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

  • Hebrew
  • English
  • Espnaol
  • Francais
Menu

Mikveh during husband’s illness

20 May, 2007

Question:

Shalom,
Today I spoke to a relative whose husband had cancer and has been in remission twice. She told me about her difficulties and how her husband's health is like that "of an eighty-year old" (they are in their thirties). She seems very depressed. When i asked her if she is going to the mikvah she paused and then said : "I stopped going to the Mikvah because there is no use". Apparently because of the chemo, he cannot ejaculate. After talking to her for a while I suggested going to the Mikvah anyways just for the sake of not having to keep Harkhakot and maybe the two weeks separation would help. I am not sure I did the right thing – what is the Halacha regarding that? Is she obligated to go to the Mikvah? If not, is it advisable? Is there anything I can do or say to her to help her? Are there any special Heterim for this unique situation?
Thanks so much in advance and we should all hear good news.


Answer:

In this case we would recommend going to the mikveh.  As you intuited, the harchakot could be adding tension to their relationship as well as making it more difficult to care for her husband.  Mikveh immersion for the purpose of other forms of intimacy is permitted.  The only caveat is to avoid hotza'at zera levatalah, which is not at issue here.  A physically affectionate relationship is not built only on relations.

However, based on what you write, the situation would seem to demand more than halachic intervention.  Counseling, or a spouses of the ill support group, might help your relative cope with her situation and her depression.  In terms of their relationship, marital counseling might also be in order.  We hope that she will consider taking these steps to improve her situation.  Referrals for frum counselors can be found through Nefesh International, www.nefesh.org.

It is not completely clear from your questions exactly what sexual difficulties your cousin's husband is suffering. Ejaculation is not necessary to have marital relations. If the problem is lack of erection, there are often medical interventions that can be used to improve the situation. Therefore, in addition to the marital counseling we have suggested, we would also encourage your cousin to discuss this side effect of her husband's condition and/or treatment with the physicians who are treating him. Cancer specialists often work in a multidisciplinary team that includes nurses or social workers designated to deal with these specific issues.


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.