A Bas Torah's Point of View

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Why Can't we Take Care of Ourself?

Men have urges that cannot always be taken care of by the wife. Sometimes the wife is not around, or they are not even home, or it is during the niddah time. What is to happen to the husband? I understand that a wife is not allowed to seduce her husband while it is niddah time. I understand that nothing romantic is to happen, but you know what, things happen and the husband can get aroused. Maybe it is because he saw something. Maybe because it is a long time since he has had “it”. Whatever the reason is, men have urges and they do, are there ways for him to take actions? How careful are you “not to waste seed”? Do you really follow that halacha? Are you really careful to make sure that you don’t spill? How many people are?

I remember hearing a young kallah talk about her kallah class. What a young girl she was. So innocent. So naive. As she was reviewing her notes and blushing, she mentioned that if a man is inside his wife and she realizes that she is bleeding, he must pull out and cannot continue. He should quickly go take a cold shower, and calm himself down, lest he shall spill his seed. She barely understood the concept. Of course she understood what was to happen, but she did not understand the result of his actions. How can she? She has never had sex before, nor had she had a man tease and arouse her before and then suddenly stop in midst of a good climax. She accepted just like that. It was told to her as halacha and what was the question there?

I have heard of a story where the husband was not inside of her, but she was on top of him doing what she does best to herself, when she had to stop for a minute. Before she continued she felt something moist and went to get check it out. To put it mildly, she was not able to continue what she was doing. It is not the same as when the husband is at his prime, but close enough, though this was her at her prime and not him. How frustrating it was for her not to be able to finish. From what I am told masturbating is wrong. In this case, she would not be able to masturbate and finish what she has started. Can someone out there please explain to me why not?
What is wrong with a women taking things into her own hands, (pun intended) and doing what she pleases to please herself? There are many reasons given why the husband is unable to please her at that time case in point, she is a niddah but while she started she was not, and now she wants to finish off and get the pleasure. Or her husband is out of town and she read a really steamy romance novel. We do actually get into the moods and at time we do not even need foreplay, and just want to have the release. Wait a few minutes, and then start again. I can understand the husband because of “don’t spill seed” but we do not have seed. The question is not whether or not “ women actually have urges other then in bed?” well we established that here, and yes, women do have urges and desires just like the men. The question is whether or not a women is allowed to masturbate, or please herself when she wants.
Is there something wrong with us doing that? If I think back I can recall she mentioning usage of a vibrator. That since she is not married and she still has raging hormones, she needs a release but it is not the same as the actual act. Granted, it is not the same, but is it halachakly allowed for us to do such thing? Or do we have the same restriction as men?
Back to the original question, why is it that men are now allowed to give themselves pleasure? Is it normal? I mean take single men out there. Is it really healthy for them to be at that age without having any pleasure? Is it really possible that he has not taken things into his own hands and threw the halacha issue away and decided to say screw it and continue with his urges? Does this make him less of a jewish man because he is unable to control his urges? Or the husband after a wife has a baby, or not even that long, during regular niddah time and he has urges. What is he supposed to do??
The board is open. Ready for discussions. Let it out. You waited for it.

81 Comments:

Blogger Jak Black said...

Bas,

Isn't there an assumption on this board that we all keep Torah and mitzvot? If so, your post could have been about anything at all-from Shabbos to Kashrus. What is a person to do if he wants to keep kosher, yet loves the smell of pizza with sausage? Obviously, he has to control himself.

That there are some people who cannot does not surprise me. But how is that relevant to this discussion? The very fist lesson of the entire Torah is self-control. Even a child must learn that he cannot have everything he wants, in the same way that Adam was not permitted to eat from the tree. We all have our personal tree, and we all must control our base urges.

As for WHY it is that a man is not allowed to give himself pleasure, I suggest you take a look at Sefer Hachinuch, or similar sefarim. I'd be happy to quote from the sources if you like.

 
Blogger ultrafrumguy said...

spot on jak as usual.

 
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Its all holy superstitious stuff. Stuff about potential neshomos and all that.

Jak:

Why do you simply refer people to the sources. Why dodn't you expound on the here? Be "mezake es horabim".

 
Blogger LostSpirit said...

My take on the whole subject is that it’s more to do with sexual suppression throughout the generations than with Judaism, men masturbation is not one of the 613 and it is not even mentioned as something that should not be done in the torah, and besides if it is so bad and so unavoidable; then it is some big misdesign in men and woman; that a man wastes millions and a woman only has once a month one egg; and it is never considered that she is wasting it.
But either way the amount of guilt that is put in to us is for sure not productive nor is it healthy. And one of the results we seem to have from it is that frummer men seem to think less of being unfaithful then they do of wasting seed.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

"holy superstitous stuff"?

"sexual suppression throughout the generations"?

Excuse me for not being specific enough in my first post. When I said that I assume everyone on this board keeps Torah and mitzvot, I also assumed that we believe the words of Chazal and the Gedolim throughout the ages.

If this is not the case, I do not believe that this is the forum to argue it out. If, to you, the holy words of Chazal are superstition and drivel, there is no way I could ever adequately explain this subject to you.
For those who believe in Chazal, I'll post some sources when I get the chance.

 
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Jak:

What Lost says is proof that the old fahioned way of simply saying its ossur doesn't work. People want to understand, and why shouldn't they? Can Lost ask his Rov why this is so, could he have asked his Mashgiach what the big deal is. Had he asked, would he have gotten an answer? More likely he would have been flagged as an "oisvorf" and flung out of his Yeshiva.

Stop acting like a loser. Step up to the plate and explain.

Why do you hide why do you shrirk,
get out your gemorah and get to work.

 
Blogger Meyer said...

do you folks actually believe in this "punishment reward" crap?

 
Blogger ultrafrumguy said...

i agree with jak. frummer: its not so easy to give clear psakim because we are not poskim. its like asking us to give clear definitions of say english law. while we know it, i might not be able to give exact guidance and sources. of course with regards to halacha we know more but still not enough to give exact psakim. we can point to sources, however, of certain halachos. there is an issur deoiraise of hotzoas zera levatalo according to the rambam (perek 21 hilchos issurei beioh halocho 18) and tur/shulchan oruch (perek 23 hilchos piryoh verivyoh. it has kories and they say that one who is motzie zera levatolo is "keilu hoireg es henefesh" and should be put in niddui. you argue that nowadays people want to know why and its not enough to simply say its ossur. unfortunately we cannot always say why. the true reason "why" is because hashem commanded us so, and being jewish means we follow his commandments.

 
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Ultra:

No, Its not a chok. There are reasons and there are answers to many questions, such as the one asked by Lost above.

There's also a lack of people who know how to give these answers. If people ask, its a sign they need responses. Simply saying what you said, namely that its Gods will, isn't good enough.

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

Please explain all Hebrew quotes that is written here. I have been getting emails about them. If you are transliterating a posuk,a translate it as well.
hotzoas zera levatalo, please explain. What does this mean? I am asking to what extent, as I have mentioned before. Is everytime someone a man and wife have sex is he supposed to be thinking about procreating? Isn't he wasting a seed when the wife is on the pill, or unable to get pregnant? If you give me the answer that he is supposed to please her, we all know there are other ways to please her than by him ejaculating. He can please her without him pleasing himself.
I think there is a need to get an answer and find out WHY and not just to say, "because it says so". We are encouraged to ask questions, give us good answers!

 
Blogger LostSpirit said...

