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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Ishut - Chapter Fifteen

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Ishut - Chapter Fifteen

1

It is permissible for a woman to authorize her husband to ignore her conjugal rights. When does this apply? When he has children already and has fulfilled the mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply. If, however, he has not fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying, he is obligated to engage in sexual relations whenever his conjugal duties require, until he fathers children.1 For this is a positive commandment of the Torah, as [Genesis 1:28] states: "Be fruitful and multiply."2

א

הָאִשָׁה שֶׁהִרְשַׁת אֶת בַּעְלָהּ אַחַר הַנִּשּׂוּאִין שֶׁיִּמְנַע עוֹנָתָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים שֶׁכְּבָר קִיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה אֲבָל לֹא קִיֵּם חַיָּב לִבְעל בְּכָל עוֹנָה עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית א כב) "פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ":

2

The mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying is incumbent on the husband and not on his wife. When does a man become obligated to fulfill this mitzvah? From the time he reaches seventeen. If he reaches twenty and has not married, he is considered to have transgressed and negated the observance of this positive commandment. If, however, he is occupied with the study of Torah and absorbed in this endeavor and is hesitant of marrying, lest he be forced to work to support his wife and thus be prevented from studying Torah, he is permitted to delay marriage. For a person who is occupied in the performance of one mitzvah is freed from the obligation to perform another. Surely this applies with regard to the study of Torah.

ב

הָאִישׁ מְצֻוֶּה עַל פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה אֲבָל לֹא הָאִשָּׁה. וְאֵימָתַי הָאִישׁ נִתְחַיֵּב בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ מִבֶּן שְׁבַע עֶשְׂרֵה. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁעָבְרוּ עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְלֹא נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר וּמְבַטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה. וְאִם הָיָה עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה וְטָרוּד בָּהּ וְהָיָה מִתְיָרֵא מִלִּשָּׂא אִשָּׁה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִטְרַח בִּמְזוֹנוֹת בַּעֲבוּר אִשְׁתּוֹ וְיִבָּטֵל מִן הַתּוֹרָה הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְהִתְאַחֵר. שֶׁהָעוֹסֵק בְּמִצְוָה פָּטוּר מִן הַמִּצְוָה וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה:

3

When a person's soul desires [to study] Torah at all times and is obsessed with its [study] as was ben Azzai,3 and clings to it throughout his life, without marrying, he is not considered to have transgressed.4

[This applies] provided a man's natural inclination does not overcome him.5 If, however, his natural inclination overcomes him, he is obligated to marry, even if he has already fathered children, lest he be prompted to [sexual] thoughts.6

ג

מִי שֶׁחָשְׁקָה נַפְשׁוֹ בַּתּוֹרָה תָּמִיד וְשׁוֹגֶה בָּהּ כְּבֶן עֲזַאי וְדָבֵק בָּהּ כָּל יָמָיו וְלֹא נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה אֵין בְּיָדוֹ עָוֹן. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה יִצְרוֹ מִתְגַּבֵּר עָלָיו. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה יִצְרוֹ מִתְגַּבֵּר עָלָיו חַיָּב לִשָּׂא אִשָּׁה וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי הִרְהוּר:

4

How many children is it necessary for a man to have fathered to be considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah? One boy and one girl,7 as [implied by Genesis 5:2]: "He created them, a male and a female." If the son was a saris or the daughter an aylonit, he is not considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah.8

ד

כַּמָּה בָּנִים יִהְיוּ לְאִישׁ וְתִתְקַיֵּם מִצְוָה זוֹ בְּיָדוֹ. זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ה ב) "זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם". הָיָה הַבֵּן סָרִיס אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה הַבַּת אַיְלוֹנִית לֹא קִיֵּם מִצְוָה זוֹ:

5

A man is considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying [even when] he fathers [children] and they die, so long as [his children] have left behind children [of their own]. For grandchildren are considered to be children.

When does the above apply? When the person's grandchildren are both male and female, and they are descended from a male and a female, even though the male grandchild is the son of the man's daughter, and the female grandchild is the daughter of the man's son.9 Since they come from two of his children, he is considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying. If, however, he had a son and a daughter who both died, and [one did not leave any children, while] one left a son and a daughter, the grandfather is not considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah.

