Showing posts with label The Laws of Marital Intimacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Laws of Marital Intimacy. Show all posts

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marital Intimacy: Clarify for the Confused

Marital Intimacy is a very confusing thing. And because it is a very confusing thing, it must be clarified. Otherwise, the marriage is in danger. First, what is confusing about it.

Take the Shulchan Aruch itself. One place it says "whatever a man wants to do with his wife let him do it." And another place advises  him to be holy and removed from base deeds. This confusion, and the efforts to resolve them, have damaged or destroyed many families. Let us therefore clarify the confusion.

"Whatever a man wants to do with his wife let him do it" means when he wants to do it for biological and emotional reasons. Such a man who refuses his strong inclinations is in danger of flipping out and fulfilling his desires the wrong way, even with other women not his wife. Because this sounds like an extreme idea, because we are talking about Torah Jews who don't go around flipping out and sinning, we must prove this point.

The gemora says that on Yom Kippur a rabbi met Eliyohu HaNovi and asked him what HaShem feels about the Jewish people on such a day, when Jews are so holy and wonderful. Eliyohu HaNovi replied that in that city where many scholars lived, 300 virgins sinned with men on Yom Kippur. This is an incredible statement and perhaps nobody could believe it, so let us examine the whole gemora there, and we find understanding. It seems that in the time of the Holy Temple the service on Yom Kippur was led by the High Priest, usually an older man, and it involved much dealing with sacrifices and going here and there. Ideally, the High Priest would get a good night's sleep and have the strength to work a whole day. But the rabbis did not want the High Priest to sleep Yom Kippur night, let he while sleeping become tomay, impure, and be unable to perform the sacrifices on the morrow. But since everybody was asleep, how could the High Priest stay up all night? Therefore, the citizens of Jerusalem stayed up all night and walked around in the streets near the Temple where the High Priest was. They talked and walked, walked and talked, and the noise kept the High Priest up. Since everyone poured into the street, and there were no lights as we have today, here and there men singled out a woman to talk to her, and one thing led to another, so that 300 women sinned.

The rabbi asked Eliyohu HaNovi what HaShem said about that. He said, "HaShem says, 'at the door sin crouches.'" This means that the Satan is at the door. Just give it an opening, and wham.

We see that good intentions destroyed 300 virgins and their male counterparts. Why were people walking around all night? To keep the High Priest awake. And in subsequent generations, in Babylonia, where the Jews were exiled after the Destruction of the Temple, Jews continued this in the above Babylonian city, without a High Priest, in order to remind themselves of the glory of the Holy Temple. Intentions were good, but the results were disastrous. Thus, this story and others in the Talmud and Torah remind us of the great power of temptation. As Rambam says,  There is no city without sexual sin.

Thus, we have a choice. Be with our wives, or end up sinning. If  you have no biological or emotional drive to perform x and y, fine, be refined and holy. But if you have a genuine need to do something, you must do it, or you are in great danger.

Briefly, this clarifies the contradiction in the Shulchan Aruch and gemoras. Each person must know what they need, and they must fulfill their needs in their own home. To ignore one's strong desires is dangerous, and many have stumbled in this sin.

The Talmud tells of a beautiful Jewish woman who was redeemed from pirates and until things could be arranged for her she was put into a loft where the holiest rabbi in town lived. In order to make sure that even he did nothing wrong, the provided a ladder that had to be moved by ten strong men, knowing that the rabbi could not move it and thus could not sin with the woman. The rabbi was busy learning, and, inadvertently, he happened to glance up and see her. He was seized with desire. He grabbed the ladder, and realized that he was about to commit a terrible sin, and he could not stop. He therefore cried out, "Fire! Fire!" Everyone came running to save the rabbi, and they saw him on the ladder. So, they said. This is a rabbi. He has more lust than anyone else. The other rabbis complained to this rabbi that he had made a disgrace of rabbis. But he said that he would to anything to avoid such a terrible sin, and that is all that he could do.

In another post, we will go into more details, but for now we only want to establish that everyone must know what their drives are and satisfy them. In marriage, the husband must satisfy the wife and wife the husband. Anyone, husband or wife who is not satisfied, may do the worst sin. We know that throughout our history, great and holy people who were smitten with desire sinned. So, don't trust in yourself. Do what the gemora and Shulchan Aruch says: If you have a strong drive, satisfy it. And satisfy your spouse. If you have no special drive and are satisfied with ordinary intimacy, fine. In that case, if you seek out thrills you may be going in the wrong direction.