Relationships

A girlfriend of mine has been looking for her beshert (true love) for a long time. Finally a few weeks ago she went on a date with a great guy, and things are going well for them. They see each other often and as time passes she seems more and more sure that he is the one.

This friend is religious, and very much believes in not touching any men that she is not married to. She is extremely attracted to her “boyfriend” and knows that he feels the same way about her. His religious background is different, he didn’t grow up religious and has had girlfriends before and been physical with them. So he knows what he is missing, and is finding it difficult to refrain from touching her. (edited to clarify – he is currently religious and intends to stay that way)

She really wants this to work, but finds the yearning for his touch is clouding her judgment and taking over the time she spends with him. She knows not to be alone with him, however she wonders how she can truly get to know him without spending time with him. But when they spend time together she is hyper aware of him, tenses up even, and knows if she didn’t stop him, they would indeed have a physical relationship. She doesn’t want to be the one that is always saying STOP, or don’t touch me – that could totally lead to resentment on his part.

This is one of the reasons that religious people get married so quick – so that these temptations are not around for long, and the physical side can be consummated according to the law of Moses. But she wants to be sure about him before jumping into marriage.

What advice could you give her to help her through this time without compromising her principles?

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153 responses to “Relationships

  1. Perhaps show her the blog post from KE on being shomer.

  2. batya from NJ

    one big red flag that jumps out at me is whether or not they are both on the same page religiously/hashkafically b/c i get the feeling that they may not be & that could cause problems in the marriage. that said, i know that there are ppl. who are reading this who are on different “pages” religiously from their spouses & still manage to make their marriage swork however, i do believe that it is best to start ones marriage off with both partners having the same goals lest one of them will feel resentful down the road for either being forced to take on more religiously than they want to or conversely to lower their religious observances to please their spouse which can also cause resentment.

    I am wondering if her attraction is in fact clouding her judgement since she is looking at the guy through rose-colored glasses since the physical attraction is so strong & the pressure to have a physical relationship is so great…

    i also wonder what will be once they are married & your friend will presumably want to observe taharat hamispacha (laws of family purity) b/c she is religious but the guy may not be as keen on the matter & one of them may end up becoming resentful b/c they may not be on the same page religiously & will have to make compromises that will not make them happy (either b/c they feel they are being forced to be too strict or too lenient)…

    i think your friend should proceed with caution and i wish her hatzlacha regardless of what happens with this guy!

    • I think this is quite a cruel thing to say, considering
      1) she feels physically very attracted to him
      2) she had a hard time finding a mate up to now.

      • batya from NJ

        fille, physical attraction alone will not make for a good marriage. similar goals & hashkafot/outlooks on life are very important especially in an Orthodox marriage (which is what the girl above is interested in establishing).

        i would also add that your suggestion that they quickly rush into marriage seems rather inappropriate IMHO. there is never any benefit to rush into a marriage as you have recommended below.

        • “physical attraction alone will not make for a good marriage”

          Well, I always thought that if chattan and kallah meet each other just a few times before marrying, in the end, the decision must be based upon physical attraction and nothing else.

          This might also be the reason why young chareidi girls are so obsessed with their looks…

          (I went to a non-jewish school, and almost none of my classmates was obsessed with her looks. That’s really something I discovered with chareidi girls once I became a bt).

          “similar goals & hashkafot/outlooks on life are very important especially in an Orthodox marriage (which is what the girl above is interested in establishing).”
          similar goals & hashkafot/outlooks on life are very important especially in an Orthodox marriage (which is what the girl above is interested in establishing).

          This is a very interesting opinion.

          I think the difference of opinion we have here point out the difference between the traditionnal orthodox “shidduchim” perspective and what is practiced by “general population”.

          What strikes me with the “Shidduchim” perspective is that I get the impression that people look till they find a “negative point” to discard the potential spouse (bad yiches, not ffb, divorced parents, diabetes in the family, a sibling who went otd, not enough revenue, wrong colour of kippah, no TV versus TV, etc). If they don’t find any “grounds for exclusion”, they go on and might end up marrying the person.

          This works fine as long as you have enough potential candidates to discard until you find Mr. or Ms. Right.

          People, who have the “faults”, some of which I mentionned above, are out of the game, at it is their problem to see how they get along (I think there is a secret “percentage system”, and those who have less than 100% try to find someone who scores about the same as themselves or more. That’s why there is a tradition of marrying the “deaf to the blind”. Very common way of thinking in those circles, quite shocking to outsiders).

          It might be that there is no 100% spouse left for this lady. In this case, it would be preferrable for her to try another system.

          • batya from NJ

            fille, a couple cannot get married if one party is ‘repulsed’ by the other according to halacha but physical attraction is by far NOT the only qualification a couple must have in the chareidi world in order to marry. i will add that in chareidi shidduchim, the families have supposedly already checked out all of the other areas b/f the couple has even met to ensure that the couple is hashkafically on the ‘same page’ & looking for the same things in marriage. of course, this system does not always work & often times the couples are not as compatible in real life as their families thought they would have been even though on paper everything may have seemed perfect. but again, the chareidi parents generally have done all ‘the research’ & checked out potential spouses for religious compatability b/f allowing the couple to meet for the first time.

            also, regarding your comment about chareidi girls being obsessed with their looks, i think it is universal & you find that in the general public (thanks to the media) & all over. i don’t think that it is limited to chareidi circles. many young ladies in the Chareidi, non-Chareidi, non-Orthodox & non-Jewish world are focused a lot on externals & are obssessed with looking good/thin. on the other hand, i do know that there is a high percentage of eating disorders (specifically aneroxia) in girls the frum community which most likely stems from pressure to be a size 0 in order to land a good shidduch which is sad. bottom line, no community/dating system is perfect but i DEF wouldn’t recommend that ppl. rush into marriage just because of physical attraction b/c looks fade & there must be much more to keep a marriage viable in the long-term.

            • “i will add that in chareidi shidduchim, the families have supposedly already checked out all of the other areas”

              Well, this is the “exclusion method” I was referring to. As you say yourself, it does not always yield the results people hope for.

              In my way, this processing by exclusion is quite negative. I think the other system, that focuses on the positive traits of a person and on positive relationship has also advantages. Why should a person who did not fare well with the exclusion principle not try it the other way round.

            • “also, regarding your comment about chareidi girls being obsessed with their looks, i think it is universal & you find that in the general public ”

              No, it’s not universal.

              It is cultivated in some circles and less in others, and even frowned upon in some parts of society.

              When I was young, the girls going to vocational training and becoming secretaries used to be very, very much into their looks. On the other hand, the girls who went to university tended to bother less about their looks. Some university colleagues of mine even complained, when they had summer jobs as secretaries, that they did not fit in, since their professional secretary colleagues spoke only about nail polish, fashion, etc.

              I had exactely the same impression when I became a BT: I hoped to learn and to speak about lofty ideas, the ex-beith-Yaakov girls of my age were just into fashion and hairdo, additionally also a bit into cooking, and they giggled a lot, even about their newlywed husbands…

              Now, I do not say that this is bad. It just came as quite a surprise, considering they were “very religious”….

              • Not surprising at all, since the frum community is still stuck inthe 1950’s (black hats and all!) where women were trained to look pretty and be- you guessed it- secretaries, and intelligence and character was frowned on because it would scare men away.

                The difference is, those vocational school girls are generally poor and lower class and don’t have any other opportunities to develop their minds. The frum girls should.

                see my post The sixties are coming!

  3. shualah elisheva

    this one, i’ll admit, has me sort of flabbergasted. i was not immediately sure how to respond [and to be honest, i’m still not certain].

    however, i can offer some advice. take it with a big honking grain of salt.

    if the man [or mensch, as the case may prove] builds up resentment, even a wee little bit, because she is shomer negiah, then he is not her bashert. period.

    i would echo batya’s concerns about hashkafa. if he did not grow up religious, that should NOT be held against him. kol hakavod to all the baalei t’shuvah out there. however – does the inclusion of that statement mean he is not religious now?

    if he is religious, and they are currently on the same “hashkafic page,” then she needs to be very clear that she is dating for marriage [as he should be, too], and that she is looking forward to a chuppah with him. emphasize, i think, that the shomer negiah mitzvah blossoms into shomeret taharat hamishpacha, and that then touch will be not only sanctified but beautiful.

    if he is currently religious, he will understand – and will, if he feels the same, see the need for a chuppah as soon as possible.

    BIGGEST snippet of advice: TALK. TALK. TALK. if may not be tzanua to discuss openly, but better to be honest about feelings than compromise her strong beliefs in shomer negiah.

    • No way! It’s natural and normal to feel resentful and being constantly turned down, even if you understand the reason on an intellectual level. Kudos to him for having gone this long!

      Not that I have the answer for her…. I just wish I had this problem…. it’s a good sign for the future.

      • shualah elisheva

        i agree and disagree. it is very natural to feel frustration or even momentary resentment when one has been immediately rejected.

        however, i said “builds up resentment.” it’s one thing to feel that frustration in the moment, and quite another to let it crust and cake onto a budding relationship. the intellectual understanding of which you spoke has to come into play, given time to think, and clear away any blossoming anger before it takes hold and builds up.

        if that resentment builds up even marginally, there will be cracks in the foundation of their relationship before it even gets started.

        • some hot sex will erase that particular resentment pretty easily, when it finally happens, and he may actually be grateful

          • shualah elisheva

            grateful for…?

            i don’t like the implication that erasing resentment is entirely her physical responsibility. slippery slope to: “well, i don’t feel like having sex, so my answer would be ‘no,’ but my husband is pushing the subject, so i will just lie here.”

            • grateful that she waited until that point.
              It seems that as a religious man with similar values, he would like to do that to, he’s just finding it very hard.

          • shualah elisheva

            sexual liberation does not include [nor should it] removing a woman’s right to say “no,” and a man’s obligation to respect that. resentment can be construed as just another tool in an arsenal aimed at denying that right, hence why it can be so worrisome.

            • OH! I see you how you misunderstood me.
              I didn’t mean that she should have sex NOW (or ever!) to ease his resentment. (That’s NOT hot sex in my book!)

              I meant that when they finally have mutually desired sex, after the wedding or whenever, he’ll forget about whatever there was.

              Regarding resentment as a tool: I don’t relate to feelings as tools. As long as they behave appropriately, people are entitled to their feelings, even if those feelings upset other people.
              Regarding his behavior- we don’t have much information on that, only about her concerns.

  4. I would advise her to get married quickly without big fuss, so that she is free to try out and get closer and closer.

    If he can be relied on to give a get in case it does not work out, I see no big risks in this scenario.

    • No offense but I think your advice can be very dangerous. Marriage should not be entered into on a trial basis, it’s supposed to be for life. Yes, I know it doesn’t always work out like that but entering into a marriage purely so that they can enter into a physical relationship is a very bad idea.

      • What will happen?

        Now, she is without a spouse. If this does not work out, she will be without a spouse again. What does she gain by staying away from him just because she feels attracted?

