If intimacy is holy – why do we cover sefarim?
4 September, 2017
As a taharat hamishpacha and kalla teacher I was asked the following question and would like to hear your response:
We know that the Shechina comes at the time of intimacy and oneness between husband and wife. It is the ultimate expression of kedusha.
Why then does a couple cover holy seforim in the room at the time of their union? This seems to contradict the kedusha aspect and make it shameful, something that we have to cover during the act of intimacy.
The halachah regarding sefarim is an extension of a law in the Talmud about a sefer Torah. Both relations and a sefer Torah (and, by extension, sefarim) are considered holy. But there are different types of holiness, and each is holy in its own way.
Holiness during relations is of the type which seeks to elevate our most physical activities, so that even when engaged in them, we are not purely animal. Sexual relations can be more holy than other such activities because we have an emotional and spiritual connection to our spouses, because our sexual pleasure is heightened when we give pleasure, because the act is reciprocal. When a couple is attempting to conceive, there is also the holiness of human creative endeavor, of turning our drives towards a form of emulating God.
Marital intimacy is holy in its sphere. Its holy aspects do not transform it into an act that should be performed in every setting.
Neither is the holiness of relations diminished by keeping relations separate from the holiness of the Torah scroll. This is but one of many halachot and customs reflecting the obligation to show respect to the Torah. For example, we don't sit on the same surface on which a sefer Torah also rests and we stand when a Torah is lifted, even though there is nothing inherently objectionable about sitting.
We hope this helps your kallah. Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.
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.