A couple of days ago a lady came into our chat room and correctly pointed out that one of the greatest obstacles to the pursuit of truth is when culture and Scripture become combined and confused. The purpose of this essay is to look at modern Jewish ideas about marriage and sex and to compare them with the teachings of the New Covenant.
This 'cutural problem' exists not only in Catholicism and Protestantism but in Messianic Judaism too which in many cases has simply transferred contemporary Jewish practices and added Christ to them. This is not, of course, to say that Judaism doesn't have anything useful to tell or teach us for indeed it, of all the Judaeo-Christian churches and groups, is probably nearer the truth in many matters than most of the others. Furthermore, Jewish scholars have had almost four millennia to carefully study and ponder the Torah (Law) whereas in the last one-and-a-half millennia, with the advent of the Replacement Theology heresy that has infected almost all of Christendom, the Torah has been almost universally ignored.
There is, however, a problem when we come seeking for light and truth from modern Talmudic Judaism and it is this: not only does it lack the higher dimension of the New Covenant in Christ but its spirit is unmistakably antichrist. It represents a Covenant long since replaced and no longer blessed by Yahweh. His Spirit, the Ruach haQodesh, no longer rests upon it. It is but a shadow, and shadows, are we know, are a far cry from the original three-dimensional object that originally casts it.
I think we will find in our study of modern Jewish teachings about marriage and sex not only useful truths absent in orthodox Christianity (so-called) but a Spirit very contrary to the teachings of Christ. I believe we will find this exercise instructive.
The Marriage Ceremony
Judaism has its sects just as Christianity does and each sect tends to do things a little differently. We will even find that Judaism has co-opted certain orthodox Christian traditions as well through its interaction with 'gentile' society.
Because the Torah says very little about marriage ceremonies - how to go about finding a spouse, the structure of the wedding ceremony, and the actual nature of the marriage union, Jews derive most of their traditions from the Talmud. This collection of writings, much of it occultic and demonic and blatantly antichrist, was openly attacked by Christ who accused the religious leaders of His day of loving their own (Talmudic) traditions more than the truth (Matthew 15:1ff). What is surprising therefore is the extent to which the Talmud is consulted by modern Messianic Jews and the way its instructions have been 'added' to the Messianic (Christian) faith by them. Theirs is very often an instance of adding Jewish culture to Scripture.
There has been a tremendous evolution of marriage ceremonies over the millennia. In the very earliest times, before the Law of Moses was codified, what we call the 'act of marriage' (having sex) was the marriage ceremony. A man and a woman slept with each other and that constituted marriage. As far as Yahweh is concerned, when a couple sleep together, they are bound by covenants of marriage.
Convenient a definition of marriage though this may be, it is not enough. I meet, for instance, people who say they have heavily petted with a member of the opposite sex but don't count it as 'marriage' because there has been no 'penetration'. The logic of this fallacious thinking seems to entirely escape them for what they are saying is that they can kiss, fondle, pet, masturbate, and do everything that married couples normally do except have full sexual intercourse. Although anyone possessing the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) ought to know how absurd this notion is, the Scriptures themselves clearly establish that, for example, fondling a woman's breasts is fornication and adultery, as this is a symbol used by Yahweh to describe the apostacy of Israel and Judah many times (e.g. Ezekiel 23:3,21). From the very earliest times even kissing on the mouth was considered the sole province of marriage, as indeed it is - ask a prostitute the one thing most of them will not do and that is to kiss their clients because they consider this to be too sacred. And the vast majority of cultures from time immemorial did not even permit touching of the opposite sex unless it was a member of the family or a near relative with whom marriage was forbidden. Let us therefore be quite clear - any kind of physical contact is potentially fornication or adultery. Whilst a peck on the cheek or a short hug cannot within the New Covenant be considered 'sexual' or 'immoral', there is a real question in my mind as to whether one who names the Name of Christ can safely go any further, especially in the modern cultural climate of promiscuity where any sexual signal is ususally regarded as the green light to go all the way.
