Last time, we discussed the rationale behind the laws of separation between husband and wife during the time that the wife is niddah. The idea is to remove all the physical stimuli that usually connect the couple. Some people find this concept and practice very difficult and see the time when a woman is niddah as “time off” from their relationship. This is based on a misconception that the relationship between husband and wife is largely or even purely based on the physical. Therefore, when the physical element of the relationship is removed then there is nothing else left.
This is true only in a rare case when the physical relationship would be totally and irreversibly removed; if one of the partners could never have a physical relationship due to illness or for psychological reasons. In such a case, we would still advise and encourage the couple to remain married and try to find a solution but if this was impossible then the marriage could dissolve and the couple may divorce.
However, this is very different from the case of a woman who is niddah and, therefore, the couple cannot currently express their love for each other in a sexual manner. As we have seen, this does not mean that they cannot have a relationship. On the contrary, their physical relationship can only be enhanced by having a strong and meaningful spiritual relationship.
Therefore, a couple should not see this time as “dead time” in their relationship, but as an essential component in their growth together as a couple. The more effort they invest in their spiritual relationship, the more significant their physical relationship will become. The more they ignore this side of their relationshi, the more they expose their physical relationship to become stale and empty.
During the time when a couple cannot physically touch, they should touch on and work through issues that they may be facing. This is a great time to talk through arguments or differences of opinions that they may have had over the past month, or to assess future directions and plans. Many couples have a set book that they learn together during this time, to further cement their relationship not only as lovers but as two people who are growing together in their connection between each other and their connection with God. Many couples start to look forward to this time together as an opportunity to connect together without the sexual tension that sometimes exists even in a marriage and that can obviate a deep discussion or a few moments to stop and think.
As we saw last time, the purpose of the laws of family purity and the separation during the time of niddah enables neutralizing the physical to enhance the spiritual. We saw how the nature of this separation is connected to the five senses.
There is one other type of separation that is in its own category. It is called “kalut rosh” which literally means lightheadedness but can be translated as frivolity. Frivolity and a sense of good fun should be an important part of a relationship. We should enjoy each other and develop our own intimate language, both verbal and non-verbal. However, this frivolity is connected to our physical relationship and is often foreplay to our sexual pleasure either directly or indirectly. While we encourage the couple to continue enjoying each other’s company throughout the entire month, the time of niddah should be different and take on a deeper and more serious tone. Connection is appropriate, frivolity is not. In addition, there is a concern that frivolity could, and should, lead to a physical connection. It is, therefore, removed during this time to further enhance the relationship.
A relationship needs to grow, bring a couple closer, connect them to God and increase joy and happiness. The balance between the physical and the emotional, between the corporeal and the spiritual, needs to be maintained and enhanced and the flow of the laws of family purity encourages this.
More on this next week.