Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Modesty in requesting marital relations

 This is material that I am trying to understand for my latest sefer on the Torah understanding of gender and sexuality. The point is that we have what is an accepted halacha and yet the Seforno, Malbim and Torah Temima acknowledge the pshat of the verse is against the halacha.

Leah is used in Eiruvin 100b as proof that a woman is not supposed to verbalize her desires - and yet Leah apparently did. The gemora indicates that are apparently two views in Chazal and yet it concludes there is only one.
=====================================
Meiri (Eiruvin 100b):  Even though the attribute of modesty (tznius) is praiseworthy for everyone – nevertheless it is more praiseworthy for women.  In spite of this whoever makes themselves beloved to their husbands and entice them to the mitzva of sexual relations – this is not considered pritzus (immodesty) but rather zariz (alacrity) to do the mitzva and it is a desirable characteristic. She is rewarded for her concern with this mitzva by having proper children. That is because her intent is only for children. The Torah has already given an example of the appropriateness of this concerning Leah, And Leah went out to meet Yaakov and told him that he was to sleep with her that night instead of Rachel (Bereishis 30:16).

Bereishis (30:16):  And Yaakov came from the field in the evening and Leah went out to meet him. And she said to him, You shall come to me [tonight] because I have paid for you with the mandrakes of my son. And he lay with her that night.

Eiruvin (100b): R. Samuel b. Nahmani citing R. Johanan stated: A woman who solicits her husband to the [marital] obligation will have children the like of whom did not exist even in the generation of Moses. For of the generation of Moses it is written: Get you from each one of your tribes, wise men and understanding, and full of knowledge, and then it follows: So I took the heads of your tribes, wise men and full of knowledge. while men of ‘understanding’ he could not find, whereas in the case of Leah it is written in Scripture, ‘And Leah went out to meet him, and said: Thou must come unto me, for I have surely hired thee, and subsequently it is written, ‘And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, the heads of them were two hundred, and all their brethren were at their commandment. But can that be right? seeing that R. Isaac b. Abdimi stated: Eve was cursed with ten curses, ... ’ And he shall rule over you - this teaches that a woman asks with her heart while her husband asks directly for intercourse. This is a good attribute in women. In other words she acts seductive and ingratiates herself with him but does not directly say what she wants.

Torah Temima (Bereishis 9:16.4): In other words from this pregnancy Yissachar was born as is states explicitly in the Torah. The gemora (Eiruvin 100b)  asserts  that she didn’t ask Yaakov directly for sexual intercourse because to do so is a disgusting behavior and her children would have been called the children of brazeness [ instead of praising her]. In fact she seduced him by showing her strong feelings of love. But the language of the Torah apparently contradicts this explanation since she is quoted as saying, “You shall come to me [i.e., have sexual relations]”. However this phrase is to be understood that she meant that he should come to her tent but not that she was saying she wanted sexual intercourse....

In contrast others sources seem to assume Leah spoke bluntly and directly - but since she was on a much higher spiritual level - we can not learn that it is permitted for women today to speak this way.

Rashi (Bereishis 30:16): I hired you tonight – I paid Rachel [to be with you tonight]. 

Malbim (Bereishis 30:16): And she said to Yaakov , You are to come to me. This teaches that her intent was solely for the sake of Heaven. Therefore she wasn’t embarrassed to speak this way. That is because she had no lust which would have caused her embarrassment. This was like Adam prior to the Sin that he and Eve were naked and did not feel shame.

Seforno (Bereishis 30:16): You are to come to me since I hired you. And she did not do an injustice with her behavior in taking away the sexual rights of her sister since it was done with her knowledge and agreement. At first glance this story seems to be disgusting to those who look for excuses to say negative things about the Torah. In fact we learn from this that the Avos were similar to Adam and Eve prior to the Sin. Their intent was not at all for their own pleasure but was solely for the sake of Heaven to establish descendants for the honor of G‑d and to serve Him. We learn from this that since the intent of the Matriarchs was pleasing to G‑d in their efforts ... Their prayers were accepted. That is because it is appropriate for a tzadik to make efforts according to nature as much as possible to obtain that which he desires and to also pray that he succeed. Our Sages note that G‑d desires the prayers of Tzadikim (Yevamos 64a).

20 comments :

  1. I'm curious what prompted this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have posted on this before. This is material that I am trying to understand for my latest sefer. The point is that we have what is an accepted halacha and yet the Seforno, Malbim and Torah Temima acknowledge the pshat of the verse is against the halacha.