ה

נוֹלְדוּ לוֹ וּמֵתוּ וְהִנִּיחוּ בָּנִים הֲרֵי זֶה קִיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה. בְּנֵי בָּנִים הֲרֵי הֵם כְּבָנִים. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיוּ בְּנֵי הַבָּנִים זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה וְהָיוּ בָּאִים מִזָּכָר וּנְקֵבָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַזָּכָר בֶּן בִּתּוֹ וְהַנְּקֵבָה בַּת בְּנוֹ הוֹאִיל וְהֵם מִשְּׁנֵי בָּנָיו הֵן בָּאִים הֲרֵי קִיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה. אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ לוֹ בֵּן וּבַת וּמֵתוּ וְהִנִּיחַ אֶחָד מֵהֶן זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה עֲדַיִן לֹא קִיֵּם הַמִּצְוָה:

6

When [a convert] had fathered children as a gentile, and both he and they convert,10 he is considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah. By contrast, a freed slave who had fathered children as a slave is not considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah, although his children were also freed. Instead, he must father children after he has been freed. [The rationale is that] a slave is not considered to have any paternal lineage.

ו

הָיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים בְּגֵיוּתוֹ וְנִתְגַּיֵּר הוּא וְהֵם הֲרֵי זֶה קִיֵּם מִצְוָה זוֹ. הָיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים וְהוּא עֶבֶד וְנִשְׁתַּחְרֵר הוּא וְהֵם לֹא קִיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה עַד שֶׁיִּוָּלֵד אַחַר שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּחְרֵר שֶׁהָעֶבֶד אֵין לוֹ יִחוּס:

7

A man should not marry a barren women, an elderly woman, an aylonit or a minor who is not fit to bear a child11 unless he has already fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying,12 or he has another wife with whom he can father children.13

When a man has married a woman and remained married to her for ten years14 without her bearing children,15 he must divorce her and pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah, or marry a woman who is fit to bear children.

If he does not desire to divorce her, he should be compelled to do so; he should be beaten with a rod until he divorces her.16 Even when he says, "I will not engage in marital relations with her. Instead, we will dwell together with witnesses so that we will not ever be in private," regardless of whether it is he or she who offers this proposition,17 it is not accepted. Rather, he is required to divorce [his wife] or marry another woman who is fit to bear children.

ז

לֹא יִשָּׂא אָדָם עֲקָרָה וּזְקֵנָה וְאַיְלוֹנִית וּקְטַנָּה שֶׁאֵינָהּ רְאוּיָה לֵילֵד אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קִיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה לוֹ אִשָּׁה אַחֶרֶת לִפְרוֹת וְלִרְבּוֹת מִמֶּנָּה. נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה וְשָׁהֲתָה עִמּוֹ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא יָלְדָה הֲרֵי זֶה יוֹצִיא וְיִתֵּן כְּתֻבָּה אוֹ יִשָּׂא אִשָּׁה הָרְאוּיָה לֵילֵד. וְאִם לֹא רָצָה לְהוֹצִיא כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ וּמַכִּין אוֹתוֹ בְּשׁוֹט עַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא. וְאִם אָמַר אֵינִי בּוֹעֲלָהּ וַהֲרֵינִי שׁוֹכֵן עִמָּהּ בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא אֶתְיַחֵד עִמָּהּ בֵּין שֶׁאָמְרָה הִיא בֵּין שֶׁאָמַר הוּא אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין אֶלָּא יוֹצִיא אוֹ יִשָּׂא אִשָּׁה הָרְאוּיָה לֵילֵד:

8

When a man has lived [together with his wife] for ten years without her bearing children, and he releases semen as one shoots an arrow,18 it can be assumed that the affliction comes from her.19 Therefore, he should divorce her without paying her [the essential requirement of] the ketubah. She is, however, entitled to the additional sum [by which the ketubah was increased]. [The rationale is that] such a woman should not be judged more severely than an aylonit whose husband did not recognize her condition, who is granted the additional amount, as will be explained.20

If [the husband] does not [release semen] as one shoots an arrow, it can be assumed that the affliction comes from him alone. When he divorces her, he must pay her [the entire sum due her by virtue of her] ketubah: the essential requirement and the additional sum.