Over time two other elements were introduced into the ceremony of marriage, and likely entered very early on in marriage customs - the giving of money (a dowry) and a written contract (covenant). The Torah names all three.
The dowry has largely been replaced in modern Judaism by the wedding ring which was co-opted by Christianity, though the idea of a wedding 'ring' is likely pagan in origin, signifying slavery. The unilateral giving of a ring by the groom to the bride, or the exchange of rings (reflecting modern feminist thinking), contains within it the concept of 'purchase'. However, this should not be understood to mean that the woman is being bought and sold like a piece of property or a slave, even though this has, in history, sometimes been the sentiment, especially in slave cultures. By the time the Mishnah was written, the 'purchase' price had been reduced to a mere token consisting of the smallest denomination of currency, which was then a copper perutah, equivalent to a dime or a one penny piece. Clearly, were the woman to have been no more than a piece of 'property' the husband would have the right to 'resell' her, which of course he never could, and does not. The wife's acceptance of the ring or the money therefore becomes a symbolic way of her acceptance of the husband, in exactly the same way as accepting a contract/covenant and yielding to sexual intercourse.
When a Jewish bridegroom gives his bride a ring, it is not to be something he has borrowed. It is something that he must be the owner of either by acquisition from a relative (a family heirloom) or his own labour. And once given to the wife, it can never be returned. Also according to Jewish custom, the wife is entitled to know the monetary value of the ring so that no accusation can be made against him later that she has been deceived or misled as to its true value.
There is much here that I consider to be of great value because the symbolism is biblically potent. To begin with, as I have written in recent articles, there is no doubt that a wife is owned by her husband. However, what must not be forgotten is that this ownership is conditional upon PURCHASE: for a husband to spiritually own his wife he must spiritually purchase her. How, then, are we to understand this?
Very simply by looking at the allegorical marriage of Christ to the Church (Messianic Community) where all the keys of marriage are to be found. Christ purchased His Bride by spilling His blood at Calvary - it was a blood purchase ... He bought us by laying down His life for us. His ownership of us is based on His giving absolutely everything for us. And there is no more worthy purchase price in the universe, is there?
In order to own one or more wives, a husband must lay down his life for her, not in the act of atonement (for only Christ can do this), but its shadow or human equivalent, which is to SACRIFICE AND LOVE PROFOUNDLY. If a husband does not give of himself as Christ gives to the Church (Messianic Community), then quite simply he does not own her. He must give of his life substance to her. This he does in many different ways which encompass every aspect of life. And it is for this reason that she will spontaneously adore him and prostrate herself before him, just as we as the Body of Christ spontaneously adore the Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus), and joyfully prostrate ourselves before Him.
Where the Jewish tradition is sometimes in error, particularly in ancient times, was in the giving of only a token. Now I am not saying that a husband should go out and buy the most expensive ring or piece of jewellry he can find, but what I am most definitely saying is that whatever he gives ought to be something that has cost him or his family something and is precious, but that principally it should symbolise the giving of life.
On a biological level we see this very much built into the creation of man. Sex, as most know, is very costly in terms of energy. In both the plant and animal worlds we see this to be true in many ways. For a woman to get pregnant a man must have an orgasm (it is not necessary for a woman to have one even though she may desire it), an act so violent relative to the fragile body which is the home of our spirit, that each time many thousands of brain cells are killed. In addition to that, the release of millions of spermatazoa into the female results in the death of every single one but the one that fertilises her egg. The cost to the man in making his wife pregnant is very great and this ought to remind us that the bridal price for a man is spiritually very great also. When a man marries a woman he becomes a shadow of Christ Himself, for of him is expected the same Christ-like virtues and self-sacrifice that our Lord has given, and still gives, to us. Implicit in marriage, therefore, is the Master's call to perfection, for you cannot give perfectly and so claim a perfect and therefore eternal ownership until you have learned to love perfectly too. The covenant of marriage to a spouse and our union with Christ as Lord and Saviour cannot be separated because the former cannot be brought to completion without the latter. And it is for this reason that I strongly believe that no marriage NOT based on complete surrender to Christ and to husband can ever have a hope of continuing into the eternities.
