to Jewish law,
sex is not viewed as shameful, sinful or obscene. It is actually
a holy special good-deed, it is the first recorded mitzvah
in the Torah, as the Bible says "and God said unto them:
"Be fruitful, and multiply" Genesis 1:28.
is not evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although
sexual desire comes from the evil impulse (yetzer ra),
it is no more evil than hunger or thirst, which also come
from the evil impulse. Like hunger or thirst, sexual desire
must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper
time, place and manner. When sexual desire is satisfied
between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual
love and desire, sex is then a special holy mitzvah.
Solomon wrote a Book called "Song of Songs", a
love song between a male and a female, and the Talmud calls
this book" The Holy of Holies" - the most sacred
biblical text. Why? Because sex is really an expression
of our deep desire for the ultimate unity: to connect with
verse, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine"
Song of Songs 6:3, refers symbolically to the longing
for oneness with God. Judaism says that sex is one of the
holiest acts we can perform. In fact, the Hebrew word for
the marriage ceremony - "kiddushin," comes
from the word "kadosh" - holy.
all this in mind, sex is permitted only within the context
of a marriage. Sex is not merely a way of experiencing physical
pleasure. It is an act of immense significance, which requires
commitment and responsibility. The requirement of marriage
before sex ensures that sense commitment and responsibility.
Jewish law also forbids sexual contact short of intercourse
outside of the context of marriage, recognizing that such
contact will inevitably lead to intercourse.
primary purpose of sex is to reinforce the loving marital
bond between husband and wife. The first and foremost purpose
of marriage is companionship, and sexual relations play
an important role. Procreation is also a reason for sex,
but it is not the only reason. Sex between husband and wife
is permitted in fact its even recommended at times when
conception is impossible, such as when the woman is pregnant,
after menopause, or when the woman is using a permissible
form of contraception.
In the Torah, the word used for sex between husband and
wife comes from the root Dalet-Ayin-Tav, meaning
"to know," which vividly illustrates that proper
Jewish sexuality involves both the heart and mind, not merely
Judaism does not ignore the physical component of sexuality.
The need for physical compatibility between husband and
wife is recognized greatly in Jewish law. A Jewish couple
must meet at least once before the marriage, and if either
prospective spouse finds the other physically repulsive,
the marriage is forbidden.
Sex should only be experienced in a time of joy. Sex for
selfish personal pleasure, without regard for the partner's
pleasure, is wrong and evil. A man may never force his wife
to have sex. A couple may not have sexual relations while
drunk or quarreling. Sex may never be used as a weapon against
a spouse, either by depriving the spouse of sex or by compelling
it. It is a serious offense to use sex (or lack thereof)
to punish or manipulate a spouse.
is the woman's right, not the man's. A man has a duty to
give his wife sex regularly and to ensure that sex is pleasurable
for her. He is also obligated to watch for signs that his
wife wants sex, and to offer it to her without her asking
for it. The woman's right to sexual intercourse is referred
to as onah, and is one of a wife's three basic rights
(the others are food and clothing), which a husband may
not reduce. The Talmud specifies both the quantity and quality
of sex that a man must give his wife. It specifies the frequency
of sexual obligation based on the husband's occupation,
although this obligation can be modified in the (ketubah)
sex is the woman's right, she does not have absolute discretion
to withhold it from her husband. A woman may not withhold
sex from her husband as a form of punishment, and if she
does, the husband may divorce her without paying the substantial
divorce settlement provided for in the (ketubah)
Although some sources take a more narrow view, the general
view of Jewish law is that any sexual act that does not
involve destruction of seed, that is; ejaculation outside
the vagina is permissible. As one passage in the Talmud
states, "a man may do whatever he pleases with his
wife." In fact, there are passages in the Talmud that
encourage foreplay to arouse the woman.
Laws of Family Purity
The Bible says "And if a woman have an issue, and
her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be in her impurity
seven days "(Leviticus: 15:19-24, 18:19, 20:18).
From this, the laws relating to family purity are derived.
woman becomes a niddah when blood comes from her womb due
to her monthly period known as the female menstrual cycle.
