beiz and used them for evil. This evil power was used to turn ODOM and CHAVO into great sinners. Finally, HaShem drove them both out of the Garden, they did penitence, and reconciled with HaShem. It is possible that HaShem wanted only a world of penitents; not perfectly righteous people. The gemora says that at Sinai HaShem forced the Jews to sin with the Golden Calf because he wanted a world of penitence not perfection. And King David and Bathsheva was also an example of this. HaShem forced the sin on David because HaShem wanted penitence rather than perfect people. Maybe this is what happened in the Garden of Eden.Although we have a gemora about the intents of HaShem to force sin, our task in this world is not to blame failure on HaShem, but on ourselves. Therefore, we must learn how to battle back even against the greatest of pressures. Let us now turn to a gemora in Shabbos very crucial to our topic.
Rav ChisdoThe gemora in Shabbos 140b quotes Rav Chisdo’s instructions to his daughters. First he cautioned them in several ways about how to behave so that their husbands would respect and admire them. He then instructed them on how to react to a husband when he came to have intimacy.We will quote here his instructions about intimacy. A husband comes to his wife for intimacy, and reaches for her. The wife should let him have something but should not let him rush. Let him suffer a bit; it will increase his appetite.We mentioned before the Zohar that ODOM came to CHAVO with words of endearment. That is the beginning. The physical part comes after everyone is in the proper mood. But it should not be rushed. We mentioned that the Zohar teaches that if the wife wants to sleep on stones and the husband is a king who wants to sleep on a golden bed, the king was do what the wife wants. She is the boss and the Zohar says the husband must have her permission before he does anything. Rav Chisdo taught his daughters how to let the husband stew in his passion before he gets what he wants.Yesterday someone began telling me about great rabbis of the past generation. One thing he told me was that a certain rebbe was the known address for people with marital problems. Eventually, other rebbes and other people sent or came to him. What was his secret? This rebbe was a young son of a very great rebbe, but he was born in America and understood Americans. Therefore the European rabbis deferred to him because he knew Americans and was able to save many marriages. One thing this rebbe insisted upon was that the husband, when leaving the house, must give his wife a kiss good-by!Somebody told me another story about a major Rov in Jerusalem who was in charge of divorce-Gittin. Husbands would come to him for a GET. He took them for a walk and they never came back. It is clear from the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Dayoh that a husband must kiss his wife. A wife has the right to having relations with her husband with nothing separating their two bodies. On top of the two of them something can be placed, but between them there must be nothing. The husband must satisfy her needs with touching her, hugging her, and kissing her. A husband who refuses to give a wife what she expects may present grounds for divorce. But today there are people who feel that all of this is evil and refuse to be with their wives according to the Shulchan Aruch and halacha. And after all of the sins of not satisfying his wife, is the husband satisfied?Many Chassidim accept that it is a sin to kiss the wife anytime when he is not actually cohabitating with her. This is completely wrong.The Shulchan Aruch in the laws of Nida Yoreh Dayoh 184:1 tells us that many women have their period on a regular schedule and know when it will occur. For instance, they may have their period the thirtieth or twentieth day from the previous period. In the next paragraph is says that on the day or time when the period usually happens, the woman must fear that the period will come. Therefore, the husband may not have relations with her on that day or time.The Shulchan Aruch states however, that during the day or time that she anticipates her period the husband may not have intercourse with her, but he may do other things. The Shach explains that the husband may hug or kiss his wife as the Beis Yosef rules. The Shach says that the Ramo also rules that way. The Bach agrees to this, but adds that one who is stringent not to hug and kiss his wife on the day she expects her period will merit blessing. Thus, the halacha is that during the day or time the wife anticipates her period, because it always happens then, the husband may hug and kiss his wife, but not engage in intercourse. If the husband refrains from hugging and kissing his wife on the time of her period, the Bach says that he merits blessing, but the Bach does not say that he is obligated to refrain. Thus, it is permitted for one to hug and kiss his wife during the day or time when she anticipates her period.Now, to touch the wife when she anticipates her period is a scary thing, permitted or not. But we see that it is permitted, because when people have appetites for these things and they are not satisfied, it is very dangerous, and can bring to the greatest sins. Therefore, we can understand the permissions for hugging and kissing at such a dangerous time as more appropriate for someone who may come to great sin if not permitted to do it. But regardless of what we are scared of or contemplate, the fact is plain: Hugging and kissing even during such a dangerous time is permitted. And even if we refrain from that, which seems to make a lot of sense and brings blessing according to the Bach, we do not refrain from hugging and kissing when the wife is not anticipating her period.Therefore, those people who forbid all hugging and kissing of the wife not accompanied by conclusion of relations, are wrong.The Baal HaTanyo in his Shulchan Aruch in Kunteres Acharon writes, “The Rayved writes clearly that hugging and kissing is permitted near the time of her period. And the Ramban and Rashbo and the other authorities, rishonim and acharonim do as well. If so, it is obvious that there is no sin or violation of law. There is just what the Bach says, that one who is stringent merits blessing. And if so, if someone is going on a trip [and wants to hug or kiss his wife when she is in her time of anticipating her period] it is wrong to be stringent at all.”Here we see clearly that one who is going on a trip may hug and kiss his wife even during her period’s anticipated day or time. How then can anyone say that it is forbidden for any person any time to hug and kiss his wife even when she is not anticipating her period?See Keneh Bosem, from my mechuten the Gaon Rav Mayer Bransdorfer zt”l of Jerusalem, (Yoreh Dayo 184 on the above teaching of the Shulchan Aruch) where he quotes the above sources to permit hugging and kissing even during the time when the