Chapter: 03 – Sanctity and Intention

01. Depraved Lust

The human sex drive is a powerful thing; it can be extraordinarily positive, and it can drag people down to the depths of depravity. It can lead a person to pursue another person’s spouse, to engage in forbidden sexual relations, … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 01. Depraved Lust

02. Free Will

Since desire and lust can bring a person so low, some gentile philosophers and theologians maintain that the way to reach spiritual heights is to stay as far as possible from lust and desire. Some rejected marriage entirely, and other … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 02. Free Will

03. Two Levels of Sanctity in Marriage

There are two levels in the sanctity of marriage. The basic level is when a couple upholds their marriage vows, remaining faithful and not betraying each other. The higher level is when a couple also tries to deepen their love, … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 03. Two Levels of Sanctity in Marriage

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. … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 04. Between Love and Lust

05. The Sanctity of Avoiding Sexual Transgression

As we have learned, the basic level of sanctity in marriage is when a husband and wife form a halakhic relationship and avoid sexual transgressions (gilui arayot). Rambam lists 37 Torah prohibitions in his Laws of Sexual Prohibitions, which can … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 05. The Sanctity of Avoiding Sexual Transgression

06. Mitzvot as a Safeguard Against Sin

In addition to the intrinsic value of the mitzva of ona, which gives expression to the love between husband and wife, the mitzva also serves as a shield against adultery. For this reason, unmarried people are more vulnerable to sexual … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 06. Mitzvot as a Safeguard Against Sin

07. Mental and Spiritual Health

It is important to add that joyful fulfillment of the mitzva of ona improves one’s mental health and well-being. God created human beings with different drives, with the sex drive prominent among them. While not everyone is the same with … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 07. Mental and Spiritual Health

08. Purity and Impurity

We still need to explain two halakhot, one Torah law and one rabbinic, that seem to indicate that despite the sanctity of the mitzva of ona, it has an aspect of impurity as well. According to the Torah, semen ejaculated … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 08. Purity and Impurity

09. Ezra’s Ordinance

As we mentioned above, the Torah declares semen impure. Ezra the Scribe and his court extended this, ordaining that any man who had sexual relations or otherwise ejaculated semen may not pray or study Torah until immersing in a mikveh … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 09. Ezra’s Ordinance

10. Levels of Holiness and Mindfulness

Let us review some essentials: The mitzva of ona is unique in that its sanctity is revealed in material reality. Moreover, even physical passion and desire, which are generally inclined toward the evil impulse, are transformed by it into a … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 10. Levels of Holiness and Mindfulness

11. Rambam’s Approach

Rambam, consistent with his worldview, sees bodily needs and pleasures as mere means to the ultimate end – spiritual service of God. Nevertheless, God created flesh-and-blood human beings, who must take very good care of their bodies, since it is … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 11. Rambam’s Approach

12. Ascetic Sanctity and Sublime Love

There is another approach as well. It agrees that there is sanctity in the sexual union of husband and wife, which causes the Shekhina to dwell with them and thereby reveals divine unity in the world, unites heaven and earth, … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 12. Ascetic Sanctity and Sublime Love

13. The Primary Path to Holiness

In practice, based on what we have learned from the Sages and the poskim, the primary way to fulfill the mitzva of ona is that the more love and pleasure shared by husband and wife, the more holy they become. … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 13. The Primary Path to Holiness

14. The Mitzva and Makhshirei Mitzva

As we discussed above (2:4), ona is referred to as derekh eretz, which makes it clear that this mitzva must be fulfilled joyfully and pleasurably, as is the way of the world. The mitzva is not meant to repress our … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 14. The Mitzva and Makhshirei Mitzva

15. In Exile and in Redemption

The general state of the Jewish people affects the joy of the mitzva of ona because the sacred bond between every Jewish husband and wife parallels the bond between God and the Jewish people. The Sages explain in the Mishna … Continue reading

Posted in 03 – Sanctity and Intention | Comments Off on 15. In Exile and in Redemption