The Talmud, for all its faults, rightly states that a woman cannot be acquired without her free consent (Kiddushin 2a-b), but once that consent is made, it is irrevocably binding. She cannot change her mind. This is paralleled by our wedding covenant to Christ - once we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour there is no renegging, something most believers are never taught. Christianity is no more a seasonal thing than marriage is - once committed, always committed (not quite the same, by the way, as 'once saved, always saved'). Thus anyone forced into marriage against their will is not married, even if the act of sexual intercourse has taken place, a bridal price been paid, and a covenant entered into. This principle of FREE WILL is critical because in my ministry I am frequently coming across difficult cases where people are entering marriage covenants without really having given their consent. And it is for this reason that before a marriage contract is entered into that there should always be appropriate counselling and that witnesses are present, lest one of the spouses are tempted to lie or cheat their way out of a marriage.
In Judaism, the husband gives his wife a written marriage contract called the Ketubah which spells out the husband's obligations to the wife, the conditions of inheritance upon his death, and obligations regarding the support of children of the marriage. It usually also contains a clause which provides for the wife's support in case of divorce. The couple can agree on other mutual conditions. Such contracts have always been common amongst the Semitic peoples and have much in common with contemporary prenuptial agreements which have been popular in America for some time. There are many who argue that such agreements only encourage divorce, and that people considering the possibility of divorce really shouldn't be marrying at all, but as we shall see in a moment the Jews are very lax about divorce, making such agreements desirable for the wife. Thus the threat of substantial financial damages to the wife should he ever divorce her in the contract was used as a carnal means to discourage divorce, a sentiment wholly at variance to the New Covenant Way. These days, with the State having such a big say in marriage, such agreements are almost redundant, and we find ourselves in a position where marriage has been reduced from the spirit and more and more to legal statutes.
A newly married Jewish couple sign the ketubah
It is not for me to say whether such contracts should, or should not, be entered into because such must surely be related to spirituality, the state, or the church (assembly) in which one is being married. In certain circles the secular equivalent of the ketubah has now become so degraded that there are even 'sunset clauses' stipulating that a marriage only lasts, say, ten years, and must be renewed to continue, implying that after the set period of time, the couple can part and remarry if they want to. Many modern contracts, influenced by radical feminism, contain stipulations, for example, that the housework must be evenly shared between husband and wife. Thus if the husband refuses to do the washing up there are grounds for annulling the marriage in a court of the land. I have heard of such contracts in England.
If the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) isn't telling you how wrong most of this is, no amount of writing on my part will likely convince you otherwise. Our written contract is the Scriptures which we sign in baptism, and to which any church or assembly worth its salt will keep us bound to as part of the mutual obligation of believers to support, edify and (when necessarý) rebuke. As I have said, our union to Christ and our earthly marriages are inseparable.
Stages of Marriage
Modern Judaism more closely follows the biblical pattern than orthodox Christianity when it comes to the stages or process of marriage, consisting of kiddushin (betrothal) and nisuin (full marriage). The boundaries between these is a little different in different traditions, though.
According to Jewish tradition, a woman becomes betrothed (kiddushin) when she accepts the dowry, contract or sexual relations offered her by her prospective husband. The Hebrew kiddushin comes from the root meaning 'sanctified' or 'made holy', signifying the sanctity of the marriage estate. But this root word also contains the concept of being 'set aside' for a sacred purpose. Thus once a woman has accepted these three things, she is married. She cannot change her mind or ever marry another man. It is binding.