        • There are huge consequences in the Orthodox world for a divorced woman. Not the least of which is that it will limit her choices in the future. 1) She will never be able to marry a Kohen.
          2) Statistically divorced women(and men) have a harder time in shidduchim

          I agree with Chanief this is dangerous and foolhardy advice.

          • Yes, the cohen problem is a big problem indeed, more for the kohanim themselves than for the potential spouses.

            I know enough kohanim who sleep around because, from a certain age on, it is just impossible for them to find a mate that is acceptable according to halacha.

            I do not really understand why they think it is acceptable to have sexual relations without marriage rather than making a “wrong” marriage, but there you go…

            • Kohanim of any age that are marriage minded can find a suitable marriage partner. That has been my experience over many years. There really is no need to impugn upon the honor and dignity inherent in Kohanim, and required by halakha, with your hearsay.

              • Well, true, I was not in the same chamber when they did it. But I would say that a personal admission that they do it should not be qualified hearsay…

                Perhaps it would be hearsay to say that kohanim are unsuitable wedding partners anyway, because they have a reputation of being wild and unruly. I suppose this can be relegated to realm of popular tales and has not to be taken into account.

                • Perhaps it would be hearsay to say that kohanim are unsuitable wedding partners anyway, because they have a reputation of being wild and unruly

                  Where do you come up with this stuff?

                  • That’s what a proud daughter, wife, mother and grandmother of Kohanim told me.

                    There seems to be a popular tradition that kohanim are particularly wild…

              • @Rabbi’s wife:

                I am quite astonished that you do not aknowledge that fact that kohanim, when they passed a certain age, have problems finding a wife, because most women available in their age group are not suitable for them because they are either divorced, or giorot, or had a non-jewish partner.

                In the single-meeting world you meet quite a lot of them.

                I suppose their situation does not get better until they reach the age where more and more widows become available…

                • fille,

                  I think that you would be surprised at the number of women available for marriage minded Kohanim, at least in the religious community. There is a “Shidduch Crisis” on after all, and well frankly there are women who do not marry until into their thirties…

                  Especially in the Religious community where a Kohen who is an “earner” has the same desirability as a full time “learner” who is a Stam Jew.

                  • Oh, I though that desirability of spouses was mainly linked to their caracter, etc…

                    But then I forgot that the hareidi world has a strange set of priorities, where money and status take precedence over individual features like caracter.

                  • But let’s face it:

                    Those kohanim who are “left over” after a certain age or who “come back into the cycle” because they are divorced are, in general, not the most desirable examplaries of the male species.

                    This might be the reason why the have a tough time finding a wife…

                    • But then I forgot that the hareidi world has a strange set of priorities, where money and status take precedence over individual features like caracter.
                      Two points:
                      1) I did not say those things take precedence over character, however those things combined with character are, in the Hareidi world more desirable…

                      2) You seem to feel the need to constantly slight hareidi society for some reason. Why is that? Is there something in particular you feel puts hareidim beyond the pale of dan l’kaf zecut for you?
                      in general, not the most desirable examplaries of the male species.

                      This might be the reason why the have a tough time finding a wife…
                      Here you nailed it in one. The issue is often not that they are Kohanim(though that might be an easy excuse). In my experience it is typically that the individual is a train wreck in the area of middot.

                      Even those that “come back into the cycle” because they are divorced it all depends on the individual. I was divorced and had no problems getting redt people, finding dates or a spouse that was halakhicly viable for a Kohen.

                      Quite honestly I doubt that if you were to do a statistical example of single men of any age, that you find a disproportionate number of Kohanim.

  5. It seems that her physical desire is as strong as his is but she is able to fight it better. If he is willing to give into it and he is not then it would seem that they are not on the same level with regard to religious observance. In addition, if she is constantly having to say stop, he is not respecting her wishes very well, which would be a concern as well.

    If she wants to continue to get to know him without compromising her principles, she needs to just make sure they are never in a situation where they have enough privacy to be physically affectionate until she is sure. That means public transportation (or driving to dates separately) etc. I wish her a lot of luck though, it can be hard to resist such strong physical chemistry.

  6. If they think they’re compatible so far, maybe even schedule some pre-marital counselling sessions with a rabbi or therapist — it’s chaperoned, and it will force them to think about the mundane things like “who will take out the garbage.” If it still looks like they’re compatible, even when they’re not obsessing about how desperate they are to touch, then by all means, get married! P.S. maybe aim for a sooner, simpler, ceremony, rather than get swept up in theatrics and logistics and risk turning into bridezilla. It’s easier on everyone when you can still recognize yourself in the mirror.

    • I think that this is a good piece of advice. It makes a lot of sense and will probably really help them develop(or not) a relationship without it happening haphazardly so to speak.

  7. This is the exact situation that thousands of people were in with their spouses prior to getting married and they all keep taharat hamishpacha now. This is entirely normal. The only difference is that usually the guy starts out claiming that he is SN, but in the end he starts brushing against her more frequently until a few weeks later they are guiltily making out on a regular basis. I’d be more concerned if two people getting married after dating for a bit had little mutual attraction.

    That said, she should just say straight out to the guy, I really want to, and my not doing so is a reflection of how I feel about god, not you. If you respect that then you need to take a proverbial cold shower while our relationship develops.

    And yes, that is one reason why frum couples get married so quickly, and as many people know, the outcome is not always good and could have been avoided if they had really gotten to know each other better over a longer period of time in different situations.

  8. The long and short of it: If one of you is on a more “modest” set than the other, if it’s meant to be and the relationship intends to go forward, the OTHER person has to get that and make it the level of comfort and modesty of the relationship. If he or she is unwilling, then I can’t see the positive in “toughing it out” because at some point, it will break.

    My now-husband, baruch haShem, after 9 months of dating and being physical and everything, was willing to take on my issues with this and allow us to be Shomer Negiah, because he loved me, he wanted it to work, and he understood there was an end in sight (an end that came ONE YEAR later). It prepared us for married life, because it gave us the opportunity to appreciate each other for more than our bodies and physicality.

    This, of course, is why a lot of Jewish engagements with frum couples are short! You can’t do the long engagement for fear of touching.

    The point: You have to TALK about this. Make sure you’re heading in the same direction, no matter where each of you are hashkafically. DIRECTION, intent, is key.

  9. me again with the need to add one more point that i neglected to mention earlier which is that i am concerned for this girl who i feel may end up “going all the way” if she gives into the guy’s pressure along with her own strong feelings of attraction which ultimately may be a big mistake for her after the fact (b/c then she will REALLY feel guilty about the whole situation especially if they end up breaking up after all is said & done).

    in short, i feel for her b/c it’s hard when her heart is telling her one thing & her mind is telling her another & in addition her partner is not helping b/c he is putting on the pressure for her to give in to the strong temptations that they are both feeling but then again affairs of the heart are never simple…

  10. well, here is a reform jewish approach on the subject for your consideration.

    i am convinced that physical attraction is indeed a healthy thing and if the man resents the woman for not allowing physical contact does not mean he is not her beshert. i think we are putting too much emphasis on the physical aspects of a relationship exactly by struggling to refrain from it. and putting too much emphasis on it is indeed unhealthy, in my view.

    phyisical contact is and should be only one aspect — and not the most important — of a healthy relationship. while i totally respect the girl trying her hardest to obey what she thinks is the rules i think in the 21st century there is no need for such things. the most important thing is this: if you are determined to make a relationship work, the assets are honesty, love, respect and trust, among other things. whether or not you allow the man touch you will not make any difference to the quality of the relationship.

    physical attraction or contact should not be considered a sin or something bad, or something to resent each other for. it should be considered what it is: a healthy way to express passion and caring (generated by love), nothing more and nothing less.

    again, this is just my view, i don’t feel entitled to give advices.

    i love this blog, read it religiously almost every day 🙂 thank you for writing!!

    • Sadly, the 21st century is not easier to live in than way back inTorah Times and I think the rules of S/N still hold true and are even more practical. To try to say the human behaviour has changed for the better is not the reality. We are programmed the same way.
      How many of us ladies have given into our passions with men over the years only to be dumped a little while later because the guys “got what they wanted”? What has this done to our psyche? Does it feel good to think you gave the guy something special and they didn’t appreciate it? The rejection is horrible!
      The basic fact is that men and women think and feel differently about sex. Women often equate it to affection and love. Men do not.
      BUT- IF THE MAN IS MARRIAGE MINDED, then you hope that he feels the same about the commitment involved with a physical relationship.
      For those couple who can commit to a S/N courtship- KUDOS to them! It is extremely difficult, and that passion you feel for each other will still be there, G-d willing, the minute you get into the yichud room up till 120!

  11. Z! Unfortunately your words reflect some bitterness and I don’t think bitterness should be a reason for not giving men a chance. Not all of them are jerks who will dump us after they get what they wanted. There is true love. Moreover, if the man doesn’t love us and just wants sex, then how could it make a good marriage? Is it not better if we know about this side of him before we tie ourselves to such man?

    The courtship was there for a reason n Torah Times. It was mostly aiming to prevent having children outside of marriage. Today, in the 21st century (well, even before that), there are ways to prevent that and still be respectful and decent. And, there are ways to make a man responsible for a child who is born that way.

    The girl our writer talks about is a perfect example of being torn between ancient rules and modern world. I am not convinced it serves a greater good. I wish I could agree and, as I said earlier, I have all the respect for people who try to live according to these rules.
    However, I am convinced that for a marriage to really work based on the values I mentioned in my earlier comment, one really needs to live through some pain and disappointment, and happiness and love, so they can make an informed and thorough choice as to who they want to spend the rest of their lives.

    What I love the most about Judaism is that it is flexible: it allows us to grow with our times and still respect tradition.

    Example: me and my hubby are doomed to do IVF. I asked the orthodox rabbi of our community (even though I am reform) about the Jewish view on that. He said it was perfectly fine, indeed. Now, if we allow some of the 21st century to sneak up on our tradition (which is absolutely wonderful) I don’t see why, in other respects, we need to stick to the words of ancient rules.

    Again, that is just my view and I just wanted to share it with the hope that it could help somehow.

    B’shalom, y’all!

    • Hello Judit & Z! I am finding your interaction interesting & I just wanted to chime in here if I may.

      First Judit, there are huge philosophical differences between the Reform & Orthodox branches of Judaism (as I’m sure you are aware). According to what I know about Reform Judaism, the Halacha is viewed as antiquated & irrevelant for our times whereas according to Orthodox Judaism the Halacha & Rabbinical prohibitions are timeless & to be followed as scrupulously as possible forever. Therefore, for the girl in question who is Orthodox & concerned about the Halachic & Rabbinic prohibitions of avoiding physical contact (& certainly pre-marital sex) until marriage it is not necessarily hepful to give her the Reform viewpoint on pre-marital sex b/c she is not part of that community &as a member of the Orthodox camp is struggling to follow the rules which are so challenging for her in light of her strong attraction for the guy & his pressuring of her as well.

