May one have marital relations on Nittel Nacht?

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

5. Nittel Nacht [i.e. 25th December]:[1]

Nittel is on the 25th of December. The customs of Nittel apply from the night before the 25th, which is the night of the Eve of the 25th of December.[2] Some Poskim[3] rule that one is to avoid marital relations on the night of Nittel.[4] This applies even on the night of Mikveh.[5] This especially applies if she is able to conceive.[6] However, after midnight one may be lenient, on the night of Mikveh [or other obligatory Onah].[7] Other Poskim,[8] however, rule that those who are lenient to have intercourse on this night, even not on the night of Mikveh [specifically after midnight and specifically if it is not for the sake of pregnancy[9]], have upon whom to rely,[10] while those who are stringent are blessed.

Strong desire:[11] Those who feel a strong desire which may prove difficult to withhold are rather to have intercourse than come to do a sin. [The same applies if one has a constant erection, or has gotten the thoughts of women in his mind.[12]] This especially applies if his wife cannot conceive at this point [i.e. pregnant, nursing, etc.].


[1] See Nitei Gavriel Chanukah p. 410; Piskeiy Teshuvos 240:10; Beir Moshe 4:69; Piskeiy Teshuvos 240:10; Igros Kodesh 12:424, printed in Shulchan Menachem 6:242 and Sha’areiy Halacha U’minhag 4:132; Tahara Kahalacha 21 2:524; Sheyikadesh Atzmo [Nachmonson-2015] p.  174-180

The Rebbe’s opinions: The Rebbe writes that he did not receive any directives on this matter, although he defends the custom of avoidance even after midnight. [Igros Kodesh ibid] Some understand this letter of the Rebbe to mean that the Rebbe is encouraging people to abstain from intimacy on Leil Nittel, even after midnight and even on the night of Mikveh. [Nitei Gavriel Chanukah 5:1-2 footnote 5; Hiskashrus 703:15] Others, however, say that the Rebbe has voiced no opinion in the letter and is simply explaining the opinion of those who are stringent, and hence, actually agrees that on the night of Mikveh it is permitted, especially after midnight. [See Tahara Kahalacha ibid; Hiskashrus 706:18; Shulchan Menachem ibid in footnotes] Others understand the Rebbe to always be lenient, regarding after midnight, in all cases. [Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 82] See Shulchan Menachem ibid footnote 16; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 9:1 footnote 1

[2] In the secular calendar the date begins at midnight. Nevertheless, the customs of Nittel take effect  beginning at sunset on the night that the 25th will begin (at midnight).

[3] Taharas Yisrael 197:2-3; Karban Nisanel; Yimtza Chaim [Falagi] 73:9; Segulas Yisrael 7:36; Likkutei Rima 2:3; See Nitei Gavriel Chanukah p. 410; Beir Moshe 4:69

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule against the custom of avoiding intimacy on this night, and certainly against closing Mikva’os. [Likkutei Teshuvos Chasam Sofer 31]

[4] The reason: As many Poshei Yisrael were born from mothers who conceived on this night. [Yimtza Chaim [Falagi] 73:9; Hagahos Yad Efraim on Tzava’as Rav Yehuda Hachassid 71; See Nitei Gavriel ibid] Alternatively, this is because marital relations requires purity of mind, and the thinking of Nittel, even negatively, can affect the child conceived, and due to this worry they forbade marital relations on this night. [Rebbe in Sha’areiy Halacha U’minhag 4:132; Shulchan Menachem 6:242; Igros Kodesh 4:424]

[5] Taharas Yisrael 197:2-3; Darkei Chaim V’Shalom 825; See Beir Moshe ibid that so was the custom of students of the Baal Shem Tov; See however Igros Kodesh ibid from which it is implied that it does not apply on the night of Mikveh

[6] See Segulas Yisrael ibid in name of Besht that the Poshei Yisarel of today are resultant of having been conceived on this night.; Yimtza Chaim [Falagi] 73:9

[7] Chasam Sofer ibid; Darkei Chaim V’Shalom ibid; Shiureiy Shevet Halevi 197:2; Daas Kohen 197:2; Tahara Kahalacha 21:9; See Shulchan Menachem ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid that so is the accustomed ruling of Rabbanim

Other opinions: Some are stringent to avoid intercourse on Nittel, even if it is the night of Mikveh and after midnight. [Taharas Yisrael ibid; Beir Moshe ibid in name of Talmidei HaBesht; See Darkei Chaim V’Shalom ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 81]

On a regular night: The Munkatcher rules that one is to avoid marital relations even after midnight. [Letter of Munkatcher, printed in Zecher Tzadik Livracha p. 31; See Igros Kodesh ibid; Understanding of some in opinion of Rebbe ibid] Such is also implied from Taharas Yisrael ibid, and other Poskim. [Daas Kohen 197:2; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

[8] Beir Moshe 4:69; Chasam Sofer Koveitz Hateshuvos 31 protested the custom of closing the Mikva’os on this night

[9] Nitei Gavriel ibid

[10] As there is no source in Poskim to prohibit it. [ibid]

[11] See Sheyikadesh Atzmo 9:4

[12] See Chayeh Adam 139:7; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 8:8

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.