Updated: Jul 18
The transformative power of preserving marital sanctity and unlocking the divine unity within relationships. * On Rambam's daily study for 13 Tammuz.
In the verse "There shall be no indecent women among the daughters of Israel" (Deuteronomy 23:18), we encounter a negative commandment that prohibits engaging in sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage.
This commandment, found in the Torah, serves as a divine instruction to the Jewish people, emphasizing the importance of maintaining purity and sanctity within the community, specifically among the daughters of Israel.
The classic Jewish sources offer deeper insights into the significance of this commandment, shedding light on its rationale and implications.
According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 76a), engaging in sexual relations with an unmarried woman transgresses this negative commandment. The discussions within the Talmudic texts further explore the various scenarios and circumstances related to this prohibition, providing a comprehensive understanding of its applications.
The Mishneh Torah, written by Rambam, addresses this prohibition in the context of the broader laws of forbidden relations (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah). Rambam asserts that it is forbidden for a man to engage in sexual relations with any woman until he marries her according to the laws of Moses and Israel (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 1:4). His writings offer a comprehensive overview of the laws and prohibitions related to relationships and intimacy.
The Sefer HaChinuch, a medieval work on the 613 commandments, explains the rationale behind this commandment in Mitzvah 356. It highlights the importance of preserving the sanctity of marriage and family life, promoting moral behavior, and preventing societal harm that may arise from promiscuity and illicit relationships.
Rashi, a renowned medieval Jewish commentator, provides insights on the verse itself. He explains that "indecent women" refers to those who engage in promiscuous or illicit sexual behavior. Rashi's commentary underscores the Torah's prohibition against such behavior, guiding the Jewish people to lead lives of righteousness and purity.
In Kabbalah, the union of husband and wife within the framework of marriage is seen as a reflection of the harmonious divine union. Through sanctified relationships, individuals can elevate their physical experiences to a higher spiritual plane.
Similarly, within Chassidic teachings, the bond between husband and wife is considered a channel for the expression of divine unity and the manifestation of God's presence in the world.
The establishment of a society based on moral values and the sanctity of marriage is an essential aspect of the Messianic vision. The transformation of the world into a harmonious and righteous place requires adherence to these laws and the cultivation of purity within relationships.