ח

שָׁהֲתָה עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא יָלְדָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע. חֶזְקַת הַחלִי מִמֶּנָּה וְתֵצֵא שֶׁלֹּא בִּכְתֻבָּה וְיֵשׁ לָהּ תּוֹסֶפֶת. לֹא תִּהְיֶה זוֹ פְּחוּתָה מֵאַיְלוֹנִית שֶׁלֹּא הִכִּיר בָּהּ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ תּוֹסֶפֶת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. וְאִם אֵינוֹ יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ חֶזְקַת הַחלִי מִמֶּנּוּ בִּלְבַד וְיוֹצִיא וְיִתֵּן הַכְּתֻבָּה כֻּלָּהּ עִקָּר וְתוֹסֶפֶת:

9

[The following rules apply when there is a dispute with regard to which of the couple it is whose affliction prevents the couple from having children. The husband] claims: "It is she who cannot bear children," and she claims "He cannot conceive children, for he does not [release semen] as one shoots an arrow." Her word is accepted. He may, however, have a ban of ostracism issued conditionally against anyone who makes a claim that she does not definitely know to be true. Afterwards, he must pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah.

If she says, "I do not know if the difficulty stems from me or from him," she is not entitled to the essential requirement of the ketubah, as explained. [The rationale is that] the money should stay in the possession of its owner until she makes a definite claim21 that he does not [release semen] as one shoots an arrow.

Why is the woman's word accepted when she makes such a claim? Because she can feel whether or not he [releases semen] as one shoots an arrow, and he cannot make such a distinction.

ט

הוּא אוֹמֵר מִמֶּנָּה נִמְנָע הוֹלָדָה וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת מִמֶּנּוּ נִמְנָע מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ נֶאֱמֶנֶת. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לְהַחֲרִים סְתָם עַל מִי שֶׁטּוֹעֶנֶת דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינָהּ יוֹדַעַת בּוֹ בְּוַדַּאי וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתֵּן כְּתֻבָּה. וְאִם אָמְרָה אֵינִי יוֹדַעַת אִם מִמֶּנִּי אִם מִמֶּנּוּ אֵין לָהּ עִקַּר כְּתֻבָּה כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ הַעֲמֵד מָמוֹן בְּחֶזְקַת בְּעָלָיו עַד שֶׁתִּטְעֹן בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ. וְלָמָּה נֶאֱמֶנֶת הִיא בְּטַעֲנָה זוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא מַרְגֶּשֶׁת אִם יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ אִם לֹא יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ וְהוּא אֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ:

10

When a woman demands of her husband to divorce her after ten years [of marriage], because she has not given birth,22 and she claims that he does not [release semen] as one shoots an arrow, her request is accepted.23 Although she is not commanded to fulfill the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying, she needs sons [to assist] her in her old age.24 [Therefore,] he should be compelled to divorce her.

He is required to give her only the essential requirement of the ketubah. [He is not required to give her the additional amount,] because he did not promise her this additional amount with the intent that she leave him at her will and take this money.

י

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁבָּאָה לִתְבֹּעַ מִבַּעְלָהּ לְגָרְשָׁהּ אַחַר עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָלְדָה וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ שׁוֹמְעִין לָהּ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְצֻוָּה עַל פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה צְרִיכָה הִיא לְבָנִים לְזִקְנוּתָהּ. וְכוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לְהוֹצִיא וְיִתֵּן עִקַּר כְּתֻבָּה בִּלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא כָּתַב לָהּ הַתּוֹסֶפֶת עַל מְנָת שֶׁתֵּצֵא לִרְצוֹנָהּ וְתִטּל:

11

If [a husband] travels on an [extended] business trip during these ten years, or either the husband or the wife were ill or confined in prison, [the time that the couple did not share together] is not included in the calculation [of the ten years].25

יא

הָלַךְ בִּסְחוֹרָה בְּתוֹךְ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַבַּעַל חוֹלֶה אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה הִיא חוֹלָה אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ חֲבוּשִׁין בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִין אֵין עוֹלֶה לָהֶן אוֹתוֹ זְמַן מִן הַמִּנְיָן:

12

If a woman miscarries, [the ten years are] recalculated from the day of the miscarriage.

