16 May, 2009
I need your help.
I understand the importance Judaism and Halakha place on a wife being sexually availabe to her husband whenever he wants/needs it. How about if the husband has been physically or emotionally abusive, is the law still the same; must the wife still be there for him whenever he wants?
Thank you so much.
We appreciate how much courage it must have taken to share this question with us and we hope we can be of some help. We are sorry to read about your difficult situation.
There is no halachic requirement to have relations whenever the husband wants to. Though relations are an essential component of marriage, the wife has the right to say "no" to relations when she is not interested.
The Talmud in Tractate Nedarim lists a set of situations in which the holiness of relations is compromised. These include when the couple is in the midst of an unresolved quarrel and when relations take place in an atmosphere of fear of one's partner. The implication is that issues within a relationship canot be divorced from the bedroom.
It is vital in an abusive situation to seek support. For support in dealing with these matters, we suggest you contact one of the following two hotlines. Both are strictly confidential and specialize in providing emotional support and professional-level advice for women in abusive situations:
In Israel – The Crisis Center for Religious Women, http://ccrw.1202.org.il 02-673-0002; beeper service, 03-610-6666 #23912
In America – The Shalom Task Force, www.shalomtaskforce.org 1-888-883-2323, 718-337-3700
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.