[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)
Marty Bluke via Avodah
avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Thu Jul 23 01:16:41 PDT 2015
R' Aharon Lichtenstein was bothered by the difference in opinion regarding
marital intimacy between Chazal who seem to have a very positive attitude
and the Rishonim (especially the Rambam) who have a very negative attitude
and the attitude of contemporary authorities who seem to have swung back to
the positive side:
"We, for our part, are confronted by a quandary of our own; and it is dual.
At one plane, we ask ourselves, within the context of our learn- ing—it is
Torah, and we must learn—a simple and straightforward ques- tion. In light
of the predominant evidence we have noted from Hazal and, particularly, its
halakhic component, how and why did Rambam, Ramban, and some other
rishonim, deviate so markedly from their prevalent attitude? With reference
to yetser (the inclination)—generic in connotation but defined by Rashi as
shel tashmish (sexual desire)—Hazal identify it as one of a triad which,
optimally, one should “let the left hand deflect and the right hand bring
close” (Sota 47a). One sometimes gets the impression that the proportion
was subsequently inverted.
To the extent that we do succeed in harmonizing the positions of Hazal and
of rishonim, we ameliorate the pressure of one issue but exacerbate that of
another. For we are brought, in turn, to a second quandary: our own. While
I have conducted no empirical survey, I believe there is little question
regarding the sensibility of the contempo- rary Torah world, irrespective
of camp and orientation. We stand, fun- damentally, with R. Bar-Shaul. We
assert the value of romantic love, its physical manifestation included,
without flinching from the prospect of concomitant sensual pleasure; and we
do so without harboring guilt or reservations. "
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