If a woman has three successive miscarriages,26 we can presume that she will continue to miscarry, and there is the possibility that [her husband] will not merit to have children from her. Therefore, he should divorce her,27 and pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah.

יב

הִפִּילָה מוֹנָה מִיּוֹם שֶׁהִפִּילָה. אִם הִפִּילָה וְחָזְרָה וְהִפִּילָה שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים הֻחְזְקָה לִנְפָלִים וְשֶׁמָּא לֹא זָכָה לְהִבָּנוֹת מִמֶּנָּה וְיוֹצִיא וְיִתֵּן כְּתֻבָּה:

13

[The following rules apply when there is a difference between the information stemming from the claims of a husband and his wife.] He claims that she has miscarried within the ten years so that they can continue [their marriage], and she denies the miscarriage. [Her claim] is believed; [if it were not true,] she would not cause herself to be considered barren.28

If he claims that she has miscarried twice, and she claims to have miscarried three times, [her claim] is believed. [If it were not true,] she would not cause herself to be considered a woman who [continually] miscarries.

[Therefore, in both instances,] he should divorce her and pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah. With regard to the above situations, he may require her to take a Rabbinic oath that she did not miscarry or that she miscarried three times. For this claim obligates him to pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah.29

יג

הוּא אוֹמֵר הִפִּילָה בְּתוֹךְ עֶשֶׂר כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶה עִמָּהּ וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת לֹא הִפַּלְתִּי נֶאֱמֶנֶת שֶׁאֵינָהּ מַחְזֶקֶת עַצְמָהּ בַּעֲקָרוּת. הוּא אוֹמֵר הִפִּילָה שְׁנַיִם וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת הִפַּלְתִּי שְׁלֹשָׁה נֶאֱמֶנֶת שֶׁאֵינָהּ מַחְזֶקֶת עַצְמָהּ בְּמַפֶּלֶת וְיוֹצִיא וְיִתֵּן כְּתֻבָּה. וּבְכָל זֶה מַשְׁבִּיעָהּ שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת שֶׁלֹּא הִפִּילָה אוֹ שֶׁהִפִּילָה שְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁבְּטַעֲנָה זוֹ יִתְחַיֵּב לִתֵּן כְּתֻבָּה:

14

[When a woman] marries one man, remains married to him for ten years without bearing a child and is divorced [for that reason], she is permitted to marry a second husband.30 If she remained married to the second husband for ten years without bearing a child, she should not marry a third husband.31

If she marries a third husband, she should be divorced; [he is] not [required to pay her the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah.32 [This applies] unless he has another wife, or he has already fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying.

יד

נִשֵּׂאת לָרִאשׁוֹן וְשָׁהֲתָה עִמּוֹ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא יָלְדָה וְהוֹצִיאָהּ מֻתֶּרֶת לְהִנָּשֵׂא לְשֵׁנִי. שָׁהֲתָה עִם הַשֵּׁנִי עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא יָלְדָה לֹא תִּנָּשֵׂא לִשְׁלִישִׁי. וְאִם נִשֵּׂאת לִשְׁלִישִׁי תֵּצֵא שֶׁלֹּא בִּכְתֻבָּה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יֵשׁ לוֹ אִשָּׁה אַחֶרֶת אוֹ שֶׁקִּיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה:

15

[The following laws apply when] a woman comes to court and claims that her husband cannot perform sexually in an ordinary way that will lead to the conception of children, or that he does not [release semen] as one shoots an arrow.33 The judges should try to arrange a compromise,34 telling the woman: "It is proper for you to conduct yourself with your husband [as follows]: Remain [married] for ten years. [If] you do not give birth, come to him with a claim at that time."

We protract the negotiations of this matter with her; we do not require her to continue living with him, nor do we judge her as a woman who rebels against her husband. Instead, the dealings are prolonged until the two parties reach a compromise.

