Limiting marital relations-A small limb that when satisfied becomes hungry

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F. A small limb that the more it is satisfied the hungrier it gets – Overindulgence can kill intimacy and create addiction:[1]

The Sages[2] state that, “There is a small limb in a man that when he satiates it, it is hungry, and when he starves it, it is satiated.” [Literally, this means that one who increases in marital relations causes himself to have an even greater lust for relations.[3] Thus, frequent intercourse is to be avoided due to potentially causing addiction. Additionally, this means that one who increases in marital relations releases his energy and causes himself to feel weak in his older years.[4] Some[5] learn that the above saying of the Sages is only referring to forbidden relations; that forbidden relations never satisfy one’s lusts, while permitted relations, such as with one’s wife, does satisfy one’s lusts. This is due to another Talmudic statement that Hashem took the pleasure of Tashmish and handed it to the forbidden relations.[6] Accordingly, it is proper not to have relations too often as doing so will satiate him and reduce the lust one has for his wife. This can, in turn, then cause him to lust after the forbidden and perform abominable sins, such as homosexuality, bestiality, or watching pornography.[7] The Ra’avad states in Ba’alei Hanefesh Sha’ar Hakedusha, “The Yetzer influences the person to satiate himself with the permitted and fulfill all his lusts. After he satiates all his lusts, if he will be unable to further satiate it with the permitted, he will try to satiate it with the forbidden, and from the light sin he will draw one to the severe sin, until he tells him to do Avoda Zara.” Unfortunately, these holy words of the Ra’avad have proven themselves again and again as true. As a Rav, I have encountered a number of cases in which couples from the most Frum backgrounds and Chassidic upbringings, who are stringent to not even hold internet or non-Kosher phones, have descended to the pits of impurity, to the point that it is questionable according to Halacha as to whether they may even remain married. In all these cases, the Yetzer Hara worked one step at a time, at first convincing the person to break some of the acts of piety discussed in this chapter, and then after satiating himself with that, by convincing him to try some of the “lightly” prohibited actions in this chapter, and then graduating to more heavy transgressions. After acting this way for some time and filling one’s lusts with these pleasures, the inclination then needs to progress to something new and stimulating, and it can lead to clearly prohibited activity in the field of Giluy Arayos, usually beginning with pornographic material and Zera Levatala, and then Issur Niddah, and then graduating even to Issur Eishes Ish Mamash! Every person who has a “Mo’ach B’kadkado/brain in his head” must take to heart the words of the Sages that by satiating the lusts, he makes them more hungry, and there is no telling how far it will go. Therefore, every couple must set for themselves boundaries which they will not pass in order to keep their intimacy healthy and strong.]

How much is too much:[8]  One who has relations by both night and day is considered to be over satiating himself. [Seemingly, this statement was said in application to the maximum frequency of Onah which is once a day for a Tayal, as explained in Chapter 2 Halacha 2B. However, in truth, those who have a lesser frequency of Onah would be considered to be overindulging if they do it more frequent than their minimum requirement, without justifiable reason, as explained in chapter 2 Halacha 7C.]


[1] Michaber 240:1; See Elya Raba 240:5; Kaf Hachaim 240:23

[2] Michaber ibid; Sukkah 52b; Sanhedrin 107a

[3] Rashi in Sanhedrin ibid

[4] Rashi in Sukkah ibid; Rambam Dei’os 4:19; Michaber 240:14

[5] K’li Yakar Vayeishev 39:6

[6] Sanhedrin 75a

[7] See Ramban Devarim 29:18

[8] Tosafos in Sukkah ibid based on Sanhedrin ibid

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