      Leah is used in Eiruvin 100b as proof that a woman is not supposed to verbalize her desires - and yet Leah apparently did. The gemora indicates that are apparently two views in Chazal and yet it concludes there is only one.

      שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות ק"ש ותפלה של ערבית סימן רמ סעיף א

      וכן אם אשתו מניקה והוא מכיר בה שהיא משדלתו ומרצה אותו ומקשטת עצמה לפניו כדי שיתן דעתו עליה, חייב לפקדה.

      Delete
    2. "The point is that we have what is an accepted halacha and yet the Seforno, Malbim and Torah Temima acknowledge the pshat of the verse is against the halacha."

      I don't understand what you are saying, RDE.

      Which "accepted halacha" is "against the halacha"?

      Delete
    3. that a woman does not expressly ask for marital relations but rather indicates it by her actions. As the gemora, Meiri, and Torah Temima state.

      שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות ק"ש ותפלה של ערבית סימן רמ סעיף א

      וכן אם אשתו מניקה והוא מכיר בה שהיא משדלתו ומרצה אותו ומקשטת עצמה לפניו כדי שיתן דעתו עליה, חייב לפקדה.

      Delete
    4. What is the subject of your latest book DT?

      Delete
    5. An understanding of the nature of male/female differences in halacha and hashkofa - including the nature of marriage, tznius, divorce and sexuality. Of particular interest are changes that have occurred over the ages in the context of social and psychological parameters. As with my previous writings I am interested having the concepts emerge from sources themselves.

      Delete
    6. I think that's a very interesting subject.
      What happens when Rabbinic sources conflict with secular ones, as they invariably will? And is there anything more to say on all matters other than yetzer hatov vs yetzer hara?

      Delete
    7. If you have specifics of apparent conflicts - please let me know. And yes there is considerably more to say than yetz hatov vs yetzer harah.

      For example the issue I started posting concerning onas (compulsion). Why are there three categories 1) A person is complelled directly by another to do "x". 2) A person is presented with alternatives and does a cost benefits analysis 3) a third party is harmed and the condition to stop it is if the person complies with "x". This is a gemora in BB 48. And it applies to Gittin, sales, sexual abuse - in general the issue of free-will though it is not framed that way. Why are these viewed as separate categories with different halachic consequences when the amount of compulsion might actually be the same?

      Delete
    8. of course there are conflicts. It depends on which school of psychology you look at. Let us look at one example that we debated a few months back, regarding the Rambam on sexuality in both the Guide and the Yad. Your argument then was that according to Rambam, marital relations should be kept at a minimum and only then for procreation, not recreation. Yet the same rambam allows lo k'darka (anal intercourse), which I then suggested that this will not particularly help procreation.

      You also have to explain why child molestation and sodomy are widespread in Orthodoxy, which has all these strictures on even normal marital relations. One Bar Ilan legal scholar looked at the sexual abuse statistics in Jerusalem, 95% of them were by "frum" people. The frum population of Jerusalem is not even 50%!
      All this nonsense about separate buses etc is all part of the same abuse, in the guise of religiosity.

      Delete
    9. Eddie you are swinging wildly to try and establish a theory which doesn't have an empirical basis. Rambam doesn't say that relations are only for procreation. He says that there is a physical need but that a person should not deliberately arouse himself - which is also the view of Chazal.

      the scientific literature - hasn't established that child abuse and sodomy are widespread (what is your definition of widespread anyway) in the Orthodox world. In general it is viewed that the rate of abuse is the same as the general population. While it is true that there is a minority opinion that claims that it is more - the statistics are simply not there to establish a scientific basis for this. You could just as easily say that there is more abuse in the Orthodox world - because recreational fornication is considered legitimate starting from the age of 10 so there is no reason for abuse. Are you advocating unrestrained sexuality in childhood?! If the man-boy love association could act freely - wouldn't that also reduce the amount of abuse because abuse would now be legal?

      Your statement "all this nonsense ..." doesn't make any sense. You seem to use the term abuse as "when a person does something I don't like"

      Why don't you just start from the beginning. Is any restriction of sexual activity a cause of increased abuse or is there a "normal" amount of restriction which is healthy and more than that causes abuse? As far as I know - this hypothesis has not been tested and there is no consensus. You assume that Modern Orthodox is healthy and therefore minimum abuse while Chareidi norms are unhealthy and increase abuse. Where are your statistics that Chareidim have more abuse than Modern Orthodox? Your one source - is far from being a valid scientific study of the matter.

