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Family Purity

Breaking the Routine

What is the purpose of observing the laws of Family Purity? How can you create a sense of renewal in your marriage? Rabbi Zamir Cohen explains how the laws of Family Purity maintain the freshness and vitality of a Jewish marriage

Breaking the Routine

One of the greatest detriments to a healthy relationship between husband and wife is the distance that is created by their mundane, monotonous life. This aloofness is so destructive that it can turn pure feelings of love into feelings of disgust and repulsion.

Therefore, when a person wants to attain peace and happiness in marriage, he cannot ignore the wonderful key that the Creator had given him - a key that can afford him the ability to achieve a constant sense of renewal reminiscent of the excitement and amicability felt on the day of his wedding. 

Every man aspires to gain a sense of pleasurable fulfillment. This stems from G-d’s purpose for creation; to please and delight His created beings - as the Ramchal says in the beginning of his book, Path of the Just:

Man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in God and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found. (Translation: shechem.org)

This aspiration makes the average person want to experience an unlimited amount of pleasure. Yet, he does not realize that this approach will only divert him away from that which he is truly seeking, and that is, the exact opposite. This is only natural. When a person seeks continuous pleasure from the same source, his level of enjoyment gradually diminishes until it eventually disappears - or worse, it dips from zero to below zero - from an advantage to a deficiency. He begins to feel turned off by it until the very things that used to be pleasurable for him in the past eventually disgust him. It’s like a teenager who starts working at a pizza shop and eats pizza nonstop, or someone who eats one chocolate bar after the next. The same thing happens in marriage. 

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One of Western society’s goals is to promote and encourage boundless pleasure, which is what ultimately destroys the true enjoyment of those who are influenced by it. And when a person is deprived of real pleasure in its purest form, he is deprived of his happiness as well.

Rabbi Meir (Baal Haness) used to say: Why did the Torah say a woman is considered a Niddah (a menstruating woman) for seven days? Because [if her husband] is too accustomed to her, he will come to loathe her. The Torah said that a Niddah should be forbidden for seven days in order that she remains beloved to her husband on the day of her purification like the day of her entering into the marital canopy.[1]

When a couple thoroughly observes the laws of family purity and avoids all form of physical contact including handing objects over to one another during the prohibited days[2], then physically, there is no connection between them. However, this is the time for them to strengthen their emotional connection and elevate it to great spiritual heights. This way, they can prove to each other that their connection is not contingent upon physical desires, and they can instead enjoy pleasant conversations in a wonderful atmosphere while their emotional connection intensifies in a powerful way. Then, as the days go by, true mutual longing increases and they begin to sense an inner yearning for the day of the immersion. And when that day comes they are both excited about their special secret, as the day in which they can finally express their deep emotional connection has finally arrived. And so, after thorough preparations for her immersion, which include a detailed cleansing process that ensures the removal of anything that may come between her body and the water, the woman returns home fully purified by the ‘living waters’ of the mikveh[3] and all its lofty spiritual implications. She is now ready for the climactic moment that expresses the couple’s mutual longing and wonderful emotional connection that gives them a pure sense of fulfillment, joy and happiness.

A couple like this does not live a monotonous life, they experience renewed feelings of excitement month after month! They also don’t need to stray and search for deviant ways to escape their routine life, like those miserable people who out of frustration, lust, and an inner void, destroy their homes with their own two hands and end up living a life of pain and tears.

This couple on the other hand, operates wisely, according to the instructions of their Creator the same way a wise person would operate a new piece of equipment according to its instruction manual. And this is how they can truly gain the maximum level of pleasure and benefit from this world - not to mention the great reward that awaits them in the world-to-come.

 

Notes and Sources

[1] Niddah 30b

[2] The prohibited days include the days of the woman’s period (which must be at least 4-5 days depending on her custom), the examination after her bleeding has ceased, which must be carried out at sunset on the last day of those set of days, plus another seven clean days in which the woman must self-examine to be sure that she is in fact ‘clean’, until the eve of the eighth day in which she immerses herself in the mikveh.

[3] Mikveh - A pool of clear water constructed by special laws that give it the tiltle - mikveh tahara (a purification mikveh). The waters of this pool go through a converging process with pure rainwater called mayim chaim (living waters). And since every drop of menstrual blood is a potential loss of life (this is not a sin of course, it is a natural occurrence) it creates an impure spiritual situation which can be reversed by immersing in these “living waters” - as the Creator of the world had revealed to us in His Torah. For further reading on this topic refer to the book, “The Revolution” in the chapter entitled, “The Stages of the Menstrual Cycle”. The depth and significance of the mikveh is discussed in the book Hatzofen under the letter “Mem” p.197

Adapted from "The Keys to Life" by Rabbi Zamir Cohen