wife anticipates her period. He concludes, however, “This is true regarding the laws of Nida. But surely one must worry about the sin of bad thoughts and zera livatolo…” (And he refers there to a sefer.)There are today many people who agree that hugging and kissing the wife is forbidden because it can produce zera livatolo. One person told me that he does not permit this because he fears zera livatolo, and that he believes that fifty percent of people who do these things have zera livatolo. If so, the Shulchan Aruch permits something in the name of the greatest rishonim and acharonim, that produces zera livatolo in half of the people who do it. That is inconceivable. Did the Baal HaTanyo who didn’t live so long ago not know that fifty percent of people who do this have zera livatolo? And if ten percent of the people had zera livatolo from it, would the Baal HaTanyo permit it?On the other hand, hugging and kissing a wife does arouse in a husband various forces. Why did Chazal permit this to happen? And the answer is that of course the great poskim from all of the generations who permitted this knew that such a thing can produce bad thoughts and zera livatolo, if not fifty percent, and if not ten percent of the time, but it can happen. And they also knew that zera livatolo is terrible. But they realized that the only thing that keeps people safe from the worst sins is their good marriage and good relations with the wife. Thus, to forbid a husband to do something when he wants to do it is very dangerous. There are worse things than zera livatolo. And a lot of the people who practice super piety and stay away from their wives are busy doing them. There is today a large problem of straying men and women. If people had the right pleasures from their spouses they would not run here and there. Thus, to be stringent and not ever kiss one’s wife or hug one’s wife is a dangerous thing and can lead to the deepest part of Gehenum. And a lot of people who practice super-piety are in that place.The Baal HaTanyo had a rebbe who was already a major talmid of the Baal Shem Tov as a young boy. This rebbe went to live in Israel and wrote a sefer in which he asked why is it that people who try so hard to be pure and holy have evil thoughts? And he replied, “They try to do too much.” If you jump  too high, you can fall very low. If the Shulchan Aruch permits hugging and kissing during the time of the period, and somebody goes around scaring people about zera livatolo, in defiance of the major rishonim and acharonim and Shulchan Aruch, it is no wonder that we find from such people child molesters, sleeping with other women, etc.  And, not to ask personal questions, but when people withheld their desires from their wife and became one of those who stumbled, did they begin with child molesting and sleeping with other women, or with zera livatolo?If you see  your children talking with one of these super-pious people, remember what I just said and get your kids out of there.By the way, I was once heavily involved in fighting child molesting, and so I decided to start with my children and told them about “chazir menshen.” One day my young son came tearing into the house, “Tatee! A Chazir mensh” I bolted for the door and saw someone running down the street. I went after him and he got to the bus a few steps ahead of me, which was good for him and good for me. Of course, he was dressed in the most pious manner, and I’m sure he spent a lot of time in the Mikvah. Once I was talking to the Gaon in Jerusalem, Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”o, about the laws of Gittin, and when we finished, he asked me, “Do you go to the Mikvah?” I replied, “I would never go to such a place of sin and evil.” He smiled and said, “Go to Monsey and tell everyone that filters are forbidden.” There is a Mikvah in New York known to the experts who fight these things as “Homo central.” We have plenty of problems in our community, and a lot of it begins with being more pious than the Shulchan Aruch. That is why I wrote this sefer, and why Reb Yaacov encouraged me to do it. But the purpose of this book is not to call names, but rather to produce sources that clarify the halacha. Let us look into the laws of zera livatolo. This is another topic that has much confusion. We see that there are people who refuse to provide their wife with basic intimacy because of a fear that this will arouse them and bring them to zera livatolo.

The Halacha of Zera LivatoloWhat is zera livatolo? The name means “wasted seed.” When is it forbidden and when is it permitted if at all? There are various opinions, and we have to go slowly.Rambam (Yad, Isurei Biah 21:9 writes, “A person’s wife is permitted to him therefore whatever a man wants to do with his wife he may do it. He may sleep with her any time he wants to and he may kiss any of her organs that he chooses. [And he may sleep with her in the regular place or have anal intercourse.] As long as he does not emit seed that is wasted.”The question is: If a person may not have lustful thoughts and may not emit seed that is wasted, how can a person do all of these things? If he sleeps with his wife with anal intercourse, does he not get excited so that the seed comes out on its own? And is this not forbidden? Let us assume that a person does what the Rambam permits, doing whatever he wants with his wife. Are we not afraid that that he will become aroused and the seed will leave his body thus making zera livatolo?It is obvious that this is not zera livatolo, otherwise it will be a great sin to do any of this. But what happens if there is emission of seed? And how can the person even set himself up for such an occurrence? Probably, the sin of zera livatolo is only when the person wants deliberately to emit the seed in vain, not if  his intent is to do the mitzvah of making his wife rejoice and it comes out inadvertently. We will discuss this.Rambam in Yad Isurei Biah 21:4 writes, “It is permitted for someone to look at his wife when she is a Nidah even though she is forbidden to him. Although he has pleasure from looking at her because she is permitted afterwards [when she goes to the Mikvah] he will not come to a sin.” Yes, perhaps the husband will not sleep with his wife as he waits until she goes to the Mikvah. But why is the Rambam not afraid that the husband may see his wife and become aroused and have evil thoughts and zera livatolo? Again, maybe the fact that he does not intend to sin with zera livatolo mitigates things.Rambam there paragraph 18 writes, “It is forbidden to emit seed and waste it, therefore one should not arouse himself inside the wife and spill the seed outside [this is done to prevent pregnancy] and one should not marry a young girl who is too young to have children, but those who use their hands to take out seed not only perform a great sin but are in Nidui [placed under the ban] and regarding them it is said, ‘their hands are