Well by my chosun classes I was told that really when she is pregnant sex should be reduced to once a week; and that is also only allowed because humans are humans, and then he went on to explain that it is healthy for the baby that’s why it is allowed!!! But any way how do you expect a man to please the woman with out him pleasing him self on a regular bases, do we men look like some vibrater that you can just turn the switch off!!!

jck and ultra
Come on frummer is right talk up; with more then the conventional answer of “every one knows it oser”. If its soooo oser why is it not one of the 613 or one of the 7 add on's. And the same way you can see today that 90% of what we do is about method and not about religion, the same is masturbation it was; and still is seen by many as a method of sexual suppression; and in there view sexual suppression is needed as a way of keeping people in a morel and religion way of life. It might be true or it might not be true that it is needed, but it still does not make it oser from the torah, and it sure does not make it a pillar of Judaism

At best I would agree that it goes in to “veusem kadoshim, kadash atzmech bmiter loch” (you should be holy, by restraining your self from what is allowed)

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

"Stop acting like a loser. Step up to the plate and explain."

"Can Lost ask his Rov why this is so, could he have asked his Mashgiach what the big deal is. Had he asked, would he have gotten an answer? More likely he would have been flagged as an "oisvorf" and flung out of his Yeshiva."

Frummer and Lost: I feel bad for you that your Yeshiva/Rabbinical experiences have not been positive. That may explain why you are both so obviously bitter. I can name a DOZEN yeshivas off the top of my head where you can go and ask any of the Rebbeim honest questions, and you'll get honest, down to earth answers. (In case you need some names, try: Mercaz Hatorah, Beis Yisrael, Midrash Shmuel, Ner Yaakov, T.J., Reishit, Mevaseret, all in Jerusalem. I also know of "open" yeshivas in Baltimore, Chicago, LA, and New York.)

By saying that I assume that everyone on this forum believes the words of Chazal, I do not mean that we cannot try to understand the reasoning behind their words. Yet there is a great difference between trying to understand what they've written and discarding what we don't fancy, or what does not fit with our "modern" mentality.

Nor did I say "it's ossur because it's ossur" anywhere in my post. Yet the truth is, this is essentially correct. If the sages say that it is ossur (Which they do, explicitly), then yes, it is ossur. If we can understand the meaning behind their words, so much the better. If we cannot, then we are still obligated to heed their words. If you do not agree, fine; that's your business. But as I said, the question of whether we must or must not keep laws of the Rabbis, or laws derived by the Rabbis, is beyond the scope of this blog.

As for the Halacha, the sages state explicitly that male masturbation is prohibited (There seems to be an argument about female masturbation. Tosefos (Yevamos 12b) permits it, while others, including the Ramban, do not. Consult your local orthodox rabbi if you need a pesak) See Nidda 13.

Lost, you are correct about one thing at least. The prohibition is not explicit as one of the 613 mitzvot. According to the Sefer Hachinuch and others, the prohibition against wasting seed is based on the positive commandment of "Be fruitful and multiply." The most simple reasoning is this: The seed that a man carries is potential life. If he wastes it, he has wasted that great potential. True, he'll have more sperm when he needs it. But that's not the point. The potential is still lost, regardless of how much more potential he has.

The seed of a man is meant for procreation. To be more precise, the seed of a man is meant to fulfil the commandment of "Be fruitful and multiply." This explains why a man is allowed to sleep with his wife when there can be no procreation, such as when a man's wife is pregnant. A man who has sex at that time is still engaging in "Be fruitful and Multiply"--still engaging in a healthy, normal, sexual relationship with his wife, which is the essence of the mitzvah.

But of course, you're going to find this explanation lacking, and if I were you, I probably would too. To really explain things, I'd have to go back and ask a bunch of questions that need asking, and explain many underlying principles: What, exactly, is this "potential" business? Why did God create humans to be fully capable by the time they are three years old, but only sexually mature at a later time?

You're kidding yourself if you think that there's a "2 minute" answer to this question, just as you would be kidding yourself if you thought you could get a simple answer to ANY complex subject. (Can you please explain why America is in debt? Can you please explain why the price of crude oil fluctuates?)

If anybody is interested, I can suggest at least one book that deals properly with this subject.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

As for some of the suggested "answers," they can be discarded outright.

Lost says: But either way the amount of guilt that is put in to us is for sure not productive nor is it healthy. And one of the results we seem to have from it is that frummer men seem to think less of being unfaithful then they do of wasting seed.

Can you please explain the difference between the guilt that is placed on a person for this sin, versus turning on a light on Shabbos? And if it is neither productive nor healthy, then the entire Torah must be wrong. As for your suggestion that frum men think less of being unfaithful than masturbating, all I can say is: please remember to take your pills.

You also suggested: And the same way you can see today that 90% of what we do is about method and not about religion, the same is masturbation it was; and still is seen by many as a method of sexual suppression; and in there view sexual suppression is needed as a way of keeping people in a morel and religion way of life.

Anybody who is at all familiar with the words of Chazal know that they had no interest in sexual suppression whatsoever. In fact, the gemara is quite explicit about the sexual obligations that a man has toward his wife. If he engages in certain types of work, he may be obligated to sleep with her on a daily basis! Please show me a source, or some indication where you've found that Chazal were interested in sexually suppressing the masses. That's just plain baloney.

 
Blogger RJT said...

BT -- you have opened up a wonderful can of worms. I will let the others deal with the halachah although I do want to make a general distinction between clear a halachik isur (i.e., something is simply not permitted) and those things that are frowned upon on the basis of hashkafah. Male masturbation is the former, female is most likely the latter.

My simple point is this: Show me a healthy guy who claims never to masturbate, and I will show you a liar.

 
Blogger YOSEF said...

THE Torah explicitly tells us that two of Yehuda's sons died because of masturbation.

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

Thank you for your response.
My question remains the same. Why did God create is in such a way to prevent what we call human nature? He created us to enjoy and to allow us to have pleasure, why is it then there are some times when it is beyond comprehension to the huamn mind when it is "issur" not allowed? Two months after the wife gives birth...and sometimes longer! Being single in the late 20's and beyond...If the wife is only allowed ONE week out of a month, who is to blame the husband from looking elsewhere...he was NOT created that way.
I am allowed to complain and bemoan the fact that halacha is not on the side of humans. I do not know if the previous generations felt this way, and I can only assume yes!

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

RTJ said: My simple point is this: Show me a healthy guy who claims never to masturbate, and I will show you a liar.

RTJ, do you mean guys that are married, or single? If you mean the latter, fine. But if you mean the former, that is simply not true.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

Bas,

In a normal, healthy marriage, a husband should be satisfied enough to not need outside release. Or, at least, the fact that he has release should be enough to help him control himself during the times when he cannot be with his wife. The two months after birth is tough, true. But that's not the regular order of things.

As for unmarried teens, you're right that it's a problem. But you also have to realize that we simply live in a decadent society. How can a guy control himself when he literally sees sex on the TV on a daily basis? When he sees women in the street literally half naked?

If Chazal were around today, who can doubt that they would look at Western culture and label it in the same way that they labeled ancient Egypt and Canaan, the two decadent societies of the ancient world? I agree that this makes it virtually impossible for a healthy teen male to control himself. But do realize that such a society is not the normal order of things, regardless of what contemporary society might tell you.

 
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Jak:

All the Yeshivas you have mentioned sound Litvish.

Try spending some time in a real Chassidish yeshiva. With all the “heavy” lectures on Kedusho etc, and then seen if you will still feel that there is no sexual oppression. Have you heard of the rules surrounding sex, when, how what and where?

Of course, many are Halacho, but most are not,
the Chassidim tend to go for the lot.
Lost Spirit is a Chossid and so am I,
Now do you understand why we cry?

