Sex in Judaism

 

 

by Gideon

“Sex is the most powerful, all-pervasive force in human experience. It may be intensely personal, meaningful, and creative at one moment, and depersonalized, meaningless, and careless the next. Much of its glory is that it can bring us as close as we may get in life to experiencing the mystery of our mortality, and because of this it is sanctified. Yet it can also be a blind, nearly irresistible force seeking wanton release on the biological level, and in this way its sanctity is perverted. Paradoxically, sex—the most chaotic, powerful, and untutored drive—can only be fully experienced when it includes an element of discipline and precision.” – www.chabad.org

“In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not thought of as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although sexual desire comes from the yetzer ra (the evil impulse), it is no more evil than hunger or thirst, which also come from the yetzer ra. Like hunger, thirst or other basic instincts, sexual desire must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper time, place and manner. But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual love and desire, sex is a mitzvah. (a requirement)” – www.jewfaq.org

“Sex should only be experienced in a time of joy. Sex for selfish personal satisfaction, 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.

Sex 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 (marriage contract).

A man may not take a vow to abstain from sex for an extended period of time, and may not take a journey for an extended period of time, because that would deprive his wife of sexual relations. In addition, a husband’s consistent refusal to engage in sexual relations is grounds for compelling a man to divorce his wife, even if the couple has already fulfilled the halakhic obligation to procreate.” – www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org

“Judaism recognizes the importance of sexual pleasure and companionship for its own sake as well. The Torah requires that a husband fulfill his wife’s need for intimacy. Exodus 21:10 lists marital intimacy as one of three basic things that a husband must provide to his wife (the other two are food and clothing). Laws governing sexual relationships are detailed in the Talmud . In fact, one of the most extensive of the six sections of the Talmud, Nashim (literally, “women”) is devoted to explicating the laws of sex and marriage, often with incredible detail. For example, the Talmud provides a detailed schedule for men’s conjugal duties, organized by profession. While a man of independent means is obliged to sleep with his wife every day, a camel driver is obligated only once in 30 days, and a sailor once in six months. That being said, a woman is allowed to reject her husband’s sexual advances, and Judaism forbids a man from pressuring his wife sexually” – www.myjewishlearning.com

The written Torah never forbids sex outside the context of marriage, with the exception of adultery and incest (parent, child, sibling, or grandchild). According to Exodus 22:16, the man who entices a woman who isn’t betrothed must marry her afterwards, unless her father refuses to allow him Exodus 22:17. Still, extramarital sex is forbidden in rabbinical Judaism.” Wikipedia.com

“In Judaism, 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.

The 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 (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 the body.

Nevertheless, Judaism does not ignore the physical component of sexuality. The need for physical compatibility between husband and wife is recognized 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.” – www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Birth control is permitted, so long as the couple is committed to eventually fulfilling the mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply (which, at a minimum, consists of having two children, one of each gender). The pill is well-recognized as an acceptable form of birth control under Jewish law.

“Traditional Judaism makes the following general propositions about sex and its place in human society:

  1. Sexual relations may take place only between a man and a woman. This means that sex with an animal is considered a perversion, and intercourse with a member of one’s own sex prohibited.
  2. Sexual relations and marriage are not permitted with someone outside the circle of the Jewish people (mixed marriage) or inside the circle of close relatives established by the Bible and the Sages (incest).
  3. Sexual relations are a mitzvah, a religious duty, within a properly covenanted marriage in accordance with Jewish law. Outside of that covenant, premarital sexual relations are not condoned and extramarital relations are considered crimes.
  4. Sexual relations within marriage must accord with the laws of family purity with respect to the wife’s menstrual cycle.” – www.chabad.org

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