filled with blod’ and it is as if they killed a person.”We see in the Rambam that zera livatolo is defined as one who deliberately spills the seed out, or as one who deliberately marries someone who cannot have children, or one who deliberately takes out the seed with his hand. But one who has permitted relationship with his wife and seed is emitted is not in this category. If one marries a woman and she gets old it is not sin to remain with her and have relations with her.Rambam in the next halacha (19) says “And it is forbidden that a person should deliberately cause himself to have an erection or bring himself to lustful thoughts.” We see that the emphasis here is on the purpose of his deed. He deliberately arouses himself for a purpose not of regular marriage. But as long as his purpose is for marriage, it is different. Therefore a person may look carefully at a woman to see if she appeals to  him for marriage. That is, he is now not married and is probably filled with biological desires. Yet, he may look at a woman and talk to her even though this could excite him. If he does become aroused this is not a sin because he is involved in a mitzvah. At least, we don’t find that the Rambam forbade such things.Let us turn now to the Tur Even Hoezer 23. He quotes the Rambam that it is forbidden to spill the seed outside after the husband penetrates inside. He adds the sin of marrying a child who cannot have children as this is also zera livatolo. And he mentions the sin of somebody who deliberately touches himself to take out seed.The Bach there  brings differing opinions. He mentions that the Rambam considers marrying a girl who is not old enough to have children a sin of zera livatolo. He asks if so when somebody marries a woman who is not too young, and yet does not produce children over the years, why is this not zera livatolo? He answers that if when the husband married her he knew that she was too young or otherwise unable to have children, this is a sin of zera livatolo. But if he married her when she was able to have children, or because he thought she would have children, and she did not and cannot, this is different. His intentions were proper as he did not know that his wife was sterile. He is therefore not guilty of zera livatolo, although he may a different sin, of not being fruitful and multiplying.We see that the sin of zera livatolo may be associated with a deliberate interest in not having children, but not if one had no such intention. The Bach continues with the teaching of the Rosh. If a person uses a device to prevent pregnancy, something which may be necessary for health reasons, this is not zera livatolo. The person is with his wife in the normal manner but he prevents pregnancy for health reasons. This is not zera livatolo according to the Rosh, but it may be zera livatolo according to the Rambam.The Bach brings down those who disagree with the Rambam who says that any woman who is married without the ability to have children produces a sin of zera livatolo if the husband knew this. Others feel that there is no sin of zera livatolo as long as the husband had normal relations with the wife, or even if the husband had relations with the wife such as anal intercourse that cannot produce children, but are considered by Torah law to be a real intercourse. Marrying a girl too young to have children is considered a normal marriage as far as zera livatolo goes, and it is not a sin of zera livatolo, although it may be a sin for not having children and for not fulfilling “be fruitful and multiply.”Thus the Rosh would hold that one who deliberately marries a woman who cannot have children, either because she is too young, or she is sterile, or she is too old, this is not zera livatolo. But the Rambam would seem to hold that it is zera livatolo.Bach brings that those who disagree with the Rambam and feel that marrying a woman and having relations with her that are normal is not zera livatolo, even if she is too young to have children, or sterile, or too old to have children. But there may be a problem of not fulfilling the command to be fruitful and multiply. The Bach adds others who agree to this: the Mordechai, the Rivom the Ree and the Nimukei Yosef. The Bach concludes, “And this is the final ruling” not like the Rambam.We have stated previously that there are different opinions in the subject of zera livatolo and we mentioned the Bach here with the various opinions. We also said that the entire subject of kedusho or sanctity in marriage depends a lot on the person. Some must be stringent because they don’t need all of these leniencies, but some need to be lenient, lest they lose themselves doing really terrible sins. With this in mind we come to a related topic as we look into the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch about these laws.

The TUR The Tur is considered the predecessor to the Shulchan Aruch. It was written by the son of the Rosh who was a major rishon. Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote his commentary, the Beis Yosef, on the Tur, and subsequently, the Beis Yosef developed and wrote the Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch has glosses from Rav Moshe Isserlese. The Sefardim follow the Shulchan Aruch of the Beis Yosef and the Ashkenazim follow the glosses of the Ramo, Rav Moshe Isserlese.We have mentioned before that there are two kinds of people. Some are on the level of sanctifying themselves and for them some of these things are wrong. But for somebody who has a geniune desire to perform these things it is permitted. We will develop this here a bit more.The Tur in Even Hezer 25 quotes the Rambam that anything a person wants to do with his wife he can do. But how far does that extend? And does it include emitting zera livatolo?The Tur in paragraph 23 states that “It is forbidden to emit zera livatolo therefore one should not penetrate inside and then spray the sperm outside the body of the wife.” The Sema in his commentary there called Derisho writes that there is an opinion, that of the Ri, that one may on occasion have relations with his wife not in the usual place, but anal intercourse, or even in other parts of the body, and even with zera livatolo, if this is done rarely and most of the time is done correctly in the usual place.In our text of the Tur #25 it brings this opinion, that of the Ri, only regarding anal intercourse, which is considered real intercourse and not wasted seed. But to do this in other parts of the body is not quoted in the Tur. But the Sema must have had another text that the Ri permitted what he said. The Sema explains that to penetrate inside the body of the wife and then spill the seed outside of the body is a deliberate act of destroying seed that could produce children and is a sin. But if one is concerned not with destroying the seed but only in his pleasures, and the seed comes out without a need on the part of the husband to