We find an exact parallel in the union of a believer with Christ which is also a kind of kiddushin or betrothal. The moment we accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as Lord and Saviour, voluntarily submitting ourselves to Him as our heavenly Bridegroom, we become 'set apart' for a sacred, eternal union with Yahweh, our Heavenly Father. This is actually the meaning of the early Christian word for a 'Christian', that is, a 'saint', meaning one set apart for holiness. The saints are the set-apart bride of Christ, belonging to Him by virtue of our confession and baptism by immersion before witnesses, signifying complete possession (as opposed to sprinkling, signifying partial ownership).
The whole concept of Betrothal has been lost to orthodox Christianity and has been replaced by the non-binding concept of 'engagement'. This has in turn led to the error that marriage in the New Covenant is defined by the act of sex alone in spite of the inclusion of marriage vows. When modern Christians take marriage vows (often influenced by feminism nowadays and thus rendered meaningless), the nearest equivalent to Betrothal, it is not long before the marriage is consummated, usually within a matter of hours. By creating a period of time between betrothal and full marriage, a signal is sent that the heart and core of marriage is not sex but COVENANT in the same way that our union with Christ is founded on covenant too.
The Jews also have the equivalent of engagement in certain quarters, as do we in the Chavurat Bekorot, and which we call 'Dedication'. Once kiddushim is complete, the woman legally belongs to the man, and any relationship she may have with another man between that and nisuin constitutes adultery. The concept of Betrothal must be taught to believers because it is essential to a proper understanding of our relationship to Christ. It is because of the absence of kiddushin in the churches that many pernicious errors have arisen such as the 'once saved, always saved' doctrine of millions of evangelicals, because it teaches us that there is a salvation process, consisting of salvation begun and salvation completed, the latter corresponding to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in Heaven, our spiritual nisuim. We may be on the path but we haven't made it yet. And as any honest married person will tell you, the ceremony of marriage does not make a marriage perfect. To become everlasting it has to be worked on just as we must work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Never forget the "work out" part.
Nisuim completes the marriage process. The husband takes his betrothed wife into his home where their marriage is consummated and married life begins. Appropriately the Hebrew nisuim means 'elevated', for just as we are elevated into heaven to join the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, so through sexual union to husband and wife feast on one another in consummate joy and are elevated to a higher plane of relationship.
In the past, kiddushin and nisuim were separated by about one year. This had the specific purpose of giving the husband time to prepare a new home for his bride. In the New Covenant the husband should also be laying a firm spiritual foundation for his marriage in Christ. In the Chavurat Bekorot the couple invariably devote this period to intense service to the fellowship in their respective areas of giftedness, in Kingdom-building through evangelism and building up the churches (assemblies) generally. Many like to serve on missions during this time. Whatever form their service may take, its purpose is to build up mutual spirituality, thus laying a firm foundation.
Because of a lack of spirituality and the absence of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the kiddushim and nisuim ceremonies are usually performed together in much the same way as in orthodox Christian churches. Because a betrothed husband and wife were often forcibly kept apart geographically, there was a risk that during this long period the woman might meet another man and decide she wanted to marry him instead, or the man might disappear leaving her trapped for life as a married woman without a husband. It was for this reason that Judaism has combined the two ceremonies.
This is very different from the approach that we take where the spiritual relationship of the two ought to be being developed under controlled (chaparoned) circumstances. We stipulate that the length of betrothal should be according to the level of spiritual maturity. A minium of three months is advocated by us, and a maximum of one year. Normally the couple will counsel with their Pastorate and discuss thoroughly what is best for them before the betrothal ceremony. The couple must ultimately decide. Provision is made to lengthen or shorten the betrothal under certain circumstances. (For instance, if a woman is approaching her menopause, the need to try and have children takes precidence). My own betrothals have been anything between three days and ten years long, depending on the need.
Marriage under Jewish law does not technically require the presence of a rabbi, just as New Covenant Christian/Messianic marriage does not actually require a minister. Two witnesses is enough, but obviously involving as many of the spiritual community as possible is desirable because it demonstrates symbolically and literally that their marriage is not going to be a variant of 'solo Christianty' and all that that implies. But because Judaism, like Christianity, has yielded to statism, the presence of a state-licenced rabbi or minister is usually required under civil law. Because polygamy is illegal, unregistered ministers, or none at all, are the rule in patriarchal marriages.
