Tuesday, September 18, 2007

5 + 7

(Picture courtesy of jewmich.com)

Of all the proofs of the Divine origin of the Torah, I can think of no better than "proof" than the fact that it includes the laws of taharas mishpacha. If the Torah was written by man, I can't imagine that any sane man would include such laws that restrict the marital relationship.

Countless books have been written for woman on the topic of taharas mishpacha, however I have never seen even one book written for men to address their emotional needs at the time when all physical contact is forbidden. Man's difficulty lies in the fact that he is created as an extremely physical creature and is not given a corresponding physical outlet during the time of separation. This separation, in turn, can often lead to depression and irritability.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was keenly aware of man's innate difficulty and taught,

"Sexual temptation is man's main test in this world."

Indeed, of all the biographies I have read on tzaddikim, I have never been able to find any with descriptions on this subject as honest and comforting as what I found in Shivchei HaRan #16.

For years, I use to think that my thoughts on this sensitive topic were mine alone. I finally garnered the courage and broached this topic with my friend Aharon. In response to a recent conversation we were having on controlling one's desires he wrote,

"I live in terror of my wife being a niddah. I especially can't bear the isolation. When I think about it, I think I must be the most coarse and shallow excuse for a human that ever existed. Yet, if others feel this way, or experienced difficulties that becomes less depressing."

Aharon is certainly not alone with these honest feelings and it appears that a continuation of these honest discussions on man's "main test in the world" would be beneficial to many in order to provide practical solutions instead of just more questions. In Likutey Moharan #36, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov stressed to us the importance of finding these solutions and wrote,

"It is impossible for any person to grasp and comprehend the tzaddik' teachings unless he has first properly rectified the sign of the holy covenant."


At September 18, 2007 at 4:44:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Since the time I wrote this posting, I have found and read this book and recommend it to others.

At September 18, 2007 at 7:10:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also this site: http://www.briskodesh.org/ is very helpful.

At September 18, 2007 at 7:35:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

Rav Aryeh Kaplan ztl's "Waters of Eden" is a very helpful book:

And Rabbi Norman Lamm's "A Hedge of Roses."

At September 18, 2007 at 7:40:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz: I agree that the books you listed are indeed good books on taharas mishpacha, as is Rabbi Fishel Jacob's book Family Purity.

However, correct me if I am wrong, these books do not address man's emotional perspective during the period of separation. That is the whole point of my posting.

At September 18, 2007 at 10:34:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ: You seem to concentrate on married men's perspectives during separation, but the truth is that someone who's not married faces the same challenges, only it's much more difficult! Perhaps this discussion should address single guys as well.

At September 18, 2007 at 10:38:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

In this posting, I addressed this issue from a married man's perspective. In May, I asked my friend Yonason Shmuel Edelstein for his perspective as a single person here

At September 18, 2007 at 11:15:00 AM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Chasidus teaches one to take control of all one's emotions and to bring them all to avoydas Hashem. If one works on this the diffuclty becomes not "emotional" but rather diffuclty in avoydas Hashem, which the chosid shouldn't be afraid of.

At September 18, 2007 at 11:21:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: Given your answer, how would you answer my question in the posting "Yom Kippur & Separation - A Question" below?

At September 18, 2007 at 12:39:00 PM EDT, Anonymous some yid said...

C'mon guys, don't confuse it with emotions, it's really a much more basic issue: it's just plain physical urge that's quite difficult to control! This urge may give rise to emotions. If you figure out a way to deal with the physical urge, the emotional issues will get sorted out by themselves...
Don't you think so?

At September 18, 2007 at 1:56:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Some yid: Surely, physical (nefesh behamis) is producing emotions. And to deal with it one should surely too :)

ASJ: I think in the case of Kohen Godoyl, he had not only to reach the state of purity (taharo), but what's most important - he had to reach the state of purity of the mind. Thus he had to be separated from physical more than usual.

At September 19, 2007 at 1:42:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Isolation, even for a number of days, is difficult. The common phrases likes, "a sense of renewal" and "feeling of being re-married" are often mentioned in most writings about this subject. The physical relationship between husband and wife is representative of our own experiences of getting close to Hashem and then feeling distanced (R Akiva Tatz write about this in LIVING INSPIRED).

The isolation is only temporary, as is Golus. Of course males experience totally different feelings than our counterparts.


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