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Nedarim 20b discusses nine mannerisms which a man should avoid whilst being intimate with his wife. The Talmud says that practicing these nine mannerisms can lead to having obstinate, rebellious children.

These mannerisms are codified both by Maimonides, (Hil' Issurei Biah 21:13-14) and Shulhan Aruch (OH 240:2-3). Rashi and Rabbeinu Nissim apply this discussion to the man only in their commentaries, as does Maimonides. Rabbi Joseph Cairo does as well.

Do these nine mannerisms apply to the woman as well? For example: one mannerism is thinking of another woman. If the wife thinks of another man, are these mannerisms violated? Would the children be at risk?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Tur indicates that a number of these apply to the woman (EH 25):

  • Nidah - The woman would at least share responsibility.
  • Shichrus - This applies if either spouse is intoxicated.
  • Chatzufa - This applies specifically to a woman who verbally propositions her husband in an explicit manner.

The Aruch HaShulchan (EH 25:9) mentions that m'riva refers to a situation where there is conflict between husband and wife.

Additionally, the Aruch HaShulchan mentions 'irbuvya (lit. "confused jumble") as referring to a woman who has had many husbands, and therefore has דיעות הרבה - a reference to her thinking about her previous husbands while cohabiting (see P'sachim 112a).1

Rashbam (P'sachim, ibid. s.v. "ארבע דיעות") indicates that this problem applies equally to divorced men and women who think of their previous spouses while cohabiting. Rashbam classifies this as g'rushas haleiv ("mental divorce") rather than 'irbuvya.2

In any case, just as it is forbidden for a man to fantasize about a woman other than his wife, it is forbidden for a woman to fantasize about a man other than her husband (Sefer HaChinuch §188; Igros Moshe EH vol. 1, §69).


1 On the other hand, see Tosafos, who suggests (as the second of three suggestions) that a widower may not remarry until three festivals have passed so that he will not think about his former wife when cohabiting with his new wife (Mo'ed Katan 23a, s.v. עד שיעברו שלשה רגלים). Since a widow does not have as extensive a waiting period (and the waiting period she does have is to establish paternity - Y'vamos 42a), one might infer that Tosafos maintain that women are not as prone to these types of thoughts.

Similarly, Rashi (Y'vamos 20b, s.v. "שנואה") classifies s'nu'a ("hated woman") as applying to a husband who loathes his wife and thinks about another woman when he is intimate with his wife. Judging by the name of this category, it does not seem to include the corresponding case of a wife thinking about another man. Perhaps Rashi would say that the Talmud omits this case because it is considered less common.

2 Rashi (Y'vamos 20b, s.v."בני ערבוביא") provides various alternative explanations of 'irbuvya, two of which apply to the woman. The first one refers to a promiscuous woman who doesn't know the paternity of her child, and the second case refers to a woman who doesn't know the paternity of her child because she remarried and became pregnant within a short period of time.

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Reishis Chachma, Shaar HaKedusha, Chapter 16, Shaar 4 seems to imply that all matters of thought and their effects in this area apply equally to the woman as to the man.

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