[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos

Kenneth Miller via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Tue Jul 28 15:58:41 PDT 2015

R"n Toby Katz wrote:

> It seems to me we are using the words "psak" and "poskim" too
> loosely.  If it's psak you want, I think all sources, rishonim
> and acharonim, agree that marital intercourse is always mutar
> (assuming  the usual, the wife is not a nidah, it's not forced,
> it's not Yom  Kippur, etc).  What we are really talking about
> here is hashkafa, not  psak -- even if it is in the Shulchan
> Aruch.  What frequency is optimum? ... ...

Maybe, and maybe not. Let's look at the words.

I'm focusing on Orach Chaim 240. The word "asur" appears a fair amount of the time, but there are other categorizations used as well, such as "lo y'hay" (don't be that sort of person), or "lo [insert verb here]" (don't do that). I was once told that the word "asur" is to be taken literally, but the other terms are not as strong, and simply means that these actions are ideally to be avoided, actually mutar (which might also be RTK's point).

But if that is how we are to understand the vocabulary, then we have a whole new way of reading the Shulchan Aruch. Here are some examples: It's not assur to shmooze between Geulah and Tefillah of Maariv. (236:2) It's not assur to say Shehecheyanu on the Lulav on the second day. (662:2)

  Surely that is at least
> partly subjective, and any of the various  sources that apparently disagree with each other 
can be drawn upon when  you're looking for something to back up what your gut 
tells you is right.   I can easily see a modern day rav or Torah mentor 
varying his answers depending  on the circumstances of the wife and husband who 
are asking him for advice, as  well as accepted societal norms.  Also it 
seems to me that with all  the talk about minimizing this-worldly pleasure -- 
which in general is a  Torah-dik thing to do -- we are also losing sight of 
the husband's obligation of  onah.  For a wife, physical closeness is tied to 
emotional closeness and it  is often not, strictly speaking, a this-worldly 
pleasure but a real  emotional need, which a husband has at least some 
obligation to fulfill.
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