Preface to Sefer-Kedushas Habayis

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

Buy Now!


1. The importance of studying the Halachic and Mussar works on the subject of intimacy:

The Sh’lah Hakadosh writes as follows:[1] “One must guard and fulfill all the words of the Tur in O.C. 240 and E.H. 25. Do not ignore anything that is mentioned there. One must know by heart every word that is written there. Regarding the mysticism of intercourse, I command you to study chapter 16 in Reishis Chochma from beginning to end, many times. My sons, I guarantee you that if you study the above two chapters in the Tur and chapter 16 in Reishis Chochma, many times until you have become an expert in them and do not swerve from their words, then praised you will be in this world and the next. You will have good children with holy souls.” The first two great sages who wrote an entire treatise on the subject of sanctification during intimacy are the Ramban and Ra’avad. The Ra’avad in his Sefer Ba’alei Hanefesh [Shaar Hakedusha], as well as the Ramban in what is now knows as Igeres Hakodesh of the Ramban,[2] write at length about this subject, giving the reader knowledge of a) the holiness of intimacy b) the effects it has on the forthcoming children and c) the actions needed to be taken in order to sanctify intimacy and ensure that righteous children are born. Later, the Reishis Chochmah wrote an entire chapter dedicated to this subject, compiling it from Kabalistic sources in the Zohar and words of the Ramak.  

2. The purpose of this Sefer and its aspirations:

The purpose of this Sefer is to provide the English-speaking public with the full breadth of Halachic and Hashkafic knowledge on everything related to the subject of intimacy. Our aspirations are to give the Jewish world the knowledge necessary for intimacy to take place according to Halacha; the matters permitted versus those forbidden, and that which couples may perform in order to achieve a loving and peaceful relationship and satisfy each other’s needs. Likewise, with this book, we desire to encourage Jewish couples to perform intimacy in a most pious and holy manner, and give couples the proper perspective in love versus lust, thus creating a true and lasting bond in the marital bedroom, versus one of temporary gratification which leads to deteriorating relationships. Likewise, we aspire that the raising of the level of Kedusha in the bedroom that this book is set to influence will have a long and lasting effect on the current and coming generation, meriting the Jewish people with pure and holy children, with the hope of diminishing children who go off the Derech.

3. The content of the book and its focus:

Halacha: This book is primarily a compilation of Halachic rulings and sources, which are scattered throughout the Talmud and Poskim, on the subject of marital intimacy as well as the acts of piety recorded in the Sifrei Mussar and Kabbalah. Gathering all this Halachic information compiled from hundreds of sources into a single book will allow the reader to research any questions he may have, related to marital intimacy, as sensitive and shy as one may be, without feeling intimidated to ask a Rav a question on the matter; which many avoid due to their bashfulness, and end up being lenient or stringent unnecessarily. Thus, this book is primarily meant to serve as a Halachic encyclopedia on the subject of marital intimacy, and covers all Halachic questions relevant to the subject. The Sefer provides the reader with a clear summary of the Shulchan Aruch in the laws of intimacy, as well as a clear and concise directive and ruling of various Halachic queries within the topics covered in order to give the English reader the most organized, clear and resourced literature available on this subject, with a wealth of practical Q&A. In addition, it provides a wealth of information in the footnotes, which include sources, reasons, overviews of the rulings of other Poskim, and clarifications. Thus, the goal of this Sefer is on the one hand to give the English-speaking public clear guidance of answers to Halachic questions, and at the same time hand him vast background knowledge of the subject at hand, as well as knowledge of other opinions on the given subject, thus fulfilling the Rebbe’s instructions that every Jew is to be wealthy in knowledge of Torah.

Hadracha-Direction for facilitating satisfying intimacy: A second, but more marginal aspect of this book, is practical advice and educational information relating to intimacy, its facilitation, and how to engage in it in a pleasing and satisfying manner. Many books have already been written on this subject both by orthodox and secular authors, and they contain much practical and useful advice that couples can utilize in raising the quality of their intimacy. Being primarily a book of Halacha, as explained above, this Sefer does not delve into this subject as deep and as broad as it can, and perhaps should, be discussed. The in-depth discussion of this subject, and addressing various situations and challenges that couples may face in intimacy is beyond the normal field of a Rav, and is more under the field of a psychologist and therapist who specializes in this area. Even in my years of experience as a Chasan teacher where I was faced with many challenges from newly-wed couples in this realm, I would refer them to specialists who deal with this field rather than rely on my own amateur advise. Some people erroneously place a lot of faith into Rabbanim in matters that are beyond their field of Halacha, believing that they can advise on matters which require years of education, knowledge and experience in order for one to be properly qualified to advise on. Even Chasan and Kallah teachers are not necessarily equipped or educated enough to advise on this subject, as I have learned from experience, unless they independently take special focus on this field and become properly educated in it, which usually takes years of work. There are many difficult situations which couples face in intimacy relating to pain, pre-ejaculation, and other real impediments that must be addressed for their intimate life to become a pleasant reality. As stated above, books on this subject written by experts in the field already exist, and there is no need for this Sefer, of which its focus is Halacha, to delve into a separate but related field beyond its scope of expertise. These books are a blessed idea (coming to help many couples in different serious challenges that they face in their marital life and during intimacy) and are advised to be read by all couples who are in need of detailed guidance in how to achieve pleasant and satisfying intimacy. Indeed, Rav Moshe Feinstein[3] encouraged Chassanim and newlywed husbands to study educational guides which will help them make intimacy enjoyable for their wives, and hence the above books should be read by all those in need of their information. Nonetheless, despite the above, certain basic directives, suggestions, and advice are offered throughout the book to help the couple balance an enjoyable experience of intimacy following the guidelines of Halacha, similar to that which is taught during Chasan and Kallah classes. Likewise, there are many aspects relating to the steps of intimacy, recorded amongst Sefarim, which are part of the primary focus of this book to compile all the Torah directives relating to the subject. In that respect, this Sefer stands out from other similar Halacha Sefarim[4] states that Rav Kahana hid under the bed of his teacher Rav in order to learn how to perform intimacy according to Torah, and hence we see that a Halacha Sefer on the subject of intimacy cannot just be a dry calculated and methodical list of restrictions, but must also contain direction on how to positively engage in intercourse so it be a pleasurable experience for the couple. It is this basic form of instruction which our Sefer engages in, without delving into more complex scenarios that couples may face.

Hashkafa: A major part of this book is the delineation of the proper perspective that a Jew should have towards intimacy according to Torah and the classical works of Mussar and Kabbalah. There is a unique Jewish philosophy recorded regarding intimacy and being indoctrinated with this perspective is as important as the study of the laws themselves. The entire first chapter is dedicated to this purpose, and throughout the book the various laws mentioned are sprinkled with ideas reflected by this unique Jewish philosophy. Elaborations on the philosophy can also be found throughout chapters six and seven which discuss sanctifying oneself during intimacy and the proper intent that one should have in its duration.  

Taharas Hamishpacha-Nidda Laws: The focus of this book is solely on the topic of marital intimacy and does not touch at all onto any of the subjects relating to Nidda laws, which must be independently studied.

Why is the book so long? In this Sefer we have lengthened on all the possible Halachic and Hashkafic subjects relevant to marital intimacy so it serves the reader as an all-inclusive resource for any possible questions, thereby contributing to its vast length. This follows the style of the Ra’avad who writes in Ba’alei Hanefesh Shaar Hakedusha, “I desire to lengthen and elaborate this chapter being that its length is beneficial, and it talks of matters which the majority of people stumble on.”

Censored content: Some of the more graphic and explicit Halachic details which may not be relevant to all people, and only apply to certain circumstances, have been censored from the printed edition but have been made available to our readers through our website, using a special passcode to access the page. Wherever material has been censored from the book, we have made note of it in the actual text and directed the reader to the web address where the information can be found. The passcode required to view the information online is xxxxxx. The information on these pages is uniquely private and copyrighted and is prohibited from being distributed in any way or format whether in print or electronically to any other individual; and those who transgress this will be duly prosecuted according to the full extent of both Jewish and secular law.

4. For whom is the book intended

The intent of this book is to cater to the needs of Orthodox couples, each on their various levels of orthodoxy, religiosity and piety:

  1. The general Orthodox couple: First and foremost, this book caters to the Orthodox couple of all backgrounds, to give them access to an encyclopedic work on the subject of intimacy, for them to research any questions they may have.
  2. The Rabbi, Scholar, Chasan and Kallah teacher: Without doubt, an academic book of this caliber serves no one better than the local Rabbis and Chasan and Kallah teachers who will find in here a sea of resources for the various questions and situations which they may face in their clergy duty, or in their guidance of couples, and Chassanim and Kallahs prior to their weddings. We advise that Chasan and Kallah teachers read this book thoroughly and make themselves aware of all its various chapters and details so that they can offer their students the proper council according to Torah.
  3. The Modern couple: While this book follows the direction of the Poskim to encourage couples to keep to the various levels of piety discussed in this book, it does not negate the book’s usefulness also for the modern couple. In this book, couples of this background will find everything that is permitted according to the letter of the law, as well as the actions that are forbidden, so that at the very least they can keep to the basic guidelines of Jewish law in the field of intimacy. Often, couples are not properly educated in the different levels of severity of the restrictions involved, and tend to throw it all off when they decide to keep to a more modern and less strict guideline. This book will provide these couples with the proper knowledge of the letter of the law versus stringency. With that said, it is our hope that even the modern couple will see the beauty in sanctifying their intimacy to a higher level than that which is permitted by the letter of the law; how in the long run it truly raises the quality of their intimacy.
  4. The Pious couple: This book fully caters to the pious couple, who desire to do everything according to the maximum level of piety and holiness. It delineates for them the various degrees of actions done during intimacy, including/delineating those actions that are 1) forbidden from the letter of the law, 2) permitted but contain an act of piety to abstain, and 3) matters that do not even contain an act of piety to abstain from and are even encouraged. The pious couple will find here those areas that they could improve in to elevate their intimacy, and those actions that they are encouraged to perform which are not relevant to piety; and give them the knowledge to understand what matters can be done in a time of need versus those which are forbidden at all times, and which they should not be stringent at all to abstain from.
  5. The innocent couple: Despite the above usefulness of this Sefer for the pious couple, for some couples this book may be too graphic in content and chip away at their innocence, which is certainly not the intent of this book. This is, perhaps, not the intended audience for whom it was written. While this book certainly contains information that is necessary for everyone to know, it also contains information that may only be necessary for a select few who are already indulged or involved in some of the matters discussed in this book. Reading this information may prove damaging and counterproductive to one’s level of innocence and purity. We therefore suggest that such a person contact a Rav or Mashpia, and counsel with them whether it is a good idea for them to read this book, or which sections they should focus on.
  6. The couple in dispute: As with many things in married life, many couples do not share mutual views on what should be allowed to be done in the bedroom. This book caters to such couples as well, delineating the permitted versus the forbidden, and helping them navigate as to which side should acquiesce to the other. Is there room for the spouse to give in to their spouse’s request due to Shalom Bayis, or must the other spouse let go of his or her demand being that it is forbidden by the letter of the law. In general, throughout the book we explain that if something is very important to one spouse, and the matter is not forbidden from the letter of the law, then the other spouse should be open to communication and compromise even if it contains an act of piety to abstain.
  7. The repenting couple: Some couples who have already experienced much of the negated or even forbidden activities of intimacy, or do so as their current status quo, may find it difficult to find their place in this book, seeing that they are so distanced from the ideal. In truth, however, this book caters even to them, and encourages partaking in slow and gradual steps of improvement, by taking on Halachic restriction, or acts of piety, one step at a time.
  8. The couple whose intimacy is dead: Some couples may feel that their intimate life is completely dead and has had all of the fun and love sucked out of it. This book provides these couples with a fresh and new look at the entire concept of intimacy, with hopes that after the gradual changes are done as explained in this book, they will be able to take their rock bottom experience and turn it into a most holy and passionate experience of intimacy. While certainly this will not occur overnight, with patience and determination, the couple can one day achieve this goal.

5. Hashem does not expect one to perfect himself over night  – Once on the right track, Hashem considers it as if he is already fulfilling it all:[5]

In what is now considered a famous and momentous talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he explained that once a Jew starts trekking up the right track in service of G-d, G-d considers it as if he is already fulfilling everything, even if in truth there are still many aspects of his religiosity that he has yet to fix and keep. The proof for this is from the fact that a child becomes obligated to keep all the 613 commandments with all their details as soon as they become Bar/Bas Mitzvah, even though it may take a lifetime for them to learn all the details of these Halachos. The same applies to a Ger; prior to his conversion he is only taught bits and pieces of Jewish law, even though after his conversion he will be required to keep all the laws. Now, why don’t we teach the child and future convert all the detailed laws of Judaism prior to them becoming obligated in it all? Are we not preparing them for failure and transgression when they know so little of what to keep and how? So the Rebbe explains, what he himself calls a great novelty in Halacha, that once the child or convert begins studying Jewish law after their Bar/Bas Mitzvah and conversion, and they follow a scheduled pace so that eventually they will be able to learn and fulfill it all, they are now already considered to be fulfilling all the laws, even though they will surely eventually discover new laws that they were unaware of. Aside for this philosophy offering people, parents, and educators a fresh new look at their level of religiosity, or that of their children or students, it also offers a leaf of hope for many who will be reading this book. As already stated, many of our readers may feel that they are too distanced from being able to fulfill marital intimacy according to the Torah perspective, not to mention to follow all the laws and regulations, and thus may think of giving up to begin with. So, on this, we say that all they are required to do is simply begin the path of improvement, and begin adapting one thing at a time, according to the different philosophies and Halachic requirements, relevant to the realm of intimacy. Not only will this allow for gradual change until one day they will look back and see how much their intimacy has benefited from its new spiritual engagement, by following the rules and philosophies of Torah, but furthermore, even now when they begin their journey up, G-d considers it as if they are already fulfilling that which they have yet to discover or are unable to yet keep.

6. The allowance to write a book on a subject that is Untzenius to discuss publicly:[6]

The Talmud[7] states that Rav Kahana hid under the bed of his teacher Rav in order to learn how to perform intimacy according to Torah, and hence we see that intimacy is like any other subject of Torah on which we state “Torah Hi Vililmod Ani Tzarich,” and at times even normally brazen steps must be taken for the sake of its education. Many Orthodox Jews will naturally feel uncomfortable with any publication on the subject of intimacy, this one included. Some may even feel appalled and disgusted that such a breach of Tznius has just occurred by printing such a work. To those who feel this way, the response to them is that indeed they’re reacting in a very healthy and modest way which is in line with both Jewish and Chassidic philosophy. A Jew should feel uncomfortable about publicizing[8] this subject, and not feeling so may reflect not very well on his Jewish conscience. I too, the author, likewise feel most uncomfortable writing a book on the subject, let alone publicizing it, due to the private and delicate nature that it demands. Thus, their feelings are mutual, and I am completely in their support. The question however is, does this feeling reflect Daas Torah, and the instructions of the Poskim and Gedolei Yisrael. As a religious Jew, at times we must ignore our good and healthy religious conscience and do acts for the sake of the benefit of the general public which contradict our feelings. Any person who is medically forced to eat on Yom Kippur, enters this very dilemma. On this the verse[9] in Tehillim states “Es Lasos Lahashem Heifeiru Torasecha” from which we base the allowances of various matters that were once forbidden.[10] However, in our case regarding publicizing a book on marital intimacy, not only is it for the general need and benefit of the religious public, but is also not a prohibition at all, having been done throughout all the generations of Torah literature, and by Gedolei Yisrael. From Moshe Rabbeinu in the written Torah, to the writings of the prophets, Tannaim, Amorim, Rishonim, Achronim and the Shulchan Aruch, all have included intimate details of Jewish law relating to sexuality and/or marital intimacy, and have not shied away from discussing it. They did not hide it in any special work, and it is thus included in the regular pages of the Talmud[11], Mishneh Torah[12], Rishonic works of the Raavad[13] and Ramban[14], Tur[15], Shulchan Aruch[16], Siddur Beis Yaakov Emdin[17], Chayeh Adam[18], Kitzur Shulchan Aruch[19], Mishneh Berurah[20], and many other Sefarim of Rishonim and Achronim as can be evidently seen from the hundreds of Sefarim quoted in the footnotes of each section of this Sefer. It is technically accessible to all people of all ages. Now, did the authors of these great works which serve as the basis of Jewish law not share the modest refined conscious of our dear friends above who feel uncomfortable with making such matters public and accessible? Certainly, they did, and likely even more so. Why then did they choose to publicize it and take a chance of exposing the youth to such private material? While there may be other possible reasons, one can certainly suggest that the need for such matters to be accessible within Jewish law in order to impart the knowledge to the Jewish people, overrides the above concern, and hence they did so despite their feeling and worries. Some, however, may counter argue to this that they only did so as part of their main work while doing so as its own title or work may be a breach from the norm. The reply to this is that every generation requires its level of detail, proliferation and accessibility of Jewish law, in accordance to its needs. Thus, we find over a hundred years ago that Rav Yisrael Yitzchak Yanovsky of Prague published a Sefer just on this subject, titled Taharas Yisrael, with the Haskamos of Gedolei Yisrael printed there.[21] Later on in the previous and current generations, many more Sefarim focusing solely on this subject were published by G-d fearing Jews, Rabbanim and Talmidei Chachamim, and have received the praise, and often Haskamos of the Gedolei Yisrael of their times. Take for example the Sefer “Upikadeta Navecha” written by Rabbi Fink of Brooklyn, and carrying with it the Haskamos of Rav Meir Bransdofer, Rav Nissim Garelitz, Rav Avraham Pam, and other Gedolei HaRabbanim who praised him and motivated him to publicize such a work. Likewise, the most recent and detailed Hebrew Sefer on the subject titled Sheyikadesh Atzmo, written by my dear colleague Rav Y.L. Nachmanson, also carries the Haskamos of the Gedolei Rabbeni Chabad, including Rav Yuruslavski, and Rav Mendel Vechter. In their approbations they emphasize that “although in previous generations books on this subject may not have been written[22], nonetheless in these generations, books such as these are an absolute necessity and obligatory Mitzvah to publicize. With so much secular knowledge openly available on the subject, it is imperative that the side of holiness also received its right of expression, and therefore certainly and certainly it is an obligation to publish and advertise a book that is based on the words of the sages and the Poskim. [Indeed, we also spoke to some of these Rabbanim prior to publishing this book, and they likewise encouraged it as a necessity for today’s generation.] This is one example of many, and other Rabbinically accepted Sefarim on this subject written in the previous and current generation can be found in the many footnotes throughout this Sefer which cite them as sources or for further research. Accordingly, the idea that some have that such works should never see print, is not in line with the perspective of Gedolei Yisrael throughout the generations, including our generation today.

The need and right to publish an English work on this subject: It is most ironic that while those who speak the Hebrew language have benefited from tens of works on this subject, the English language reader does not have any substantial and professionally written material on the subject, written by reliable authors for whom the classical and accurate interpretation of Jewish law is the forefront of their objective. Why is it ok for the Hebrew speaking public to enjoy so many types of books on this subject, while the English speakers have to remain with nothing substantial, and often need to resort to books written by unqualified authors whose forefront objective is to create false leniencies under the cloak of scholarship. Why is it ok for anyone with Internet access without a very strong Kosher filter to have free access to the most depraved articles and imagery on the subject of intimacy, but not have accessibility to the perspectives of intimacy according to Halacha and Chassidus? Why is it ok for some Chasan and Kallah teachers to receive a free pass to teach their students whatever they feel like teaching in this realm, without there being any significant literature in existence for one to research and verify what they were taught, or at least to review it? Why is a private conversation between two people on this issue allowed but the printing of a book for them to read on their own prohibited? Why is it ok for certain Rabbis to talk openly about intimacy [or sex, using their accustomed language] and enjoy acceptance amongst the religious public, but for a book of Halacha, Kedusha and Taharah, to be written not allowed. The answer, I believe, to this paradox is simple: the Yetzer Hara does not want this material printed and desires to retain the full monopoly in the bedroom of the Jewish home. So with all due respect to the Yetzer Hara, we are now printing a book that will spear him through the eyes,[23] and provide direction of Halacha and Hashkafah to Jewish couples throughout the world, delineating the permitted versus the forbidden without bashfulness or coded words.

The words of the Pela Yoeitz: The author of the Pela Yoeitz, who is known as one of the most famous advisers of Jewish history, writes in his Sefer Ya’alzu Chassidim 167 as follows: There today exists many ignoramuses who are completely unaware of the prohibitions applicable during intimacy, and the need to sanctify oneself during it. They do not come to the Rabbis to discuss this subject as they believe it to be taboo to even talk of it. However, in truth, it is a Mitzvah on the teachers and Rabbanim to publicize it, whether orally, or in writing, without any shame or embarrassment as in truth there is no shame in it, to teach the nation the G-dly statutes of His Torah [in this field]. They should therefore raise their voices like a Shofar to teach the congregation the proper way to go regarding each and every detail relating to this subject, and they should warn the nation not to swerve from it, and to do it all L’sheim Shamayim, as this is a great rule to merit their souls and the souls of their descendants to be G-d fearing. Great is the merit of those who do this and reproof the public, they will be blessed. Likewise, in his Sefer Chesed Le’alafim 240:6 he writes, “It is a pity that people are forgetting and transgressing all this, as they do not know what is forbidden, and therefore today there are many ignoramuses who are Perutzim in this area, and there is no one to discuss these topics, as it is a matter of privacy. However, in truth, it is proper for a Torah scholar to be as bold as a leopard and tell the nation the laws of G-d and His Torah even regarding matters between man and wife; he should not fear from anything. There already exist Sefarim about this, and those who seek life should chase after them to learn them.”

The words of the Igros Moshe: There exist many Teshuvos of the Igros Moshe on the subject of intimacy, as can be seen from the many footnotes which cite his work in this Sefer. One particular Teshuvah[24], in which Rav Moshe writes regarding a specific subject of intimacy, stands out, “Although I do not desire to lengthen in the discussion of this matter and it is better that it not be written, however, since there are people who make a mistake whether to be lenient or stringent which causes, Chas Veshalom, Shalom Bayis issues, therefore, I said that it is Torah and I am forced to write on it.” These glowing words of Rav Moshe have escorted us throughout the writing of this book and have given us the courage to address even the most intimate and sometimes brazen issues if we felt it would be of benefit to the public, either to save someone from sin or for the sake of Shalom Bayis.

Rabbanim who oppose the writing of such books: The fact is that there are Rabbanim today who oppose such works due to the intended need of privacy for such subjects, and in order to not give fodder to the Leitzanei Hador. In the discussion of publishing this book we were met with Rabbanim who supported it and Rabbanim who opposed it. Indeed, in theory we all agree with the concern of the Rabbanim who oppose it, but in practice cannot ignore everything stated above regarding the need to publish such material and that doing so is the Da’as Torah throughout the generations. The vast majority of Rabbanim whom we spoke to indeed encouraged us to print an English book on this subject, and motivated bringing it to fruition and to ignore all the opposition that it may come with.

Thus, to summarize, while this book will surely be met with some form of opposition from those who claim these subjects must be left unprinted, and without doubt some of the more elderly Rabbanim will support this claim, I have decided, with the encouragement of Rabbanim and Mashpi’im, that it must be printed because of the much necessary information that couples today need to know and have no true halachic authority to tell them. Many books throughout history were first met with fierce opposition, although with the years became the heritage of the Jewish people. It is my deep prayer to G-d, Who knows that this book was written simply to transmit the truth of Torah and Halacha to the English speaking public, that He will assist in its acceptance amongst English speaking world Jewry and help create an environment of Kedusha & Tahara in their homes that will bring up a new generation of those who fight in I’kvos Meshichecha and help usher in the final redemption.

7. The need for this book

A. What’s wrong with relying on the Chasan and Kallah teachers?

Some may argue that this book is superfluous, as its teachings have already been taught to all married couples in the Chasan and Kallah classes that they were taught prior to their wedding. However, in truth, it is understood that these classes, as important as they may be, do not suffice. This is due to several reasons, including the content and accuracy of these classes, as well as the memory of the students.

Content: Students are not taught anywhere near the amount of content that this book contains, due to complexity, lack of time, and immaturity. Most are also too shy to ask and hence they make their own non-Halachic based decisions. Likewise, teachers often shy away from teaching some of the more intimate material brought here. This creates a situation in which couples may engage for years in forbidden or discouraged activities, simply due to not being taught, and if they only knew the right information, they would have been careful to keep to it.

Accuracy:[25] There is also no guarantee that the information the teacher is teaching is truly accurate. In my work as a Chasan teacher, and conversations with other colleagues in my field, I have come to discover that many forget some of the detailed Halachos, and hence may not be conveying them all properly to their students. Even worse, I have discovered, that some teachers teach their students matters that are forbidden according to Shulchan Aruch, and Hashkafos that are very distanced from Judaism, and certainly are distanced from Chassidic practice and Hashkafah. In one case, I discovered that a renowned Chasan teacher of decades had been teaching an incorrect detail in the laws of Taharas Hamishpacha, and when I informed him of such and showed him the source in the Shulchan Aruch, he confessed to me that he had not studied this material in the source for over 20 years, and now made a resolution to review it all again. In another instance, I discovered that a Kallah teacher from a very Frum and accepted family was teaching people in the community that they do not need to be careful in following the prohibitions of chapter 240, and if they enjoy it then they can do it. I would say that I was shocked, but unfortunately this is becoming so rampant that I am not shocked anymore. People who are not qualified to give Piskeiy Halacha in any field are instructing our sons and daughters in matters opposite of Kedusha and Halacha. In another case, a student of mine who I taught Chasan classes to relayed to me that he and his wife spoke to a very Chashuva Rebbetzin who told them that what they were taught is an exaggeration, and everything is permitted in bed so long as you enjoy. How merciful is our generation that a Rebbetzin tells an individual that they do not have to follow Shulchan Aruch. There are now sects of Jewry in which all the Chasan and Kallah teachers basically take this approach, that in the bedroom there are no restrictions. This approach is very distanced from Halacha and Mesorah, and this book comes to solidify the proper directives on this subject.

Memory: With time, people also come to forget much of what they have learned. Therefore, a book must be made available to cover the information that they were not given and do not know, and for them to review the information that they did receive.

The need to learn from a Chasan and Kallah teacher: Despite the above, this book does not come to replace the very important job which Chasan and Kallah teachers fulfill with the personal premarital guidance that they provide.

B. What’s wrong with the English books already written on this subject?

There are various books written in the English language which relate to the subject of intimacy, and are catered to the Torah observant public. However, for the most part, these books deal with the Torah Hashkafah of intimacy or/and various physiological and psychological issues that couples may face in intimacy, and were not written to cover the laws involved in intimacy. Accordingly, a book which covers the actual laws of intimacy is desperately needed. The English books currently openly available on the Halachas of intimacy [that I am aware of] are not written by Rabbanim or Poskei Halacha, but rather by authors who have seemingly become infatuated with the subject of intimacy [sex as they call it] and write books with their Chidushim, these often contradict the conclusions of the Shulchan Aruch. They certainly do not cover the many intricate details included in the chapters of this book, which are way beyond their field; they mainly speak on the subjects of their seeming infatuation, such as positions, areas that may be kissed, and non-vaginal intercourse. They are not coming to relay the classical understandings of the sages and orthodox Jewry on the subject, but rather to indoctrinate the public with vulgar and false Halachic information with a clear intent to permit being more indulgent in sexual pleasure. To quote from the Rebbe Rayatz, in his introduction to Kuntrus Eitz Chaim, “The atmosphere of this generation has established for us Torah scholars who purify the impure creature. We find today young men who are considered giants and geniuses, who shave off their beards and give deep analytical studies on the Talmud with the sole function of building foundations of leniency in every matter of Mitzvah. They create new approaches to be lenient in everything.” One must add, the one thing which has changed since the times of the Rebbe Rayatz, is that in today’s times even people who grow beards and perhaps consider themselves Chassidic could be guilty of the above. The Rebbe Rashab[26] likewise discusses, in Kuntrus Eitz Chaim, the great danger of Torah scholars building false conclusions with their Pilpulim of vanity, that any Pilpul must first begin with understanding the final Halacha, only then going into the Sugya to better clarify and understand it. However, to not know or accept the final Halacha, and then go on one’s own to create his own conclusions based on his own research, is very distanced from the ways of Torah, and causes one to be Migaleh Panim Batorah Shelo Kehalacha. Hence, it is clear that this book is coming to fill a big void created by the currently available English literature on this subject. On this, we can say that until now the Halachic English literature on the subject of intimacy has fulfilled the directive of the sages,[27] “Bah Litamei Poschin Lo,” that one who comes to become impure, G-d gives him the ability to. Thus, the religious Jew who desires access to the world of fictitious leniencies in the realm of intimacy has books provided for him which connivingly draw up source-based conclusions that contradict the final rulings of Shulchan Aruch and the accepted traditions of Orthodox Jewry. So it is about time that we provide the religious Jew with a proper documentation of all the laws and regulations related to intimacy which follow the classical Torah sources and accepted lines of Halachic ruling, without any inherent bias, neither to be lenient nor stringent, but to simply convey the truth of the law as it is. On this, we can apply the conclusion of the above statement of the sages, “Bah Litaher Misayin Oso,” that one who comes to become pure, G-d helps him.

8. When the book is to be read:

There is always a present danger or risk involved in reading material dealing with sexual matters, even if the material is wholesome in essence, as the mental involvement in these matters can itself stimulate a desire for it.[28] Accordingly, even a book of this holy intended nature should be read with some regulation. It goes without saying that people who are not yet married should not be involved in reading this book, and even for married men, some sections should perhaps only be read when their wives are pure. Even a bride or groom prior to their marriage should only be involved in reading this book several days prior to their marriage and not beforehand.[29]

9. Where to store this book:

Due to the intimate and private content that this book contains, it is obvious that it is to be stored in a discreet area away from the reach of children and those who are not yet married. Those who choose to keep it in the marital bedroom must make sure that the book is doubly covered in order to permit intimacy in the room. A simple solution is to place the book in a plastic bag, and then enter it into a closed drawer or closet. See Chapter 5 Halacha 13 for further details on this subject!

10. The language of the book – Encouraging refined speech:

One of the dilemmas that we faced in writing a book of this nature is the language that should be used for the various intimate terminologies. On the one hand, we don’t want to use vulgar sounding terms which would be counterproductive to the entire purpose of this book, which is to enter purity and holiness into this intimate subject. However, on the other hand, avoiding use of the normally accepted terms can lead to confusion amongst our readers, causing them to not properly understand the law in discussion. Therefore, we took a balanced middle approach throughout the writing of this book and have tried to use the most refined terms whenever possible, adding in brackets the more clearly understood terminology just in case some of our readers are unfamiliar with the more educated term that is used. In other instances where refined terms do not exist, we have used the common terminology in order not to compromise on the clarity of the Halacha in any way. This style is commonly used in many other English books that are accepted amongst the Torah world, and the English-speaking public. In truth, this philosophy finds a source in the Talmud[30] which states that in the Torah G-d abstained from using unrefined terms, such as by choosing to write “not pure” instead of “impure,” but in certain cases even unrefined terms must be used for the sake of clarity. To quote from the Rebbe, in Likkutei Sichos,[31] “Whenever the subject at hand is a Halachic ruling, then the ruling must be said in the clearest language available, even if this language is repulsive, in order that the law be absolutely clear.” With that said, it should be clearly understood to our readers that we do not encourage adapting these terms in one’s regular speech, which should always remain refined and holy. Speaking in vulgar terminology is very detrimental to the holiness and purity of one’s intimacy, and is forbidden according to Jewish law as explained in chapter 6 Halacha 5A. It should only be used when absolutely necessary for clarity purposes.

The use of the word “sex”: The word sex in the English language, and secular world, has become a word that relates to immorality, animalistic lust, and unrefined speech. Thus, throughout this book we have tried to avoid using this term as much as possible, and have chosen a more refined terminology to describe the act, such as intercourse, marital intimacy, marital relations, Onah, and the like. At times, when unavoidable, the term sex has been used; although, we encourage the readers to use only the more refined forms of speech when talking about this subject, especially with their spouse.

The intent of the word Onah and intimacy: Throughout this book, the terms Onah and intimacy have been used with synonymous meanings. These words refer to actual intercourse, unless explicitly stated otherwise. It does not refer to mere bonding, hugging and kissing.

11. Understanding the format of the Halachas provided within this Sefer and the Poskim they are based on:

A. We rule like the Shulchan Aruch:

As is known, the Rebbe lived and preached that one must be a Shulchan Aruch Yid, a Jew which every movement of his life is dictated by the directives of the Shulchan Aruch. The Rebbe Rashab writes that in today’s generations especially one must have Mesirus Nefesh not to swerve from even one letter of Shulchan Aruch.[32] Accordingly, as applicable to all books in Halacha, this book is faithful to the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch and its classically accepted commentators. While Orthodox Jewry has fully accepted the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch as binding and as the final word on the subject of Jewish law, which no one can argue or dissent irrelevant of how persuasive their argument is, unfortunately regarding the subject of marital intimacy we find elements even amongst Orthodox Jewry who argue that the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch are not really binding.[33] This attitude is mainly found among specific sects of Jewry, and is proliferated by Chasan and Kallah teachers who are not qualified to give Halachic rulings in any field of Jewish law, especially this one. This backwards attitude is very foreign to the generational Jewish philosophy held by all sects of Orthodox Jewry, in that we have accepted the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch as binding, and take the words literally, without creating Halachic acrobatics to explain how something which is ruled to be forbidden is not really meant as such. This book will provide the reader with the clear, straightforward, and classical rulings of the Poskim, without any tricks or intellectual acrobatics which manipulate their words or intents. Another strange element that we find amongst some who are in the field of giving rulings on subjects relating to marital intimacy, is the sifting through various Midrashic texts for the sake of basing a certain position or approach which they preach. Intrinsically, there’s nothing wrong with doing so and it is even a blessed part of Torah scholarship, however, when it comes to contradict the rulings of the Poskim, or the Shulchan Aruch, then it is going past its permitted threshold and it simply misleads people to think that something which is forbidden is permitted, or vice versa. The Jewish people accepted the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch; the Midrashim and Mefarshim cannot add or subtract to it, neither to force one to be stringent or allow him to be lenient.[34]   

B. Letter of the law versus stringency and Kabballah – Is this book lenient or stringent:

The below is a mere overview on this subject in relation to the format of the writing of this book. See Chapter 6 Halacha’s 1-4 for a full treatment of this matter regarding who should be stringent and why!

This book does not come to be lenient nor stringent in the various laws relating to marital intimacy, it simply comes to document that which is permitted from the letter of the law, versus that which is forbidden, as well as that which is a stringency or Hiddur of Kabbalah, we therefore have made a clear note by each action as to its level and status. It is up to each couple to decide where they are holding and what they want to keep and add on to their scrupulousness in this area. Often couples are not properly educated in the different levels of severity of the restrictions, and tend to throw it all off when they decide to keep to a more modern or less strict guideline. In other cases, one spouse chooses to be stringent regarding something that is permitted from the letter of the law, and causes much anguish to the other spouse for whom the matter may be a necessity for them to enjoy a pleasant intimacy. Unfortunately, in both of these cases, many families have been destroyed unnecessarily due to simple lack of knowledge of the permitted and the forbidden. Therefore, the philosophy of this book follows that just as important as it is for couples to know what is forbidden from the letter of the law and what ideally should be avoided even if technically permitted, so too is it equally important for them to know what is permitted from the letter of the law which may be followed when necessary.[35]

How we decided between stringency versus letter of the law: We have allowed the Shulchan Aruch and its classical commentators to speak for themselves; when these sources rule stringently on a matter, we have followed likewise, and when based on these sources it is clear that something is permitted from the letter of the law, then we too have ruled that it is permitted from the letter of the law even if other sources state differently. Nonetheless, whenever other sources are applicable, which either permit or prohibit something in contrast to the classical ruling of the Shulchan Aruch and its commentators, then we have made note of it either in the main text or in the footnotes. Often, we have written based on these more stringent sources that a pious couple should try to be stringent in the matter, despite its letter of the law allowance, if, of course, they can come to mutual consent regarding it.

Stringencies from Kabballah: In the field of Jewish law, Sifrei Mussar and Kabbalah take a major role in providing additional information and instruction towards the dos and don’ts of intimacy, based on Jewish ethics and the Kabbalistic teachings, in contrast to the classical rulings of the Talmud and/or Poskim. We have carefully studied these texts and incorporated their opinions, instructions, and information in all the appropriate areas. In some instances, these instructions or rulings have become accepted by Jewry as binding, and hence although one can argue that from the letter of the law it is permitted according to the Shulchan Aruch, nonetheless the accepted practice is to be stringent. We have made note of these discrepancies in all relevant areas, and clearly distinguish between matters that are binding from the letter of the law based on the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch and its commentators, versus matters that are encouraged or required based on Sifrei Mussar and Kabbalah. In general, the attitude of this book is that if something is permitted from the letter of the law of the Shulchan Aruch, then one who is lenient has upon whom to rely, especially in cases where it is necessary for increased Shalom Bayis. Nonetheless, the proper direction that we encourage all couples to follow is to adapt to the acts of piety and stringency recorded in the Sifrei Mussar and Kabbalah, which are there to only benefit one’s marriage, state of spirituality, righteousness of one’s children, and even one’s passion of intimacy. As stated above, it is up to each couple to decide where they are holding and what they want to keep and add in their scrupulousness.

C. The specific Poskim on which this Sefer is based:

The Halachas in this Sefer are based on the rulings of the classical codifiers found in the Shulchan Aruch [Michaber, Rama, Magen Avraham, Taz] as well as many Achronim, Sifrei Kabbalah and Mussar, catering to the rulings of Ashkenazim, Sephardim and Chassidim. It can thus be used by all Jewry, each to their custom and ruling. Although the text of the Shulchan Aruch Harav on the laws of mourning was never published, nonetheless, throughout the Shulchan Aruch Harav we find references to these laws, and they have been recorded here in their relevant areas, for those who follow his rulings [i.e. Chassidim world over]. We have carefully and meticulously analyzed all the corresponding chapters in the Shulchan Aruch, as well many additional Achronim and authoritative books already written on the subject, to give the English reader the most organized, clear and resourced literature available of all the laws and customs relevant to intimacy, with a wealth of practical Q&A. For this purpose, we carefully studied the momentous work of Rav Y.L. Nachmonson, called Sheyikadesh Atzmo, and combed through each page and every Halacha, including its footnotes, and much of its content has been allocated into this work. We likewise studied the renowned Sefarim, Kaf Hachaim chapter 240, Piskeiy Teshuvos 240, and Ufikadeta Navecha in the process of this compilation. In addition, it contains a wealth of practical Q&A that is not dealt with in Shulchan Aruch which gives the reader a clear background of the Rabbinical opinions on the subject. In addition, it provides a wealth of information in the footnotes, including sources, reasons, overviews on the rulings of other Poskim, and clarifications.

The following Sefarim were carefully reviewed in the process of compiling this Sefer and served as our sources of reference for the writing of this book:

  1. Nedarim 20a-b
  2. Ra’avad in Ba’alei Hanefesh Sha’ar Hakedusha
  3. Igeres Hakodesh of Ramban
  4. Menoras Hama’or Ner 3 Klal 6
  5. Tur 240 and E.H. 25
  6. Reishis Chochmah Sha’ar Hakedusha Sha’ar 16[36]
  7. Shalah Hakadosh Sha’ar Ha’osyos-Kedusha p.101a
  8. Shulchan Aruch Chapters 240; E.H. 25 and 76
  9. Siddur Ya’avetz Mosach Hashabbos
  10. Tzetel Katan
  11. Kitzur SHU”A chapter 150
  12. Mishneh Berurah 240
  13. Kaf Hachaim 240
  14. Piskeiy Teshuvos 240
  15. Sheyikadesh Atzmo
  16. Derech Mitzvosecha


D. The sections of Halacha found in the Sefer:

The Halachas provided are split into three sections:

