The lust involved in intimacy

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6. The lust involved in intimacy:

The following is a list of teachings of Chazal on the need to sanctify oneself in intimacy. The greatest pleasure found in the human body involves the reproductive organs and is expressed, and reaches a climax, during intimacy. It is by far the greatest lust that exists in man and the hardest to control. Thus, we see in the secular world the tremendous, and often uncontrollable, involvement in this aspect of life, which expresses itself in the booming pornography industry [which accounts for 30% of the top ten most visited websites in the world,[1] and its estimated revenue reaches an annual sum of ten billion dollars![2]], the number of affairs and proliferation of adult oriented websites, sexual abuse and crimes of this nature. The Torah is well aware of the great challenge and animalistic lust involved in this matter, and encourages a Jew to step above and beyond the animalistic nature which is expressed in the secular world and to elevate the sanctity and spiritual quality and experience of intimacy. In other words, the Torah desires that man turn intimacy into a high “human” act which is infused with thought and intellect, rather than copy the ways of animals who have no constraint or possibility of elevation in their mating.

A. The History-The inception of the lust for marital relations:[3]

In the times of Adam Harishon, prior to the sin, there was no lust involved in intimacy, and the act of intercourse between man and woman was similar to any other Mitzvah, such as putting on Tefillin, in which there is no lust contained in the limb. This is why originally the male and female genitila did not need to be covered, as there was no shame regarding it. Only after the sin did the evil inclination invest itself into the limb, thus creating the great lust that we know of today. The Migaleh Tzefunos, in the name of the Mekubalim, explains this as follows;[4] while in today’s times intimacy takes place through the bonding of the physical bodies, prior to the sin of Adam and Chava, intimacy was a purely emotional experience, where the love, eye contact, hugging and kissing, between the husband and wife caused excitement to the point of procreation, similar to the experience of love birds. There was no need for actual expelling of seed from the husband in order to procreate. It is specifically the sin that took place between the snake and Chavah which caused a demotion of the world and that procreation can now only take place through an exchange of fluids in a most animalistic manner. In the future, the world will return to its perfected state, and we will once again engage in intimacy in its highest level.

Fixing the sin – Controling the lust:[5] Since Adam Harishon incorporated all souls, it ended up that all the souls of Israel became affected by his sin, and are thus indebted with the mission to fix the sin of Adam Harishon through controling their lust.

The lust was created to influence man to procreate:[6] The Ya’avetz explains the above in a slightly different manner. He says that even before the sin, Adam Harishon had an inclination for intimacy, although it was a mild lust. However, after the sin when Adam realized how great and holy intimacy really is, and how dangerous it can become in leading to sin, he desired to separate from it completely. For this reason, Hashem planted a special angel of lust for intimacy within man in order so he not abstain from it completely, and this lust is so pwerful that it almost forces man to be intimate. This angel is summoned in special cases where Hashem desires a person to have children with a certain woman, such as that which occurred with Yehuda and Tamar.

The intensity of the lust and its instigators:

The greatest bodily lust is found in the male reproductive organ:[7] The male reproductive organ contains the greatest lust of all limbs and all worldly matters. It is for this reason that it poses the greatest challenge for man, and when man controls this limb and subjugates this lust, it shows the epitome of the advantage and difference of man over animal. It is for this reason we find that the lion became subdued specifically when the Or Hachaim showed him his Bris Mila. It is in the control of this lust that the superiority of man over animal is revealed, causing animals to be nullified and submissive.

The lust of Lilis and Na’amah:[8] The Zohar[9] states that occasionally Na’amah comes to the world to excite people, and when she succeeds in doing so, the person is found in a state of lust with her, and he lusts for what he saw in his dream.

The purpose of the lust – Procreation:[10]

The entire purpose of the lust for intercourse is to have children. Every person should contemplate how the lust for marital relations was only created by G-d for the sake of procreation, and the continuity of humanity. A proof towards this can be found from the fact that as a soon as a man completes the release of his seed, his desire ceases, and he no longer lusts intimacy until he can reproduce more sperm, and have the lust once again be recreated. The fact that man’s lust is only present when he contains seed, is the greatest proof that the entire purpose of the lust is simply to procreate. The reason that G-d created this lust is because otherwise man would not desire to be intimate with a woman and have children, and thus a passion and desire needed to be created to lead man to have intimacy and procreate. This lust is not logical, but rather a decree of G-d who implanted it into nature.

The Bris Milah being performed to diminish the lust:[11]

One reason G-d commanded us to remove the foreskin is in order to diminish our lust for promiscuity.[12] It is the sign that every Jew bears of G-d, his Master, through which a Jew proclaims that he belongs to G-d and diminishes his desires, for the sake of G-d.


[1] So is listed on the worldwide website rankings

[2] See here for all the facts on this matter:

[3] Reishis Chochma 16:9 based on Rebbe Levi in the name of Rebbe Shimon Ben Minasya in Midrash Raba Vayikra 20b; Rabbeinu Bechayeh Vayikra 12:17; Tashbeitz 2:222; See also Igeres Hakodesh of the Ramban Chapter 2

[4] Parshas Tazria

[5] Reishis Chochma 16:10

[6] Siddur Ya’avetz Mosach Hashabbos Mitos Kesef Chulya Gimel 7:19-20

[7] See Toras Menachem 1:110

[8] Reishis Chochmah 16:16 in name of Ramak in Or Hacham 96

[9] Acharei Mos 77a

[10] Rambam Pirush Hamishnayos Sanhedrin 7:4; Aruch Hashulchan 240:2

[11] Chasam Sofer Drashos p. 133

[12] Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:49

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