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

  • Hebrew
  • English
  • Espnaol
  • Francais
Menu

Initiating intimacy

28 January, 2007

Question:

I remember learning that a wife cannot directly ask her husband to have marital relationships with her. However she can ask indirectly or hint at it. Can you please clarify this for me and maybe give me an example. Thank you so much in advance.


Answer:

Two conflicting opinions in the gemara exist about this issue: the gemara in Eruvin 100b tells us that a woman is encouraged to ask her husband for relations; another opinion on the same page tells us that this is a negative quality.  The conclusion of the gemara, which is adopted by most interpretations as well, is that a woman should hint at, rather than explicitly state, that she is interested in relations.

The way we should approach such gemarot is debated among halachic authorities.  Many stories, discussions and ideas in the gemara are not halachic in nature.  Some are meant as good advice, which must be taken in context of factors such as the time period in which they were written.  Others are purely theoretical. 

The Shulchan Aruch adopts this idea as a "midah tovah" (positive quality).  Here too, his words are not necessarily to be understood as mandatory, but rather as suggestions for a higher spiritual level of relations.  It is of utmost importance that the couple take its own desires and needs into account when it comes to their sexual relationship.  If they feel they are interested in adopting this suggestion, and it indeed heightens their relationship rather than disrupting it, the wife can do everything short of explicitly stating she is interested in relations: she can do this by wearing a provocative nightgown, speaking about relations in an indirect way, or acting enticing without actually saying she wants to have relations.  However, if this in any way interferes with their normal relationship and causes awkward situations, it may not be the best advice for them.


This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.

For further questions or comments: 

The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.


Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.