  1. The Halacha Section: The Halacha section is the main section written in the non-boxed area. In general, only those rulings recorded in the Shulchan Aruch, or classical Nosei Keilim, are brought and summarized within this section. Many times there are additional explanations, stipulations and clarifications of a Halacha in the Shulchan Aruch which is brought in other Poskim. All these additions are brought in brackets or footnotes. This allows the reader to maintain an understanding of the Halacha as written by the Shulchan Aruch and its main commentators without the additional comments of later authorities, but at the same time to gain from their necessary additions. Thus, the rulings in the non-boxed areas which are not in brackets are, for the most part, sourced in the Shulchan Aruch, unless stated otherwise.
  1. The footnotes: The footnotes provide the reader with a number of different points of information. They provide the sources for each statement written, as well as additional explanations and opinions of a given Halacha. Many footnotes serve to delve into the wording of the Shulchan Aruch, its intent and the background of the rulings.
  2. The boxed areas: The boxed area which follows each Halacha serves to provide a concise summary of the Halacha and additional practical Q&A that have been dealt with in contemporary Poskim relating to the given subject. The Q&A section does not include Halachas that are explicitly ruled on in the Shulchan Aruch, as these Halachas have already been written in the Halacha sections of the book. The Q&A sections lend the learner a greatly needed base knowledge for practical application of the resulting law learned within a topic. Many times, even after one has sifted and comprehended the final ruling of the Shulchan Aruch, its influence within practical cases remains obscure. This is besides for the fact that researching a question amongst the sea of Poskim is both time consuming as well as not always practical. We have, therefore, compiled many major practical Halachic questions which connect with a given Halacha that was learned. The answers given have been compiled from various sources, including Piskeiy Teshuvos and Sheyikadesh Atzmo, as well as the many resources of Poskim brought within these Sefarim. Mention must be made that effort was placed in verifying the sources of the rulings found within these Sefarim. In cases where a dispute amongst Poskim is recorded, we have not given final rulings, being that we are not in a position to rule for the public which Posek one should follow. In these cases, one is to consult with his personal Rav and receive guidance for what he is to do. It is of major importance to note that the ruling of one’s personal Rav takes precedence over any dissenting opinion brought in the book, whether or not this opinion is known to the Rav. Furthermore, even those in Rabbinical positions of giving rulings are not to base their rulings on opinions brought in this book without first studying and verifying sources. As is known, one may not base a ruling on summarized Halachas [Melaktim, a compiler of opinions] but is rather to discern this for himself in the sources that are brought. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos Volume 3 in the approbations of Gedolei Yisrael, and the introduction there.]


[1] Shelah Shaar Haosyos “Kedusha”; Elya Raba 240

[2] Printed in the end of Reishis Chochmah Shaar Hakedusha chapter 16

[3] Igros Moshe E.H. 1:102

[4] Brachos 62a; Chagiga 5b

[5] Likkutei Sichos Volume 35 Parshas Vayeira1

[6] See Asher Chanan 6-7:68; Sheyikadesh Atzmo Hakdama and Shaalos Veteshuvos 1

[7] Brachos 62a; Chagiga 5b

[8] The emphasis here is on publicizing, however, one should not feel intimidated to have a private conversation with a Rav on this subject, and Rabbanim are to make a comfortable environment for those who address them such questions. Many Rabbanim are open and welcome addressing such questions as they do with all other Shaalos, and hence people should not be intimidated, and on the contrary, should be encouraged to address their questions and doubts.

[9] Tehillim 119:126

[10] For example, based on this verse we permitted the writing of the oral Torah. [See Admur 284:4; 334:12]

[11] Nedarim 20a-b

[12] Hilchos Deios 5:5, Ishus chapters 14-15, and Hilchos Issurei Biyah chapter 21, as cited throughout this book

[13] Baalei Hanefesh Shaar Hakedusha

[14] Igeres Hakodesh of Ramban

[15] O.C. 240 and E.H. 25

[16] O.C. 240 and E.H. 25

[17] Seder Leil Shabbos, Mosach Hashabbos

[18] Kelal 130 and 139

[19] Chapter 150

[20] Chapter 250

[21] The Haskamos are printed in volume 1 of the Sefer, while volume 2 does not contain any Haskamos. It is hence unclear if the topics in volume 2 were included when the Haskamos were given. Whatever the case, his Sefer Is widely accepted amongst all Jewry, and especially amongst Chassiidc Jewry, and we never heard of any rabbinical opposition to the concept of such a Sefer being written, and on the contrary his work was praised and embraced by them.

[22] However see above that we have shown that they have

[23] See Rav Chisda in Kiddushin 29b

[24] Igros Moshe E.H. 4:65

[25] See also Yesodos Habayis Ukedushaso p. 139-158

[26] See Kuntrus Eitz Chaim Chapters 27-31

[27] Shabbos 104a

[28] See Igros Kodesh 20:175; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 17:4

[29] See Igros Moshe E.H. 1:102

[30] See Pesachim 3a

[31] Likkutei Sichos Volume 10 Parshas Noach Sicha 2 p. 26

[32] Sefer Hamamarim “Ein Hakadosh Baruch Hu Ba Betrunya” 1888; Rebbe in Sefer Hamamrim 5725 Mamar “Venachah”

[33] Some Rabbanim affiliated with a specific sect of Jewry have taken the position that some of the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch in chapter 240 are not really binding, and were merely intended as good advice. This attitude has no source in any Sifrei Halacha from any previous generation, and not one commentator on this chapter has ever made such a statement. Accordingly, the expressed attitude is baseless, misguided, and mistaken; and no one is allowed to follow it.

[34] See Likkutei Sichos 5 Vayeitzei 2 footnote 51 “A Halachic ruling comes specifically from the Sifrei Haposkim and not from Midrashei Chazal, not even from the severe Sugyos in Shas.”

[35] See Introduction of Kuntrus Upikadeta Navecha, which was reviewed by Rav Meir Bransdofer of the Eida Hachareidis where this matter is discussed.

[36] Reishis Chochmah New Edition Volume 2 pp. 438-498

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.