07. Marital Relations

The fifth form of deprivation is abstaining from marital relations. To ensure that no one comes to sin, married couples should behave as they do during nidda times: They should not touch one another and should sleep in separate beds (SA 615:1; MB ad loc. 1).[9]

Several Ashkenazic Rishonim write that on the day before Yom Kippur, men should avoid foods likely to cause a nocturnal seminal emission (Rema 608:4). Nowadays, doctors do not know which foods cause this, so it is not necessary to avoid any particular foods. Young men should avoid sleeping in positions which they know are likely to lead to a nocturnal emission. Many recite the first four chapters of Tehilim before they go to sleep, in the hope that the merit of this recitation will help prevent a nocturnal emission (MB 619:14).


[9]. Taz maintains that nidda restrictions must be followed only on the night of Yom Kippur. However, SA 615:1 does not distinguish between day and night, nor do MB (ad loc. 1 based on MA), Eliya Rabba, Birkei Yosef, SAH, and Ḥayei Adam (who are all stringent regarding both). Nevertheless, when necessary, one may be lenient during the day (Elef La-mateh ad loc. 1; Ben Ish Ḥai, Vayelekh §15). Thus, a couple may serve as kvaterim at a brit mila on Yom Kippur, even though this involves the wife passing the baby to her husband (Halikhot Shlomo 5:22).

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