 
Blogger Hazara said...

To Jak Black,

You say that you agree that this may be a problem with unmarried teens, and attribute it to our decadent society. The truth is that it is a matter of degree -- in a Muslim society where everyone is covered from head to toe, the turn of an ankle or an innocent smile might be enough to send someone over the edge.

Also, you compare this to other issurim, such as turning a light on on shabbos, and pizza with sausage. I get your point on the face of it, if you want to be in the game, play by the rules. However there is an extreme difference between turning a light on -- first of all, this is something that is muttar 6 days a week, and if you have such a tayvah I can agree it would be good for you to wait a day. Similarly if you are married -- waiting 2 weeks is not so hard, comparatively.

Even the desire for pizza with sausage, especially for those of us born keeping kosher, is not such a big deal, and the tayvah, if it even was one, will pass away.

But as bas torah said, this h.s.z.l. is against human nature -- a young male according to the rishonim must wait 10, 12 or even 15 years before a guilt-free experience. And as I said above, this is a problem with any society, from the most modest to the most decadent.

 
Blogger bpgirlwithopenmind said...

BT has posted some very valid points..

nothing wrong for a female to masturbate ... in my opinion... also the bullshit about having sex once a week while pregnant is alos bullshit bec actually the more sex you have while pregnant makes the child more beautiful trust me I know ;)

and yes the sexual opression has to stop its like we have to be two separate pple one outside tznius and dont look at guys and dont flirt etc.. and vice versa but supposed to be a vixen sexpot in the bedroom (without prior knowledge or skill of course )

how does that corrolate?

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

Now I have another question for you guys out there. Back in the olden days with chazal saying about "wasting seed" I think life was very different for men. Wouldn't you agree that a man would find it harder to masterbate on his own if he has more than one wife? When one wife is a niddah, he just goes to his pilegesh, or to his second wife?
Wasn't the cherem only FIVE hundred years old (give or take a few) and therefore when the "halacha" of this issue came about, men were already satisfied so there really was no need? Please answer

 
Blogger BrooklynWolf said...

BasTorah,

There are two problems with your thesis:

1. Polygyny, while legal up until about a thousand years ago, was never very common. The average Joe off the street couldn't afford or didn't want two wives.

2. Women who live together tend to have thier cycles synchronized after a while. So, having two wives under the same household wouldn't provide someone with an alternate, because they'd both be forbidden at the same time.

The Wolf

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

The Wolf:
I cannot agree with you. There are many many sefardim from before who had many many many wives. Are they different than the typical Ashkenaz man? I think not.

The next issue I had, who is to say that the women needed to live in one house? And not always are the timing of the cycles synchronized.

If you don't have kiddushin you can still have a pilegesh. So what is the difference? And back then the counting of the mikvah was different as we have seen here (previous posts link) that the counting was very different. If I am correct, the a bris was celebrated also because the wife returned from the mikvah. So they had less of an issue than we do now.
I still think that there are many Rabbis out there who tend to make things more than they need to be.

 
Blogger YOSEF said...

This prohibition is a Torah prohibition. It does not change just because society or other rules have changed. The laws of the Torah are for eternity

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

Yosef
If you read the previous post you will see a link where it wrote on how the counting of niddah days are calculated and HOW it DID change because the women felt that it was too hard for them (i tend to agree after reading how the counting used to be done)
You canNOT say that the Torah is the Torah and it does not change. Where else do you get all the halachos from and how the gedolei hadoros pasken differently. I thought it was one Torah and one ruling...

 
Blogger YOSEF said...

Bas Torah;

The only time you have different opinions is when it comes to the details of certain prohibitions which are not spelled out specifically in the Torah or the Gemmorah. However where such a prohibition clearly existed there is no posek or Rav that says the halacha will change based on the times in any situation

 
Blogger YOSEF said...

In answer to your previous question. Seed is not considered wasted if it one done thru the normal act of intercourse. Since it is a mitzvah to be with your wife,the Torah does not consider it wastefull

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

Yosef: Is it spelled out in the Torah not to? Please tell me where so I can look it up. How are things translated differently.
And what happens if the husband ejaculates prematurely, is that a big sin as well? Is it his fault? Or he is at fault because he cannot control himself?

 
Blogger ichbingit said...

I thought people might want to know that Maimonides/Rambam (in perush hamishnaios, Sanhedrin, Seventh chapter for those whom want to check) says explicitly that there is no death penalty or lashes for masturbation. He indicates that it is just "asor" or prohibited Rabbinicaly. Why then does the talmud indicate that it is puishable by death? He explains that it was meant to scare people and make sure they did not do it. Obviously, the desire for it is strong, very strong, and the Rabbis wanted to make sure people tried their best to not do it.
My take on this Rambam is that, as was mentioned by someone else, the Jewish people are supposed to be holy, and that includes no over indulgence. This would certainly apply to sex, which if you really allow yourself to just follow whatever desire you may have, you can find yourself in big trouble. Therefore, the Rabbis wanted us to keep our distance, and therefore made masturbarion really bad and evil. And perhaps their intention was that it could get really bad in that you may one day commit a sin that brings the death penalty if you don't control yourself. But lets face it, if it was a biblical sin, it would say so, somewhere. Er and Onan is not a source. Yes, they were killed. But they were killed for a very specific reason: they purposely did not want to have children (similarly, by the way, some say Nadav and Avihu dies because they did want to have children). The torah makes it clear as day that that was their intent and a reason for their death. And the fact remains that the Torah never says you cannot waste your seed, as it does by everysingle other averah.
One more thing: we should remeber that Moshe told us: "It is not in heaven, so [that you should] say, 'Who shall go up to heaven and bring it to us so that we can hear it and keep it?' is not over the sea so [that you should] say, 'Who will cross the sea and get if for us, so that we will be able to hear it and keep it?'
It is something that is very close to you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can keep it."
Just remeber -- Hashem did not make keeping a Torah life an impossible goal. And lets face it, in today's society for sure, saying you are liable with death for masturbation, is impossible. I do not mean that we can now run off and give in to our every whim and desire, some self control is required if we really want to live a Torah life (as the Rabbis made pretty clear).
I suspect I may get some heat for saying some of the stiff I have said, but my main point was just to let everyone know about this Rambam. He is the Rambam, after all, a pretty good source.

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"As for the Halacha, the sages state explicitly that male masturbation is prohibited (There seems to be an argument about female masturbation."

To the best of my knowledge, there is no argument about female masturbation. It is mutar. It is probably viewed as inadviseable, but mutar.

"Tosefos (Yevamos 12b) permits it, while others, including the Ramban, do not. Consult your local orthodox rabbi if you need a pesak) See Nidda 13."

If the tosfos you are referring to is the one that says that she is not metzuve on hashchases zera, this has no bearing on female masturbation. The context is discussion of moch, and the meaning is the hashchos zera of the MAN.

What ramban are you talking about?

nida 13 relates to male masturbation only.

There is a dispute about issur involved in *lesbianism* but not about female masturbation afaik.

This weird story:

"I have heard of a story where the husband was not inside of her, but she was on top of him doing what she does best to herself, when she had to stop for a minute. Before she continued she felt something moist and went to get check it out. To put it mildly, she was not able to continue what she was doing. It is not the same as when the husband is at his prime, but close enough, though this was her at her prime and not him"

Why do you thinnk female masturbation is mutar as a preliminary to sex, but otherwise ossur? If it's ossur, it should be ossur during sex too. There is no hotzaas zera for the woman. There is no distinction between arousing herself and having an orgasm, the orgasm is not a halachic variable.