      Delete
    10. actually, here is the old post in question, scroll down for our discussion

      http://daattorah.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/blog-post.html

      e.g.
      Daas TorahFebruary 5, 2012 1:05 AM

      Rambam (Commentary to Sanhedrin 7:4): It is permitted for a person to have sodomy with his wife as well as derech avarim or however he wants. That is how one of the sages answered a woman who asked concerning this and he told her that the Torah totally permitted her to her husband. One of the sages wanted to establish that it is degrading that a man should do one of these acts i.e., to have sex in one of these ways that the masses do because of their great lust. For example have sex reversed with the man on the bottom, or kissing certain places of the body and similar activities. However the halacha ruling of the Talmud is, “All that a man which to do with his wife he can do.” However even though all of this is permitted as we have said, those pious people who are modest keep far from all these animalistic behaviors and condemn them and condemn those who focus their thoughts and wishes on these things. Since we have clarified that the purpose of sexual relations is the preservation of the species and not just pleasure, the pleasure is only permitted in order to motivate creatures to their main purpose which is to have children. A clear proof of this assertion is that lust stops and pleasure disappears after the semen is emitted. So obviously it was for the sake of emission of the seed that the person was physically aroused. If the purpose was pleasure then the pleasure would continue as long as the person wanted it – but it is simply not so. Therefore the goal of the pious individuals is only that of nature. The Sages praised and encouraged this and they called all those who acted this way, “one who sanctified himself at the time of intercourse.” This is referring to someone whose intent was only to expel the excess seed. And they said that this is what produces in children purity, and other good traits. In facts our Sages have praised someone who had a wife who had an obvious and easily seen defect. And yet he did not know about it because all of his thoughts were focused on that which the pure pious individuals were concerned with. Therefore when he needed her, his purpose was only that of nature according to the divine wisdom. This is not a contradiction to that which we began this discussion i.e., that a man can do what he wants to do with his wife. That is because the path of that which is prohibited or permitted is different from the path of that which is disgusting or desirable as well as that which is modest and avoids excesses of material pleasure.
      Reply

      Delete
    11. Now let's see your other claims above:

      DT " In general it is viewed that the rate of abuse is the same as the general population. While it is true that there is a minority opinion that claims that it is more - the statistics are simply not there to establish a scientific basis for this. "

      Except that at the conferences that are even reported on this blog, they say that abuse is disproportionately high in the Ortho world.


      DT: "You could just as easily say that there is more abuse in the Orthodox world - because recreational fornication is considered legitimate starting from the age of 10 so there is no reason for abuse. Are you advocating unrestrained sexuality in childhood?! If the man-boy love association could act freely - wouldn't that also reduce the amount of abuse because abuse would now be legal?"

      Sorry, don't quite follow your logic here. Do you mean fornication is legitimate in the secular world at 10, or in the Orthodox world? it is not legitimate in the secular world either in UK/US or Israeli law, to fornicate with a child. Perhaps you mean in Mesechet Sanhedrin where it is permitted? (and in Kiddushin it is forbidden!)

      DT: Your statement "all this nonsense ..." doesn't make any sense. You seem to use the term abuse as "when a person does something I don't like"


      The Kli Yakar comments on the Pasuk that Isaac was blind, saying that he wasn't physically blind, but emotionally blinded to the sins committed by his beloved son Esav. If Yitzhak avinu can be blind, then please dont be insulted if i suggest that you may not see how these humrot are a) simply devices for social control of the masses, and b) they are then used to impose verbal, psychological and physical violence on anyoen who doesn't adhere. Buses, modest clothing, modesty patrols etc. Occasionally you complain, when they set fire to someone, or throw stones at people. But if you understand buyer psychology, these are simply market differentiation tactics, invented by the rabbis be ahead of the regular orthodox people. The kosher graveyard scam is the latest example.

      DT: " Is any restriction of sexual activity a cause of increased abuse or is there a "normal" amount of restriction which is healthy and more than that causes abuse? As far as I know - this hypothesis has not been tested and there is no consensus."

      It depends on which psychological theories u use, and how you design your experiment, which is pretty much impossible in this case. I will now be very controversial, and critique a practice which is halacha and rooted in the Talmud. Is holding one's member during urination likely to cause arousal? Usually this is not a time when a man gets aroused. So does forbidding it actually have any benefits at all, or does it cause some kind of psychological damage?

