[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos

Micha Berger via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Wed Jul 29 14:57:24 PDT 2015

On Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 12:11:28PM +0000, Kenneth Miller via Avodah wrote:
: 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....
: >                             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).

Which is why I quibbled with RnTK's language. Becauser I think it's
assur -- really and actually assur -- not to try for perishus where
possible. It's a bitul asei of "qedoshim tihyu".

However, a mitzvah of hilkhos dei'os is to stretch, to move the nequdas
habechirah and is therefore not only "at least partly subjective" but
necessarily subjective. And if the criteria for behavior could be spelled
out non-subjectively, they would be spelled out in chovos ha'eivarim.

: I had posted:
:: Zeh haklal: Eating is proper as long as you don't overdo it.
:: Sex is proper as long as you minimize it.

: R' Micha Berger responded:
:> ... because of the biological differences. Sex differs in two ways:
:> ... 2- You can survive without it. A few days without food though...

: Really? Can we really survive without it? You and me, I suppose,
: but that's because we are male.

Under normal circumstances, one can't go 3 days without food and
water. Not just "one would be miserable if", but actual death.
I am not sure how you could compare the need for intimacy to
that kind of mechanistic do-or-die.

: RTK referenced mitzvas onah. In the Torah's view, sex is as essential
: as food and shelter are. But only for women.

I disagree. And BTW, my #1 which you ellided /was/ mitzvas onah.

: Regardless of whether we're talking about physical closeness
: or emotional closeness, it seems that the Torah is concerned about
: closeness only for the woman, and not for the man. For women, closeness
: is a need which must be met; for men, closeness is a taavah which must
: be controlled.

Or, the Torah presumes that opportunity is in the hands of men. Not
a difference in desire. Or -- a 3rd possibility -- lehefech, men
are presumed more likely to get distracted by their own taavos and
objectify their spouse and therefore the chiyuv of onah to focus
on someone else's psychological needs.

In any case, the requirement to avoid misery would motivate a chiyuv,
one needn't define it as a need. Esperically since biologically, it's
not necessary for survival the way food, drink or air are.

But getting back to what you're saying here... Let me repeat point #1
in different phrasing:
Because onah is indeed a chiyuv, saying that it should be minimized
outside the realm of mitzvah isn't that much of a minimization.

And yet, the threat of erotic desire becoming an end in itself is
both more damaging, since there will be other victims beyond the
self-destructive aspect and more likely. (In most people's psychology --
it's not like there is an internet food "porn" industry.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Worrying is like a rocking chair:
micha at aishdas.org        it gives you something to do for a while,
http://www.aishdas.org   but in the end it gets you nowhere.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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