 
Blogger oifgeklertekolelwife said...

ok, i mastrubate all the time when i am a niddah, my husband checked and its allowed.
now sex once a week when your preg? bs! every other day is more like it, and my husband is ultra chasidish.
and some woman deserve petsch!!! they go to the mikvah 3 months after a baby, when they are clean at seven or eight weeks !!! its just not fair,
i went so early after this last baby, that i took a car service to a manhatten mikva so no one should recognise me and say, wow your baby is only 5.5 weeks old and already your here? as a matter of fact i am, and i shouldn be ashamed of it !!! my doctor lets , the dayan lets , come on give your husband a break,
why make him wait 12 weeks!!!

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

Ichbingit: At least the anon claims that "To the best of his knowledge" he does not know of the source that I quoted. You, however, have totally distorted and perverted the meaning of the Rambam. If you're such a sage, I assume you know what Chazal say about people who are "megaleh panim baTorah."

I will post on the Rambam later tonight.

 
Blogger ichbingit said...

Jak: I never claimed to be a "sage" because, well, I am not. While part of my post was some of my own insight into that Rambam, part of my post used his words and those words cannot be interpreted in any other way. That particular Rambam says that when the Rabbanim described the punishments for this particular sin, they were doing it to place fear in the hearts of klal yisroel so that they stayed away from this sin. My post gives no psak (halachic decision) on this issue because I am not anything close to being a posek (one capable of issuing a halachic decision). My post does not say its permitted. It just speaks about this Rambam. Perhaps I should have given this disclaimer before I posted. I just didn't think that people were reading blogs to see what the halacha is.
And one questin for you: had you ever read this particular Rambam before firing away at me? In any event, I look forward to reading your take on it.

 
Blogger YOSEF said...

BAS TORAH;
There are two sources in the Torah forbidding masturbation. The Gemmorah in Kesuvos daf 46 states it is derived from the possuk in Devorim 23;10 "VENISHMARTA MEKAL DAVA RAH".

The Gemmorah in Niddah daf 13 that to masturbate by hand is included in one of the prohibitions in the Ten commandments "LO TSINOF".

So it is quite clearly a biblical prohibition we are dealing with.

 
Blogger BrooklynWolf said...

BasTorah,

Thanks for your reply.

I think, however, you are overstating the commonality of polygyny among Sephardim. I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of them, even when living in polygynous countries, are monogomous.

And if we're talking about separate houses, then for certain we're talking about an extreme minority. Most people cannot afford two households.

The Wolf

 
Blogger Shlomy said...

I will add this Avara of masturbation to the book of "Gazeiros Shain Hatzibor Yochol Lamod Boi"
(things that most people can NOT accomplish)
I don't think anyone can say that they have never masturbated, we all do it most times we even do it while feeling guilty other times the guilt kicks in a second after your done, and too many times you just don't think about the guilt feeling.
is the Avarah the same you do it yourself or your wife does it for you ?

 
Blogger Hasid_Letz said...

The chazon ish clearly says that it's not a biblical prohibition.

On the other hand, can anyone explain what the definition of "Levatoloh" is? Clearly, it is not the release of semen where no child is conceived. Men are allowed to have sex (and release)with the old, the pregnant, and the nursing.

Once you recognize that the definition isn't very well stated in the source materials, you can begin to understand why different sages took different approaches to the subject.

I have seen interpretations that Levatoloh means all ejaculations in situations where there's no purpose of mitzvat onah. According to this interpretation, masturbation (or, indeed, all activity causing release) as part of sexual activity between a husband and wife would be permitted.

I'm not suggesting that this is an uncontroversial interpretation, but it certainly does justice and provokes further study in what has become one of the more confusing areas of halacha.

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"Ichbingit: At least the anon claims that "To the best of his knowledge" he does not know of the source that I quoted. You, however, have totally distorted and perverted the meaning of the Rambam. If you're such a sage, I assume you know what Chazal say about people who are "megaleh panim baTorah."

Excuse me! Pot, kettle. You posted to say that some view female masturbation as ossur. You then quoted a tosfos that you completely butchered, and that says nothing about female masturbation. Your second source was a ramban (not a rambam). You wrote this:

"There seems to be an argument about female masturbation. Tosefos (Yevamos 12b) permits it, while others, including the Ramban, do not."

If you have ANY source that claims that female masturbation is *ossur* (not ill advised, but ossur) let us know what it is. If not, pls. correct your error.

You write this:

"Anybody who is at all familiar with the words of Chazal know that they had no interest in sexual suppression whatsoever. In fact, the gemara is quite explicit about the sexual obligations that a man has toward his wife. If he engages in certain types of work, he may be obligated to sleep with her on a daily basis! Please show me a source, or some indication where you've found that Chazal were interested in sexually suppressing the masses. That's just plain baloney."

Well, you are generally speaking correct that chazal were earthy, and didn't have the mentality of Hungarian chassidim, but have you ever heard of takanas ezra? shelo yihiyu metzuyin eytzel nishoseyhen k'tarnigolin. obviously there is tension, but yes, there is suppression too.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

The Rambam:

Looking at the way you summed the Rambam, I was reminded of the joke about the guy who spelled Noach (a two letter word in Hebrew) with seven spelling mistakes. How much misunderstanding can you pack into one “peshat”?

1. First, you claim that the Rambam holds that the prohibition against masturbation is only Rabbinical. This is patently false. But even if you were correct, your point is still hogwash. Are we to begin (as you and Shlomi have already suggested) casting aside Rabbinical laws when we decide they are too difficult to keep? That’s the quick road to Reform “Judaism.” Some people claim that the laws of negiah are impossible to keep. Some people claim that the laws of Shabbat are impossible to keep. We try our best to keep the laws, and sometimes we fail. But certainly we must try.

2. Next, your reading of the Rambam is completely corrupt. You make it sound as if the Rambam is dismissing the concerns of Chazal. “They were just trying to frighten us.” Nothing could be further from the truth. An accurate translation of the Rambam is:
“The Sages already warned us severely against entertaining [sexual] thoughts and attempted to keep us away from things that cause such thoughts. They constantly frightened and scared us against purposely causing ourselves to become erect or spilling our seed in vain. This means that these things are prohibited, yet [a person who transgresses] is not punished with lashes for anything of this type.

As you can see, the Rambam asks no contradiction, and does not imply one. He is certainly not dismissing the concerns of the Sages. Everything that you’ve read into the Rambam is purely fictional.

3. But the worst error that you commit is to claim that since the Rambam says that you get no lashes, that means that he holds the prohibition to be Rabbinic. (I assume you’re not referring to the fact that the Rambam says ‘The Sages warned us…” He just means that the Sages emphasized how serious this Torah prohibition is. I’ll quote the Rambam in the Yad Hachazaka below).
This is completely incorrect. The sages (Nidda 13b) learn from the verse “Lo sinof” that one may not masturbate. Clearly, they mean that it is a Torah prohibition, a subcategory of the prohibition against adultery and other lewd acts. Yet the Torah does not state the prohibition explicitly. That’s why you get no lashes.
Luckily, the Rambam HIMSELF says this a few lines earlier (did you read the Rambam before you quoted it?). “It is prohibited to smell the perfume of a woman who is an “ervah”, yet you are not punished with lashes for such a transgression. Even though the sages say, ‘Lo sinof’ – [this can be understood as:] you shall not receive pleasure means of smell’ – there is never a punishment of lashes for a prohibition learned from a derush.”

Got that? Despite the fact that certain prohibitions are from the Torah, if the Sages derive them by derush, you do not receive lashes.