destroy it, this is permitted.The problem with this is that it is forbidden for a man to masturbate. According to the Sema what is wrong with masturbating? He is not trying to destroy seed, because the seed is not near a woman who can have a baby. He only seeks his own pleasure. What is the difference between intending to have pleasure with his wife that spills seed and masturbating? But masturbating has a second aspect of sin that one utilizes the organ for such things even if no zera comes out such utilization is wrong.But if one utilizes his organ in the normal process of marital pleasure, the Sema would permit it.However, our text in the Tur number 25 does not permit emitting seed in the process of going to other parts of the wife’s body, only with anal intercourse, which is considered a real bioah.Later in #25 the Sema says clearly that the Ri permits zera livatolo even with derech aiverim, in any part of the wife’s body, not just anal intercourse. He says that is what comes out from the gemora in Nedorim about these issues.The Beis Yosef in his commentary to Even Hoezer #25 brings the opinions that permit even zera livatolo in the process of marital intimacy as mentioned above, but he is obviously very nervous about this, and concludes that the Zohar is strongly opposed to it and who can argue with the Zohar.The Haredim elaborates on this and says that to do the things permitted by the Ramo in Shulchan Aruch “everything that a man wants to do with his wife he may do, etc.” is wrong. So we see that the Beis Yosef mentions the Zohar as does the Haredim and we seem to have a conflict. It is possible that the Beis Yosef himself disagrees with the Ramo. If so, there may be a split between Ashkenazim and Sefardim in this. But if this is true, why does the Beis Yosef not clearly teach in Shulchan Aruch his opposition to the Ramo and the opinion of the Rambam which seems to be the opinion of the gemora?The solultion to this may be the following. The gemora in Nedorim we mention above says that in the time of the gemora there were two groups of rabbis who disagreed on these issues. One group was called “the administering angels” and they were very strict to forbid these things. The other group was the majority of rabbis who were just called rabbis, but the law seems to be like them in the gemora and in the codifiers. But as we explained, it all depends who you are. If you are a person like “an administering angel,” if you are person steeped in holiness who studies and follows the Zohar, perhaps one should refrain from these things. But if you are a person who is not an “administering angel” but a person with an evil inclination and a powerful biology, you are permitted to do these things, and if you refuse your wife, you may end up sinning with somebody else, which is much worse than other sins.Although this may hold true, that this kind of person should not do these things and that kind of person may or should do these things, it really doesn’t depend entirely on the kind of person involved. It depends on the mood of the person at the moment. If even a person who attains much holiness and follows the Zohar has a strong biological pressure to do certain things, he should do them, lest he stumble in very serious sins. And if an ordinary person has no special drive and pressure to do these things, but just wants to experience these pleasures for no special reason, perhaps he should not.As we have mentioned before: the permission to do anything with your wife only applies to somebody who has a true desire to do this. And then this may be done only rarely. But for somebody who is satisfied with normal things, doing funny things is probably wrong. Surely, somebody who is holy and does not need these things should not do them. As Eshkol says, these things are permitted, but how can a pious person does these things and not be ashamed? But the Eshkol still permits it, because if somebody has a true desire to do something with his wife and does not do it, he may be ashamed in a much worse manner and may lose his place in the Future World. Therefore, the law is that these things, when they are truly needed, are permitted. And this helps even people who don’t really need them. Because when you tell somebody that such and such is forbidden, that itself makes a desire to do it. But if you say it is permitted, but it is shameful, or appropriate once in a while when somebody has a real need for it, things are under control. And if somebody needs this pleasure, it is wrong to deny himself, because then he is tempting his biology which is very unwise.Happiness in Marriage - ParnosoThe gemora says that happiness in marriage depends on money. When money runs out and there is no food, there goes the peace of the house. השם גבולך שלום. חלק חטים ישבעך. “HaShem brings peace into your place. He will satisfy you with the fat wheat.” When there is plenty to eat, everyone is happy. And when the pantry is empty, problems begin in the marriage.Thus parnoso, or a livelihood, is central to marriage.The subject of parnoso or livelihood here requires two stages: One is the historical approach to this problem, and secondly, we must present a program that presents parnoso today. But there must also be a discusssion of our present parnoso and family situation to understand what should be done and what is being done and if anything should change. I have discussed this with Gedolei HaDor of the past and present  generations. They were very critical of things today. And I might add that almost everyone I speak to agrees that we have great problems that are just getting worse.  So let us begin with our present parnoso and family problems.  Today: Torah, Marriage, Family, Children
We all know that there is today a crisis in marriage, family and children. I have discussed this with Gedolei HaDor in the past and present generations. I have worked and do work with broken marriages and families. I find that almost everyone has strong feelings and ideas about what is going wrong. But I feel that there is much more to the story than what most people realize. I feel I know what went wrong to cause broken marriages and broken children, because of my age. I learned by Reb Aharon Kotler and from the age of twelve I learned under senior European scholars who usually were students of HaGaon Reb Baruch Ber or heavily influenced by him, and other such European gedolim. I saw the old Torah. And when Reb Aharon passed away, when I was less than twenty years old, I saw first hand the changes that took place in the Torah world. These changes directly and indirectly prepared the ground for today’s problems. So let us begin with this ancient history!The ancient history for our purposes begins when I came to Lakewood Yeshiva to learn by Reb Aharon. Somebody gave me a ride to the Yeshiva. I told him it was the best Yeshiva in the world. When he stopped the car outside of the Yeshiva, both of us were embarrassed. It