Showing posts with label intimacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intimacy. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marital Intimacy - Obligations

Marital Intimacy is an obligation. One who marries another has an obligation to perform properly in marriage, and marital intimacy is one of the obligations. The ancient Persians were very fastidious people and would not be together without clothes. A Jew who wants this custom may be divorced, because it is wrong. The obligation is to give a complete marital pleasure.

Here we run into what we discussed previously that Torah marriage is not a partnership. A partnership means that I work because you work. A partnership usually doesn't work because everyone assumes that they work harder than the partner. Torah marriage is two people who marry to do kindness to the other. It is reciprocity. As we explain, and as I explain in my book, Secret of the Scale, marriage is a process of the husband doing kindness to the wife and the wife to the husband. Ideally, this should be a pure act of kindness and not because I want a good response. But obviously, this works better when both people are schooled in kindness and come from a good marital home where giving and loving made a paradise. But when people marry and don't have these attitudes, good luck.

In the book about the famous tsadik Rabbi Aharon Moshe Stern of Kaminets, we read many pages about kindness and marriage that brings us into a new world of tsadikim in marriage. We meet Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurebach who had a wonderful marriage for fifty years and when his wife died he refused to ask her forgiveness, although all Jews ask forgiveness then. He explained, "I never did anything to her that I have to ask her for forgiveness." People were amazed. Fifty years together and not one thing? But Rabbi Aharon Moshe Stern replied, "What is so special? If you get married, of course you have to do kindness with your wife, so how can you do something else?"

Rashi and the Zohar teach that the passage in the Torah "and he will make his wife rejoice" means marital intimacy. And it means that the husband has an obligation  to do kindness to his wife, not to please himself. Of course, if the husband pleases  his wife, and arouses her, he will surely benefit. But the idea is to do kindness, and the pleasures comes later.

We find in the parsha of Vayaro "And G-d appeared to him." It doesn't begin the reading by explaining who "him" was. It just says "him." Because Avrohom was sitting at the door of his tent looking for travelers he would invite for a meal and do kindness to them. A person who lives for kindness thinks only of another, not of himself. Therefore it says, "And G-d appeared to hiim" without mentioning his name, to show the pure intent of Avrohom, that he sat at the door of his tent looking for ways to perform kindness, and not thinking at all about himself. This is the kindness that makes a marriage like the above tsadikim had. Can you imagine the joy of such a house?

Thus an obligation of marriage is to do kindness to the other. Ideally, the marriage is an endless cycle of giving and the other one giving. Once you start taking, watch out.

Regarding martial intimacy, we mentioned Rashi and the Zohar that the husband must proceed out of kindness, to make his wife happy. And she too, must be a good Jewish wife and mother, and everyone knows that the Jewish mother is the epitome of kindness. How else could she raise many children who are a burden in their youth and need help when they grow older?

In fact, in terms of kindness, the woman may be greater than the male. Perhaps for this reason we find the gemora teaching that a Jewish woman easily gains the Other World and its paradise, but men may have to struggle. Kindness opens up all of the doors, and ego and selfishess open the other doors where nobody wants to go.

There is an obligation on the husband and wife to recognize that in all of their lives, they will only have marital intimacy with their spouse. Thus, they are obligated to adjust themselves to the needs of the other. Again, if a successful marriage is predicated on kindness, this is easier obtained. But if marriage is based on partnership and demands, this may not come so easily.

If for any reason the marital intimacy doesn't work well, the couple must get help. There are people who can help, and even though not everyone can find a cure from every doctor, if you persevere, you will find the right one for you and fix things.

There is something terrible about the obligation of marital intimacy. That is, each of us have desires, biological and emotional, that are stronger than we are. The wrong moment, the wrong person, can destroy us, as we mentioned earlier about the great tsadik who glanced at a woman and seized a heavy ladder that only ten men could lift and ran to sin with her. If we ignore the needs of our spouse, who knows if they will fall pray to their powerful desires? Unfortunately, even in the Torah world, there are many people who stray from the proper path, as Rambam and the gemora tell us, and as we mentioned in another post. Today there are terrible problems in this regard.

A rabbi told me this story. A young man who was becoming religious worked as a taxi driver. Once a lady got into his taxi and they ended up sinning. The young man said to her, "Listen, I am just becoming religious, and I did this for the pleasure. But you are a very respected woman whose husband is known as a great tsadik. How could you do this?" She replied, "My husband is a great tsadik. So he ignores me. A few times a year is not enough. So I do it like this." That husband is not a tsadik. He is a rosho. He has violated the obligation of "and make his wife rejoice" which applies to all men all of the time. And he has destroyed his wife because of his wickedness.

All of us will eventually come to the other world, and there are various entrances. Some of us will rap on the door we want and will be guided elsewhere. And a lot of these people will complain bitterly tht they intended to achieve holiness or some other good deed with their wickedness, and they will be asked to please go away to where they belong.

It is absolutely crucial to live knowing what is truly  a good deed and what is a sin. When we deny kindness to someone for some religious reason we are doing a very dangerous thing.