My understanding is the traditional view of Ger Hassidism was that marital celibacy was a good idea, once all procreative needs had been met.

My impression is that Chabad-Lubavitch never advocated an attitude towards asceticism in marriage. (Is this correct?) I'm sure other Hassidic groups have their own traditional views.

Can these views be traced to a source? Be it sociological, historical, religious, "the writings and teachings of Rebbe [Grand Rabbi] so-and-so"?

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    Celibacy?! Isn't that kind of against the Jewish "Big Three" requirements of marriage? – Dave Dec 2 '11 at 14:50
  • @Dave, yeah don't ask me. I guess they'd argue that if she's on a spiritually high enough level to waive her rights, then good for her. As R' Ahron Lichtenstein has written, the whole asceticism-in-marriage thing doesn't seem to jibe with Tanach or a good chunk of Talmud. Mind you, "once procreative needs have been met" meant ten kids to a Gerer Hassidic family 200 years ago. (As I heard it from Rabbi Dovid Gottleib quoting R' Fabian Schoenfeld, shlita. About what was, not what necessarily is or should be.) – Shalom Dec 2 '11 at 14:58

HaYom Yom for the 27th of Nissan "The permissible, when done for one's pleasure, is completely evil, as the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, Chapter 7, for we are commanded, "sanctify yourself with what is permitted to you." One must introduce sanctity into those matters that are permissible so that they serve the purpose of enhancing one's Torah, mitzvot, fear-of-G-d and good character traits."

Chabad Chassidus in general doesn't speak highly of pleasure for one's self, but doing something L'Shem Shamayim and a side effect is also pleasure is not bad, but the ultimate goal is complete bittul (nullification) to Hashem.

Ger Chassidim have many children but have very strict takanot on interaction with husband and wife. In general outside of the night a women goes to mikveh, Ger Chassidim observe Niddah laws between husband and wife the rest of the time. It is a very high standard that from the outside seems "overboard". These takanos were instituted by the Beis Yisroel in the 70's to battle the sitra achra. Whether or not such a lifestyle is for you, it should be noted that Ger is still one of the largest Chassidic groups today.

  • Fascinating, thank you. So for Ger, "harchakos other than mikva night" can be traced to R' Yisrael Alter in the late 20th century. What about "celibacy after 10 children"? That has to be at least 90 years old, do we know which rebbe promulgated that? – Shalom Mar 9 '12 at 18:22
  • "Ger is one of the largest groups today" - a policy enacted in the 1970s wouldn't affect that all that much. What's more fascinating is that Ger predominated over 100 years ago, and I think there were celibacy policies then too. – Shalom Mar 9 '12 at 18:23
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    @Shalom Ger indeed was the largest Chassidic group in Pre War Poland and after the war almost all Chassidus Polin was absorbed into Ger. While there very well were standards in place, the Beis Yisroel made many more. Ger is very secretive and things like this are not published. You don't get the feeling of such ideas from the Sfas Emes's Chassidus. They very well could be takanos that go back to the Imrei Emes or further. – user1292 Mar 9 '12 at 18:42
  • @mochinrechavim I heard that Alexander was the biggest before the war, but were all killed by the Nazis. – Leitz Mar 9 '12 at 20:09
  • @Leitz After the histalkus of the first Gerer Rebbe the Chiddushei HaRim the chassidim chose the Sfas Emes who I believe was 18 at the time. He refused and the Chassidim chose R' Chanokh of Alexander as the Rebbe. After his histalkus, the Sfas Emes became Rebbe and the Chassidim came back to Ger. The polish government constructed a second railroad line from Warsaw to Ger to be able to transport the amount of chassidim traveling to meet the Rebbe. – user1292 Mar 9 '12 at 20:16

Rabbi Shalom Arush's Garden of Emunah book translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody has references to celibacy and how to approach shalom bayis and this inyan.


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