was just an ancient hotel, small and very unimpressive. I entered the building and asked where the restroom was. I was told to go upstairs and then go to the end of the hall. There was, in the entire Yeshiva, one bathroom that worked. I went into the Beis HaMedrash and saw about eighty people there. Every term two people came and two people left.I came to Lakewood knowing what I was getting into. The Rov who told me to go to Lakewood prepared me for the problems. But Reb Aharon was there; and I had a few friends from Baltimore where I had previously attended Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. These friends helped me very much to get organized and I had the best chabura. I had to say a Torah for an hour every two weeks to a small group headed by the Gaon Reb Moshe Hillel Hirsch, today the Rosh Yeshiva of Slobodka Yeshiva in Bnei Braq. All I can say is that he had a lot of patience, which, today, I realize is amazing. After a while I started to get the hang of things in the Yeshiva, and my next step was to speak to Reb Aharon in learning. I would say a Torah to Rabbi Hirsch and if he approved I went to tell it to Reb Aharon. As I said, Rabbi Hirsch had a lot of patience, but Reb Aharon was honest. Oh, well. But in his own way, Reb Aharon encouraged me to return, get hit with a baseball bat, and come back again. I was trying my best. I noticed something very strange. I talked to Reb Aharon very often. Very few people spoke to him. He was a fire, who used to give lectures to the geniuses in Slutsk, his father-in-law’s Yeshiva. For him to come to America was an incredible drop. But he loved Torah and would give incredibly brilliant lectures. Unfortunately, for us Americans, it was very hard or impossible. I made up my mind then and there that I would fortify myself with chutspah, the only possible way to continue talking to Reb Aharon. For the rest of my life, as soon as I saw a gadol I went to him to talk Torah. Every time was pure chutspah and I just kept coming back. I was not wenty years old, and I knew that if I waited until I was worthy to speak to gedolim, who knows if they would be available? Two years after I came to Lakewood at the age of seventeen, Reb Aharon was in the other world. Somebody said, “If I knew he would die, I would have talked to him.” I don’t want to record my feelings about that statement.The fact is, that I had an advantage. I was born in Washington, DC where there was very little Torah. I went to the Yeshiva of the Malin brothers, whose father was a Dayan in Reb Chaim Brisker’s Beth Din in Brisk. The Malin brothers were fire. In their European rabbinic  garb they were really out of place in Washington. There were three rebbes in the Yeshiva and four students. But I learned there to do what is right despite what the world thinks. That helped me when I went to Lakewood.To give a proper perspective of Reb Aharon in Lakewood, I relate the following story. It took many  years after it happened for me to realize what I am going to say now. But it gave me a new insight into Reb Aharon and his trials in Lakewood with us American students. The story is as follows. Friday afternoon I went to a fellow who gave haircuts to the Yeshiva students. I came in and was next, but then a senior member of the Yeshiva entered. This worthy was one of the very few people in the Yeshiva who were part of Reb Aharon’s “cabinet,” his “officers” in running the Yeshiva. Today these people are major Rosh Yeshivas. One of them who came in after me, sat down, but I offered him my place, which he accepted. But he didn’t just want to take from me. He knew that I liked to say Torah, so he told me to say a Torah. I had something prepared to tell Reb Aharon that night, and I told it to him.He said nothing. I added something and he accepted it. That night I said it over to Reb Aharon, and he was thinking, and then I added the piece I had added for the senior student at the barber. Reb Aharon erupted. “Do gaist arup fun gleichen veg!” he said. I was leaving the proper path by saying such a Torah. What had happened?When the Germans in the Second World War entered Poland, they came to Kaminets and treated the Reb Baruch Ber’s Yeshiva people with great respect. Reb Cham Ozer said that when later Reb Baruch Ber and Reb Shimon Shkop died, the Germans unleashed their hate and killed and maimed. But as long as Reb Shimon and Reb Baruch Ber were alive, their Torah protected us. These two, Reb Shimon and Reb Baruch Ber were the greatest Roshei Yeshiva of the time dealing with senior students. (Reb Elchonon specialized in younger students who went to other Yeshivas when they graduated the sixth class.) Reb Baruch Ber and Reb Shimon were very close and always spoke in learning. But they had very different styles in learning.Reb Shimon taught a Torah that explained what and why. Reb Baruch Ber taught only “what” not “why.” Reb Aharon was influenced by Reb Baruch Ber not to ask “why” but only “what.” But Reb Shimon was the senior Rosh Yeshiva in the world and had many students who studied his way. Thus, many students in Lakewood Yeshiva had the style of Reb Shimon they learned before they entered Lakewood. But this style was rejected by Reb Aharon who was influenced by Reb Baruch Ber. Thus, not only did Reb Aharon suffer from the great gap between his genius and American Talmudists, he also suffered from the style of learning of many of those students who were trained differently than he was.The “cabinet” member who didn’t like what I said, until I added something, learned in the style of Reb Shimon, to reveal the “what” and “why” of a subject. But I had learned from Reb Aharon not to talk about “why” and thus the “cabinet” member didn’t like my Torah, until I added the “why.” When, out of habit, I repeated the “why” to Reb Aharon as I had told it to the “cabinet” scholar, Reb Aharon rebuked me for going off the proper path.I mention this story to show the great problems Reb Aharon had with us American students. Not only was there a huge barrier between us in learning, but the very style of learning Reb Aharon used was not accepted by senior members of his Yeshiva. What does this have to do with Learning and Earning?When Reb Aharon was alive, the huge barriers between him and the American students created a Yeshiva with two separate parts. The Rosh Yeshiva Reb Aharon lectured regularly, and most students struggled with the fantastic genius. They struggled for two reasons. One because the material was very advanced from what they had learned earlier before Lakewood, and two, because Reb Aharon had a different style of learning from many students.Thus, when the youngest student in the Yeshiva, me, went to speak to Reb Aharon, I had all of the time I wanted, because I had very little competition for Reb Aharon’s time. Subsequently I spent hours talking to the Gaon Reb Moshe Feinstein when he visited Monsey frequently with his Rebbetsin to visit his