Because Yahweh has made it very easy to get married, the rabbis instituted severe punishments (usually flogging and compelled divorce) where marriage was undertaken without proper planning and solemnity.
The Relationship in Marriage
In accordance with the biblical teaching, celibacy is not regarded as holy in Judaism but as unnatural. Moreover, Jews do not consider procreation (having children) as the primary function of the estate but rather for companionship, love and intimacy, and point out that the primary reason Eve was made was not for procreation but because being alone is not healthy (Genesis 2:18). In this respect the Jews are also correct, orthodox Christianity (and in particular Catholicism) reversing the priorities and making procreation the main aim.
Since Talmudic times, polygyny has never been very common amongst the Jews owing to the influence of the pagan Babylonian culture in which they were held captive. The monogamy-only trend was set by the new order of rabbis who invariably refrained from polygamy in spite of the Talmud licencing it along with Torah. Western Sepahardic Jews continued to practice polygamy in the predominantly Islamic lands in which they lived unlike the Eastern Khazar (Ashkenazi) Jews who outlawed it in 1000 AD because of pressure from the Catholic culture in which they found themselves. (The ban, which was only for a millennium, incidentally expired in the year 2000). Most of the Jews who continue polygamy are those from Yemen and Ethiopia. The modern Republic of Israel allows polygamous Jews into the country but polygamous marriages cannot be contracted thereafter, and in that respect is very similar to Western nations.
Interesingly, the right to sex is the woman's and not the man's in Talmudic Judaism. This is contradicted by the Bible, and especially the New Testament, where it is described as a mutual right. This latent feminism is perhaps reflected by the subsequent (non-biblical) practice by Talmudists of tracing ancestry through the mothers rather than the fathers. Thus if a boy has a Jewish mother and a gentile father he is a Jew, but a gentile if the reverse is true. Quite a part from the 'Khazar factor' (92% of modern Jewry are descendants, not of Abraham, but of the Japhethite Khazar tribe which converted to Talmudic Judaism in the Middle Ages - see Israel & Israelites for more information), this matriarchal lineage-tracing virtually ensures the impossibility of knowing whether a Jew is actually a Jew in mixed marriages.
Feminism has made a major impact on
Judaism through the secular culture
Today (but not before in the West) Judaism prohibits a man from abusing his wife. The wife retains any ownership of property she brings into the marriage but the husband has the right to manage the property and to enjoy profits from the property.
To this day, Talmudic law sets the minimum age of marriage for boys at 13 and girls at 12, though betrothal can take place before this, and frequently did in the Middle Ages. This we are naturally opposed to since no child can make a proper choice at that age. The recommended marriage age for a man is 18, or somewhere between 16 and 24, which seems reasonable to me, though I would personally make it 18-24, favouring the later age in view of the gross mental and spiritual immaturity of modern man. I certainly think that 16-18 is a good marriagable age for women. The Bible sets no limits though hints in the Song of Solomon that the full development of secondary sexual characteristics in girls, such as breasts, indicate whether she is old enough or not. Mental, emotional and spiritual maturity would be added to my personal list.
This pretty well corresponds with the New Covenant teaching that sex is morally neutral but becomes good or evil depending on what you do with it relative to Yahweh's laws (though I would take issue with the concept of associating it with yetzer ra). In the right context, as the word mitzvah implies, sex is virtually a commandment.
"In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although sexual desire comes from yetzer ra (the evil impulse), it is no more evil that hunger or thirst, which also come from the yetzer ra. Like hunger, thirst or other basic instincts, sexual desire must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper time, place and manner. But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual love and desire, sex is mitzvah*" . (*Literally 'living', a 'good deed' and 'commanded')
In Judaism, emphasis is rightly stressed on commitment and responsibility before physical pleasure.
