Chapter: 02 – The Laws of Ona

01. The Parameters of the Mitzva – The Pinnacle of Pleasure

The mitzva of ona is for a man to bring pleasure and joy to his wife as best he can and to achieve complete sexual union with her, lovingly and with abundant joy (as explained in 1:2 above). Every man … Continue reading

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02. The Man’s Duty and the Woman’s Mitzva

The obligation of ona is incumbent upon the man, as the verse states, “He shall not withhold she’erah, kesutah, or onatah” (Shemot 21:10). Ramban explains that she’erah refers to flesh-to-flesh contact during intimacy, kesutah refers to the bed and bedding … Continue reading

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03. The Man’s Mitzva

A few hours before having sexual relations, a husband should express his love for his wife and his eager anticipation of their upcoming intimacy. Doing so will correspondingly arouse his wife, filling her with love and desire. They should both … Continue reading

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04. Derekh Eretz

God created man and woman to yearn for one another naturally. This sexual attraction is a good thing; indeed it is the foundation of the mitzva of ona. The Sages declare: “The way of the world (derekh eretz) preceded the … Continue reading

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05. The Woman’s Mitzva

As we saw in section 2, even though the mitzvot of marriage and ona devolve upon men, women are equal partners in the fulfillment of the mitzva. Without her responsiveness to her husband, the mitzva is emptied of all its … Continue reading

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06. Women and the Virtue of Nonverbal Cues

The Sages say, “Any woman who propositions her husband to fulfill the mitzva [of ona] will have children the like of whom did not exist even in the generation of Moshe” (Eruvin 100b). This is what our matriarch Leah did: … Continue reading

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07. The Times of Ona

The mitzva of ona depends on a husband’s stamina as well as his profession, as the Sages say in the Mishna: “The ona of which the Torah speaks is daily for tayalim (see below for a definition), twice a week … Continue reading

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08. Beyond the Set Times

In addition to the set obligation of the mitzva of ona, which for most men is twice a week, it is a mitzva for every husband to have sexual relations with his wife when she desires him, as long as … Continue reading

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09. Mikveh Night and the Night Before Traveling

It is a mitzva for a man to have sexual relations with his wife on the night she immerses in the mikveh (SA EH 76:4). If he does not do so, he has neglected a mitzva of the Torah and … Continue reading

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10. Friday Night

The Sages say that the habit of Torah scholars is to fulfill the mitzva of ona on Friday night (Ketubot 62b), and of them it is written, “That yields its fruit in its season” (Tehilim 1:3). Halakhic authorities add that … Continue reading

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11. Men Who Have Difficulty Fulfilling the Mitzva

Everything we have learned regarding the man’s duty of ona relates to healthy men, who transgress a Torah prohibition if they subtract from the set frequency for ona. If this behavior continues, it is obvious grounds for divorce, and the … Continue reading

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12. Women Who Have Difficulty Fulfilling the Mitzva

As we learned (section 1 above), the essence of the mitzva is for a husband to pleasure his wife and give her as much joy as he can, until she reaches orgasm. However, this is not in the hands of … Continue reading

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13. Flawed Sexual Union and the Resulting Children

The Sages commend those who sanctify themselves during marital sexual relations, stating that they will merit having good children (Shevu’ot 18b). This “sanctity” entails the couple concentrating solely on their wholehearted love for one another. The greater their love, and … Continue reading

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14. Inappropriate Times for Sexual Relations

Marital sexual relations are prohibited during times of national crisis, such as widespread famine or war. Only those who have not yet fulfilled the mitzva of procreation may be intimate during such times (Ta’anit 11a; SA 240:12; MB ad loc. … Continue reading

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15. Privacy

Privacy (tzni’ut; lit. “hiddenness”) is an expression of the sanctity of the mitzva of ona; Rashi explains the Sages’ exhortation to sanctify oneself: “Engage in sexual relations in a private manner” (Nidda 71a). This precious mitzva is meant to express … Continue reading

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16. Sexual Intimacy with the Lights On

It is forbidden to have sexual relations during the day, as it is forbidden to do so in the light. This is a matter of modesty and privacy, which is a characteristic Jewish trait (Yevamot 79a). The Sages said, “The … Continue reading

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17. In the Presence of Sacred Texts

Even though the sanctity of the mitzva of ona is very great, it is still necessary to separate different realms; the mitzva of ona involves unbounded physical liberation and joy, whereas Torah must be studied with a sense of dread, … Continue reading

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18. Anal Intercourse

Normal sexual intercourse is vaginal, but some people desire anal intercourse, which the Talmud calls bi’a she-lo ke-darka, “abnormal intercourse.” Clearly, if anal sexual intercourse is painful for the wife or done against her wishes, it is forbidden. But what … Continue reading

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19. Oral Sex

The Talmud relates that R. Yoḥanan b. Dahavai said, “The ministering angels told me four things…. Why are people born mute? Because [their fathers] kissed the vagina…. Why are people born blind? Because [their fathers] gazed at the vagina” (Nedarim … Continue reading

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