daughter. I spoke to him in a shull where anybody could come and there were people who came to it, but very rarely did I get interrupted. I constantly feared that somebody would take away “my Reb Moshe” but almost nobody came. In a few years of very frequent talking to Reb Moshe I recall three people coming to talk to him, and each of them came only once. It is not that people were insensitive to the opportunity. The barrier was just too great for Americans to go talk to such people. I went because of my azuce ponim, and that was the only reason that I came and came again.We come to one more story of a Gadol, before we finally explain what is wrong with the world producing today so many broken marriages, etc. One Gadol who came frequently to Monsey was the Yerushalmi Magid Reb Shalom Schwadron zt”l. Rabbi Schwadron was a famous speaker and a famous  Mashgiach, who was trained by perhaps the greatest of the Mashgichim, Reb Eliyohu Lapian. Mashgichim of their level could look at a student and know what he was inside and out. But the main talent of such a Mashgiach was to impart to the student musar or teachings to change their lives. Everyone knows the story of the founder of the Musar Movement, Reb Yisroel Salanter, who did this because his rebbe, Reb Zundel of Salant, waited for the right moment, and he told Reb Yisroel to devote his life to spreading musar. From that one teaching, one of many between them, Reb Yisroel changed the world. If there is any Torah left in the world, it was because of that moment. Eventually, the non-Musar Yeshivas either closed down or produced destroyed students, and all of the Yeshivas, under the guidance of the Chofetz Chaim, became Musar Yeshivas.I was one of many people who spent as much time as I could talking to Reb Shalom. He was such a warm and special person, and he knew exactly what you were about. During the time I went to Reb Shalom, although I always supported my efforts with my azuce ponim, he was so warm that I didn’t need a big dose of it. But all of that was about to change.In those days, decades ago, Monsey was very pure and had none of the features of big cities that disturb the Torah. Across the street from me was an apple orchard and some snakes were found there. The people who lived in the Torah area were Yeshiva people of the highest caliber. One day, a video store opened on main street, not far from a big Yeshiva. A friend of mine and I got to work to see what we could do. Reb Shalom was in town, and we decided to go to him and tell him the problem. We hoped that he would make one of his famous deroshose and generate a protest movement. Thus, after one of his deroshose in the Yeshiva of Spring Valley, I went over to him and told him that there is in Monsey a video store. I was sure he would explode with wrath. But he completely ignored me. To understand: the great mashgichim Reb Eliyohu Lapian and his talmid Reb Shalom Schwadron, were famous speakers. Reb Elya could hold an audience for six hours. Speakers like them used every talent, every gesture, to advance their points. When I told Reb Shalom about the video store he presented me with a face I never saw in my life. I saw not his warm and friendly face, but a piece of cold granite, utterly disinterested in what I was saying. I was shocked. It was then that I recovered quickly, as I recalled that I was Mr. Azuce Ponim. I remember saying to myself, “Okay, you want to ignore me? I am Mr. Azuce Ponim.” And I repeated myself, once, twice, with no result. I was now hanging out to dry, and my Azuce Ponim was boiling. I blurted out loudly, “Rebbe! Haschoso!” That did it. Obviously, he was waiting for that. He had set me up with his cold granite face, and I “jumped into the bag.”Now Reb Shalom had me where he wanted me. I stood helplessly as he changed his entire demeanor . He turned his face towards me, slowly, with professional movements of the body. His eyes flashed. His fingers pointed into my face. And at the perfect moment, as I stood there utterly bereft of what is happening, he said, slowly and professionally: “A Yeshiva is haschoso.”When I heard that, I sensed that I was falling. Down, down, down, I sensed that Reb Shalom had blown me off the cliff. What could I possibly say? A still voice said to me, “He said this in public. He has to answer. Just wait.” So I just stood there. Reb Shalom saw my discomfort and laughed, saying in Yiddish, “That shut his mouth” at least, it sounded much nicer the way he said. The Reb Shalom got serious. He explained why he said that a Yeshiva, not a video store, is hashchoso.Not long afterwards, I was at my son’s wedding, and a major RoshYeshiva was there. I saw him and jumped, and had him for half an hour, telling him various things and getting his reaction. Basically, I was telling him my complaints about the Yeshiva or the Torah system at that time. He listened the whole time, obviously considering my remarks carefully which was encouraging, and so I dropped the bomb, that I had heard from Reb Shalom that “a Yeshiva, not a video store, is hashchoso.” He heard this and nodded his head vigorously. He obviously agreed with Reb Shalom very much.Having said so much, let us now turn to the problems of today, and why they may be rooted in the system of Yeshiva, or Torah.A Yeshiva is “Hashchoso”?We thus have two gedolim, one of the past generation and one of this generation, who agree that “A Yeshiva is hashchoso.” This is an incredible accusation. To continue, we have to keep something in mind that I once heard from the Gaon Reb Mayer Mints. He told me the following story. Once a Jew did something so terrible that nobody could  understand how a Jew could do such a thing. A Rov was asked and he answered, “I don’t know how a Jew could do such a terrible thing. But one thing I do know. He did it leshaim shomayim (for the sake of heaven.”This is crucial. The problems we have today in the Torah community, the broken marriages, the broken children, etc. may be rooted in good intentions. But precisely the best intentions are the most dangerous. It is the Yeshiva with its good intentions that can do things that are “hashchoso.” How did this happen? And more important. What can be done about it?888
To understand what is wrong and how it went wrong, we have to continue with our “ancient history” when I learned by Reb Aharon. But now we come to the time when Reb Aharon passed away. 

We  might begin with a discussion of parnoso in earlier times. But since our book is about marriage and family and we want to solve problems instead of talking around them, let us begin with parnoso today and good and bad ideas in that regard. Later, we will discuss various sources in the Talmud and holy works, and Jewish history, to find the sources for our ideas.These two parts of our discussion about parnoso are labelled Learning and Earning Today and Learning and Earning in Earlier Times. Let us begin with Learning and Earning Today.
