Affectionate Service


Affectionate Service

A woman who is niddah may not serve her husband in three ways which show special affection: pouring him wine or other alcoholic drinks, making his bed, and drawing his bath.

Pouring wine or other drinks:

The wife may not pour a drink for her husband in his presence or serve it to him, unless she does so in an unusual way. For example, a right-handed woman could use her left hand, or she could put the cup on the table at a clear distance from his place setting.

This prohibition includes wine and alcoholic beverages, and other drinks normally reserved for special occasions such as liqueurs, but not ordinary drinks served with most meals (such as water, juice, or milk). Some authorities extend the prohibition to include food and ordinary drinks.

Making his bed

The wife may not make her husband's bed in his presence. This does not apply to the hard work of putting on sheets or pillowcases, but to the more careful and affectionate arranging of the bed, such as turning down the comforter. All forms of bed-making are permitted if he is not present.

Drawing his bath

She should not draw a bath for him in his presence, nor pour water for him to wash his hands, face, and feet – even if she does not touch him and even if it is not warm water. (If he listens to the water running, it is considered to be in his presence.) But she may bring him water for netilat yadayim (hand-washing before a meal) or mayim acharonim (after a meal).

The husband also may not serve his wife in these three ways. Moreover, he may not pass her a cup of wine or grape juice, or even give it to someone else to pass to her. When he has made kiddush, he can pour a number of small cups and pass them around the table, and she can take one of them. Alternatively, he can place a cup of wine on the table in front of himself, and she can pick it up.

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