There is no opinion that says that this is a Rabbinical prohibition, because the Sages explicitly say otherwise. There is nothing wrong with being an ignoramus, but why do you have to publicize the fact?

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

I'll quote the Rambam in the Halachos, for anybody who is still in doubt:

"It is prohibited to spill seed in vain...But those who masturbate and spill seed: Not only is it a great prohibition, but one who does this is placed in "nidduy". The verse, "Their hands are filled with blood" applies to them, and it is as if they committed murder" (Rambam, Issurei Bi'ah 21:19).

Hmmm...no mention of Rabbinical prohibition here.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

As for "Chasid Leitz" you've managed to top even ichbingit for ignoramity.

Can you show us a single source for any of the wild, false claims that you make? Can you show us the Chazon Ish? Can you show me poskim who take "different approaches"?

"but it certainly does justice and provokes further study in what has become one of the more confusing areas of halacha."

You may be confused, but there is no sign of confusion in any of the sources I've ever seen. It is prohibited, period. If you don't understand what wasting your seed is, I suggest you pick up a book on sex education.

 
Blogger KG said...

BasTorah—I applaud you for starting a thread that touches on a subject which is very sensitive and private, yet also important everyone.

It would be very helpful to keep the discussions of male and female masturbation separate. It seems pretty clear that there is a consensus among modern poskim (decisors) that the former is punished by kares while the latter is a far less serious sin. Therefore, the issues and concerns facing men are several orders of magnitude more serious, and it’s difficult to discuss them together with women’s concerns. Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that differences in the sex drives of men and women impact this area. Might I respectfully suggest making another post of the latter subject, and restricting this to the former?

One set of questions asked here deals with how realistic it is to ask men (especially unmarried men) to completely abstain until marriage. Many people argue that it’s impossible to expect a fellow to never masturbate from puberty through marriage, easily 10 years of more, and that even the two-three weeks while his wife is a niddah is an impossibly long time. As a single fellow in his mid-twenties, I can’t speak for married men. However, it is my opinion that the bar set by halacha is not unobtainably high, though it is quite difficult.

How often I transgress this issur varies. Daily is a common answer, and periods when the frequency is 3, 4, or even 5 times a day are not unknown. However, when I was in yeshiva for a year, I went ten months without committing this aveira. Since then the best I’ve done is a few weeks at a stretch (and once 2 months). But one thing I’ve discovered (is this true for other men?) is that the pressure is not a result of a simple additive process, i.e. it isn’t that every day without makes it that much harder to refrain. If that was true, it probably would be impossible for men to avoid this problem. But I would argue that the challenge for a man who hasn’t masturbated in a month is basically the same as for one who hasn’t done so in a year—to a large degree, each moment of challenge is independent. This is why it’s reasonable to ask a fellow to abstain entirely until marriage.

However, there are other factors which make this challenge more or less difficult to successfully overcome. I expect these vary somewhat person-to-person. But I would challenge any man to argue that being around sexually stimulating stimuli doesn’t make it harder to not masturbate. Keep in mind that the above concept is very broad—beyond the obvious (movies and music with strong sexual themes)—it also can includes being around women (co-ed schools anyone?), the magazines in a grocery store check-out line, novels, non-fiction, the newspaper, sporting events, etc. The bottom line is (and the preceding list doesn’t illustrate it well—do the men reading this have anything else they’d add?) that there are many things in our environment that make it much harder to observe this halacha—but that isn’t the halacha’s fault, it’s our fault for living in such circumstances.

Further more, we shouldn’t blame halacha for the structure of the western societies we live in today. Halachically, there is no barrier to a young man marrying at 15/16. It’s unfortunate that economic and social factors make it prohibitively difficult for most men to marry before 20, and before 22/23 is also very tough. But this is the fault of parents, and perhaps the community, for putting young men in a “hopeless” situation for more than ten years.

BasTorah asks “Why did G-d Create us in such a way to prevent what we call human nature?” This argument can be used to justify every conceivable form of licentiousness. What are the limits of this argument’s denial of the validity of divine law which restricts human desires?

BasTorah asked if someone is less of a Jewish man for giving into these urges. I would argue that sometimes the answer is “yes.” G-d expects us to control and channel our urges and desires as much as we can. For each individual man that line or limit is somewhere else. Does sometimes failing to control ourselves make us complete failures? “No.” But giving up before hand, saying it’s impossible to completely desist, especially when we have control over so many things that can increase or decrease the challenge, is grossly irresponsible. Male readers, should consider the following thought experiment: Would an offer of one million dollars for one year without masturbation be sufficient motivation? How many people reading this don’t think they could control themselves enough to earn a million dollars that way?

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

KG,

Very, very well put.

 
Blogger thekvetcher said...

The first mechanical vibrator was invented in the 1880's by a British physician as a way to more quickly and effectively perform a "therapeutic massage." Starting in the first century A.D., doctors manually massaged women to orgasm in hopes of purging them of a mysterious illness. The vibrator was invented as a way to get the job done more quickly‹therefore allowing the doctor time to see more patients.

What, you must ask, were esteemed physicians doing with their vibrators? They were treating hysteria, the most common health complaint among women of the day. While the existence of hysteria as a disease was debunked in the 1950¹s, medical experts from the time of Hippocrates up to the 20th century believed that hysteria expressed the womb¹s revolt against sexual deprivation. A woman's display of mental or emotional distress was a clear indication of her need for sexual release. Genital massage was a standard treatment for hysteria; its objective was to induce "hysterical paroxysm" (better known as orgasm) in the patient. Obviously such treatment demanded both manual dexterity and a fair amount of time, so turn of the century physicians were delighted with the efficiency, convenience and reliability of portable vibrators.

Today, vibrators are status implements for most young educated women who consider themselves wise in the ways of the world. Vibes are just a part of the urban landscape, and a good boyfriend is one who sensitively buys you one for Valentine's Day. The vibrator is quite possibly the most potent symbol there is of women¹s sexual agency. The possession of a vibrator tells the world (or at least yourself!) that not only are you comfortable with your own peculiarly female sexuality, but that you are able to give yourself sexual satisfaction‹that you aren¹t waiting for a man to decide to send you into paroxysms of ecstasy.

(Excerpted from www.salon.com/urge/feature/1999/02/cov_25feature2.html)

 
Blogger ichbingit said...

Jak: thanks for your comments. But don't kid yourself, your no talmid chacom, as someone pointed out you totally messed up the argument between the Ramban and Tosfos (they argue if a woman gets an avara for causing a man to spill his seed, not if woman can pleasure themselves).
I don't think that the purpose of this blog is to have a whole yeshiva type back and forth on the Rambam. So I have no intention on answering back on every point you make. But I do want to point out that (1) I of course read the entire Rambam, (2) your word for word translation of the Rambam pretty much says what I was saying, i.e., that all the punishments described by the Rabonim were to frighten us so that we stayed away from it; (3) my thought that the Rambam may hold that its only a rabbinic prohobition comes from what he writes RIGHT AFTER, (he says that similar to masturbation, sex between woman is only a rabbinic prohibiton and is only hinted to in the Torah); (4) I never advocated willful violation of rabbanic decrees, I merely mentioned the Rambam.
So take a deep breath, read my post before you trash it, and realize I am not saying what the halacha is or what people should do. I mentioned the Rambam and told people where it is if they want to read it. I didn't shout, "hey everybody, knock yourself out because the Rambam says it ok!!!" It seems that you would have wanted me to say that so that you can show everyone what a tzadik you are. The Rambam is there, and anyone can read it and discuss it with a rabbi if they want. I just want to clear my name that I never said its ok to do this averah.