With the exception of the contraception clause, I would agree with this statement entirely which reflects the position of the Old and New Testaments.
"The primary purpose of sex is to reinforce the loving marital bond between husband and wife. The first and foremost purpose of marriage is companionship, and sexual relations play an important rôle. Procreation is also a a reason for sex, but it is not the only reason. Sex between husband and wife is permitted (even recommended) at times when conception is impossible, such as when a woman is pregnant, after menopause, or when the woman is using a permissible form of contraception" (Ibid.).
"In the Torah, the word used for sex between husband and wife comes from the root Dalet-Ayin-Taw (dut), meaning 'to know', which vividly illustrates that proper Jewish sexuality involves both the heart and mind, not merely the body" (Ibid.).
Christians would tend to view this in rather different terms, prefering to trust Yahweh to lead a couple together and to develop a natural bond. Whilst arranged marriages for the very spiritually mature and attuned is considered an advantage, such is considered positively harmful, and to be avoided, if this condition is not met.
"Nevertheless, Judaism does not ignore the physical component of sexuality. The need for physical compatibility between husband and wife is recognized in Jewish law. A Jewish couple must meet at least once before the marriage, and if either prospective spouse finds the other physically repulsive, the marriage is forbidden" (Ibid.).
The following council I consider to be broadly excellent:
But Jewish concepts of rights and obligations are not only legalistic but matriarchal, bearing in mind that there are no 'rights' in the Gospel, only the duty to love and give. Had this been worded a little differently, and with the right spirit, it might have meant something:
"Sex should only be experienced in a time of joy. Sex for selfish personal satisfaction, without regard for the partner's pleasure, is wrong and evil. A man may never force his wife to have sex. A couple may not have sexual relations while drunk or quarreling. Sex may never be used as a weapon against a spouse, either by depriving a spouse of sex or by compelling it. It is a serious offense to use sex (or lack thereof) to punish or manipulate a spouse" (Ibid.).
I get the feeling reading this that this was the rabbis' misguided attempt to 'balance out' the erroneous belief that a woman is somehow deprived because of her position of submission (though this seems rather absurd in terms of her rights to make the husband submit sexually at pain of divorce) by giving her stronger sexual rights. This same misguided spirit has appeared in certain quarters of the Christian patriarchy movement, and is prevalent in fundamentalist Mormonism, where the wives must give their consent before another wife is admitted into the family. In the proper Spirt of Christ both husband and wife would be sensitive to each other's sexual needs and respond accordingly without the need to turn to legalism. The idea that a lack of sex was grounds for divorce is one of those 'traditions of men' that Yah'shua (Jesus) attacked and repudiated.
"Sex is the woman's right, not the man's. A man has a duty to give his wife sex regularly and to ensure that sex is pleasurable for her. He is also obligated to watch for signs that his wife wants sex, and to offer it to her without her asking for it. The woman's right to sexual intercourse is referred to as onah, and it is one of the wife's three basic rights (the others are food and clothing), which a husband may not reduce*. The Talmud specifies both the quantity and quality of sex that a man must give his wife. It specifies the frequency of the obligation based on the husband's occupation, although this obligation can be modified in the kettubah (marriage contract). A man may not take a vow to abstain from sex for an extended period of time, because that would deprive his wife of sexual relations. In addition, a husband's consistent refusal to engage in sexual relations is grounds for compelling a man to divorce his wife, even if the couple has already fulfilled halakhic obligation to procreate" (Ibid.).
(*Interestingly, the context of this in Torah is polygamy)
To my way of thinking this is bondage, and I know my wives would agree with me. This is law-by-compulsion, not law-in-love. But this is very much a Mosaic Covenant perspective and ought not to surprise us, though it certainly contains hints of Western liberalism in it.
"Although sex is the woman's right, she does not have absolute discretion to withhold it from her husband. A woman may not withhold sex from her husband as a form of punishment, and if she does, the husband may divorce her without paying the substantial divorce settlement provided for in the ketubah" (Ibid.).
