Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Conversation, gifts, and games

12 June, 2006

Question:

I was listening to a tape last night by a very well known and respected rav and he was talking about harchakos. He said that (A) it's ossur to have any conversation that may lead to inappropriate behaviour and (B) anything that will lead to "kirvas da'as" my question is – what constitutes kirvas da'as. he mentioned that for a lady to come home and tell her husband funny things that happened in the office is kirvas da'as. You can talk about serious things however. He also said that "b'shas ha'dchak" you can play a board game with your wife if she's climbing out of her skin – but stressed that that is not the "right" thing to be doing. He also said that buying her flowers in the middle of the week would be assur. You can however buy her a new food processor if it is necessary. I was always under the impression that during nidda is the time to connect with your husband in other ways besides physical. And there is nothing wrong with being "close" and having fun together (obviously not in an overly flirtatious way) but the way it sounds like according to the letter of the law – he should treat me like i have some communicable disease!!!! i can't emotionally handle a husband who is one day normal, and the next day won't have kirvas da'as – at least in the way i understand it.


Answer:

At issue here is not belief in the Shulhan Arukh, but interpretation of it.  In Yoreh Deah 195:1, we learn that a husband should not "play" or be "light headed" with his wife while she is in niddah.  The Rema adds "even verbally."  What exactly constitutes playing or light-headedness, verbal or otherwise, is subject to different interpretations. 

Some rabbis permit playing board games together.  Others are stringent.  Still others permit such games only when there is a need for it.  Buying flowers for Shabbat is usually permitted.  Buying a gift that leads to intimacy or thoughts of intimacy is not.  Your conduct here may depend on whether or not flowers (or food processors) during the week do lead you to think of intimacy.  Relating a funny anecdote could be construed as light-headedness, or it could be construed as regular conversation between adults with a healthy sense of humor.  Sexual talk or frivolity would not be permitted.  Baring of emotions could be, so long as there were no sensual tones to the conversation.  Being close and having fun together can mean any number of things, some appropriate, some not, some less clear cut.  Feeling treated like you have a 'communicable disease' is not good for anyone; we are confident that this is not the rav's intent.

How to translate these guidelines into our lives is a challenge.  Niddah can be a wonderful time to express love for each other in non-physical ways.  But even our non-physical expressions of caring need to be weighed against any physical response they might elicit.  Ultimately, each couple must make these decisions together.  Since these decisions can have a real effect on your marriage, we suggest that you seek halachic advice together and in person, from an authority you both respect. 


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