טו

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁבָּאָה לְבֵית דִּין וְאָמְרָה בַּעְלִי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְשַׁמֵּשׁ כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הָאָרֶץ שִׁמּוּשׁ שֶׁמּוֹלִיד אוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ יַעֲשׂוּ הַדַּיָּנִין פְּשָׁרָה וְאוֹמְרִים לָהּ רָאוּי לִיךְ שֶׁתִּנְהֲגִי עִם בַּעְלֵךְ עַד שֶׁתִּשְׁהִי עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא תּוֹלִידִי וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּתְבְּעִי. וּמְגַלְגְּלִין עִמָּהּ בְּדָבָר זֶה וְאֵין כּוֹפִין אוֹתָהּ לֵישֵׁב וְלֹא דָּנִין אוֹתָהּ כְּדִין הַמּוֹרֶדֶת אֶלָּא מַאֲרִיכִין בְּדָבָר זֶה עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ פְּשָׁרָה:

16

Although a man has fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying, he is bound by a Rabbinic commandment not to refrain from being fruitful and multiplying as long as he is physically potent.35 For anyone who adds a soul to the Jewish people is considered as if he built an entire world.36

Similarly, it is a mitzvah of our Sages that a man should not live without a wife,37 so that he will not be prompted to [sexual] thoughts.38 Similarly, a woman should not live without a man,39 so that she will not be suspected [of immoral conduct].

טז

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁקִּיֵּם אָדָם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה הֲרֵי הוּא מְצֻוֶּה מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים שֶׁלֹּא יִבָּטֵל מִלִּפְרוֹת וְלִרְבּוֹת כָּל זְמַן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ כֹּחַ. שֶׁכָּל הַמּוֹסִיף נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּאִלּוּ בָּנָה עוֹלָם. וְכֵן מִצְוַת חֲכָמִים הִיא שֶׁלֹּא יֵשֵׁב אָדָם בְּלֹא אִשָּׁה שֶׁלֹּא יָבֹא לִידֵי הִרְהוּר. וְלֹא תֵּשֵׁב אִשָּׁה בְּלֹא אִישׁ שֶׁלֹּא תֵּחָשֵׁד:

17

It is an obligation for a man to admonish40 his wife. Our Sages declared:41 "A man will not admonish his wife unless a spirit of purity enters his being." [Nevertheless,] he should not admonish her more than necessary.42

[A man] should never compel [his wife] to engage in sexual relations against her will. Instead, [relations] should be with her agreement, [preceded by] conversation and a spirit of joy.43

יז

וְחוֹבָה עַל כָּל אִישׁ לְקַנְּאוֹת לְאִשְׁתּוֹ. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵין אָדָם מְקַנֵּא לְאִשְׁתּוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִכְנְסָה בּוֹ רוּחַ טָהֳרָה. וְלֹא יְקַנֵּא לָהּ בְּיוֹתֵר מִדַּאי וְלֹא יֶאֱנֹס אוֹתָהּ וְיִבְעל בְּעַל כָּרְחָהּ אֶלָּא בְּדַעְתָּהּ וּמִתּוֹךְ שִׂיחָה וְשִׂמְחָה:

18

Similarly, our Sages commanded a woman to conduct herself modestly at home, not to proliferate levity or frivolity before her husband, not to request intimacy verbally,44 nor to speak about this matter.

She should not deny her husband [intimacy] to cause him anguish, so that he should increase his love for her. Instead, she should oblige him whenever he desires. She should keep her distance from his relatives and the members of his household so that he will not be provoked by jealousy and should avoid scandalous situations - indeed, any trace of scandal.45

יח

וְכֵן צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים עַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁתִּהְיֶה צְנוּעָה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתָהּ. וְלֹא תַּרְבֶּה שְׂחוֹק וְקַלּוּת רֹאשׁ בִּפְנֵי בַּעְלָהּ. וְלֹא תִּתְבַּע תַּשְׁמִישׁ הַמִּטָּה בְּפִיהָ. וְלֹא תִּהְיֶה מְדַבֶּרֶת בְּעֵסֶק זֶה. וְלֹא תִּמְנַע מִבַּעְלָהּ כְּדֵי לְצַעֲרוֹ עַד שֶׁיּוֹסִיף בְּאַהֲבָתָהּ אֶלָּא נִשְׁמַעַת לוֹ בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. וְתִזָּהֵר מִקְּרוֹבָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבֹר עָלָיו רוּחַ קִנְאָה. וְתִתְרַחֵק מִן הַכִּעוּר וּמִן הַדּוֹמֶה לְכִעוּר:

19

Similarly, our Sages commanded that a man honor his wife more than his own person, and love her as he loves his own person. If he has financial resources, he should offer her benefits in accordance with his resources. He should not cast a superfluous measure of fear over her. He should talk with her gently, being neither sad nor angry.

יט

וְכֵן צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אָדָם מְכַבֵּד אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִגּוּפוֹ וְאוֹהֲבָהּ כְּגוּפוֹ. וְאִם יֵשׁ לוֹ מָמוֹן מַרְבֶּה בְּטוֹבָתָהּ כְּפִי מָמוֹנוֹ. וְלֹא יַטִּיל עָלֶיהָ אֵימָה יְתֵרָה. וְיִהְיֶה דִּבּוּרוֹ עִמָּהּ בְּנַחַת. וְלֹא יִהְיֶה עָצֵב וְלֹא רַגְזָן:

20

And similarly, they commanded a woman to honor her husband exceedingly and to be in awe of him. She should carry out all her deeds according to his directives, considering him to be an officer or a king. She should follow the desires of his heart and shun everything that he disdains.

This is the custom of holy and pure Jewish women and men in their marriages. And these ways will make their marriage pleasant and praiseworthy.

כ

וְכֵן צִוּוּ עַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁתִּהְיֶה מְכַבֶּדֶת אֶת בַּעְלָהּ בְּיוֹתֵר מִדַּאי וְיִהְיֶה עָלֶיהָ מוֹרָא מִמֶּנּוּ וְתַעֲשֶׂה כָּל מַעֲשֶׂיהָ עַל פִּיו. וְיִהְיֶה בְּעֵינֶיהָ כְּמוֹ שַׂר אוֹ מֶלֶךְ. מְהַלֶּכֶת בְּתַאֲוַת לִבּוֹ וּמַרְחֶקֶת כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּשְׂנָא. וְזֶה דֶּרֶךְ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַקְּדוֹשִׁים וְהַטְּהוֹרִים בְּזִוּוּגָן. וּבִדְרָכִים אֵלּוּ יִהְיֶה יִשּׁוּבָן נָאֶה וּמְשֻׁבָּח:

Footnotes
1.

Conjugal rights are a privilege granted to a wife, and she has the right to forego them if she and her husband consent. Fathering children, by contrast, is one of the Torah's commandments, and a woman may not prevent her husband from fulfilling his obligation. See Yevamot 65b.

The Turei Zahav (Even HaEzer 1:1) and the Beit Shmuel 1:1 question the Rambam's decision. For, as stated in Halachah 16, even after the person has fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying, he is obligated by rabbinic law to continue to father children. Seemingly, just as a man's wife may not prevent him from fulfilling the obligations imposed on him by the Torah, so too, she may not prevent him from fulfilling the obligations imposed on him by our Sages.

The Pitchei Teshuvah 1:1 resolves this difficulty by quoting the Chidah, who explains that our Sages did not equate the obligation to continue to father children with the Torah's obligation to be fruitful and multiply. As long as a man endeavors to continue to father children from time to time, it is acceptable. There is no need to persist with the same perseverance as one who has not yet fulfilled this mitzvah. (See also the notes on Halachah 7.)

2.

Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 212) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 1) include this as one of the Torah's 613 mitzvot.

3.

See Yevamot 63b.

4.

The Turei Zahav 1:6 interprets this expression as meaning that, at the outset, this is not a desirable course of action to follow.

5.

This condition applies also to the license to delay marriage mentioned in the previous halachah.

6.

In connection with this law, the commentaries cite Yoma 29a, which states: "Thoughts of sin are more damaging than sin itself." Instead of pointing his life to spiritual refinement, the individual is directing himself to sinful thoughts.

7.