 
Blogger Hasid_Letz said...

Black Jak,

The chazon ish is in Orach Chaim and Even Haezer. That you are an ignoramus with a huge ego doesn't change the torah.

The fact is that when a woman is pregnant or old, the seed will not fertilyze a child. Sex in that situation is NOT viewed as a transgression. Clearly then, you need to come up with a different (better) definition of the term "levatoloh." Answering that anything outside of "normal" sexual contact (usually interpreted as "in the vagina") qualifies is both false and circular logic. First, anal sex with your wife would not be considered "normal," yet it's NOT considered "levatoloh." Second, on what basis do you make the vagina the absolute place for ejaculation? Clearly it's not inherent in the term "levatoloh."

If you don't know what circular logic means, I suggest you read up on critical thiking.

 
Blogger thekvetcher said...

check it out http://www.hanefesh.com/edu/Kosher_Sex.htm

 
Blogger Talmid said...

In the end any question about a halachah is a question about belief. However, when discussing sexual matters, the need for understanding before accepting a halachah, in our affluent society is so much greater. Not being able to do something sexual touches us at the core of our being. Rules restricting sexual enjoyment are much more difficult to accept.

I think there are 2 reasons for this. One is that sex is such an integral part of our lives, if you only had the time to make love or eat dinner which would you choose? And secondly we only become aware of sexual disciplines at a stage later than childhood. Not switching on a light on Shabbat is not a major problem for most of us, however inconvenient it may be, because we have been conditioned since childhood. This is probably why your question is phrased ‘Why cant we’ rather than ‘What’s the reasoning behind’, which both mean the same thing, but one is almost a cry of desperation whilst the other is a real quest for knowledge.

As a frum man in a sex starved marriage (subject for discussion maybe?) I have grappled with this question for many years, in particular because we care deeply about each other (I was going to say love, but can you use the world love when you are celibate? [another subject for discussion maybe]) and of course our children.

My main conclusion is that I cannot see that we have a right to expect to be in a position to be able to enjoy sex. In the same way as we cannot expect to have excellent sex every time we make love, or indeed to be healthy or to live to 120 or to be rich or to have healthy clever children and all the other aspects of life that we all desire. If Hashem has decided that you won’t be in a situation where you can have sex whenever you want there is a reason behind it. Hashem knows that there is a Halachah against (certainly for men) masturbation. However difficult the Halacha is, we as Jews only exist today because we have continued to keep Halacha. And also most of our Halachot help make us into decent people and help us build warm and cohesive family units.

What we do need, I believe, is more open discussions like this, more education on these sort of subjects in the frum schools and yeshivot and we need the rabbanim to be a bit more mature about matters sexual.

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

thekvetch
thanks for the great link!

 
Blogger thekvetcher said...

TALMID; what does an affluent society have to do with it, poor people want sex too. also is the reason why men had multiple wives in the old days? could it have been to keep the husband in constant relations huh? we cannot desire the wife of our neighbor but a single girl soon to become a multiple wife it makes sense no?

 
Blogger tzvi5 said...

But I would challenge any man to argue that being around sexually stimulating stimuli doesn’t make it harder to not masturbate. Keep in mind that the above concept is very broad—beyond the obvious (movies and music with strong sexual themes)—it also can includes being around women (co-ed schools anyone?), the magazines in a grocery store check-out line, novels, non-fiction, the newspaper, sporting events, etc. The bottom line is (and the preceding list doesn’t illustrate it well—do the men reading this have anything else they’d add?) that there are many things in our environment that make it much harder to observe this halacha—but that isn’t the halacha’s fault, it’s our fault for living in such circumstances.

You don't even have to mention these factors. I am a Yungerman, with no time for TV, magazines, Sports, or any of that stuff. Just going to a Heimishe grocery, or walking from my house to Bais Medrash, especially this time of year, the Frum ladies are all so incredibly hot, that when my wife is Niddah, it makes me go out of my mind. And Chassanas are a 1000 times worse.

Anyone who can go 2 weeks a month, or 2 months after childbirth with out Mast., is a Tzaddik of a calibre, that I cant even comprehend.

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"Jak: thanks for your comments. But don't kid yourself, your no talmid chacom, as someone pointed out you totally messed up the argument between the Ramban and Tosfos (they argue if a woman gets an avara for causing a man to spill his seed, not if woman can pleasure themselves). "

I don't see where the ramban argues on this. (he doesnt argue on the daf).

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"It would be very helpful to keep the discussions of male and female masturbation separate. It seems pretty clear that there is a consensus among modern poskim (decisors) that the former is punished by kares while the latter is a far less serious sin."

Nobody says that female masturbation is ossur or "sin"

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"(3) my thought that the Rambam may hold that its only a rabbinic prohobition comes from what he writes RIGHT AFTER, (he says that similar to masturbation, sex between woman is only a rabbinic prohibiton and is only hinted to in the Torah);"

he only says that there is no onesh min hatorah. he doesn't say that sex between women is a rabbinic prohibition.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

Letz,

The chazon ish is in Orach Chaim and Even Haezer.

Could you be a little more specific? Some of us are not fluent in the entire Chazon Ish, as you clearly are.

 
Blogger ichbingit said...

"he only says that there is no onesh min hatorah. he doesn't say that sex between women is a rabbinic prohibition."
This is partially correct. The Rambam does not say expressly that sex between woman is a rabbinic prohibition. However, I would add that not only does the Rambam say that it punishable from the Torah, he also says that it is not punishable Rabbinically.
(I don't mean to drag on a detailed discussion on this particular Rambam, I just wanted to correct my translation of the Rambam on that point.)

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

Ichbingit said: "Just remeber -- Hashem did not make keeping a Torah life an impossible goal. And lets face it, in today's society for sure, saying you are liable with death for masturbation, is impossible."

He also said: I didn't shout, "hey everybody, knock yourself out because the Rambam says it ok!!!"

Actually, I think that's precisely what you did. Keeping such a law is impossible, but hey, don't worry, because there's a "realistic" opinion that holds it's only a Rabbinic law anyway.

You also said: "It seems that you would have wanted me to say that so that you can show everyone what a tzadik you are."

I don't know that it takes a tzaddik, or a talmid chacham, to read a Rambam correctly. I never claimed to be either. If you are familiar with Talmudic discussion, you know how zealously the sages defend the correct understanding of opinions.

As for my understanding of the "argument" about whether women may masturbate (which you and one other gloated over), yes, I was incorrect. I asked a real talmid chacham about it, and that's the answer he gave me. I suppose that he didn't understand what I was asking, but I WILL ADMIT that I should never have quoted the source without looking it up first. Got that? I admit I was incorrect. But you refuse to admit your error.

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"This is partially correct. The Rambam does not say expressly that sex between woman is a rabbinic prohibition. However, I would add that not only does the Rambam say that it punishable from the Torah, he also says that it is not punishable Rabbinically."

see what the rambam says in yad, though.

but in any case, this is irrelevant to the main point, which is that the rambam is somewhat unclear, but esp in yad, classifies this under ma'ase eretz mitzrayim and the simplest take on the rambam is that he thinks it's d'oreisa. It is remotely possible that he holds it's d'rabanon, but what he says in pirush hamishnayos about onesh is not relevant to the determination.

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"but I WILL ADMIT that I should never have quoted the source without looking it up first."

OK, but you quoted two sources. What ramban could you possibly have been talking about.

