[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)

Akiva Miller via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Sun Aug 9 14:11:32 PDT 2015

R"n Toby Katz wrote:

<<< To clarify what to some may seem a minor point:  sex  absolutely IS
required for survival.  An individual can survive  without it, but the
human species in general and Klal Yisrael in  particular cannot survive
without reproduction.  Our nitzchius is  absolutely dependent on this
particular activity, which is why "peru urevu"  is actually a mitzva and
not "mutar if you wish." >>>

Yes, that's true. But please note that you yourself are referring to "peru
urevu". My question concerns a different mitzva, namely Onah, wherein sex
is explicitly linked to food and clothing/shelter. I don't think it is a
big stretch to say that the common thread of these three things is how
important they are to this particular individual, and NOT how important
they are to the species.

<<< ... for men, this activity is actually physically impossible without
pleasure. A woman can be "kekarka" as Esther Hamalka was  but a man
cannot.  And for this reason, among others, the idea of  "objectifying men"
is just ridiculous. >>>

I think we may be understanding the word "objectify" in different ways.

Contrary to what some might think, not all men are constantly obsessed with
having sex. At any given point in time, a particular man might have other
priorities - other activities that he'd rather do than this one. But a
husband cannot give higher priority to these activities over Onah, just
like he can't choose them over minyan, or other mitzvos. He must be
sensitive to his wife's needs and wants, and if he senses her mood, he is
under a chiyuv d'Oraisa to act accordingly. (Actually, he'll have this
chiyuv even if he does NOT sense her mood accurately, in which case he will
have been Mevatel the Aseh b'shogeg, though I suppose it could easily be
argued that it's more of a "shogeg karov l'meizid" if he hasn't even tried
to judge her mood accurately.)

But there is no flip side to Onah. The wife has no responsibility to judge
her husband's desires. In fact, even if she does realize that he is "in the
mood", there is no Chiyuv d'Oraisa for her to ignore her other desires and
respond to her husband's desires. Sure, it could well be advisable for her
to do so for Shalom Bayis reasons, and one might even call it a "chiyuv" in
that context, but the imbalance remains: Her chiyuv would be Shalom Bayis
alone, while the husband must deal with both Shalom Bayis and Onah.

That's what I meant by "objectify": Much of Orach Chaim 240 is to protect
the wife from a forcible rape (for instance, she can't be asleep or drunk),
and much is also to protect her from more subtle rape (such as thinking of
another woman). But there are far fewer protections offered to the husband.
Neither can be drunk, and neither can have decided to divorce, but in
general, the wife is within her rights to demand relations whenever she
wants, and to me, this can "objectify" the husband.

RTK reminds us that the husband *will* have pleasure from this. But that is
exactly my point: If someone is required to have a pleasure that (for
whatever reason) he does not actually *desire*, it is a sort of rape.

RTK also wrote:

<<< He seems to be saying that if a man derives pleasure from being with
his wife, he is ipso facto "objectifying" her.  But human beings derive
pleasure from each other all the time, ... it is just absurd to think that
if another person gives me some kind of pleasure, I have "objectified" that
person. >>>

You are correct. Merely receiving pleasure does not automatically objectify
a person.

But if one receives pleasure without returning that pleasure to the giver,
this carries a danger of objectifying the giver. And if one receives
pleasure against the giver's will, that is the very definition of
"objectifying" (in my view).

R"n Chana Luntz wrote:

<<< In order to have an informed discussion, don't you need to read Orech
Chaim 240 in light of Even HaEzer 25 and particularly the Rema in si'if 2
there? And further read the Tur (and the meforshim on the Tur) in Even
HaEzer simin 25 to get a fuller picture of the sources (and the original
gemora sources) - so you can see the history of the machlokus on how to
deal with this issue all the way back. >>>

Indeed, the first few times I saw that Rema, he seemed to be saying,
verbatim, that "you can do anything you want, and whenever you want to do
it." A sexual hefkervelt, a world with no rules. But a more careful reading
shows that he is only making two specific points: That there are no
restrictions on positions, and that (as we've already said in this thread)
the timing restrictions of O"C 240 are a "madrega" but not the basic

But aside from these points, I see OC 240 and EH 25 as very similar: Their
main focus concerns the *mental* state, and it is in this area (it seems to
me) that Shulchan Aruch - including all acharonim until quite recently -
endorses a very prishus-oriented approach.

RCL again:

<<< I confess there seems to me to be a pretty straightforward explanation
- the influence of the outside world. ... In a world which identified
relations with sin and death (standard Xtian theology of the time, and the
Muslim theology in many circles was not that different) - it would have
been inappropriate, and led to general looseness if the general non Jewish
world view had been repudiated to the extent consonant with the positive
positions found in Chazal. >>>

There are many responses I could give to this. Perhaps the simplest would
be: So then let Shulchan Aruch be silent; why did they choose to pasken
overtly like the prishus view?

Akiva Miller
(now at AkivaGMiller at gmail)
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