[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)

Kenneth Miller via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Thu Jul 23 10:15:16 PDT 2015

Many posters - and their quoted sources - have compared the desire for intercourse with the desire for food. What I have not seen is any comparison between the *enjoyment* of intercourse and the enjoyment of food.

Halacha restricts our eating in many ways, and we are taught that this is to curb our desires. But there are seem to be many exceptions to this, and I don't see parallels to intercourse.

We have mitzvos where eating is merely a physical act used as a means to some other end. Achilas Matza might be the best example of this. We need to internalize the matzah and its lessons, but any enjoyment that we might get from this eating is utterly irrelevant. This seems quite comparable to the intercourse, where it is merely a means towards having children. The enjoyment that one gets from the intercourse (like from the matza) is irrelevant - or perhaps even lower, to be eschewed.

One might cite Rama Even Haezer 25:2, which lists various permitted forms of intercourse, but to me, that is like saying "You can eat your meat broiled or cooked or fried, as long as you don't put milk in it, and don't eat it too often either." This is NOT what we are told about meat. Rather we are told that eating meat is the only way to enjoy Yom Tov.

We are taught that eating is proper and good. When a simcha arises, we must make a meal so as to properly celebrate it. And if there are overlapping simchas, we should add an extra course so that each simcha gets its due. Red wine is more appropriate than white, but if you personally enjoy white, then go for it.

Zeh haklal: Eating is proper as long as you don't overdo it. Sex is proper as long as you minimize it. - Is the difference really that subtle? To me, it is as subtle as a brick.

R' Marty Bluke posted:

> ( http://traditionarchive.org/news/_pdfs/lichtenstein.pdf ) where
> he discusses this question and brings many of the sources.

Indeed he does bring many sources. And I was particularly intrigued by his conclusion, that the general thrust of recent authorities seems to be very different from before that:

> 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 contemporary Torah world, irrespective of camp
> and orientation. ... 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. We insist, of course, upon its
> sanctification—this, within the context of suffusive kedusha of
> carnal experience, generally. 

and yet, a page later,

> Assuming these facts to be correct — as regards my own spiritual
> environs, I can attest directly — we ask ourselves: How and why
> do we depart from positions articulated by some of our greatest
> — "from whose mouths we live and from whose waters we drink" -
> and, is this departure legitimate? Are we victims of the Zeitgeist,
> swept along by general socio-historical currents? Do we tailor our
> attitude on this issue to conform to appetitive convenience and
> erotic desire? Have we, in this case, adopted a self-satisfying
> posture of facile world-acceptance clothed in culturally correct
> garb?

I did not find his answers to these questions very satisfying.
But I do find his *asking* them to be extremely comforting.

Akiva Miller

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