But if a man has only several sons or only several daughters, he is not considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah.

8.

See Chapter 2 for a definition of these terms. Since this child is incapable of conceiving children, the child's father is not considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah.

9.

Tosafot (Yevamot 62b) states that even if the grandchildren are two males or two females, one is considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 1:6), however, quotes the Rambam's view.

10.

Tosafot states that even if the convert's children did not themselves convert, the convert is considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah. (See Beit Shmuel 1:12.)

11.

From the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 23:1), one can infer that sexual relations with a minor are considered as emitting wasted seed, one of the more severe prohibitions of the Torah. The Ramah (loc. cit.:5) and other authorities, however, differ and explain that as long as relations are carried out in an ordinary manner, having relations with a minor or an aylonit does not violate this prohibition.

12.

Rav Moshe Cohen states that since, as mentioned in Halachah 16, a person is obligated to continue fathering children, a man is obligated to marry a woman who can bear children even after fulfilling the mitzvah. The Maggid Mishneh states that in principle the Rambam also accepts this ruling, as indicated by his wording in Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:26. In this instance, he was merely stating the law required by the Torah.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 1:3) states although it would be proper to rebuke a person for marrying such a woman, this is not done in the present age.

13.

As mentioned previously, in the Ashkenazic community it is customary not to marry more than one wife. All the laws mentioned in this halachah must be viewed with that principle in mind.

14.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Yevamot 6:7), the Rambam writes that the source for this practice is Sarah's giving Hagar to Abraham: "After ten years in which Abram had lived in the Land of Canaan" (Genesis 16:3). Since this period passed without her bearing children, she provided him with another wife who could.

15.

The Rivash (Responsum 15, quoted by the Ramah 154:10) explains that if after having one child together, a couple do not have children for ten years, they are not forced to divorce.

16.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 1:3) states that in his time, it was no longer customary to compel a man to divorce a woman who has not borne children to her husband. (See also the Hagahot Maimoniot, which quote opinions that state that in this age, and particularly in the diaspora, there is no obligation to divorce a woman even though she has not borne children in this amount of time. At present, there are many Rabbis who have divorced their wives in such a situation, but at least an equal number who have not. Every person has the prerogative of making his own decision regarding this matter.)

17.

I.e., rather than bear the expense of paying her ketubah immediately, the man desires to remain married; or from the woman's perspective, rather than have to earn her own subsistence, she desires to remain married.

18.

Chaggigah 15a states that unless a man releases semen as one shoots an arrow, he will not be able to father children.

19.

As reflected in the following halachah, the Rambam maintains that unless the man's wife explicitly claims that he does not release semen as one shoots an arrow, it is assumed that the affliction is the woman's. Therefore, she is not entitled to the essential requirement of the ketubah.

The Ra'avad differs and maintains that for the responsibility to be placed on the woman, she must have been married to two other men previously, and in both instances, divorced after ten years for not bearing children. The Ramah (Even HaEzer 154:6) accepts this opinion.

20.

See Chapter 23, Halachot 2 and 3.

21.

The husband keeps possession of the money he is required to pay his wife by virtue of her ketubah. Although our Sages accepted her word when she issues a claim against her husband, they did so only when that claim was definite. If she is in doubt, the money should remain in the possession of its immediate owner.

22.

The Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 154) states that as long as a woman has given birth to one child, whether a son or a daughter, she is not given the prerogative of making such a claim.

The Ma'aseh Rokeach explains that this refers to an instance in which the man fathered children before marrying this woman, but then his physical condition deteriorated, and, according to the woman's claim, he is no longer able to release semen in an ordinary way. Were this not the case, he would be compelled to divorce her in order to fulfill the mitzvah of having children. Since he has, however, fulfilled that mitzvah, he is not compelled to divorce his wife. Therefore, it is the woman who must take the initiative.

23.

As reflected in the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 154:6), other authorities emphasize that the woman's request must be made solely for this reason. If the court feels that she desires [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah or to marry another man (Be'urei HaGra 154:25), her request is not accepted.

24.

Yevamot 65b states "she needs a staff for support and a spade for burial" - i.e., sons to support her in her old age and to take care of her funeral arrangements.