In terms of the kind of sex Talmudic Jews are allowed, almost anything goes so long as the seed is deposited in the vagina and nowhere else. Sh'chatat zerah - "destruction of the seed" (outside the vagina) seems to be the only limiting factor and, as the Talmud says, "a man may do whatever he pleases with his wife" (Nedarim 20b) which presumably means that perversions like anal intercourse are in order if he and she so desire. Whilst I would certainly agree with sh'chatat zerah, I do not believe that any and every other type of sex is permissable. We were not created to behave like wild animals. At least the Talmud encourages foreplay in arousal (Nedarim 20a) which many Christian schools of thought would not.
Niddah: The Law of Sexual Separation
Except within Orthodox Judaism, the Law of Niddah is almost universally ignored. It is almost universally ignored in Christendom too. The Law of Niddah is the law of Sexual Separation during menstruation, and is also known as taharat ha-mishpachah, or 'Family Purity'. This is a doctrine that I have been preaching for many years as well as practicing it in my family after much leading from the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
The Torah forbids a man to have sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman and is the only law of ritual purity that continues to be observed in Judaism today. The time of separation and sexual fasting commences at the first sign of blood and ends in the evering of the seventh 'clean day'. The Talmudic rabbis then took this to a ludicrous extreem by saying that a man couldn't even touch his wife or sleep in the same bed with her at this time. Weddings must therefore be scheduled carefully so that the wife is not in a state of niddah on her wedding night. This latter practice is also followed by the Chavurat Bekorot.
As with Yahweh's dietary laws, there are sound health and medical reasons for niddah:
With all these observations I have to heartily agree.
"The fertility benefits of this practice are obvious and undeniable. In fact, it is remarkable how closely these laws parallel the advice given by medical professionals today. When couples are having trouble conceiving, modern medical professionals routinely advise them to abstain from sex during the two weeks around a woman's period (to increase the man's sperm count at a time when conception is not possible), and to have sex on alternate nights during the remaining two weeks. When you combine this basic physical benefit with the psychological benefit that you are fulfilling God's (Elohim's) will, it is absolutely shocking that more couples with fertility problems do not attempt this practice...
"In addition, women who have sexual intercourse during their menstrual period are more vulnerable to a variety of vaginal infections, as well as increased risk of cervical cancer.
"But the benefits that the rabbis have always emphasized are the psychological ones, not the physical ones. The rabbis noted that a two-week period of abstention every month forces a couple to build a non-sexual bond as well as a sexual one. It helps to build the couple's desire for one another, making intercourse in the remaining two weeks more special. It also gives both partners a chance to rest, without feeling sexually inadequate. They also emphasized the value of self-discipline in a drive as fundamtental as the sexual drive" (Ibid.).
Birth Control and Abortion
At this juncture we again part company with Rabbinical (Talmudic) Judaism. As far as birth control is concerned, my own views are the diametic opposite. Judaism permits the use of the pill to chemically interfere with the body (inspite of the cancer risks) but not methods that destroy the seed (spermicides) or otherwise block it (condoms). Though I do not approve of birth control, the only one I would concede would be condoms which do no damage to the body. The use of chemicals, IUDs (Inter-uterine devices), pills, and the like, all interfere with the normal operation of the Temple of Yahweh and are known health hazzards. The wisdom of the rabbis in niddah (actually Yahweh's wisdom) deserts them in the issue of birth control.
Worse perhaps than this is the permissive attitude of Talmudic Judaism towards abortion, which not only allows abortion but actually requires it if the life of the mother is in danger. The unborn foetus is regarded as having "less value" than a born one. Shocking in its callous disregard for life, the Talmud says:
Thus the fallacy of liberal, feministic pro-abortionism is perpetuated (if not actually originated), viz. that a baby is not a human being until it emerges from the womb, a lie resoundingly disproved by genetics and biology generally.