      And in the event, that she were to engage in pre-marital sex with him she would very possibly regret it especially if after he has his way with her he were to dump her as many men have been known to do. I honestly wonder if this guy who is currently so attracted to her (but has had previous serious girlfriends) might just want to see how she compares to his previous girl-friends & then he’ll make his decision on whether to proceed or not which as Z! said would likely make her feel horrible & used as well. it’s not a good feeling & WHY should she have to run that emotional & physical risk?

      Besides, even though in today’s day & age there are ways to prevent pregnancy, they are not 100% fool-proof & in the event the she were to become pregnant out of wedlock, she would really mess up her chances of finding a suitable match certainly within the Orthodox community. In addition, it’s much easier for a guy to walk away from his responsibilities in the event of unwanted pregnancies (even with DNA testing in today’s day & age) so it far from ideal for an unmarried woman especially in the Orthodox camp to find herself with an unwanted pregnancy just because of a super-strong physical attraction between her & her boyfriend.
      If he honestly respects her & cares for her & has truly become a religious guy (& not just one who is wearing a ‘costume’) then he should understand that when she stops him from engaging in physical contact, it is NOT b/c she isn’t attracted to him but rather b/c she is trying to follow the timeless Halachic & rabbinic prohibitions even though she is VERY attracted to him.

      • I will add that I don’t mean to be disrespectful to Judit regarding Reform Judaism, I just feel that the values of Orthodoxy differ greatly from that of Reform Judaism which have many positive aspects such as Tikkun Olam & Tzedaka which are certainly important values as well!

  12. Batya, thank you for your chimes 🙂 I am sad, though, that what I tried to say did not go through but I am sure I did not express myself clearly enough.

    I did say that I have all the respect for someone who tries (or struggles) to keep the — in my view — ancient rules and behave accordingly. All I tried to clarify was that I am not sure Halachic and rabbinic rules are indeed timeless. Or, if they have to be considered word by word. I think, and please let me correct your knowledge about Reform Judaism, the Halacha and the rabbinic rules are NOT considered ancient — at least not in the negative sense of the term. They are highly respected and followed, but with a contemporary spin, if you will. We do not degrade the laws, we just accept that times change and people change and therefore the rules should be adapted to the changes, otherwise they make no sense.

    For instance, you would not like if rape wasn’t regulated by criminal law, even if it did not exist (I know it did, it is a for instance only) before. As times and crimes change, you want your legal system to adapt to these changes and you would be very upset if they didn’t. It is the same with Jewish laws. I think they should be able to change and adapt. And that doesn’t mean we don’t respect or follow them, it only means we accept change.

    Now, as to our issue here: I am still not convinced that all men are evil (and I am a woman, with loads of experience, not all of them good :-)) and that they should be considered animals who just crave bodily pleasures so they can move on. I am willing to believe that this man truly loves her and THAT is the reason for his physical desire. Do we have any reason to think otherwise?

    And, more importantly, we are not even talking about the man here. We are talking about a woman who is torn: she wants him just as he wants her, but she tries (again, struggles) to resist. My question is this, then: if desire is completely natural, why isn’t physical contact? What is the difference between dreaming of something and having it? I mean, in terms of Halachic or rabbinic law.

    Finally, I don’t see how my point of view could not be helpful. If I have a problem and ask for help, ALL points are helpful. Not the same way or weight, but they are indeed helpful. Let me ask you: how is it helping this girl if we discuss how great of an Orthodox girl she is by trying to resist? She probably knows that without our comments. And I do think she is a great Orthodox girl. I just prefer to follow the spirit of the law instead of its words. That is my choice and Orthodoxy is hers. And I am happily married, never cheated, never been cheated on (hehe, at least I think so :-)), and did have bodily contact before we got married. With him and with other men, too. And that is how I knew he is the one, is all I am saying 🙂

    • Judit, I agree with you completely on the necessity of change within any code of law. As one who was raised Orthodox and has left that lifestyle behind, I can honestly say that this rigidity and lack of ability to change with the times had a significant influence on my decision to leave. I won’t get too into detail because I have no desire to offend those who hold Orthodox Judaism so dearly, I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in your opinion here.

      I share your point of view but I understand that someone who considers themselves Orthodox would not be able to cross the line that has been drawn in the proverbial sand. I therefore did not express this idea in the way you did because I felt it would not be helpful to the woman in question since she would not consider our perspective to be relevant to her chosen lifestyle. Not that I am criticizing you for sharing your opinion, just explaining why I did not express the same…

      • thanks chanie for explaining what i was trying to say about the Reform opinion not being especially helpful to someone who is trying to follow the Halacha or rabbinical prohibitions since you understand both sides of the coin.

        also judit, we can probably spend the whole night arguing over whether the Torah & Halachot are timeless (as i & the general Orthodox camp say) or changeable with time (as you & the Reform camp feel) but chances are we would just get frustrated b/c we each feel strongly about our opinions based upon our individual upbringings & current lifestyles…

        despite the differences we each have, dialogue is a good thing!

        have a shabbat shalom :)!

        • “I honestly wonder if this guy who is currently so attracted to her (but has had previous serious girlfriends) might just want to see how she compares to his previous girl-friends & then he’ll make his decision on whether to proceed or not which as Z! ”

          Why do you have such a negative opinion about a man you do not know?

          I am honestly shocked.

          If she is orthodox and he is a Baal teshuva, a person who did not grow up orthodox but wants to keep the rules of orthodox judaism now, he should have the same interests at heart as her.

          I am not sure what he means by “not being shomer negia”. Could it be that the girl is drawing wrong conclusions, based on her orthodox education?

          Perhaps he just wants to hold hands and she interprets it as wanting to have sex?

          The problem that he could view the sex with her as unsatisfying and dump her exists also if they get married before they have sex. A chuppa is no protection against a man walking away. It just contains the supplementary risk of being left an agunah and not being able to remarry while he is making his life somewhere else.

          And, as Judith pointed out, if he fathers a child, he will be held responsible according to US law, so there is not too much risk either way, even on this side, practically speaking.

          • anne, sorry if my comments shocked you but my reason for having negative feeling towards this guy who i have never met is b/c i feel (as chanief mentioned in an earlier comment) that he is not respecting the girls wishes. respect is key & i’m not sure that he has enough of it for the girl & that is my primary cause for concern.

            regarding orthodoxy, there are many shades & variations within orthodoxy (ranging from the more liberal modern orthodox camp to the more strict chareidi camp (that includes the chassidic communities which also vary from sect to sect & within each sect from more ‘modern’ chassidim to more strict chassidim). & of course, there are those who supposedly have become religious but may not in fact be (& the same with those who grew up religious & pretend to continue to be for various reasons even though they don’t believe in G-d etc.

            in addition, you’ve got to be kidding if you think that with the sexual tensions as high as they are, that all he wants to do is hold hands. um, i for one, wasn’t born yesterday ;)!

            & of course, they may get married & have sexual challenges but honestly i believe that after a chuppah a couple who feels that they love each other & want to share a life together, will exert more effort into trying to work out the sexual & all other issues in their marriage more seriously than if they were just dating & had these issues.

            • “i for one, wasn’t born yesterday !”

              Well, I discovered that many chareidim have a strange, black and white view, of the world.

              For example, they seem to think, as you do, that a male and a female cannot be together in a room without sexual intercourse occuring.

              I think, there is much projection in it…

              • Anne, FYI, I am not Chareidi & I am not projecting anything b/c that was not MY experience back in my dating days.

  13. Thank you, Batya, for mentioning the issue of respect. And I would like to call your attention to the fact that Reform Judaism is not only about Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah. We value and cherish the same tradition, the only difference is the approach. I keep Shabbat at my house, but I drive to Temple for services Friday nights and I don’t think it makes me any less of a Jew. I do want to worship and keep the tradition alive, it’s just that I am willing to accept that the ages change and that people and circumstances change with them. I refuse to believe that struggling to keep olden rules alive makes one a pious Jew, is all.

    • lady lock and load

      To each his or her own but it is interesting that many of my friends who returned to Judiasm (baal teshuva) chose Orthodoxy over Reform Judiasm. They feel it’s the right thing for them and a beautiful way of life.

  14. Chanief, thank you for your support 🙂 I don’t know why noone is reading the part of my comments where I express my respect to anyone who lives according to Orthodox lifestyle, though. See, you have chosen to not live according to these rules, therefore expressing my views could indeed be helpful. Anyone who feels uncomfortable with it can go for change just like you did, for which I respect you, as well.

    Batya, yes, I know we could discuss these issues all day and all night. But that is good, isn’t it? As long as there is discussion, there is no problem. In my city the Orthodox and the reform rabbis (latter happens to be a woman) study Torah together, they do sermons as guests to each other’s congregations. There are people who are members in both. And that I think is beautiful.

    Lady, I have several friends and know even more people from Temple who are now Reform but were raised Orthodox. They chose Reform despite their upbringing. Or maybe because of it. There is no need to prove anything and there is even less need to degrade other views … I have a question. You say they returned to Judaism. Why did they turn away from it, do you know?

    • batya from NJ

      Hey Judit!
      I appreciate that you say you respect those who follow the Orthodox lifestyle yet I think it’s similar to the way that I respect the Amish community. I am in awe of how they live their lives but I also don’t see any relevancy to the prohibitions that I feel they needlessly (in my opinion) burden themselves with. Now, obviously it is different b/c you & I are both Jewish but I think that some parralels can be made & that is why I would probably not be the best person to offer advice to a hypothetical Amish person who let’s say was having challenges following the strict rules of his culture were I to encourage him to stop following the challenging rules of his upbringing.

      I will add that it is difficult to follow the Orthodox lifestyle even though it is how I lead my life. It is not easy to follow the laws of Kashrut, Family purity (abstaining from physical contact with my husband for roughly 2 weeks/month) & all the other laws that we in the Orthodox community struggle to follow, yet that doesn’t mean that I should abandon these laws & switch over to Reform Judaism b/c it would be an easier lifestyle. It’s not easy being Jewish (& especially an observant Jew) but that doesn’t mean that us Orthodox Jews should just “throw in the towel” & become “Reformed” so to speak.

      And for the record, I don’t think of you as being any less of a Jew than I am as long as you were born to a Jewish mother.

      And regarding Lady’s (or LLL as I like to call her!) comment, the people who I think she was referring to who returned to Judaism were raised with little knowledge of Judaism as children & chose Orthodoxy as a way of life as teenagers or adults but obviously there are many who leave Orthodoxy (which is sad for the Orthodox community) & many who are attracted to it. Different strokes for different folks!

      Again, Shabbat shalom :)!

  15. “And for the record, I don’t think of you as being any less of a Jew than I am as long as you were born to a Jewish mother. ” — would that mean you don’t appreciate converts?

    Yes, I was born to a Jewish mother, but I don’t think of anyone as any less of a Jew as long as they observe Jewish laws and traditions.

    “It’s not easy being Jewish (& especially an observant Jew) but that doesn’t mean that us Orthodox Jews should just “throw in the towel” & become “Reformed” so to speak.” — I am sorry that you completely misunderstood me. The only one who commented anything like that is yourself, above.

    My point is: I don’t understand this whole tension between the different denominations of Judaism. We all are Jews, even if we have different views on observance, etc. We all observe the same traditions, maybe in a different way, but I think that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) make any difference to our Jewishness.

