Issurei Biah - Chapter Twenty One
Whoever shares physical intimacy with one of the ariyot without actually becoming involved in sexual relations or embraces and kisses [one of them] out of desire and derives pleasure from the physical contact should be lashedaccording to Scriptural Law. [This is derived from Leviticus 18:30 which] states: "To refrain from perform any of these abominable practices," and [ibid.:6 which] states: "Do not draw close to reveal nakedness." Implied is that we are forbidden to draw close to acts that lead to revealing nakedness.
A person who engages in any of the abovementioned practices is considered likely to engage in forbidden sexual relations.
It is forbidden for a person to make motions with his hands or feet or wink with his eyes to one of the ariyot, to share mirth with her or to act frivolously with her. It is even forbidden to smell her perfume or gaze at her beauty. A person who performs any of these actions intentionally should be given stripes for rebellious conduct.
A person who looks at even a small finger of a woman with the intent of deriving pleasure is considered as if he looked at her genitalia. It is even forbidden to hear the voice of a woman forbidden as an ervah or to look at her hair.
These matters are [also] forbidden with regard to women with whom relations are forbidden on the basis of [merely] a negative commandment.
It is permitted to look at the face of an unmarried woman and examine [her features] whether she is a virgin or has engaged in relations previously to whether she is attractive in his eyes so that he may marry her. There is no prohibition in doing this. On the contrary, it is proper to do this. One should not, however, look in a licentious manner. Behold [Job 31:1] states: "I established a covenant with my eyes; I would not gaze at a maiden."
It is permitted for a person to gaze at his wife when she is in the niddah state although she is an ervah [at that time]. Although his heart derives satisfaction from seeing her, since she will be permitted to him afterwards, he will not suffer a lapse. He should not, however, share mirth with her or act frivolously with her lest this lead to sin.
It is forbidden for a man to have any woman - whether a minor or an adult, whether a servant or a freed woman - perform personal tasks for him, lest he come to lewd thoughts.
Which tasks are referred to? Washing his face, his hands, or his feet, spreading his bed in his presence, and pouring him a cup. For these tasks are performed for a man only by his wife.
[A man] should not send greetings to a woman at all, not even via a messenger.
When a man embraces or kisses any of the women forbidden to him as ariyot despite the fact that his heart does not disturb him concerning the matter, e.g., his adult sister, his mother's sister, or the like, it is very shameful. It is forbidden and it is foolish conduct. [This applies] even if he has no desire or pleasure at all. For one should not show closeness to a woman forbidden as an ervah at all, whether an adult or a minor, except a woman to her son and a father to his daughter.
What is implied? A father is permitted to embrace his daughter, kiss her, and sleep with her with their bodies touching and a mother may do the same with her son as long as they are young. When they grow and become mature with the girl's body becoming developed, they should each sleep in clothing.
If the daughter is embarrassed to stand before her father naked or she married, and similarly, if the mother was embarrassed to stand before her son naked, even if [the children] are minors, when one reaches the point when one is ashamed [of being naked] in their presence, they should sleep together only when clothed.
Lesbian relations are forbidden. This is "the conduct of Egypt" which we were warned against, as [Leviticus 18:3] states: "Do not follow the conduct of Egypt." Our Sages said: What would they do? A man would marry a man, a woman would marry a woman, and a woman would marry two men.
Although this conduct is forbidden, lashes are not given for it, for it is not a specific prohibition and there is no intercourse at all. Therefore such women are not forbidden to marry into the priesthood as zonot, nor does a woman become prohibited to her husband because of this, for this is not considered harlotry. It is, however, appropriate to give them stripes for rebellious conduct because they performed a transgression. A man should take precautions with his wife with regard to this matter and should prevent women who are known to engage in such practices from visiting her and her from visiting them.
A man's wife is permitted to him. Therefore a man may do whatever he desires with his wife. He may engage in relations whenever he desires, kiss any organ he desires, engage in vaginal or anal intercourse or engage in physical intimacy without relations, provided he does not release seed in vain.