25.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 154:11) follows the understanding of Rabbenu Asher, who interprets this ruling as applying even when it was possible for the couple to engage in marital relations during the situations mentioned. It is possible that just as their conduct aroused negative spiritual influences resulting in illness or imprisonment, those negative influences - and not the physical condition of the man or woman - prevented them from having children. From the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Yevamot 6:7), it does not appear that he shares this understanding.

26.

Even within a period shorter than ten years (Rabbenu Asher).

27.

She is, however, permitted to marry another man (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 154:12).

28.

The Beit Shmuel 154:29 emphasizes that this law and the following law apply only when the court does not suspect that the woman desires to marry another man. This is also reflected in the Rambam's wording, which indicates that her claim comes as a response to the court's initiative.

29.

Although the Ra'avad differs and does not require an oath in this situation, the Maggid Mishneh and the Kessef Mishneh support the Rambam's position. It is the Rambam's position that is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 154:15).

30.

It is possible that the woman is not barren. It was merely that the two did not merit to conceive children together (Yevamot 64a).

31.

Although a factor must normally repeat itself three times for a chazakah (a presumption that can be relied on) to be established, an exception is made with regard to the laws of marriage. In this context, the opinion that considers a twofold occurrence to be a chazakah is followed.

32.

This ruling applies only if the husband had been unaware of the woman's condition previously. If he knew of her condition, he is obligated to pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah, as is the law with regard to an aylonit (Chapter 24:1-2).

33.

As reflected in the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (the conclusion of Nedarim), the Rambam does not interpret this as referring to an instance where the husband is sexually impotent entirely. Instead, it refers to a situation in which he can function, but it is the woman's belief that he will never conceive children. See the Lechem Mishneh and the interpretation of the Ralbach (Responsum 32). If, however, the woman were to claim that her husband is impotent, her word would be accepted.

Note, however, the Rashba (Vol. I, Responsum 628) and K'nesset HaGedolah (Even HaEzer 154:60), which interpret this halachah as speaking about an instance where the husband is sexually impotent.

34.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam states that, in theory, it would be proper to compel the husband to grant his wife a divorce immediately. This is not done, however, out of fear that her claim is untrue and she merely desires to marry another man.

He continues, stating that the court should try to develop communication between the couple. If those efforts fail, a compromise should be negotiated - e.g., in return for not compelling the woman to wait ten years for the divorce, the amount of money the husband is required to pay because of the ketubah should be reduced.

35.

Yevamot 62a states: "[Although a man] fathers children in his youth, he should continue to do so at an advanced age, as implied by [Ecclesiastes 11:6]: 'In the morning, sow your seed; and in the evening, do not withhold your hand.'"

As mentioned above, the Chidah explains that as long as a man endeavors to continue fathering children from time to time, it is acceptable. One need not attempt to conceive children at every opportunity. Based on this decision, there are authorities who permit the limited use of certain birth control devices. The matter is not, however, entirely clear cut and should be discussed with a competent Rabbinic authority with regard to one's actual conduct.

36.

Similarly, having children leads to the coming of the Redemption. Yevamot 63b states that the Mashiach will not come until all the souls destined to be conceived are born.

37.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 1:8) explains that this commandment applies when the husband cannot support a wife who can bear children and increase the size of his family.

38.

See Yevamot 62b, which states: "Any man who is unmarried is left without happiness, without good and without blessing."

Rav David Cohen quotes Rav Yitzchak Alfasi as maintaining that the requirement to marry stems from the Torah and not from our Sages, as the Rambam maintains.

39.

See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:26, which states that it is permissible for a woman never to marry.

40.

Here the term לקנאת, translated as "admonish," has a specific meaning: to warn one's wife not to enter into privacy with another man. If this warning is disobeyed, the woman must undergo the rites of a sotah to continue her marriage.

41.

Sotah 3a. Although this is the subject of a difference of opinion among our Sages, the Rambam follows the opinion of Rabbi Akiva.

42.

See the conclusion of Hilchot Sotah for a more detailed treatment of this subject.

43.

See Hilchot De'ot 5:4-5.

44.

Eruvin 100b states that a woman requests intimacy with her heart.

45.

See Chapter 24, Halachah 15ff.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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