Learning and Earning Today
Learning and earning today is a problem. Many men learn in Kollel for years and receive some stipend, their wives work and parents contribute. But we are not satisfied with this.8888

Learning and Earning in Talmudic  and Earlier Times

The gemora in Berochose 35b has various ideas about this. There are people who devote themselves mainly to learning. There are Jewish farmers, who spend most of their time plowing, planting, harvesting, winnowing, etc. There are people who mainly work but support those who learn. There are people who work a regular job but spend some time each time learning Torah.The gemora there brings a great devate between Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi, the author of the Zohar, and Rabbi Yishmael. Rabbi Yishmael says that the Torah commands us to obey the Torah and then we will merit to succeed as farmers. Thus, farming, with all of its duties and little time for learning, is the way of Jews. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi replies that a farmer cannot be a Torah scholar because he is constantly busy with plowing, planting, harvesting, winnowing, etc. Each of these opinions makes a lot of sense. Rabbi Yishmael brings a passage in the Torah that farming is a blessing for the Jewish people. How can it be a blessing if we are not supposed to spend large amounts of time outside of Torah study?Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi counters that a farmer cannot be a Torah scholar, so how can farming be a proper parnoso for a Jew?But according to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi, that a Jewish man must spend his day learning, how does one earn a living? Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi replies that when Jews obey HaShem properly they merit that gentiles come and perform their work or farming for them. This is incredible. Rabbi Shimon lived when the Romans had just destroyed the Temple and the Jews were persecuted and harrassed. Did Rabbi Shimon have gentiles who worked for him for free so that he could sit and learn Torah all day? Obviously, the passage in the Torah that Rabbi Shimon quotes is refering to the End of Days when Moshiach will come and the gentiles will treat the Jews royally, as the prophets teach. But today, who is supported by the gentiles? In fact, the Romans issued a sentence of death on Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi and he had to run away and live in a cave for years. He had nothing to eat but fruit from one tree and some water from a stream. He had no regular clothes so he and his son Elozor studied Torah all day while they sat in sand to cover their nakedness. Does this sound as if a Jew can not work and rely on gentiles to support him?But if we accept the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, that one should be a farmer, how can Torah scholars rise up among the Jews?In ancient Israel there was a tribe of Levites and Cohanim who did not own land and were thus involved in making a living. They were involved with the Temple service and spiritual matters. They learned Torah and taught it to the Jewish people. But if this is the solution, only one tribe of Jews produced rabbis. But many if not most of the great rabbis of Israel came from other tribes who were not Levites. As a matter of fact, the Levites did not return to Israel in the time of Ezra, so the rabbis there were mostly if not all not Levites.The  gemora we mentioned earlier in Berochsoe says that in earlier generations there were Jews who studied Torah most of their time and did work in a set time during the day, not the majority of their day. However, says the gemora, afterwards people could not do this. They had to work longer periods, and thus nobody did as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi taught, to learn most of the day at least. The greatest sages of the Talmud counselled against trying to do as Rabbi Shimon taught: Rovo, Abayaeh and Rebbe Yochonon. Thus, the law is that a Jew must work, but how much?We find that Rovo counselled his students not to come to the Yeshiva certain times of the year, but to at those times engage in enough business to support themselves the rest of the year with much learning and less working. This is in the above gemora in Berochose.In the gemora Huriyuse we find Rovo counseling his students to seek wealth, so that it would be possible for them to spend more time learning. One student said that he had real estate and it brought him an income so he could learn. This pleased Rovo.We find in the Talmud Eruvin 22a a discussion of this problem. How can a person spend much time working and develop in Torah? One solution is to rise up early in the morning and learn before he goes to work, and to study till late at night when he comes home from work. There are now thousands of working Jews who have studied the Talmud several times because they keep to such schedules, early in the morning and later in the night. I know several business people who begin their days four AM and have achieved very much in Torah learning.Another opinion is that a person “blackens his face to learn Torah as the black ORAVE bird (raven?).” It means that with great struggle he forces himself to learn even when he is tired. One of the great people in recent generations advised his students to force themselves up in the morning “even if it was as hard as death.” Rovo says that one can succeed in Torah if he acts in a cruel manner to his family, that is, because he learns so much he does not support his family properly. Now, this is a big problem. Is not supporting a family a mitsvah? Are someone’s wife and children supposed to starve while the father becomes proficient in Torah? The gemora tells of somebody who decided to leave him and go away to a faraway place to study Torah for a long time. This was the custom in those days. A person married, had some children, and then left home to go away to study Torah for a few years. In this case, the wife asked her husband what she was supposed to do about feeding the children. He said that there were vegetables in the field she could pick. This sounds terrible, but we must balance this by saying that the custom was in Talmudic  times for people to go away for a few years just to learn. When a person did such a thing, the good Jews in the community he arrived in saw to his basic needs. He did not die of hunger and he had a place to sleep. And the community where his family lived also were aware of what had to be done. Somebody told me once, “We look into that rabbis’ pot” meaning, we are sensitive  to his needs.In recent times in America there was a large influx of rabbis after the war, and very few of them could get a job in America. An entire program was launched under the great Gaon Rav Henkin zt”l  to give them honorable employ writing halacha works that are very crucial such as the laws of marriage and divorce.We now turn to the clash between earning and learning, and what was done in earlier generations.
Earning and Learning in Early GenerationsThe Talmud clearly teaches that in early Talmudic generations husbands would leave home for years and study Torah. If Torah was so important, how did people earn and learn? And how do we understand the fact that many of the greatest rabbis during the Temple and Talmudic  eras were wealthy, some very wealthy? When did they have time for this?Most crucial for us is to understand from the early generations a solution to our problems of parnoso. How can we succeed? And if Rov in the gemora Hurius instructed his students to seek wealth, how could this be achieved? If just earning enough to survive is a conflict with serious learning, how can Rovo tell his disciples to seek wealth?

