Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Is Oral Sex Allowed?

by Rav Dovid Morgenstern (See all authors)

Question sent in to GYE by a Ba'al Teshuvah:

Oral sex has been an obsession of mine. All the while I was in yeshiva, I remained complete 100% shomer-negiah, and waited till I'm married. Now the crazy Kallah teacher told my wife it is a big 'aveyra', and one can go blind. I really don't want to go elsewhere to get what I need/desire. (I held back all these years because of 'pas b'saloh'. But it won't last forever, in spite of all my other advances and accomplishments. This remains a hurdle, and, I fear, only solvable by getting it at home.

QUESTION: Does it exist in a tshuva from R' Moshe or in any other format, a heter for oral sex? One that I can show black on white to my wife? That will enable me to counter the 'out of touch with reality' kallah teacher. Whatever it takes, in any showable format.

Unfortunately this is of extreme importance to me. It is what it is.
Thank you.

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Rav Dovid Morgenstern Replies:

The question is a difficult one from many perspectives. I am not sure according to the fellow asking the question exactly what the definition of "oral sex" is. Who is the recipient, he or she?

I would also not agree that the Kallah teacher is crazy. If he means that he would like to kiss her, then we do not have to come on to the Kallah teacher, it is explicit in simon 240 section 4:

אסור להסתכל באותו מקום, שכל המסתכל שם אין לו בושת פנים, ועובר על: והצנע לכת (מיכה ו, ח), ומעביר הבושה מעל פניו, שכל המתבייש אינו חוטא, דכתיב: ובעבור תהיה יראתו על פניכם (שמות כ, כ) זו הבושה, לבלתי תחטאו (שמות כ, כ) ועוד דקא מגרה יצר הרע בנפשיה, וכל שכן הנושק שם, שעובר על כל אלה ועוד, שעובר על: בל תשקצו את נפשותיכם

And the biur Halacha says:

וכ"ש וכו' - והעובר ע"ז הווין ליה בנים אלמים [גמ'] .

After having said that, one has to try to understand what is really happening here. It should be pointed out that there is no humanly deep rooted need to engage in such activity, but as the early commentators point out in Parshas Berashis (note from GYE: See also this important Ohr Hachayim in Parshas Acharei Mos), when one lets his imagination take hold of him and causes him to dwell on such thoughts, that ignites his desire. As the desire is further fueled, it loses all bounds. It would seem that one needs to work on the beginning of the chain reaction.

In addition, in many circles, woman who are religious have never heard of, and have no desire to engage in such behaviors. They would view it as not "normative". A wife is a full partner in a relationship, and her feelings must be taken into account.

If, in any case, the wife is willing to try to fulfill her husband's needs in such a way, my Rebbe zt"l once said that one should tell the husband that the bottom line Halacha is that whatever one wants to do, he can do with his wife. However, it does not mean that everything is appropriate to do. So when there is a fear that the husband will do bigger aveiros, we cannot forbid him to do the things that are not so appropriate, but we should add that the hope is that he will grow closer to HaShem and reach a level that he will not feel a need to do such things.

If his definition of "oral sex" is not that which is mentioned here, but rather that he is inserting part of his body into her mouth, we must once again remember what was written above, that the wife's feelings must be taken into account if she does not view this as normative and is repulsed by it. In addition, if there is a fear of "zerah l'vatoloh", then obviously there is nothing to talk about, and this would be forbidden.

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GYE Replies to the Rav:

Thank you for your reply.

It seems that the questioner was looking for something in black and white. I have found two sources:

1) The Ramah (Even Haezer 25:2) writes that according to the letter of the law it is permitted to engage in almost any kind of physical activity with one's spouse (besides for a few basic restrictions).

2) The Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biyah perek 20:10 uses a similar lashon:

אשתו של אדם, מותרת היא לו; לפיכך כל מה שאדם רוצה לעשות באשתו, עושה--בועל בכל עת שירצה, ומנשק בכל אבר שירצה, ובא עליה בין כדרכה, בין שלא כדרכה, בין דרך אברים. ואף על פי כן, מידת חסידות שלא יקל אדם את ראשו לכך, ושיקדש עצמו בשעת תשמיש, כמו שביארנו בהלכות דעות; ולא יסור מדרך העולם ומנהגו, שאין דבר זה אלא כדי לפרות ולרבות.

Unfortunately, as the Ohr Hachaim in Parshas Acharei Mos writes, when a person becomes used to these things by looking and thinking about them too much, he becomes מסורבידתאוותו and becomes a slave to these taavos. The members of GYE are people who have been struggling for years and falling into addiction to pornography and even worse behaviors, so for them it is much harder to act with "midas chasidus" when it comes to the one area that they are allowed - with their wives. So even as they begin to recover, they still want to have some outlet with their wives. But hopefully, over time, as they grow in recovery and slowly learn to let go of the lust, they realize that if they are truly to become free of it they must let go of it with their wives as well... But it takes time. That is why on GYE, we encourage people to take it one step at a time.

A nice article along these lines was written by Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, who is also a therapist and deals a lot with issues in the frum community.

The article can be found here.