 
Blogger Jak Black said...

anon,

As others pointed out, there is an argument as to whether or not a woman, or gentile may destroy seed (not masturbate). The Ramban is mentioned by both the Mishneh Lemelech and the Minchas Chinuch in that context, though I didn't manage to find it. See the M.L. on the Rambam about motzei lerah levatalah, the source I quoted above.

 
Blogger anonymous said...

"(which you and one other gloated over)"

I was not involved in the other discussion. I just wanted to see the error corrected.

 
Blogger Talmid said...

Kvetcher:- you said

'what does an affluent society have to do with it, poor people want sex too'

True, but the more a person has to worry about paying bills the less inclined they are to think about sex.

 
Blogger BasTorah said...

Talmid
I vehemently disagree with that statement. Have you taken a look at the people around you? What does money have to do with sex? Have you not read the pleas from Great Rabbis to give money to these poor poor families of thirteen kids where the oldest is 18? If you do the math, they are having sex quite frequently! Usually it is the rich and famous people who have FEWER children then the poor. Think about it. Sex is the cheapest entertainment! And this is just in the Orthodox communities. Try in the “real world”. It is the lower class that seem to have more children.

 
Blogger shlomohamelech said...

I see most people here beleive that every man is masturabting. I just want to counter that.

I have NEVER masturbated, so far, and I hope that I will NEVER do that, with God's help.

I am writing this just so people should know that it IS possible to control oneself. I am not writing to you so that you should think that I am a tzadik, because no one here knows who I am.

I believe that there are many people like, but they don't wirte here. It happended to be that those people writnig here are masturbating.

 
Blogger Talmid said...

BasTorah

When you are relaxed, happy, comfortable, unrushed and unworried you will think more about intimacy and make time to become intimate with someone. The less a person is in such a situation the less they will think about or be able to make the necessary moves.

As to your second point:- Orthodox families tend to shy away from contraceptives/family planning as do less educated peoples – hence the larger families.

 
Blogger thekvetcher said...

TALMID you never been exposed to the inner cities where the AFRican Americans live have you? I used to work very closely with them and they told me some women have kids to get a bigger check each month. and Shlomo hamelech: you dont need to be a tzaddik to be able to control ones self. I see beautiful hot half naked chicks in the city all summer long i can control myself. a few drinks help too.

 
Blogger honkeie2 said...

I do not mean to offened anyone , but I am in now way bound by any religion. With that said; I believe if it feels good,you know your body better than anyone, who has the right to tell you what to do with it. Those who wish to control our day to day will so with devices with hidden meanings.

 
Blogger tzvi5 said...

S-melech how do you do it. What is the secret to it. I have tried so hard for years and its impossible, like how long can you how your breath.

 
Blogger shlomohamelech said...

tzvi5 when I feel the urge so badly, I think to myself and say NO NO I AM NOT GOING TO DO IT. I get so involved in the thinking of why and how I can control myself that I get carried away from all the temptations. There is one way that I find easy to distract me from all temptations, just go to all those websites that report news or information about all the terrible diseases, it makes one pretty anxious and terrified.

Just remember what the Rambam writes in the Shmone Prokim, which is also a good way of relieving oneself from any temptation. The Rambam says that when one wants to break a bad dead or whatever he should do it slowly, not at once. Meaning that first say to yourself, I am not giving up this dead altogether, just for now, this time I won't do it. Only this time, tomorrow I will do it again and a day after tomorrow I won't and then again, etc.

As a result, if you break it once, the second time it's a lot easier break it. The second time you have to remember the same thing that you will do it again tomorrow but you just want to try to quit again, just for this time. If you feel so tempted the second time do it but the third and forth time don't. Little by little you will learn to control yourself. Good luck, b'ezras hashem.

 
Blogger tzvi5 said...

SM

Thank you very much. I'll try. It is a very difficult hurdle, but definitely worth aspiring to.
Good Shabbos..

 
Blogger Naches said...

I cannot agree nor disagree with you.
yes there is truth to that, that frum men tend to distant themselves from their wives during menstruation. But this is only an effort to control themselves. Of course there are some of us who cannot articulate their feelings well, so they come across rough.

Couple that with an overly sensitized week woman, who has allot on her head besides her physical pain, and this is a recipe for disaster. BH it is no longer then 12-18 days, or there will be quarterly divorces all around our community just like the quarterly index for Treasury bill.

 
Blogger LTF said...

I just wish to make several points in response to some comments posted here:

Regarding the difficulty in being “shomer negiah,” whether within marriage (i.e., during the time the woman is a niddah), or outside of marriage, the question has been raised concerning the Divine Wisdom of such an arrangement given the difficulty many people have with it.

The Rambam (in Shemona Perakim, I believe) describes the various natures with which people are born (e.g., some are naturally happy, sad, stingy, etc.). Same goes for ta’avas: both in degree and type. For example, some people have a huge ta’ava for forbidden food, others for sex. Believe it or not, there are some men who do not think about sex all day long (unfortunately, I am not one of them)—they do not have a ta’ava for those things. They do, however, have ta’avas for other things (which, btw, you or I may have no “cheishek” for). The Gemara in Nidda (I think daf 16) describes how HKB”H determines the nature and status of each neshama’s personality, intellect and economic status prior to sending it down into this world. There is one thing, however, He does not determine: whether a person is going to be righteous or not. That is given over completely to us, for in fact, how we behave will determine what becomes of our neshama once we return it in 120 years time.

R’ Chaim Volozhiner explains that each one of us is given a unique set of talents, traits and so on, in order to fulfill our unique mission in this world—which cannot be fulfilled by anyone else—not even by the greatest Tzaddik—because it’s our mission alone to fulfill.

But we find that mission difficult. We feel we are not up to the task. We feel that we cannot possibly overcome our yetzer hora. Therefore, some would suggest that those dinim that we find too difficult we eliminate, or ignore. For example, since so many people have difficulty with their ta’ava for sex, we should eliminate or ignore those halachos which forbid us certain (sexual) activities that we find too difficult.

That might be fine for those with a ta’ava for sex; it gets them off the hook. But what about the guy mentioned above, who doesn’t have a ta’ava for sex, but has trouble controlling his tongue (e.g., avoiding lashon hora). Should we give him a break, too, and let him wag his tongue at his leisure, since after all, he finds it very difficult to control? Or, what about the guy who has no ta’ava for sex, nor for lashon hora, but has a hard time being honest with his (business) customers (after all, times are tough, and he has a family to support, etc.). Shouldn’t we give him a break, too?

The truth is, we are all here for a purpose. We may not know what that purpose is, but the Nesivos Shalom says ‘ken zein,’ that the thing you find most difficult could be a ‘siman’ (sign) of your ‘tafkid’ (purpose) in this world, and may in fact, be the reason your neshama was sent down here.

We know one thing, this world is a place for us to struggle: to define ourselves and to overcome our yetzer hora. Ya’akov Avinu (in parshas Vayeishev) wanted to rest and take it easy. After all, he had just spent 20 years battling the incomparably crafty Lavan, and survived a harrowing encounter with his brother Eisav. But (according to Medrash), Hashem had other plans for him. “It’s not enough, the reward that’s prepared for you (in Olam Haba), you also want to relax and take it easy in this world, too?!” As we say, “ma’aseh avos siman l’banim” (what happens to the patriarchs are signs for their descendants), so too with us in the world. Our purpose in this world is to refine ourselves and draw close to Hashem.

Interesting how people don’t question how hard someone has to work to earn a medical degree or a PhD. Because they understand that to earn the right to practice medicine (and earn a comfortable salary) requires effort. Should our eternal reward require no less effort? Yet, struggle is what we must do: it helps define us, gives us direction, makes us stronger and makes us great.

