Peninei Halakha

04. Between Love and Lust

Two paths are available to couples: on the good path, the emphasis is on love; on the bad path, the emphasis is on lust. One who follows the evil impulse cares only about himself, chasing women to satisfy his desires. In contrast, one who follows his good impulse wishes to truly love his wife and bring her maximum pleasure. At the very least, he remains faithful to her. Someone who lusts and someone who loves resemble each other at first, but then the paths diverge. The lust of someone who follows his evil impulse does not last, and all his relationships fall apart, ending in disappointment. In contrast, the sacred love of someone who follows the good path grows ever stronger and deeper.

Occasionally, a person following the path of the evil impulse appears to be willing to do anything for his partner. In order to gratify his desires, he is prepared to go to great lengths to court her, spend exorbitant amounts of money on her, buy her expensive jewelry, pay her endless compliments, and even rejoice in whatever makes her happy. However, because his primary intention is self-gratification, he is really using her. In general, despite his pronouncements and declarations, he would prefer not to marry, since he can satisfy his lusts without marriage. Even if he does agree to get married, as long as his primary objective is self-gratification, he will never truly love his wife. Rather, he will merely exploit her body, so their relationship will grow weaker and weaker.

In extreme cases of being driven by lust, a man is even willing to rape a woman to satisfy his evil impulse. Such an act is motivated by sheer lust and completely devoid of love. On the contrary, when he comes back to his senses, he will hate his victim, just as Amnon hated Tamar after he raped her: “Amnon felt a very great loathing for her” (2 Shmuel 13:15). Lust attempts to take the place of love, but once sobriety returns, the rapist realizes that he still feels hollow and depressed. But instead of loathing himself, he projects his loathing onto the woman he raped.

In contrast, a man who follows the path of love wants a truly loving relationship with his wife. He is very careful not to hurt her, and he tries to give her as much joy as he can. Above all, he cares about her and her well-being. As time goes on, their relationship deepens. Although they get older, the years do not wear them down. Instead, their love intensifies, and they become infinitely close. Such love is precious, sacred, and unabashed.

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman