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

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Abusive husband

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, 02-673-0002; WhatsApp 052-8361202

In America – The Shalom Task Force, 1-888-883-2323, 718-337-3700

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