These laws provide many undeniable benefits. The laws of
niddah are not deliberately kept secret; they are simply
unknown because most non-religious Jews do not continue
their religious education beyond their bar/bat mitzvah,
and these laws address subjects that are not really suitable
for discussion with children under the ages of 12/13.
to the Torah, a man is forbidden from having sexual intercourse
with a (niddah), a menstruating woman.
time of separation begins at the first sign of blood. She
counts from the beginning of the flow, and continues until
the flow stops. If it takes less than five days for her
flow to stop, she still has to wait until five days are
over. Even if she saw blood for only one day, she must wait
five days until she can begin the seven-day taharah ("purification")
process. The five days need not be complete five days. The
first day might start in the middle of the day, if she first
saw her flow in the afternoon. But whenever they began,
they end on the night after the fifth day.
If she sees blood for more than five days, the "five
days" end when she has definitely stopped seeing blood.
Once she has stopped seeing blood, she can begin the count
of the "Seven White Days". "Stopped seeing
blood" means that she has stopped seeing either a flow
of blood or stains on her clothing completely. These days
begin when the woman, before sunset, takes a shower or bath,
and cleans herself thoroughly, everywhere. She then waits
a few minutes, she must examine herself internally by means
of a cloth to check for blood. If the cloth is clean, then
the next day is the "first day" of the "Seven
White Days". During this period, the woman must check
herself twice a day: when she gets up, and just before sunset.
This separation lasts a minimum of 12 days. The rabbis broadened
this prohibition, maintaining that a man may not even touch
his wife or sleep in the same bed as her during this time.
(Weddings must be scheduled carefully, so that the woman
is not in a state of niddah on her wedding night)
the end of the period of niddah, as soon as possible after
nightfall after the seventh clean day, the woman must immerse
herself in a (kosher mikvah) a ritual pool. The ritual pool
was traditionally used to cleanse a person of various forms
of ritual impurity. Today, it is used almost exclusively
for this purpose and as part of the ritual of conversion.
It is important to note that the purpose of the ritual pool
is solely ritual purification, not physical cleanliness;
in fact, immersion in the ritual pool is not valid unless
the woman is thoroughly bathed before immersion. The ritual
pool is such an important part of traditional Jewish ritual
life that a new community will build a ritual pool before
they build a synagogue.
woman then returns home, and informs her husband that she
is now in the tahora ("purified") state. Sexual
marital relations are then permitted (in fact, tradition
dictates they occur that night). Biologically speaking,
the best night to conceive is usually "mikvah night",
as it often concides with the woman's ovulation. The sperm
count of her husband is increased during the abstinence
and by the time of self-restraint, which improves the chances
of successful pregnancy.
The Torah does not specify the reason for the laws of niddah,
but this period of abstention has both physical and psychological
fertility benefits of this practice are obvious and
undeniable. In fact, it is remarkable how closely these
laws parallel the advice given by medical professionals
today. When couples are having trouble conceiving, modern
medical professionals routinely advise them to abstain from
sex during the two weeks around a woman's period (to increase
the man's sperm count at a time when conception is not possible),
and to have sex on alternate nights during the remaining
two weeks. When you combine this basic physical benefit
with the psychological benefit of believing that you are
fulfilling God's will, and his great reward, fit is absolutely
shocking that more couples with fertility problems do not
attempt this practice. The rejection of this practice by
the liberal movements of Judaism is not a matter of "informed
choice," but simply a matter of ignorance or blind
addition, women who have sexual intercourse during their
menstrual period are more vulnerable to a variety of vaginal
infections, as well as increased risk of cervical cancer.
But the benefits that the rabbis have always emphasized
are the psychological ones, not the physical ones. The rabbis
noted that a two-week period of abstention every month forces
a couple to build a non-sexual bond as well as a sexual
one. Meaning to say that I love you-not just in a physical
way. It helps to build the couple's desire for one another,
making intercourse in the remaining two weeks more special.
It also gives both partners a chance to rest, without feeling
sexually inadequate. They also emphasized the value of self-discipline
in a drive as fundamental as the sexual drive.
Jewish law, birth control is acceptable, as long as the
couple is committed to eventually fulfill the good-deed
to be fruitful and multiply (which, at a minimum, consists
of having two children, one of each gender). The issue in
birth control is not whether it is permitted, but what method
is permitted. It is well-established that methods that destroy
the seed or block the passage of the seed are not allowed,
thus condoms are not permitted for birth control. However,
the pill is well-recognized as an acceptable form of birth
control under Jewish law. (I have also heard some say that
a condom would be permitted under Jewish law to prevent
the transmission of AIDS or similar diseases, because preserving
the life of the uninfected spouse takes priority) however,
I am not certain how authoritative this view is. If this
is an issue for you, you should consult a competent rabbinic
in Jewish law isn't acceptable, however in some circumstances
abortion is required. Where the mother's life is in jeopardy
because of the unborn child, abortion is mandatory.