      DT: "You assume that Modern Orthodox is healthy and therefore minimum abuse while Chareidi norms are unhealthy and increase abuse. Where are your statistics that Chareidim have more abuse than Modern Orthodox?

      Again you are making claims that I have not written. I used the word "frum". Since I consider MO to be frum, then you cannot even derive such a claim from what i have written! You tend to forget that MO also observe the Shulchan Aruch, although they might not approve of separation on buses.

      Delete
    12. Eddie - I really don't understand what your point is. The Rambam that I translated and that you now cite simply says that sex is not for fun and recreation but rather procreation and to control sexual urges in a permitted manner. Again child abuse statistics are after all statistics and their validity, reliablity and relevance are problematic. In addition - even if you want to say that the conference correctly found in Jerusalem - it really doesn't say anything about all the other communities. Therefore you can't generalize one set of statistics to the frum world in general.

      Please state what you would do differently if you were the posek of the chareidi world.

      Delete
  2. Rabbi Eidensohn: I don't think you realize the impression this post gives of you. You sound like an insane man. Perhaps this subject comes across differently when you are studying it academically or speaking privately but popped up on your blog here it comes across as reflecting a peculiar psyche and state of mind, to put it mildly. i would list the many faults i feel it has but i am way too worked up in my reaction at the moment to be coherent. i am disappointed, deeply, that any sort of daas torah would not know this on his own. i'm guessing you won't put my comment up but i respectfully ask you to for two reasons. 1}i really need to know if i am alone in my reaction or do other people feel the same way. 2} maybe someone less emotional than me can explain to you why this post is embarrassing, idiotic and inappropriate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I simply cited main stream rabbinic texts. Perhaps if you can calm down you might explain why a topic which is discussed in gemora and poskened in shulchan aruch is embarrassing, idiotic and inappropriate. You say it is for you - but why? Actually a minority of people react like you when I discuss the halacha regarding child abuse or wife-beating or sexuality. It might interest that Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky told my brother years ago that he should write about sexual issues in English because of the widespread ignorance of the subject.

      Again you need to explain to me why the Torah itself brings up these topics. Do you skip them or close your eyes when these passages appear?

      I think the simple answer to your question is that this blog i inappropriate for you.

      Delete
    2. I had very much the same reaction as "normal?" when reading this post without a comment, and it was not the first time I had this kind of reaction when faced with posts on this blog.

      I think it would be useful to write the contents of the reply to the first comment as an introduction to this text, rather than put it up just like this...

      Many posts on this blog really do leave a strange impression about jewish religion and about the blog author.

      Delete
    3. Poster "normal?" is off his rocker. He probably was never in college or an academic setting where any subject, and sources, are valid topics of discussion.

      Delete
  3. Patrick DavidoviciAugust 30, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    is "normal" normal ? what a "funny" post

    ReplyDelete
  4. Seconding Davidovici's reply 8")

    I'm a contented BT alum of a rightwing yeshiva living in a yeshivish community (where people don't like to mention they have internet, even though they all do), and despite those leanings I do not find the posts of this blog unwelcome. I find them thought-provoking, even in cases where I don't agree or am puzzled by the source of difficulty. Now I could understand some such aversiveness as that described here by "Normal" with the posts publicizing & describing abuse, even though in those instances I'd defend the posts, but I cannot in this instance sympathize even with the underlying assumption of "Normal"'s revulsion (if indeed I'm identifying it properly -- he doesn't exactly offer much to glean from) that matters of female conduct prescribed normatively by the Torah are to remain unmentionable.

    Perhaps "Normal"'s squeamishness stems from an ambiguity inherent in the blog as a forum. Obviously, certain areas of halakha are best confined to private 1-to-1 study and not mention bechabura, as are all personal issues. But a blog is really a kind of a hybrid between private/public -- a place where all partake of the discussion in private & post under the refuge of anonymity and yet where the tone remains one of the chabura, with invitations to general readership such as that "Normal" initiates. If one were to conceive of it exclusively as a public forum (which I'd obviously argue to be a misconception), then I suppose that would explain the shock here expressed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If DT is genuinely puzzled by a case where the Sages identify a moment in Chumash as an exception defining the rule (as opposed to, I suppose, a paradigm exemplifying the rule), then I need wonder how his daily learning every gets past a single amud. Every diyyuq contains some trace of this logic.

    ReplyDelete

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED!
please use either your real name or a pseudonym.