Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rav Yitzchok Isaac Sher: the Importance, nature and holiness of sexual relations

Kuntres Kedushas Yisroel (Introduction): The Ravad wrote in Baal Nefesh at the beginng of Sha'ar HaKedusha, "I wish to write at length and in detail in this section because there is benefit in being expansive. That is because in these matters the majority of people err in their understanding and therefore make mistakes in what they do. Therefore I saw fit to expound on this topic until it becomes simple and clearly understood to all those who are interested."

We see that this genuinely pious person (Ravad) said that he knows that in these matters most people err. Because he is concerned about these people, he wanted to teach them the proper understanding to deal with these matters and the proper conduct to lead a proper life. However in our lowly times, it seems to me the G-d fearing scholars do not know these matters and there are many talmidei chachomim who simply rely on their knowledge based on studying this Sha'aar HaKedusha of the Ravad. However the truth is that the Sha'ar HaKedusha is a closed document for people like us and is not properly understood. The Ravad with his deep understanding thought that his brief words were sufficiently clear for proper understanding and he even apologized in his introduction for being so expansive in this matter. He did this so that what he wrote should be simple and understandable to all those who studied it. However for those who don't have extensive knowledge, these words are often merely unclear allusions which require much elaborations and explanations in order to understand their profoundity properly

After the Ravad (1125-1198) we merited to have the Igros Kodesh attributed to the Ramban (1194-1270). Even though the Ramban saw the words of the Ravad, he nevertheless decided it would be proper to expand the material into 6 chapters. He explained the material in an impressive manner with principles and detail as to what to do. However due to our poor comprehension even the Ramban’s expansions are too terse and they themselves now need to be expanded and clarified. I will try with G-d’s help to explain the depth of his words and remove the difficulties to those who study them that prevent proper understanding.

In the first chapter I will discuss the topic in general – that these issues determine the sanctity of the Chosen Jewish People and whether they are able to be holy to G-d as the Torah says, “You should sanctify yourselves and be holy because I the L-rd am holy. Just as He is holy so should you be holy. Given that the material that man is made of and his nature are the causes of being good or bad based on his temperment and this is determined by the nature of the drop from which he developed – it follows that sexual intercourse of a man and woman is the cause of the holiness of the Jewish people and the holiness of G-d or mundaneness according to the children that are born since they constitute the nation. Therefore we are commanded to sanctify ourselves at the time of intercourse since that is the cause of giving birth to tzadikim who sanctify G-d’s name or evil people who profane G-d’s name. Therefore it is a holy obligation to know what is this sanctification. In explaining this holiness there are five aspects which are explained in these chapters – the nature of intercourse, the appropriate time, the food that is appropriate to eat, the intent and motivation for intercourse and the quality of intercourse. [to be continued]

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