The Talmud tells us: “There are three partners [in creating life]: G-d, the father, and the mother.” In order that this partnership be holy and pure, G-d gave us the laws of family purity, which regulate physical intimacy between husband and wife.
The Talmud tells us: “There are three partners [in creating life]: G-d, the father, and the mother” (Niddah 31a). In order that this partnership be holy and pure, G-d gave us the laws of family purity, which regulate physical intimacy between husband and wife.
In brief, the laws of family purity prohibit marital relations while a woman is menstruating and for seven days thereafter. She then immerses in a mikvah and the couple’s physical relationship is renewed.
Search as we may for a rational explanation for these laws, they remain essentially metaphysical. Religious Jews observe them simply because G-d has so commanded. At the same time, they provide intriguing benefits that reveal the Torah’s infinite wisdom and keen insight into human nature.
Jewish law differs fundamentally from secular law. In approaching the husband-wife relationship, secular law concerns itself merely with the legalities of marriage and divorce. It makes no contribution to fostering love between husband and wife. Consequently, in many marriages, the wedding night is the peak of a couple’s love; from then on, everything goes downhill.
The Jewish laws of family purity, on the other hand, address the most intimate realms of marital life. Most notably, the periodic abstinence they prescribe prevents marital life from becoming routine. Rather, it constantly renews the affection between husband and wife. As the Sages put it, they ensure that “she be as beloved to her husband as on the day she entered the wedding canopy” (Niddah 31b). Enforced separation culminates in a romantic reunion that most couples greatly cherish.
Furthermore, self-restraint, albeit difficult, greatly enhances the spiritual aspects of a marriage. Removing all restrictions in married life can make intimate relations cheap and vulgar. Periodic abstinence helps create a relationship that far transcends the physical and fosters genuine love between husband and wife. Such a marriage will last a lifetime.
In the Torah we find the laws of family purity are followed immediately by the prohibition against sexual intimacy between a brother and a sister. The sages tell us that this is not by chance, but in order to teach us that there are times when the husband-wife relationship should resemble the close bond between siblings. Bonding not only as lovers but as cherished companions, refines and greatly deepens marital closeness.