Nevertheless, it is pious conduct for a person not to act frivolously concerning such matters and to sanctify himself at the time of relations, as explained in Hilchot Deot. He should not depart from the ordinary pattern of the world. For this act was [given to us] solely for the sake of procreation.
A man is forbidden to engage in relations by candlelight. If, on the Sabbath, he did not have another room and there is a light burning, he should not engage in relations at all.
Similarly, it is forbidden for a Jew to engage in relations during the day, for this is brazen conduct. If he is a Torah scholar, who will not be drawn after this, he may create darkness with his garment and engage in relations. One should not, however, adopt this measure unless there is a great need. It is the course of holy conduct to engage in relations in the middle of the night
Our Sages do not derive satisfaction from a person who engages in sexual relations excessively and frequents his wife like a rooster. This reflects a very blemished [character]; it is the way underdeveloped people conduct themselves. Instead, everyone who minimizes his sexual conduct is praiseworthy, provided he does not neglect his conjugal duties without the consent of his wife. The sole reason while originally it was ordained that a person who had a seminal emission should not read from the Torah until they immerse themselves was to minimize sexual conduct.
Similarly, our Sages forbade a person from engaging in relations with his wife while his heart is focused on another woman. He should not engage in relations while intoxicated, nor while quarreling, nor out of hatred. He should not engage in relations with her against her will when she is afraid of him. Nor when one of them is placed under a ban of ostracism. He should not engage in relations [with his wife] after he made the decision to divorce her. If he does so,the children will not be of proper character. There will be those who are brazen and others who are rebellious and sinful.
Similarly, our Sages said that whenever an audacious woman demands relations verbally, a man seduces a woman for the sake of marriage, he had the intent of having relations with his wife Rachel and instead, engages in relations with his wife Leah, or a woman does not wait three months after the death of her husband and gives birth to a son whose identity is questionable, all of the children born in these situations will be rebellious and sinful who will be purified by the sufferings of exile.
It is forbidden for a man to engage in relations with his wife in the marketplaces, streets, gardens, or orchards. Instead, [a couple should be physically intimate] only in a home, so that they will not appear as licentious relations and will not habituate themselves to licentious relations. When a man engages in relations with his wife in such places, he should be given stripes for rebellious conduct. Similarly, when a man consecrates a woman via sexual relations, consecrates her in the market place or consecrates her without there being an engagement beforehand, he is given stripes for rebellious conduct.
A visitor is forbidden to engage in relations until he returns home. Our Sages forbade a man from dwelling in his father-in-law's home, for this is brazen conduct. Nor should he enter a bathhouse with him.
A person should not enter a bathhouse with his father, his sister's husband, nor with his student. If he needs his student [to assist him], it is permitted. There are places where people followed the custom that two brothers would not enter a bathhouse at the same time.
Jewish women should not walk in the marketplace with uncovered hair. [This applies to] both unmarried and married women. Similarly, a woman should not walk in the street with her son following her. [This is] a decree, [enacted so that] her son not be abducted and she follow after him to bring him back and she be molested by wicked people who took hold of him as a caprice.
It is forbidden to release sperm wastefully. Therefore a person should not enter his wife and ejaculate outside of her. A man should not marry a minor who is not fit to give birth.
Those who, however, release sperm with their hands, beyond the fact that they commit a great transgression, a person who does this will abide under a ban of ostracism. Concerning them, it is said: "Your hands are filled with blood." It is as if they killed a person.
It is forbidden for a person to intentionally cause himself to have an erection or to bring himself to [sexual] thoughts. If a [sexual] thought comes to his mind, he should divert his heart from profligate and destructive matters to the words of Torah which are "a beloved hind, arousing favor." For this reason, it is forbidden for a person to sleep on his back with his face upward, Instead, he should turn to the side slightly so that he will not develop an erection.
One should not look at animals, beasts, and fowls at the time the males and females are coupling. It is, however, permitted for a breeder of livestock to insert a male animal's organ in a female's. Since he is working in his profession, he will not be motivated to [sexual] thoughts.
Similarly, it is forbidden for a man to look at woman while they do laundry. It is even forbidden to look at the colored garments of a woman one knows, lest one be motivated to [sexual] thoughts.