"... that if the fetus the life of the mother, you cut it up within her body and remove it limb by limb if necessary, because its life is not as valuable as hers. But once the greater part of the body has emerged, you cannot take it's life to save the mother's, because you cannot choose between one human life and another" (Ibid.).
Jewish feminism has been decisive in promoting the abortion agenda
Homosexuality and Lesbianism
The rabbis of Talmudic Judaism, with the exception of Rambam who declared that lesbianism was forbidden simply because it was a "practice of Egypt", make a very clear distinction between homosexuality (sex between men) and lesbianism (sex between women). Whereas homosexual acts are roundly condemned and forbidden because of the very clear Torah injunctions and is punishable by death (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13), no such injunction is to be found on lesbianism. The Old Testament is strangely silent about it. Only the writings of Paul in the New Testament make it plain that lesbianism belongs to the same category as homosexuality.
Where Talmudic Judaism and Christianity differ is that the former makes no judgments on sins of the mind or heart, but only condemns sins of commission. Thus someone with a homosexual orientation would not be considered a sinner even if he were lusting after other males in his heart (compare Yah'shua's/Jesus' condemnation of a man lusting after a married woman which consititutes spiritual adultery). Only if he has sex with another man would be be considered guilty and worthy of the death sentence.
Because of the silence of the Torah as regards lesbianism, there are some Messianic Jewish groups that tolerate bisexual lesbianism but not homosexuality. More troubling perhaps is the fact that some Messianic Jewish polygamous groups tolerate bisexual acts amongst polygamous wives. How they are able to justify this in the light of what Paul says is hard to comprehend (Romans 1:26-27) though there are those who (conveniently) reject the writings of Paul (see The Anti-Paulists series).
It is curious how contrary Rabbinical Judaism can actually be. Whereas it is very strict and biblical in some areas, it is notoriously lax in others. Based on the Onan incident, Talmudic Judaism forbids masturbation (Genesis 38:8-10) not because the act of masturbation is wrong but because it involves spilling seed on the ground (though what if this were avoided at the last minute?). Accordingly nothing is said about female masturbation other than to generally frown upon it as having to do with "impure thoughts".
Christendom is divided over the issue of masturbation. My own view is that it is a form of auto-homosexuality.
Though very much opposed to divorce in principle, Judaism is not nearly as strict about divorce as strictly Bible-believing Christians such as ourselves, yet is much more conservative in many respects than the bulk of Christendom.
Originally, and as stipulated by the Talmud, only husbands were allowed to initiate divorces and the wife could do nothing about it. There has been a considerable evolution of thinking since both the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds. Later rabbis stipulated that the wives had to give their consent to divorce because of all the abuses by men, something that Yah'shua (Jesus) pointed out in the New Testament and was quick to condemn. Today is it possoble for a wife to initiate a divorce if her husband is physically repulsive (because of some medical condition or other cause) or if he breaks one or more of the three obligations to feed, clothe or administer sex to her. "Sexual incompatibility" is now also considered grounds for divorce.
Talmudic Judaism has shifted between extreme positions in this respect, possibly because the Torah was incomplete over this issue and required bringing to the fullness by Christ. For my own view of divorce, see my article on the subject.
Jewish teachings on marriage and divorce, whilst still finding their roots in Torah, have nevertheless evolved beyond it in many areas, taking a path different from the teachings of Christ. Though it acknowledges the inner condition of man from time to time, it is still mostly preoccupied with outer ordinances, laying all its stress there. Some of its rulings are, in my opinion, both strange and barbaric, whilst others are of a high moral and ethical state. That such a a contradiction should present itself is consistent with the fact that it is Yahweh's Holy Torah combined, very often, with the teachings of unenlightened rabbis. Still, I owe a debt to these men both for pointings things out about the Torah which I didn't know as well as providing me with some very clear contrasts so that I can see just how in need we are of the fullness of the Messiah's revelation. An incomplete revelation from Yahweh, withheld because of man's sin, will always lead to error.
 Judaism & Marriage