An unborn child has the status of "potential human
life" until the majority of the body has emerged from
the mother. Potential human life is valuable, and may not
be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value
as a life in existence. The Talmud makes no bones about
this: it says quite bluntly that if the fetus threatens
the life of the mother, you cut it up within her body and
remove it limb by limb if necessary, because its life is
not as valuable as hers. But once the greater part of the
body has emerged, you cannot take its life to save the mother's,
because you cannot choose between one human life and another.
to getting married, you should know what marriage
is about. Is it a contract between two parties? A
long romance? Legalized sex? Companionship? Be careful:
How you define marriage will determine what kind of
spouse you choose. The
Bible describes a marriage as basar echad --
"they will be one flesh." A marriage is
not a partnership, not a companionship. It is an oneness.
A spiritual bond. The force has put you together.
Deep in the instincts of a human being, there is a
In the same way that your child is part of you, when
you get married, s/he is part of you. That holy bond
makes you part of each other for eternity. You are
not alone anymore.
When you are intimate, you give away a piece of yourself
forever. So make sure that the pieces you give away
are to the person with whom you want to be eternally
This applies in both a metaphysical and emotional
sense. Do you remember the first boy/girl you were
involved with? Can you recall the wonderful magic?!
Shouldn't that magic be reserved for your spouse?
Imagine there was only one man/woman in the world.
If you could marry the only man/woman in the world,
do you understand how precious your relationship would
be? That is the power we are talking about.
Judaism defines marriage as "finding your other
half." Through marriage, two people become bound
together into a single entity, and bring completeness
to each other. The longing one has for sex is really
an expression of the longing to be intimately joined
together with our "other half." Through
the sexual relationship, we express this oneness.
Marriage is the forum in which we learn this. When
a man and woman make a marital commitment, they form
a deep spiritual bond. They give to each other, and
are committed for a lifetime. Sex binds husband and
wife together, because it teaches us to focus beyond
ourselves. Outside of marriage, sex is ultimately
frustrating because oneness can never be fully achieved.
This is obvious in regard to a short-term sexual encounter.
But even in a long-term setting: Without the commitment
of marriage, you always keep open the option of leaving
the relationship. As a result, the degree of connectedness
reaches a barrier. Eventually, frustration sets in,
and the relationship erodes at its foundation. With
this understanding, get married. Your husband/wife
makes you whole. He/she is part of you forever. When
you are intimate with another, you give away a piece
of yourself forever. You want to make sure that the
pieces you give away are to a person with whom you
want to be eternally joined!
sex is so powerful, it can destroy you. Sex for
its own sake is degrading. Don't take something
that should be spiritual and turn it into an animal
desire. Don't let sex control you. Are you living
for sex? Then you're living as an animal. Use sex
to master the discipline of being in control. The
more disciplined you are with your urges, the more
you are able to enjoy them, because you become a
master over them, and not vice versa. The illusion
of all urges is that the more you satisfy it, the
more you are satisfied. But when it comes to urges,
especially the sexual one, the more you feed it,
the more it wants. Even in the context of marriage,
excess makes the relationship base and self-centered.
Balance is essential. Choose to minimize ... then
you know you are in control.
precious is worth concealing. It is no coincidence that
as society becomes more promiscuous and revealing, the
quality of relationships and the specialness of sex
with the bombardment of sex in the media (and everywhere
else), how do we avoid the trap of seeing sex as cheap,
easy and degrading?
One of the best ways to avoid abuse is to create a protective
fence. If you're on a diet to lose weight, you stay
away from places that serve fattening food. So too,
if you want to keep your eyes and mind where they belong,
avoid going to places where you will constantly encounter
can avoid temptation by keeping your mind fully occupied
with things that interest you. When your mind is immersed
in creative and intellectual pursuits, you will be much
less inclined to indulge a roving eye. "Watching
the girls go by," is primarily the sign of an idle
Furthermore, don't daydream or fantasize about sex.
It's destructive and counterproductive. Wasting your
brain power on illusions is wasting our potential. It
also creates "fictions" that you and your
partner will never be able to live up to.