When a person encounters a woman in the street, it is forbidden for him to walk behind her. Instead, he should hurry and [position himself so that] she is at his side or behind him. Whoever walks behind a woman in the marketplace is one of the frivolous of the common people.
It is forbidden to pass the entrance of a harlot without distancing oneself four cubits, as [Proverbs 5:8] states: "Do not come close to the entrance of her home."
It is forbidden for an unmarried man to extend his hand to his testicles, lest he be stimulated to [sexual] thoughts. Indeed, he should not extend his hand below his navel, lest he be stimulated to [sexual] thoughts. If he urinates, he should not hold the shaft of his organ while urinating. If he is married, this is permitted. Whether he is married or not, he should not extend his hand to his organ at all, except when he has to urinate.
One of the pious men of the early eras and the wise men of stature prided himself in that he never looked at his male organ. Another said with pride that he had never contemplated his wife's physical form. For their hearts would be diverted from profligate matters to the words of truth which take hold of the hearts of the holy.
Among our Sages' commands is that a person should marry off his sons and daughters close to the time they reach physical maturity. For were he to leave them [unmarried], they may be motivated to promiscuity or sexual thoughts. Concerning this was applied the verse [Job 5:24]: "Scrutinize your dwelling and you shall not sin."
It is forbidden to marry a woman to a minor, for this is comparable to promiscuity.
A man is not permitted to abide without a wife. He should not marry a barren woman or an elderly woman who is not fit to bear children.
A woman is permitted not to marry at all or to marry a eunuch. A young man should not marry an elderly woman, nor an elderly man, a young woman, for such conduct leads to promiscuity.
Similarly, a person who divorced his wife after they were marriedshould not live in the same courtyard as she, lest this lead to promiscuity.If he was a priest, he should not dwell in the same lane as she. A small village is considered as a lane.
If he owes her a debt, she should appoint an agent to demand payment from him. When a divorcee and her ex-husband come [to court] for a judgment, we place them under a ban of ostracism or subject them to stripes for rebellious conduct.
If, however, a woman was divorced [merely] after consecration, she may summon him to court and dwell near him. If they shared extensive familiarity, this is forbidden even if [they were divorced merely] after consecration.
Who is forced to move? She is forced to move because of him. If the courtyard belongs to her, he is forced to move because of her.
A person should not marry a woman with the intent to divorce her, [as alluded to by Proverbs 3:29]: "Do not devise evil against your loved one, one who dwells securely with you." If he notifies her at the outset that he is marrying her only for a limited time, it is permitted.
A person should not marry one woman in one country and another woman in another country, lest this situation continue for a long time and [ultimately,] a brother may marry his sister, the sister of his mother, or the sister of his father and the like without knowing. If [the man with two wives] is a person of stature whose name is known and whose descendants are well known and celebrated, it is permitted.
A man should not marry a woman from a family of lepers, nor from a family of epileptics, i.e., that it has been established on three occasions that the descendants of this family have this malady.
When a woman was married to two husbands and they both died, she should not marry a third [man]. If she did marry, she need not be divorced. Indeed, even if he merely consecrated her, he may consummate the marriage.
An unlearned Israelite should not marry the daughter of a priest. For this is comparable to the desecration of Aaron's seed. If they marry, our Sages saidthat their marriage will not be propitious. Instead, they will die without children, either he or she will die in the near future, or there will be strife between them.When, by contrast, a Torah scholar marries the daughter of a priest, this is attractive and praiseworthy, [joining] the Torah and the priesthood as one.
A person should not marry the daughter of an unlearned person. For if he dies or is exiled, his children will grow up unlearned, since their mother is not knowledgeable regarding the crown of Torah. Nor should he give his daughter to an unlearned person in marriage. For anyone who gives his daughter to an unlearned person is like one who bound her and placed her before a lion. He will strike her and engage in relations and has no shame.
A person should sell everything that he has [so that] he can marry the daughter of a Torah scholar. For if he dies or is exiled, his children will grow up as Torah scholars. And he should marry his daughter to a Torah scholar for there is no shameful conduct or strife in the home of a Torah scholar.
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