Respect for Self and then Respect for OthersIn human relationships, there are two kinds of people. One says I am nothing and you are worse. And the other person says, "I am wonderful and  you are better." It is only by being proud of ourselves that we can be proud of other people and recognize their value. If we despise ourselves, we surely despise other people. Therefore, self-respect is the source of all respect for others, especially in marriage.The Torah begins with the creation of man and woman. The Shelo Hakodosh in Luchose HaBris explains the greatness of the human being one who is in the 'TSELEM and DESUMSE of heaven. He explains that TSELEM refers to the soul and the spiritual, the heavenly elements in the human being. DEMUSE refers to the worldly finite parts of people. Both of these are united in a person, and the person can go in two directions. He can rise to heaven and be part of heaven, higher than angels, and very close to HaShem. Or, he can sin and decline, and be worse than the animals, because they don't sin, they are just animals. But people defy G-d by sinning and are the lowest of the creations. G-d in His great mercy created people who are severely tempted to sin and they do sin, but after they sin, they can repent and rise very high. "In the place of the penitent even the perfectly righteous cannot stand." Thus, every second of our life we can go up or down or even both, up and down, in one very short period!They key is to know that a human being is a double unit, the highest holiness higher than angels, and the power to sin and be the lowest of the low. A person is TSELEM in the heavenly image, and a person is DEMUSE, in the finite body. But both of these, soul and body, can rise to heaven or plunge to the lowest sin and depth. And every second is a new opportunity to go to a new place up or down.When we want to understand how to love others, we have a lot of work to do. First, we have to love ourselves. But who can love himself/herself? We know our faults. We know our failures. We know our frustrations. Who can love that?But HaShem loves us exactly as we are. And HaShem made a world where King David sinned hideously and still remained Moshiach HaShem after he repented. Why HaShem loves us is not something we can figure out. But we can appreciate it and accept it and act accordingly. As we love HaShem and come closer to him, we slowly begin to appreciate ourselves and begin to realize why we are worthy of love, and why our soul and our body belong close to HaShem. Yes, we are TSELEM and DESMUSE with all of our warts. "From the darkness we appreciate light." From an earthen body we strike a light that is seen in the highest heavens, and maybe we will see it also. If we don't see it, we must keep looking.ODOMThe name for humans is ODOM. "And HaShem created the ODOM: Male and female He created them." Thus, ODOM is a collective name for humans. However, the first man was named ODOM. But if he was ODOM it was only because a man without a wife is not an ODOM.Shelo brings the gemora in Yevomose 63A that the above passage "male and female He created them" meaning created "ODOM" shows that a man without a wife is not ODOM. This teaching of Rebbe Eliezar can mean the unmarried man is not ODOM a full person. But it can mean also he is not a man, and it can mean he is not a human. He is a strange creature that is not a natural part of creation. A man is ODOM only with his wife. She is a crucial part of ODOM and his level of this marital essence depends a lot on his interaction with her.The Shelo also brings the gemora in Yevomose 63A "One who does not procreate  is as one who sheds blood." And "One who does not procreate lessens the DEMUSE or "image of people" who are in the image of HaShem. This means that the physical and finite body produced by procreation is DEMUSE of holiness and is itself a heavenly essence, housing the soul and the mitsvose performed by the body.These teachings and others are brought in Shulchan Aruch in the very beginning of Ezer Hoezer, to teach us that they are not mere Agadic ideas but are central to the Shulchan Aruch and the obeying of the laws of the Torah. One without a functioning marriage procreating children has defied the purpose of Creation.Someone once had a terrible battle with his wife and for years they were separate. I read the part of the Shulchan Aruch mentioned above about the importance of marriage and he became aroused. He began to think about what he was doing and what he was not doing. Probably, if years before when all of the fighting started, he would have known the gemora and the Shulchan Aruch, he would be a lot happier now.I have stated before and I reiterate that although marriage surely requires marital intimacy, and it is what produces children and is so central to marriage, still, the kind of children produced by marriage depends on the happiness the woman has during procreation. And this happiness depends on the attitudes of the husband, and his appreciation of his wife. A husband who feels that his wife is his servant because he is a spiritual person is running into a world that has nothing to do with Torah or happiness."One who loves his wife as himself and honors her more than himself..."The gemora in Yevomose 62b says that "One who loves his wife as he loves himself, and honors her more than himself, and raises his sons and daughters in the proper path...regarding him the passage says, "And you will know that your tent is at peace."What does this mean?What is love and what is honor?We find in the classic musar work Raishis Chochmo, written by a disciple of the great Kabbalist Reb Moshe Kurdovero, how a man should be with his wife. In the chapter of Derech Erets he says that a man must love his wife privately but support her with money and clothing more than he can afford. Perhaps this is what the gemora is saying that one loves his wife as himself, that is, privately, but when it comes to supporting his wife and buying her clothes he must spend more than he can afford. It seems that if the husband does not have enough money to buy something and he and his wife both need it, say shoes or winter coat, etc., he should buy it for his wife even if that will cause him to scrimp on himself.Another idea may be that a husband wants to be loved and he wants his wife to love him just as he loves her. So the love is equal. But when it comes to honor, when it comes to support and clothes, etc., that honor a person, and creates a status in the community, this honor is given primarily to the wife and not to the husband, even if the husband has to scrimp for his own needs.Perhaps the language written in the KESUBO indicates that the husband accepts upon himself to support the wife and if he doesn't have enough to support her properly and to support himself properly perhaps he must support her to honor the KESUBO or any obligations a husband has to his wife, and only then deal with his own needs.There is a great difference in a marriage where the wife is confident of such honor and support and a marriage where she is not confident of such honor and support. For this we really need to discuss finances in general which the Talmud tells us is crucial for the peace of the couple and the home. But first, let us say a story about the above issue of loving and honoring one's wife, and the Vilna Gaon.During a period of exile undertaken by the Vilna Gaon, he came to a city and was invited to stay by somebody. After a while, the Vilna Gaon continued on in his exile, and thanked the host for his kindness and hospitality. The host then asked the Vilna Gaon if perhaps during his stay he had seen something that needs correcting. The Vilna Gaon replied that there was one thing that he could mention. It seems that the husband showed love for his wife more than he showed or allowed to be shown for himself, which is not in keeping with the gemora.The host then explained to the Vilna Gaon why he showed such incredible love to his wife, more than he got for himself. He told the Vilna Gaon of the great suffering the wife went through for many years until he started making some money. And now that he had money, he showed his wife at every opportunity how much he appreciated and loved her and appreciated her past suffering to sustain the marriage.The Vilna Gaon was so impressed that he resolved to stay another few days at that house.Those of us who have wives who struggle and do incredible things to sustain a Torah house, must show their appreciation.