Shlomo ha-Melech says in Mishlei (forget where): “Sheva yipol tzaddik v’kam” (a tzaddik falls seven times and rises). Rav Hutner, zt’l, gives a beautiful explanation. He says, it’s not the p’shat that he’s able to get up after every fall because he’s a tzaddik—rather the opposite is true—he becomes a tzaddik through failing so many times. But after every fall, he gets back up again, and doesn’t give up!

Rav Michel Twerski, Shlita, explains the place of struggling in our lives, by way of an insight into the origin of the name for the Jewish nation, Yisrael.
The name Yisrael was conferred upon Ya’akov by a malach (angel) with whom Ya’akov struggled all night upon his return to the land of Israel (Bereishis 32:25-30). He said as follows: “lo Ya’akov yei’amar, od shimicha, ki im Yisrael—ki sarisa im Elokim v'im anashim v'tuchal” (“you will no longer be called Ya’akov, only Yisrael—because you you have struggled/striven/contended with G-d and with men and you have prevailed”).

Why, asks Reb Michel, if Ya’akov prevailed in the end against the malach, was he not called “Tuchal,” (meaning “success” or “victor”) – and instead given a name reflective of the struggle involved?!

The answer he says lies in the fact that it is the struggle that’s important: success, victory, is often not in our hands. But what G-d wants from us is the effort. Like our forefather Ya’akov, our job in this world is not necessarily to “succeed,” because that outcome is often outside our control—but rather, in putting forth the effort, in the struggle. And it is precisely through that struggle that we will find ourselves and find meaning in our lives.

Moreover, I understand that some people here have had negative experiences within the community, whether it be at the hands of neighbors, family members, rabbonim, etc. In response I recall an oft-heard statement made by R’ Berel Wein, Shlita, who counsels people not to confuse Jews with Judaism. The Jewish Blogosphere has a number of people who having left the community for one reason or another, are slowly finding their way back, through a variety of means. Sometime it takes a while, for the hurt to go away, particularly when it’s so fresh and it runs so deep.

Perhaps for those people who’ve suffered this way, that is their test, to fight to hold onto their Yiddishkeit after suffering at the hands of people they trusted. And if they are successful I guarantee you theirs will be a Yiddishkeit of great meaning, and not one to be taken lightly. A hint of this can be found at the beginning of the Shemoneh Esrei, when we say “Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, Elokei Ya’akov.” Why not just say “Elokei Avraham, Yitzchok v’Ya’akov?” Why repeat “Elokei” two more times? The answer is that as great as Yitzchok and Ya’akov were, it wasn’t enough that they had “yichus,” they also had to form their own relationship to the RBS”O, and so do we. And sometimes we have to fight for it, and it’s always a struggle. But, as the Gemara (in Brachos, I think) says: “l’fum tzara agra” (according to the difficulty is the reward). And you know what? I would humbly posit that Chazal are not just referring to reward in the next world, but in this world, too. Because as anyone knows who’s had to work hard for something, the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that come as the result of hard work and effort are sweet, indeed.

Let us all work together to overcome our ta’avas, whatever they may be, supporting one another to be the best we can be.

P.S. For those who are interested, some excellent “machshava” seforim that discuss the world’s purpose and a person’s role in it, include “Nefesh ha-Chaim,” or “Tanya,” or “Derech Hashem.” You can find a great class on Derech Hashem at TeachitToMe.com (I am not affilitated with that site).

 
Blogger Estee21 said...

Shlomo Hamelech, doesn't it just come out when you sleep? And how's that any better?

 
Blogger Kin said...

If I can just insert another halachic point...
The only place where I have ever seen female masturbation discussed is in Rav Elyakim Elininson's books on women's halachos. I don't recall if it is in Hatzne Leches (Go modestly) or HaIsh V'HaIsha (Man and Woman). He specifically says female masturbation is forbidden and as a source quotes the Rambam's gloss on tractate Niddah (I was never able to find the actual source myself since I have never seen a copy of the Rambam's pirush on the gemara).

I am in no way an expert in these matters but I don't recall seeing it anywhere else. Certainly it isn't brought down in the Mishneh Torah. I would be interested to see what the reasoning is behind this, though I'd venture a guess that it is based on Chazal's understanding that women are also Motzi Zera (give forth seed at the time of orgasm).

On another note...Bastorah, in her post, mentioned the case of a woman who begins bleeding during intercourse and that the kallah was told the husband must extricate himself immediately. This is wrong. The Rambam in Issuri Bi'ah specificially says he should wait and not pull out right away since this is the one of the more pleasurable points of the sexual act (forgive me if I'm not exact in my language, I don't have the Rambam in front of me).

As far as kavanos (what you're thinking about) at the time of the sexual act, the highest is that it should be strictly in the pursuit of fulfilling a mitzva, whether that is the commandment of being fruitful (only until you have one male and one female child), to fulfil the rabbinic mitzvah of continuing to have children (taken from the line in Ecclesiasties (Koheles) "In the morning you shall sow seeds and in the evening you shall not rest your hands (B'boker tazria zera, U'b'erev al tinach yadecha)"), or at times when there is no chance to have children that the act should be in the fulfillment of the commandment of Onah (the obligation to satisfy your wife's sexual needs). At the very least a man should have in mind that he is engaging in the act to assuage his inclination so that at another time he will not transgress.

It is understood (or at least I understand) that these are l'chatchila (best case scenario) and as part of our obligation as Jews is to be sanctify ourselves in everything we do. This doesn't mean that not doing it in this way is forbidden, rather it's the best way to do it.

That said, I do feel bad for people coming from a more Chassidic background, where sex has become a shameful thing that should be avoided unless you have to. Comparing this with the Litvishe approach, where you have the Steipler coming out and giving talmidim hell for trying to be super frum and in the end causing their wives emotional pain and saying that in this day a talmid chacham has to be with his wife twice a week and to make sure she enjoys it. Rav Moshe as well.

As to why intercourse with a woman that isn't able to concieve (or is already pregnant) isn't considered hotzas zera l'vatala (intentional spilling of seed in vain)? The prohibition is defined as "Shofech al aytzim v'avanim" (spilling on trees and rocks) that is, outside the woman's body. Which is why in the argument about types of birth control there are those who argue for and against condoms/diaphrams based on whether it is considered spilling on wood and stones or if it is k'orech arah (the natural way). (See Even HaEzer 25, Otzar HaPoskim ad. loc.)

 
Blogger Harry said...

Bas Torah, I am curious. Are you happy sexually with you husband? I have a feeling, and this is just a guess, that you are dissatisfied and struggling to cope with this in a Torahdik way. There are ways of dealing with issue, although I sympathize with your suffering. My email is harry_dubois1977@mail.com.

 
Blogger Cap Smith said...

Ever Koton yesh beodom, masbio raav, maarivo sava. The only way to keep off it, is to stay off it. It's like drugs. The problem is the society we live in throws it at you every minute of the day. If we would have our heads in the gemaro (and not the net) we would be OK.

 
Blogger Albert said...

Is it allowed for a jewish man to go down on his wife?

 
Blogger LEAH KLEIM said...

No ! it is not OK !

 
Blogger SammyKay said...

Here's a formal answer from a chashuv Rav. It isn't assur, but because it usually brings on impure thoughts, it should be avoided. However, for a woman who's reached a certain age and does not have a husband, I don't see what the problem is with relieving the sexual tension every once in a while. http://www.dinonline.org/2011/01/11/female-masturbation-in-halachah/

 
Blogger I❤️lipa said...

What is if it comes out in middle of sleeping?

 

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