    Yes, I am fascinated by Orthodoxy but I can’t fit it in my lifestyle and this is one of the reasons why I respect anyone who can — or tries to. And you are absolutely right: it’s not easy being Jewish, whether Orthodox, Conservative or Reform.

    Anyway, I would be interested in how the relationship between the girl and her boyfriend evolves, Hadassah. Please keep us posted 🙂

    Shabat Shalom, y’all 🙂

    • batya from NJ

      Judit, I have the UTMOST respect for converts (especially those who convert according to Halacha). I was just responding to your comment about not being less of a Jew (which you brought up even though I never said anything about initially). according to my orthodox beliefs a Jew is only one whose mother is Jewish. If the father is not Jewish, Halachically the child is not considered Jewish even though I know that the Reform position acknowledges patrilineal descent.

      My comment about the Orthodox lifestyle was to make a point that that many in the Orthodox camp (similar to the girl in the article) struggle with various aspects of ritual but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t view them as binding even though according to the Reform position that is the way ritual is viewed.

      i too am curious to know what we’ll happen with the couple in question…

  16. She has been searching for her intended for a long time, you say. Has she ever felt this way about a suitor before? The fact that she is so attracted to him physically might not be something oppositional that is getting in the way but may instead be something to put in the “for” column as she ascertains whether he is right for her. That is, though the attraction is creating problems at the moment, she might recognize that it can be considered one of the attributes that makes him suitable for her.

    Long telephone conversations can be a great way to get to know each other. In what ways does she want to get to know him better before agreeing to marriage? Just the facts, this can be done through e-mail. How well they will communicate, will they hold each other’s interest apart from physical activity, the phone conversations. How well they can read each other, in-person conversations would be advisable, maybe long walks after shul in public areas. How he treats other people, try time spent in restaurants with waitservice, at Shabbat meals with other people, or doing mundane errands dealing with service and retail people and traffic and such. How learned he is, the phone conversations and also studying together in a public place. How he handles crises or planning, um, too bad it isn’t time for Pesach planning? Perhaps help with trivial daily dilemmas via telephone.

    Getting more used to talking with him on the telphone may help when they then are in person together, since she will be accustomed to the way in which they converse, they will have broken through the newness of that, so that when they meet they will have that familiarity and comfort and the talking will feel natural so maybe the tensing up becaus eof the attraction will feel less, because she will be able to natuarally jump right into their established way of talking and she won’t have to be worrying about that too, will be able to focus on the ease of that whereas right now both the talking and the physical attraction together prompt awkwardness.

    The main thing about the physical attraction is that yes maybe it is clouding judgment and feels like it is creating its own problems and is getting in the way, but when one is looking for one’s bashert, physical attraction is a good thing! So instead of “I am so physically attracted to him that I want to hurry up and get married so I can be with him but that’s not advisable because I don’t know him well enough yet,” maybe it’s “I am so physically attracted to him so that’s one thing I already know makes us a good match so I can be that much more certain about and closer to marrying him.” Not to get married just because of the attraction, but if she needs a certain number of things to be secure in deciding to marry him, the attraction brings her that much closer to that threshhold. Just a different perspective, it would be a shame to forever think of physical attraction as problematic.

    She needs to think about not how to get to know him better, but in what ways she wants to get to know him better, and then that will help her figure out how to arrange doing so.

    You say she feels he is seeming more and more to be the one, which sounds like it’s been a while and she’s been taking it slowly and has gotten to know him well enough over time and by now it is seeming pretty clear. But then you say that she doesn’t want to jump into anything without being sure. So, has it been a long time or would she be jumping at this point? Has she gotten to know him well enough to feel more and more sure he is the one or does she not know him well enough after all? Perhaps she needs to figure out how much more sure she needs to be, what more she needs to ascertain before deciding on him, or whether she actually already knows enough. In what ways does she need to get to know him better first? If he were to propose today, what would be holding her back?

  17. Wow. I am always amazed at how ‘off track’ we get sometimes! We are not talking about the value of “to touch or not to touch” vis a vis Ortho/Reform.
    She doesn’t want to touch! SHE wants to be S/N and feels terrible pressure and desire to give in before marriage! He doesn’t feel that S/N is important, she does. Because, like I related earlier, women equate touch to affection and love, while men often do not.
    I think that lot of women can relate to this. It is a basic biological fact and these things do not change. Some men are more ‘animal’ than others.

    I guess it could come off as being ‘bitter’ but I will be honest, at the time(s) when I was physical with the past men in my life, I was okay with it. I encouraged it. Perhaps I was naive in also thinking that these men would be the “one” and was confused and hurt when it didn’t pan out- time and time again. I changed MY behaviour and…
    NOW, being succesfully and very happily married I wish that I hadn’t had all those prior experiences. I wish that my hubby had been my first kiss! And I might add, that having a two week seperation makes our touch afterwards just that much more special. It makes one cognizant and appreciative of all the little touches.
    I recommend reading (a) wonderful book(s) written by Gila Manolson on S/N called “The Magic Touch”, “Head to Heart” and “Outside/Inside”. These books are written from a Baal T’shuvah’s perspective on these important observances and how they relate to the Jewish woman.
    Gila recounts in one of her books a beautiful story of a young girl, maybe 15-16 years old, and having a crush a boy. He takes her out and pressures her for a kiss. She kisses him, willingly. But afterwards, feels guilty and terrible for having given into her feelings and giving him her “first”. She could appreciate the value of that physical contact. She will NEVER get that ‘first’ back.
    So, you see, one kiss, holding hands, ect. in Orthodox Judaism all these are on the same level and all touch is special and magical and to be shared with your spouse. Not with random men over the course of your lifetime. It cheapens the act.
    I say to this girl- stick to your guns. go to public places and stay firm. IF he does respect you, he will abide by it and IF he really wants to be your husband, he will speed up his courting and marry you.
    I also absolutely agree with Batya from NJ: “& of course, they may get married & have sexual challenges but honestly i believe that after a chuppah a couple who feels that they love each other & want to share a life together, will exert more effort into trying to work out the sexual & all other issues in their marriage more seriously than if they were just dating & had these issues.”

    It is much easier to walk away from someone when you do not have a comitment made infront of friends, family and community.

  18. I feel like if someone is one’s bashert, touch or no touch, it is meant to be. And, if not, then not letting the touch happen will not make them into one’s bashert. Therefore I really don’t understand why we should put so much emphasis on the physical aspects. I mean, I understand that it is a religious obligation — but again, I don’t think it is a viable tradition. That’s just my opinion. Please tell me, how is it possible that g-d doesn’t want us to have premarital sexual relations but g-d will let us end up in divorcing men (and that is unfortunately quite frequent) and end up unhappy because we didn’t know each other well enough to make a long term relationship work? I don’t think g-d would want this. People would.

    These rules are the best tools to put sex in the center of a relationship to the point where people get married quickly just to be able to touch each other, and then, if it doesn’t work, they can always divorce. There are so many things that make a relationship, and yes, sex is one of these, but certainly not the most important one. Attraction is healthy an no one should feel guilty for it.

    It just amazes me how this man is already convicted — because of some totally healthy emotions — in some of the views expressed above. There is not even reasonable doubt that he might actually be a good man who does love that girl and that is exactly the reason why he is attracted to her.

    Yes, men have slightly greater tendencies to care too much about sex but most men — as opposed to common theories — are NOT animals and DO care about feelings and the rest. These discussions make it seem that men are animals and women have to do anything to protect themselves from these “beasts”, or at least bind them to ourselves in front of a big public so they are forced to behave in certain ways. And this, to me, seems very unfair. Why not give them a chance and let them show they do care?

    • Judit, even couples who live together before marriage sometimes end up divorcing after they get married b/c some ppl. don’t let their guard down completely until after the marriage takes place. That said, I don’t think living together or having pre-marital sex prior to marriage will ensure a good marriage.

  19. Batya: you are absolutely right. Therefore it doesn’t matter if they have sex or not. Or it shouldn’t. I was making a point about attraction being healthy and, if it doesn’t matter in terms of a potentially lasting relationship, as you also said, why not?

    Having sex or not having sex will not ensure anything, of course. But I hope we agree that rushing into a marriage just to be able to have sex is quite risky because we need time to be able to see if two people really can make a lasting relationship happen. And if not having sex is the rushing factor, then it could easily be the reason for the relationship NOT lasting. That’s all I am saying.

    • But Judit, it DOES matter if they have pre-marital sex b/c it is frowned upon in the religiously observant community to which they premusably belong.

      & of course, attraction is a VERY healthy thing & crucial in a marriage but part of being observant (to me at least) is not succumbing to all temptations that abound (which is certainly a huge challenge).

      & finally, i am not one to push a couple into getting married quickly just for the purpose of consummating their marriage & in fact when “fille” suggested it above I (& others) dismissed the idea as ridiculous.

  20. OK, I give up. Everyone, of course, have the right to choose what way they want to live their lives and what rules they opt to follow. But, because it is their choice — and presumably not forced upon them — there is no place for complaint, I think. Because if one is unhappy with their choice they could always revise that choice.

    What is the point in sticking to a choice that gives us all kinds of doubts and uncertainties? I think these things are formalities, not realities. Reality is, since a long-long time, different from what it used to be when these rules were made — and I don’t think they were made by g-d, btw. G-d made reality and people the way they can and do change, I don’t see why g-d would want us to stick to rigid rules on the other hand.

  21. So, let’s all have no ‘rules’ and do what we want. I want to have relations with other married men, not my own. I want to eat non-kosher foods because I am shown by the media that it tastes better than kosher. I want to murder my best friend sometimes because they do things that make me VERY VERY mad. I would like to kill my boss and other leaders.
    Y don’t I? Not because of some “inner morality” that you think Human’s possess. I mean LOOK at our history, REALLY LOOK AT IT! All of ancient history, and modern history is covered with stories of people murdering, having illicit relations and other stories that we consider to be base immoral and disgusting behaviour. We must remember that we have souls, not just bodies. IF people are permitted to behave as animals, they will. BUT, Hashem entrusted us with souls. If you believe in G-d, this mean we are capabable of great acts for a higher purpose. Beleiving in G-d means believing in heaven and the world to come. They are a package deal.
    The Torah and the ten commandments is what sets us apart from animals. Hashem, in his infinite wisdom, gave us these laws to follow.
    At best, a couple who is not married and has relations will scar each other emotionally and cause damage in their next relationship. At worst, they will have either a disease, or a child to bind them forever.
    I do not believe that saving sex until marriage is asking too much when the consequences are so dire. Yes, women can take birth control, nowadays, and there are safer ways to have relations, but we seem to be forgetting that Hashem wants for us to see the act of sex as the absolute act of love and connection between to loving and devoted people. It is not to be taken lightly. Through this sacred act, a new soul can be created in this world. We should teach our children to be in awe of this beautiful act, not teach them every position available.

    • Z!, I don’t think the two results of having sexual relations before marriage are entirely accurate. Especially your “at best” option. Having sex outside of marriage will not necessarily scar someone, and waiting for marriage does not ensure a relationship where every touch is special. (Not even in a marriage where they observe the Orthodox laws of family purity.)

      In fact, if a couple marries too soon just because they desire each other, they are likely to be left with emotional scars and children.

      There are just no absolutes or black and whites in this world.

      • Chanief, thank you for expressing my opinion a lot better than I did. I absolutely agree with every word you wrote here.

  22. Z!, please allow me to ignore this .. I don’t even know what it is above, and please try to think in a tad bit less in a monochrome way. It would benefit you, I am sure. I mean, have you read what you posted here? 😦

    • Judit, I think Z! explained the Orthodox position on the mitzvot quite well b/c it is the way that we in the Orthodox community ideally try to live our lives using the Torah as a blueprint on how to behave on a daily basis. As I’ve said earlier in this exchange, it doesn’t mean that it is easy for us but just b/c it may not be easy to try & follow as many of the 613 commandments as we can, that doesn’t mean that we should give it up & consider the Reform position on the relevency of the ritual in today’s day and age…

      • Batya, that I fully understand. What I don’t understand is this: why are these the only 2 options: to follow all 613 mitzvot as they are written or have no rules at all? I mean, the world is a lot more colorful than this and it just makes me so sad that you guys struggle by not allowing yourselves to enjoy it.

        Just because history is sad — and yes, Z!, I know the history of Jews, I just don’t think we should spend our lives in the past — we should be able to enjoy life — of course, Z!, WITH rules in it, but rules that are actually applicable, otherwise rules don’t make any sense …

        There is one other thing I don’t understand. Why do you react so defensively and talk about giving up and things like that. Who said you should give up anything? I am just saying that your life is your choice and if, and only IF you are unhappy with your choice, you can always revise it. But that certainly doesn’t mean you SHOULD, you just have the option to. On the other hand, if you ARE indeed happy with your choice (and I mean it is not forced upon you), then why complain about it?

        • While Z! & I have never met, I have no doubt that we are both VERY happy with our respective lives within the Orthodox community (& I can certainly speak for myself). However, life is NOT all black & white so just b/c we might be very happy & comfortable with our lives as Orthodox Jews, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have normal daily human struggles b/c we do & the Torah expects us to have these & that is why the Torah was given to us humans & was not given to the Angels up in heaven to follow as it says (‘Lo B’shamayim Hee”-the Torah was not given for the heaven but rather for us earthly beings!

          • I agree with most of this. Except that we have to take Torah word by word. I think g-d entrusted us with it because g-d made us flexible and able to evolve and therefore g-d’s Torah can evolve. That is the only point where we are not on the same page. And that is the origin of our disagreement on the relationship issue.

  23. You see Judit, I come from both perspectives. I know what it is to live a ‘non orthodox’ life. I wasn’t raised in this community and I chose it.
    I truly believe in the life that I now live, in the values that I want to pass on.
    I talked about the ‘things i gave up because’ usually, to non obeservant people that is what they consider we orthodox people have done- given up priviledges. But, our reality is so much more than the physical things you percieve as “important”.
    Sex is NOT just a physical thing and we are not to think of it as such. You hug your neighbours and other male friends. You think nothing of it. BUT, what if you did think about it? What if a simple hug was special again and not something you would just give away? What if a hug were worth a dollar, or a thousand? how quickly would you give that away? Or how quickly would you save that to be shared exclusively with a loved one? Touch is awesome and can transcend. It can heal, and it is powerful. Orthodox jews are taught not to take it lightly and if practiced properly cements a good relationships into a healthy and lasting ones.

    • It is your choice and it is perfect as it is as long as you are happy with it. You don’t need to account on it to anyone but yourself.

      To clarify: I do not think physical aspects are SO important, that is what I was trying to say … obviously with not much success. I said by prohibiting physical contact we put too much focus (ie: importance) to sex. More than it needs. And I don’t prohibit sex, and certainly don’t think it is so important. I think the Orthodox community considers it so important by not allowing it. I hope I expressed myself better this time.

      How does not allowing premarital sex ensure that people don’t take touch “lightly”? Please explain to me, this is what I am trying to understand.

      Yes, touch is awesome and can indeed transcend, I just don’t see how this relates to earthly legal contracts such as marriage?

      • Judith I really think it is a bad idea for this woman to have sex in this relationship prior to marriage. It could destroy the relationship.

        If she came to the conclusion that you were right, in a neutral conversation, outside of any relationship context, than maybe it would be ok.

        But if she changes her mind in this context she’s going t o feel cheap, shame and guilt.

  24. Sex is the joining on not just two physical beings. It is the culmination of all things spiritual as well. Just like a good marriage.
    S/N isn’t JUST not having sex. It means no touch at all with men other than fathers, brothers and sons.
    Try it for a few weeks and see how you feel about touch afterwards. No handshakes (unless for important business), no hugs, no kissing on the cheek, no pat on the back or arm- nothing. Your husband is the sole person to give you physical affection. You need something, go to him.
    Now imagine you are on a date for marriage and you have crazy chemistry, but you need to get to know the PERSON, not the body, before you can allow the physical attraction to take over. It makes you prioritize the relationship part of the relationship. The physical takes a back seat to the spiritual, (as it always should). Also, after marriage, Hashem does not allow us to ride on our coat tails, but has us seperate for a couple of weeks to work on our communication skills.
    No one said this was easy, and a healthy dose of physical desire is in fact desired! BUT, by learning to talk to your mate instead of just touching to make things seem/feel better you learn so much more about the other person.
    You hopefully respect them more

    • I think every couple should do as they see fit in their relationship – be it being shomer negiah or engaging in physical affection to the degree that they feel comfortable.

      I take issue with the idea that being shomer negiah automatically improves a relationship or marriage and that engaging in premarital sex automatically scars and damages people and their potential relationship.

      I do agree that the idea of getting to know the person, not just their body, is advisable before deciding to spend the rest of their lives together. However, feeling the crazy chemistry without any relief might actually lead someone to overlook negative personality traits in the other because their minds are clouded with desire. They may marry too soon to relieve their sexual frustration.

      In addition, the observance of taharas hamishpacha does not necessarily benefit a couple. Without getting into details that are too long for a comment, I have seen it negatively affect a couple’s relationship with the woman feeling starved for affection when she needed it most an the husband feeling sexually frustrated for half of the month.

      Again, every couple needs to do what works for them, and I respect whatever choices they make. However, I can see how the ancient laws that are enforced and observed by the Orthodox community (externally anyway) can actually contribute to sexual dysfunction, unhappy marriages, and repression of healthy and natural feelings and functions.

      These laws made sense in the time they were written but we know a lot more now about the psychology and physiology of the sexual functions and lives of human beings. It is a shame that Orthodoxy can’t adjust the rigorous and uncomfortable laws (that do NOT guarantee a happy sexual life within marriage) to make the process of choosing a spouse and enjoying a marriage easier and more relevant to the times we now live in.

      • chanie, with regard to your final comment “It is a shame that Orthodoxy can’t adjust the rigorous & uncomfortable laws to make the process of choosing a spouse & enjoying a marriage easier…”) i agree that Taharas Hamispacha does not necessarily guarantee a happier marriage (b/c there are no guarantees in life) but i don’t know that the secular dating rules make the process of choosing a spouse & enjoying marriage easier even though they may be more relevant to the times we live in…

        i will also add that both my husband & i were always religious & did not have other sexual partners b/f we married which was a good thing. we both didn’t have to worry about comparing one another to previous sexual partners b/c there were none which prevented unnecessary insecurities from coming into play.

        • I think there are several ways in which secular dating ways make things easier – with the sexual tension satisfied, people can date for a longer period of time and get to know each other better before making things permanent as marriage should be. I think the current Orthodox shidduch system is very judgmental which can leave perfectly decent partners without decent choices as a result of things they cannot control and which do not reflect on who they are as people – which is very unfair. I think that in general, as Judit mentioned in one of her comments, this heavy focus on a separation of the sexes and on keeping from physical contact actually puts an unhealthy emphasis on physical contact and sex. I have many friends who are still frum and many who have left orthodoxy and I can tell you that there is a lack of ability to relate to members of the opposite sex on a platonic level because of the separation of the sexes outside of familial relationships (I’ve noticed this as more of a problem with men than women interestingly enough.)

          I do think that taharas hamishpacha can do beautiful things for a marriage. It should, ideally, make the husband and wife appreciate the time that they can be intimate more deeply. It should, ideally, allow the couple to deepen their feelings for each other and show each other their love in non sexual ways when they can’t be intimate. However, I rarely see couples that make it work for them in this way. You need only spend a half an hour on imamother to see how the current rules are not working for many people – the women who have gone through years of unsatisfying sex; women who just don’t enjoy it but do it because they HAVE to; women who are disgusted by sex but are pregnant with their fifth child etc. just break my heart. Sex is a wonderful thing and it should be enjoyed by everyone who is lucky enough to have someone to be intimate with.

          I think it’s really wonderful that you are so happy with your husband. I will say that people who have more than one sexual partner do not necessarily compare or feel insecure, but of course there is that potential. If someone is selective with their sexual partners and only engages in intimate activities with people they care about and that care about them, comparisons usually do not come into play (at least in my experience.) And for every point there is a counterpoint. I know an orthodox couple who found out, on their wedding night, that sexual relations could not work between them for physical reasons. they were devastated. They would have found this out without being married and saved themselves a lot of heartache with the secular rules. There is the potential for comparison with Orthodox jews who for whatever reason are on a second marriage. Do you think that remarried couples lose something precious in their intimate lives because they have been with other partners?

          I think, ultimately, that there are pros and cons for every side of the discussion. It is when people insist on black and white perspectives (like premarital sex is ALWAYS bad and scarring, or that premarital sex is NEVER wrong) that the problem arises. I appreciate that we can have this discussion without hostility.

          • Chanie, I should mention that I too am a big believer in there being pros & cons to everything in life & that black & white perspectives are wrong. in fact, although as i’ve previously mentioned i am happy with Orthodoxy i am nonetheless a critic of the problems within that abound. Specifically, the shidduch scene (which is how this conversation got started initially) is most disturbing & i say that even though i am not into yet but i do have a 19 yr old daughter who is anxious to get started with the dating scene soon & i am TRULY dreading the process & all of the ‘requirements’ that are expected of girls & the parents of girls w/ regard to financial support even for non-kollel boys/men :(!

            • Yikes! Good luck with that. I don’t envy your position, the process can be brutal from what I know of it. I hope she finds someone who makes her truly and deeply happy for the rest of her life!!

              • thanks chanie, i don’t envy myself either ;)! & amen to your kind words-that is certainly my hope for her too :)!!

        • See, Batya, that’s the thing. If you did not have any other sexual (or any kind) partner before then you don’t know (because you can’t) if you made the right choice. It is not only the sexual aspect (but I am really getting tired of talking about sex that much, I think I haven’t talked about it this much since high school :-)) and it is not only “comparison” but experience and learning. About people, their behavior, and the like.

          Regardless, if you feel you are happy and made the right choice, that’s what counts. What I would like for my future daughter is to gather experience and learn before she chooses someone to spend her life with. Of course there is no guarantee that seh’d make the right choice but there is a greater probability than in getting married to the first man who comes along and seems to like her.

          These things are not more than differences in how we view the world around. I appreciate and respect tradition but I also appreciate what is good in our contemporary world. I think the healthier way to look at it would be a somewhat balanced view where both of these aspects can (and should) play a part. Also, it could ensure survival of tradition, which I think is very important.

          • Um judit, all i said was that my husband was my first sexual partner (there we go talking about sex again ;)! but for the record he was NOT my first relationship/boyfriend…

            • 🙂 OK, I wasn’t sure. Anyway, it is great talking with you, I think this is very constructive.

              • & i was not the first girl he liked or had a relationship with either (unfortunately ;))!

                • correction: fortunately 🙂 he knows how other women were and he wanted you. that means you are not the only one he met/liked but you are he one he CHOSE. huge difference 🙂

                  • aw thanks judit :)!
                    btw, another thought that came to mind regarding the issue of pre-marital sex (there i go again ;)! is that just b/c a former boyfriend may have been good ‘in the bedroom’ & that doesn’t mean that he is ideal husband/father material & i think that can be problematic b/c a perfectly suitable spouse might be disqualified b/c he’s just not as ‘good’ as don juan had been…

                    • There is always that risk, but anyone who chooses a spouse solely on their abilities in the bedroom is probably not using their right mind in choosing anyway 😉

                    • batya from NJ

                      But Chanie, why should Mr. Mentsch have to be compared to Mr. Juan (so to speak)? That is one of the benefits to me of not engaging in pre-marital sex b/c this way one’s spouse (ideally) is the BEST (as long as he is a loving, caring person & not an abusive boar!) b/c he was the one & only!

                      Of course, as you pointed out the other day, in the case of second marriages, the new partners can never be the “one & only” but such is life…

                    • Batya, you are absolutely right. But who said the opposite? 🙂 I never thought or said that being great in bed would make a perfect husband. Although it can’t hurt if he is :-), but it is by far not the most important thing. That’s what I have been talking about the whole time 🙂

                    • batya from NJ

                      judit, all i was doing was giving one more reason why refraining from pre-marital sex was preferable in my opinion & was not necessary to experience prior to marrying one’s spouse…

          • Then it was not a very good reason, I am sorry. Not having premarital sex does not eliminate the risk of failure. See, if you DO have premarital sex, you are still NOT obliged to marry the guy, only if you two click in other respects (as well) does marriage make sense.

            I think I started to see now what y’all’s problem with premarital sex is. You seem to think that premarital sex is destroys everything else a couple has and that it is independent from emotions. Well, it isn’t. Only if everything else is there should the issue of sex emerge. And, if everything else is indeed there, sex won’t destroy it but it will help BUILD it. If everything else is NOT there, that’s a whole other story. But in such case why the heck would anyone want to marry a guy?

            • honestly judit, this whole back & forth is getting tiresome for me but let me just say the PRIMARY reason why i am opposed to pre-marital sex (as i’ve mentioned previously) is b/c of the Halachic & Rabbinic prohibitions involved & that it not condoned within mainstream Orthodox Judaism to which i belong. PERIOD!! that is my primary reason & honestly, it’s irrelevant to me what others think on the matter & whether or not you or anyone else feel that it is or is not beneficial for a marriage. in addition, i was sharing my own experiences on what i felt were some benefits of the system to which i belong. of course as i’ve said b/f, NO system is perfect (b/c people are not perfect) & no dating method will guarantee anything for a couple & that’s life. you can live your life in the way that you see fit & i will live mine in the way i see fit & hopefully we can peacefully co-exist regardless of whether can understand & agree with each others points of view :)!

              • oh, tell me about it 🙂 see, this is where i started: you have the rioght to choose how you want to live your life and as long as you are happy with it (internally, not because of different rules “imposed” on us) the decision is good.

                btw, i don’t know if you noticed but we agree on a lot of things. there is only ONE exception and here you drew general conclusions of that ONE point we don’t agree on 🙂

                • Judit, i am laughing out loud b/c i disagree with you that we only disagree with each other on only ONE point!! i think it’s far more than that which is fine as long we “live & let live” & try to be respectful of one another despite our disagreements & differences :)!!!

    • I agree with some of what you are saying, but I don’t understand how excluding bodily contact would help in getting to know each other better. Why do you degrade physical contact to the point where it stands in the way f two people getting to know each other, instead of helping them in it? Now you make it look like it is something dirty — I know you said the opposite before but based on what you said above there is a contradiction as to how you see physical contact between two people.

      Again, I don’t think g-d would want us behave that way. I think these rules were made up by humans (mostly those who had daughters :-)) to avoid problems with premarital pregnancies and babies with confused legal status. And because today these issues can be managed easily by secular laws (that are as important as religious ones), physical contact outside of marriage is a non-issue anymore. It is not a question of easy or difficult, at least to me it isn’t. I think it is a question of being realistic.

      This is, I would like to emphasize, my belief, and nothing more. You are, of course, entitled to believe what you believe in and nobody questions that if not you yourself. If you find inner peace and calm in your beliefs, that’s what’s important.

      • It is not so much a matter of degrading physical contact as it is of elevating to the place of utmost holiness that it deserves. As something holy it should be treated with the utmost respect and within the proper boundaries.

        From a Jewish perspective a physical relationship is the final step in the unifying of two souls. If the proper ground work is not done before hand, and by that I mean committing to living the rest of your life with that person, the spiritual/emotional wounds can be horrendous. Chazal said it two thousand years ago and modern science agrees with it.

        The Kinsey study found that the more physically active a man was before marriage the more more likely he was to cheat after marriage. To the point that if he had sexual relations before marriage with a single woman who is not currently his spouse, he was 9 times more likely to cheat. The more partners the more the incidence of infidelity rose.

        Modern psychology also tells us that physical relations have the ability to bind emotions, at least initially. It is part of what becomes of being a monogamous species. Thus by being physical before a marriage, instead of having that strong bond to seal an already strong relationship, you run a very serious risk of becoming emotionally attached to a person that you simply are not ultimately compatible with. You may consider this to be old fashioned but consider the difference in divorce rates between secular America(over 50%) and even Modern Orthodox(somewhere in the low teens for percentage). Obviously something is working right.

        • thanks mekubal for your insights :)!

          & hadassah, not bad, this is the 101rst comment on this post!!

        • @mekubal:

          some of what you say might be true.

          But, in practice, the system applied by the orthodox jewish community also has many drawbacks. It would be naive to ignore them as you did in your argumentary.

          1) Divorce rate is always low when women have no means of surviving alone. This means that women put up with a lot of crap, because, with their eight children, they cannot go anywhere else.

          In some hareidi communities (where divorce rates are next to 0), this goes so far that rabbis, parents, etc send women are back to abusive husbands. Unfortunately, in the jewish legal language, this has the very euphemistic name of making “shalom bais” (peace in the home). i.e. if an abusive husband wants to keep the wife he abuses, he says he wants “shalom bayis” (i.e. he refuses her a get).

          2) The fact that males and females are strictly separated and than suddely have to “jump at each other” after the wedding may be very romantic in some cases, but it can also be extremely problematic in others. There are hareidi boys and girls for whom the transition from 0 to 100% is to abrupt, shocking. Some boys and girl speak of this experience as a “form of rape”.

          3) the shunning of extramarital sex in a society has huge negative consequences on single mothers and their children.

          Unfortunately, there used to be, and still is, a huge dissymetry between the consequences suffered by women (who are pregnant) and the man who fathered the child. (in general, they got off the hook very easily).

          In open societies, most abortions are done by girls coming from a very traditionalist culture where extramarital sex is frowned upon (strict muslims, christians, jews). Incidentially, those cultures also reject abortions, but in many cases the “reputation” is so important, that an abortion is preferred to having the child and admitting extramarital sex.

          • 1) Divorce rate is always low when women have no means of surviving alone. This means that women put up with a lot of crap, because, with their eight children, they cannot go anywhere else. This is why I specifically mentioned Modern Orthodox and their stats and the Hareidi ones. Most Modern Orthodox women are more than capable of supporting themselves. They typically have college degrees and in many cases careers.

            he fact that males and females are strictly separated and than suddely have to “jump at each other” after the wedding may be very romantic in some cases, but it can also be extremely problematic in others. This again shows a general ignorance of the specific community that I was referencing. As well a general ignorance of the community you feel the need to lambaste in your comment.

            In open societies, most abortions are done by girls coming from a very traditionalist culture where extramarital sex Actually that is not true most abortions are done within poor minority communities.

            Beyond that I have no intention of justifying your undignified insults with a response.

            • “I specifically mentioned Modern Orthodox and their stats and the Hareidi ones. Most Modern Orthodox women are more than capable of supporting themselves. They typically have college degrees and in many cases careers.”

              So I spoke of chareidi wifes. Now they are brainwashed into working while their husbands learn: you see that their economic independence already has repercussions on divorce rates, which are rising, especially in the hareidi world.

              “most abortions are done within poor minority communities. ”
              Well, who are the minorities?
              Very catholic catholics
              Very christian christians of other denominations
              Muslims, some of the fundamentalist

              And, of course: In communities (or states), where there is no education about sexuality and contraception, the abortion rates are higher.

              As well as in places where access to contraception is made difficult.


              • Very catholic catholics
                Very christian christians of other denominations
                Muslims, some of the fundamentalist

                Actually no. Look at a demographic study about where Planned Parenthood builds it centers, and you will find that the vast majority happen to be within ethnic(not religious) minority communities.

            • “Beyond that I have no intention of justifying your undignified insults with a response.”

              I understand very well that you prefer to remain in the dream world you have chosen for yourself.

              I think that strict rules about sexuality are OK as long as you apply them to yourself and to yourself only.

              However, we have seen in the past and we still see in some regions of this world that a society that enforces very strict rules about society can do great damage to some of it’s members.

              Read a bit of Dickens, if you like… so that you might learn about the destiny of out-of-wedlock children in a society that shuns extramarital sex.

              It was a society full of hypocrisy.

              And if you look carefully into the hareidi society, you will find the same phenomenon:

              there was a haredi rabbi who preached “tzniut” above all and was caught having phone sex with a Giur candidate.

              There was a hareidi girl who became pregnant with a married, non-religious man: her family forced her to abandon the child.

              The was a divorced hareidi woman, teacher in a hareidi school, who became pregnant and chose to abort for fear she might lose her job and compromise the shidduch prospects of her child…

              etc. etc.

              • typo: “a society that enforces strict rules about society” should read “a society that enforces strict rules about sexuality”

              • there was a haredi rabbi who preached “tzniut” above all and was caught having phone sex with a Giur candidate.

                Yes and when it came to light, he was thrown out of his, Yeshiva, he was thrown out of his community, and you had major Rabbis such as the B”D of the Eidah Hareidit saying that it was a mitzvah to expose him, and make it publicly known so that he could not move and do so in another country.

                Beyond that you are dealing in hearsay, which even if true, which I doubt, you are dealing with individuals from a large society who have made bad personal choices.

                I can also tell you about the Hareidi girl who became pregnant out of wedlock with a non-Jewish worker here in Jerusalem. A prominent Yeshiva employed her as a secretary so that she could support her child, and found her a spouse from amongst its own students. She now lives happily here in Jerusalem.

                Or a hareidi widow woman who became pregnant out of wedlock and could not afford to support herself and her future child, because of her ex-husbands debts. So another Yeshiva transformed one of its classroom spaces(which had orginally been a flat) into a flat where she could live rent free for the rest of her life. The Mashgiach of the Yeshiva married his own son to her daughter.

                For every story of horror you think you can find, there is at least one of equal beauty.

            • Mekubal you are wrong in that these are insults. The issues that grzimk brings up are very valid and probably more common than you would think. I understand that you feel that your beliefs are under attack and that can cause defensiveness, but defensive and denial that there are any problems within the current system is what keeps the system as dysfunctional as it is. YES the halachos of shomer negia and taharas hamishpacha work for SOME but they do not work for ALL and if fact can cause severe problems for members of the community / society.

              • Make no mistake they are absolutely insults and the result of bigotry.

                If I were to criticize a certain ethnicity because of high incarceration rates, high crime rates, high instance of spousal abandonment. I would be told that I am a racist and a bigot.

                Why then is it permitted to attack Hareidim because there are problems within Hareidi socieity? There is a double standard at work, where it is not permitted to criticize an ethnic group whose primary identification is skin color, but it is permitted to lambaste one whose primary identification is religious.

                It is sad that you don’t see that.

                • Mekubal, I think you lost the focus of the discussion:

                  It is not at all about “lambasting the hareidim”.

                  Remember, we are talking about the advantages and drawbacks of a system with strict rules regarding sexuality before marriage.

                  You pointed out that sex before marriage was correlated to higher risk of cheating and could cause spiritual damage”.

                  I pointed out that there are also drawbacks to societies that shun premarital sex, namely bad treatment of single mothers and their offspring, increased abortion rates, and hypocrisy.

                  In order to convey to you that these problems did not only exist in Europe before the separation of church and state took place or in fundamentalist muslim societies, I gave you some examples of the same phenomenon drawn from the hareidi society. Just to show that is real.

                  Now you might not like to hear that problems do indeed exist in the society you chose to live in, but this doesn’t make them less real…

                  • You pointed these things out with what evidence?

                    See I quoted the Kinsey study, what most psychologists still believe to be the definitive study on human sexuality, to back my religious points.

                    You come back with propaganda that isn’t backed up by any sort of actual statistic. When you use propaganda to defame a group of people you have stepped quite fully outside the realm of what might be considered polite conversation.

                • This is just so sad, you know. Why in the world would a Jew (a Jew!!!) criticize ethnicity? Haven’t we learned our lessons about ethnic issues? If you go down that road don’t be surprised it it will come around. I don’t know where I heard this: “don’t do to others what you don’t want to be done to yourself” … I refuse to accept or even consider any argument based on ethnic … anything. If you have VALID arguments, please don’t hold it back.

                • Actually what is being discussed, and at times criticized, in this string is a system of laws, not a people. So your bigotry argument holds absolutely no water.

                  • If only that were true, however when someone states that Hareidi society is, a society full of hypocrisy. You have stepped outside the realm of discussing laws.

                    What you have is people who have never lived within Hareidi society, criticizing what they perceive to be the ills of that society, with no factual or statistical evidence to support those claims.

                    Statistically as I have pointed out in a comment further down, Israel’s religious system does a better job of clearing divorces than the State of New Jersey.

                    • Mekubal, you are not doing a very good job at quoting what was said.

                      I never said that the Hareidi society is full of hypocrisy.

                      However, I pointed out that hypocrisy about sexual behaviour is inherent in societies that put a great emphasis on banning premarital and extramarital sex.

                      And yes, this phenomenon can also be found in the chareidi society, as I pointed out using the example of the hypocrite hareidi Rabbi.

                    • As far as I could see it was criticism of an attitude toward sexuality that is not only prevalent amongst Chareidim but also other strict religious groups.

                      That said, you are making an assumption that those of us who have been on the critical side have never lived within that society when in sect, at least in my case, that is not true.

                      The issues I have seen I have seen with my own eyes. Yes, you quoted a well known and accepted study of human sexual behavior but I have yet to see a study of societies that have this attitude toward sexual contact (though they probably exist somewhere.) Therefore I can only judge things based on my experiences.

                    • The Kinsey study did include Hareidi and Orthodox Jews. It found that within the marriages they had sex more frequently and were more contented with their sex life.

                      What Kinsey did was record data on every type of sexual contact, from child abuse through the various stages of life, and in varying ethnicities and contexts. For that reason alone his study couldn’t be duplicated today, some of the research he did would no longer be legal.

                      All of that to say that he did do research and record statistics on Hareidi socieity, and while he did find their social mores to be repulsive to himself, and the attitude of sexual liberation he sought to engender in society, he did find that it had some benefits.

                    • @Mekubal:

                      Thank you for the excellent article you posted over at Dov Bear’s blog.

                      http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2010/08/guest-post-by-mekubal-shortly-after.html

          • That is incorrect, I’ve been a women’s health practitioner for years, and I would say the vast majority of abortions are done for financial reasons. (I place young age and people wanting to finish their education in that same category).

            Second most common in my experience, are women who already have a baby and feel they got pregnant too soon after their first baby.

        • “Obviously something is working right.” yes, the fact that it is close to impossible to get a divorce 🙂

          thank you for your insight, but i still don’t see how bodily contacvt can only be treated as something holy exclusively between married people. bodily contact and marriage have don’t have exclusive relationship and one can perfectly exist without the other, still treating physical contact as holy.

          • yes, the fact that it is close to impossible to get a divorce
            Don’t believe the propaganda.

            • indeed. my GET went smoothly and swiftly. But that was because the ex was willing to give it.

              • HSM, see, you can GET lucky 🙂 But some of the women are not so lucky, and they are stuck forever with an abusive and oppressive man forever.

                I just hate to see women submitting themselves to such oppression and lovingly embracing their own oppression, even sometimes trying to rationalize why such oppression is what g-d wants from us. Now, if g-d really wants these from people who are created in g-d’s image then I refuse to believe in this g-d.
                The g-d I want to believe in — and who I think g-d is — does not want inequality among people g-d created.

                You know, ladies, I am not a feminist but you are converting me slowly but surely into one 🙂

            • She meant, perhaps, that the husband has the power of withholding the get.

              You are right that this only happens in a minority of cases.

              But take this, together with the
              -social shunning of divorcees
              -financial difficulties for providing for two households and many children
              – risk that the wife will not be awarded custody
              – if the wife is awarded custody, risk that she will cheated out of alimony (see Get extortion)
              – difficulties in finding a suitable spouse for re-marriage
              – fears not to find a suitable shidduch for children
              and you get a society where women will not easily file for a divorce, even if they want badly.

              Oh, and then there is the assymetrical response to marital infidelity:

              If he cheats on her: shalom bayis
              If she cheats on him: immediate divorce without compensation
              (So she’d better not get caught if she cheats on him)

            • oh, my friend, you can trust me on this: I never believe any propaganda. not even the one that says i should submit myself to a man, even if you throw g-d in the mix.

      • I think there are two important, purely rational arguments in favour of strong committment before sexual reliation takes places, besides the psychological aspects discusse below:

        1) True monogamy is the best way of preventing Sexually transmissible diseases

        2) It might be in the interest of the woman that the man makes a committment to care for the children he fathers with her. (At a time where there is no contraception and no paternity test).

        However, both arguments are not completely watertight:

        1) spouses might cheat on each other and often do so. In this case, confidence (that no STD will come into the couple) converts in a deadly trap.

        Indeed, in the 19th century, many husbands infected their wives with STD (that were not curable back then), while the wives completely trusted them. At this period, a husband could even insist on having sexual intercourse with his wife, even if he had an STD (that was not always obvious)…

        2) Backfired, in the jewish world, in the form of Agunoth and Get refusal. i.e. regardless of their “theoretic” duties, there are jewish men who leave their wives and children with no ressources and even use the Get as a means to extort money from their wives (or in-laws)

        • ,i>2) Backfired, in the jewish world, in the form of Agunoth and Get refusal. i.e. regardless of their “theoretic” duties, there are jewish men who leave their wives and children with no ressources and even use the Get as a means to extort money from their wives (or in-laws)
          Again don’t believe the propaganda. Quite honestly the Aguna situation is little different from what occurs in secular divorce courts.

          I had a non-Jewish business partner whose divorce was held up for seven years on account of a recalcitrant spouse trying to extort money through the courts.

          Spouses can refuse to sign papers and other things to prevent the other from receiving a divorce. Israel clears its agunot within three years. Most people can’t get that with a contentious spouse in the US.

          • This used to be the case.

            “Western” divorce law used to run along the lines that if the “innocent” person does not want the divorce, the “guilty” part cannot enforce it.

            Meanwhile, I think most countries have done away with the notion of guilt and innocence in divorce. Now, most countries have a separation period after which the divorce is granted in any case.

            This “separation” period tends to become shorter and shorter. In my country, it used to be four years and was reduced to two years.

            • That’s great.

              In the US it depends State by State. There are several where a spouse can simply refuse to grant a divorce. So you get extortion for alimony and child support.

              It happens. I have seen it happen.

              • Well, yes. In Ireland you might not be able to divorce at all, if you are catholic…

                (same goes for Israel, i suppose, by the way)

          • “Israel clears its agunot within three years. ”

            That’s nice to hear. I hope it is true (for all cases). I do not live in Israel and I know a few agunot of 20 years and more.

            The only motivation for the husband to give a get is when he himself wants to remarry – if he wants a chuppa. Because there are also get-refusers who remarried outside the jewish system.

            Oh, and there are the Sefardi get-refusers who say that they will never bother to give a get, since they are allowed to have several wives according to halacha (there is a case like this in my town. It’s quite recent, agunah been waiting for 3 years or so…)

            “Again don’t believe the propaganda. Quite honestly the Aguna situation is little different from what occurs in secular divorce courts.”

            Well: this might be applicable to some cases.

            I heard from a lawyer and from a social worker (outside Israel) that the “get extortion” is used to force the wife to renounce alimony, which is a huge problem, because women who renounced alimony will get no welfare benefits. And I personally know a woman who had to pay a large sum of money in order to get her get, and the ex would still refuse ist. And I know a case where the family had to pay a large sum of money for the daughter to get a get.

            And there was the famous case where a father signed a guarantee for a quite large loan for his son-in-law so that his daughter would get a get, and was put in cherem when he refused to pay up after the business went bust.

            Of course, every system has injustices and can fail in some cases. The jewish system has a very strong bias in favour of men and against women.

  25. I feel that often people do not go to a competant Rav to help them through confusing, hurtful or difficult situations. Judaism in no way means to damage a person and often answers are readily available- if people just ask.

  26. Ugh. Coming from three generations of Rabbis, I am so sick and tired of this faith that people place in Rabbis. Rabbis are just people.

  27. kisarita, it is unfortunate that you have had such negative experiences. Did you ask a question and not get an answer that you could live with?
    I have sought out “real people” to be my Rav(s). This is what makes them so good at what they do. They take the PERSON and the situation into account and paskun based on the leniencies rather than the strictness of the rule when it applies.
    2 things I live by: 1. Don’t judge Judaism by the Jews, and 2. Judaism is made for humans, not angels.

    • “2 things I live by: 1. Don’t judge Judaism by the Jews, and 2. Judaism is made for humans, not angels.” — would that mean that you don’t like your own people and that’s why you don’t “judge” Judaism by Jews? 🙂 I hope you see how this belief of yours is a tad bit contradictory.

      If Judaism is made for humans, as you say, why not judge it by humans (i.e. Jewish humans)? And if that’s true, then what do you base your judgement of Judaism on?

      I’m sorry but I get confused by these contradictions and as much as I try to understand your points this one just doesn’t make sense to me. Could you please give me some more insights on this?

    • I really don’t understand this “Don’t judge judaism by jewish people” expression. I hear it ALL the time and it makes no sense! Who then am I supposed to judge it by?

      • My thoughts exactly, Chanie. I mean, I certainly hope Judaism can and should be judged by the Jews. The Jews I know are exceptional people — well, with some exceptions, but nothing is perfect 🙂

        Now I am confused. So, who/what do we judge Judaism by?

    • No you misunderstood me. I have had very POSITIVE experience with Rabbis. I love them very much! They’re my family after all. Nevertheless I know all to well how human they are. And fine human being at that, but humans who struggle like the rest of us, and don’t always have the right answer either.

  28. Like we’ve covered over and over again, the Torah lifestyle isn’t an easy oner to follow. The Torah teaches us not to cheat, lie or steal but you have rabbeim and other Jews who do so. That is where not judging Judaism by the Jews comes out. Judaism itself is a “perfect religion”, while humans are never perfect people.
    To throw in thew whole religion based on the imperfect acts of it’s members for “hypocrisy” doesn’t wash with me. Everyone has to make their peace with Hashem. HE is the one who sees all and he knows what each of us is capable of. Saying that, “I don’t have to because…so and so doesn’t” is very bad business.

    • Well:

      if you have a “perfect system”, then at least it should give better resualts than comparable systems that are less perfect…

      ..but is that really the case???

    • OK, so why would g-d give a perfect religion to such imperfect people? Or, why would g-d not make humans perfect so they fit the perfect religion?

      Judaism is far from being perfect, it’s not. But that is one of its beauty, that’s one of the reasons for loving and embracing it.

      Jews who are sinners are still Jews and we should all stand up as one and take responsibility in whatever good or bad thing is committed by any Jew. Jews are not just related by religion, but also by faith and ethnicity. We should stand up for each other and not exclude whoever we don’t like or think is a sinner. To me that kind of Judaism is so much closer to being perfect than the one where you are not allowed to touch the person you love until you don’t have a huge shining rock on your finger, or where you have to be a lesser being because you are a woman.
      Many, many women who came before us were fighting against such principles — with success — and I am not willing to flush everything they fought for down the toilet. Moreover, I deeply despise men who would expect such thing from the woman they say they love, or who would accept the principle that they are “boss” with no doubt in themselves and no respect for their spouses/gf’s/fiancees/ whatever.

      • Uh-oh you really are sounding more and more like a feminist here 😉

        That said, I completely agree with you and appreciate that you are able to express yourself so well on the matter being discussed.

    • How do we know that Judaism is a perfect religion? I am not asking this facetiously. I would love to hear what shows you that it is.

      To me, a valid way of testing it’s perfection would be to evaluate the members of that religion. While many jews are faithful, caring, and moral people there are many that are not. One would think that at the very least there would be much higher rates of “perfection” among it’s followers but from my personal experience (I can judge by no one else’s,) Jews are like every other group of people – some good, some bad with an equal ratio to non jews.

  29. I am suprised no one has brought up the age factor.

    We’ve been told that she’s been having a hard time finding the right one, but we don’t know how old she is. 24? 38? Premarital sex takes on a totally different implications depending how old one is.

  30. The point is that judging the religion by its followers is NOT an acurate way to test its perfection.
    The Torah teaches us of something to aspire to be.
    The ten commandments are not mere suggestions. Used appropriately they enable us to have proper relationships. 5 talk of the relationship one should have with other people, and the other 5 are about the relationship one should have with G-d. The Torah says very little about HOW these laws have to be followed. It is through the Oral Law that we have learned how to live within these parameters.

    Also, age shouldn’t be a factor in deciding on premarital sex. It is a matter of principle. Whether 15 or 25 or 50, it is a principle and applies to one’s life no matter what. Is it hard? For some it’s harder than others, but THAT is the point. Torah is so much about learning to have control over yourself. Physically, emotionally…Your body might want whatever it wants, but it can have very harmful repercussions for oneself and potentially for others.
    Some of the laws might seem obvious, such as no rape or molestation. (Though in some cultures this way of life was totally acceptable and promoted, but NEVER in a TORAH community. Did/does it happen- Yes, but NOT because the Torah condones it.) Whereas others, like no eating pig or milk and meat together, seem meaningless to some. The Torah applies to BOTH the body and the SOUL. We cannot possibly understand all the ramifications our actions can have on the soul.
    I mean, scientists 50 years ago did not understand the ramifications of pollution on the environment. We might never know the damage we have done over the years to our souls by following what our bodies want.
    The Torah lifestyle tries to prevent this “damage”.

    • Truly Z!, I agree with all that you have written.

      It is unfair to judge a religion based on people who are mere mortals & as I think Chanie said above , “Jews are like every other group of people, some good, some bad with an equal ratio to non-Jews” & therefore why dismiss those who attempt to follow the religion b/c of those who give the religion a bad name. Should all Jews be held accountable b/c of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme? I think we each should be judged based on our own actions & not by the actions of the hypocrites , abusers, & other low-lives & sinners (of which there are TOO many) that are sadly in our midst & give our beautiful religion a bad name.

      A final thought that I have no doubt will not resonate well with some who may be reading but I will mention it nonetheless is that in Judaism there is the notion of “the greater the individual is the greater the temptations he is faced with”. This is just something to think about especially when we are shocked to hear of rabbis who are hypocrites & behave inappropriately, but then again, I’m not so convinced that those rabbis are indeed such great individuals in the first place… & as was discussed earlier, yes rabbis are just mere mortals just like the rest of humankind, some are good & some are not, just like in Christianity-there are good priests & not so good priests. not all clergymen are necessarily good people. it is of course shocking & reduces our belief in humanity when we find out that clergymen abuse the trust that their congregants place in them but again, THAT doesn’t make the religion inherently bad. like Z! said, don’t judge Judaism by the Jews & I for agree (although we know that many who have read this have disagreed & we can agree to disagree :)!!!

      Shabbat shalom everyone & btw, i wonder how the couple is doing ;)!!!!!

    • Z, age is not a factor…. IF someone truly believes that is absolutely right or wrong. However, for those of us who don’t believe that, the question is a different one: How wise and healthy is it? And for that I think age really does make a big difference!

  31. Okay, so I have one last question: please tell me what are the ramifications in shomer negiah. Does it have a rational explanation or is it because g-d wants it so?

    “I mean, scientists 50 years ago did not understand the ramifications of pollution on the environment” — absolutely. Just as people thousands of years ago didn’t understand how nature worked and in need of explaining everything (human nature, what are we going to do? :-)) they said nature did things because of g-d. Today we know why storms and earthquakes happen … think about it. The Torah was written thousands of years ago … it is a collection of stories trying to teach moral values. Today mostly metaphorically.

    • My understanding of shomer negiah is that it is a rabbinical prohibition (or possibly more like a ‘fence’ around the mitzvah) that is recommended to discourage pre-marital sex from possibly taking place. Obviously if there if no physical contact between the genders, it eliminates the chance of sexual relations from possibly occurring & is therefore advisable.

      that said, there are many in the more modern orthodox community who are openly not shomer negiah but they nonetheless presumably refrain from having sex. There also may be those in the more right wing (modern-orthodox machmir (meaning strict) or chareidi-ie yeshivish/chasidic) orthodox communities who also may not be shomer negiah who may be viewed as being hypocritical b/c they “officially” pretend to be but perhaps in reality are not).

      In addition, there are those in any one of the streams of orthodoxy that TRULY WANT to observe this stringency b/c they know it’s the “right” thing to do (as someone mentioned MUCH earlier in this thread) & they start out refraining from touching but for whatever reasons (perhaps an excessively long engagement or b/c they are mere mortals & they cannot contain themselves or whatever reasons they may have) they do end up not being shomer negiah & likely may experience considerable guilt about it b/c it was their true intention from the outset but b/c they are mere mortals, their human passions got the better of them & that is why is orthodoxy, long engagements are often frowned upon b/c we realize that it is so challenging for a couple who feel that they are in love t0 refrain from engaging in physical contact with one another.

      that said, i personally believe that in the ideal situation, a couple should take as LONG as they need to, to get to know each other BEFORE they decide to marry but once they do get engaged, then ideally they should try to get married as soon as possible (usually in 3-4 months) so that their temptations & love for each other doesn’t get the better of them & then they find themselves in a position that they may regret b/c they know it was wrong from a religious standpoint. I will add though that it is not always feasible to marry quickly after becoming engaged for a multitude of reasons but whenever feasible, it is preferable. I will add that even though i am orthodox, i am always VERY concerned for brides who get engaged in a very short time-frame (especially if it is their first marriage) b/c i feel you need to get to know someone over a much longer period of time in order to give a relationship time to develop so that a couple can make a rational rather than an impulsive decision.

      in the case of this couple, my original question about them was whether or not they were on the same page religiously b/c just b/c they are both officially ‘religious’ their hashkafot (outlooks) may vary considerably from one another which may or may not cause problems as the relationship progresses-that was my original concern which i hope was clarified by the megillah i have written above ;)!

      • Halachically speaking, according to most poskim today(maimonides disagrees), sexual intercourse between unmarried partners is biblically permitted but is rabbinically forbidden.

        Niddah, on the other hand, is understood by all to be biblically prohibited.

        The Issur of Negi’ah is a “seyag” a “fence” around the prohibition of NIDDAH, and not the premarital sex, according to the principle, אין גוזרין גזרה לגזרה.

        So strictly halachically speaking, if the woman is not a Niddah, there is no issur of Negi’ah, only of intercourse.

        This is just a halachic analysis- This is not to prescribe whether it is wise or healthy or spiritual or what not.

        • Lots of people depend on halacha so they don’t have to exercise their own judgement… lots of people just assume certain things are halacha that aren’t, just because everyone else seems to think so, and then they become so taken for granted that they just BECOME halacha by mitake,… so my last point, i think, is a very important one. Of course if I’m mistaken in my halachic analysis, please show me how!

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