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I was reading Minhat Yehuda. In the book, the Tzadik Rabbi Yehuda Fatiya asks the destroying angels what they are like.

The angels mentioned things like how they ate manna, had kids, died, etc.

So my question is, in the world to come or Gan Eden is there intercourse?

I ask because intercourse can be a holy act.

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  • Please rephrase the question or bring the source you base your question on. It is not clear what angel(s) and what are they talking about.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:04
  • Why did you tag it "mysticism"? It is a normative question. Do you suggest Jewish mysticism has a different point than the mainstream Halachah?
    – Al Berko
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:06
  • @AlBerko likely because the book he's referring to is a Kabbalistic work.
    – Harel13
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:09
  • I was curious as it makes no sense at least to me that sex would stop in the world to come and even heaven, in the Kabbalistic work I cited Rabbi Fatiya a student of the Ben ish Hai was asking a officer of the heavenly court about himself, he said his race ate, had sex, and died. Dec 26, 2021 at 19:34

2 Answers 2

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The Talmud (Berachot 17a) states:

העולם הבא אין בו לא אכילה ולא שתיה ולא פריה ורביה ולא משא ומתן ולא קנאה ולא שנאה ולא תחרות אלא צדיקים יושבין ועטרותיהם בראשיהם ונהנים מזיו השכינה שנאמר ויחזו את האלהים ויאכלו וישתו

In the future world there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads feasting on the brightness of the divine presence, as it says, And they beheld God, and did eat and drink.

(Soncino translation)

While the term פריה ורביה does not necessarily include all sexual activity, Maimonides when codifying this (Hilchot Teshuvah 8:2) is more explicit:

כך אמרו חכמים הראשונים העולם הבא אין בו לא אכילה ולא שתיה ולא תשמיש אלא צדיקים יושבים ועטרותיהם בראשיהן ונהנין מזיו השכינה

Thus, the Sages of the previous ages declared: "In the world to come, there is neither eating, drinking, nor sexual relations. Rather, the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads and delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence."

(Touger translation)

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  • Is gan Eden and Olam habba the same thing?
    – Chatzkel
    Dec 26, 2021 at 2:20
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    Baba Basra 58A in the story of Rav Bannah it send that Avrohom and Sarah we’re together in some way
    – Chatzkel
    Dec 26, 2021 at 2:24
  • Chatzkel, thank you for the comment I’ll look it up Dec 26, 2021 at 2:36
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    Great work, I posted a lengthy response below.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 26, 2021 at 11:17
  • @Chatzkel See Rambam’s introduction to Perek Cheilek.
    – Alex
    Dec 27, 2021 at 4:57
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To clarify Alex's answer, the term "world-to-come" is ill-defined in Judaism, and for different authors, and different writings it means different eschatological stages. We can basically divide it into three distinctive realms:

  1. Afterdeath - the world of souls
  2. Post-Messianic earthy world
  3. Post-Resuscitational world (unclear)

Usually, to have sex (as we know it, unless it's Bullock and Stallone in "Demolition Man") you need a functioning body. So automatically, option #1 is irrelevant.

Regarding option #2 Rambam explicitly suggests that sex would be practiced during that era:

"Our Sages have said that there is no difference between This World and the Days of the Messiah except (our) subservience to the kingdoms of the world alone." Mishneh_Torah Kings_and_Wars.12.2

Now regarding option #3, here Rambam somewhat hits the wall when he discusses the "world-to-come" in Hilchot Kings and Wars (ibid), and unlike his recap on the aforementioned Gemmora in Hilchot Teshuva, he states that not only that the future is impossible to know, but we have no tradition:

"But regarding all these matters and similar, no one knows how it will be until it will be. For these matters were unclear to the Prophets. Even the Sages themselves did not have a Tradition regarding these matters and only could attempt to understand the verses. Thus, there were disagreements in these matters."

So how do we resolve Rambam's discrepancy? My personal approach to reconciling two Rambams without refuting either statement is to declare some of his statements as "educational" and not "factual". Because he saw himself as an educator, many of his statements (Sefer Hamadah especially) focus on "experiential truth" rather than "factual truth". Just like we don't care to be precise when we instruct our kids ("if you touch those wires you'll die"), or like God, when he said: "for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.”

Therefore, Alex's popular answer is not factual (as it refutes Rambam in Kings), but rather educational, meaning that undoubtedly, in some final idealistic form, there will only be the highest form of purely spiritual enjoyment, but the exact details are sealed.

However, there's another option, that the sages (Berachot 17a and Rambam in Hil. Teshuva) did not refer to #2 and #3 on my list, but called afterlife "the world-to-come". And we're back to square one - to my opening sentence.


NB: You asked about some mysticism. According to the Kabbalistic tradition, this world is the Tikkun to the primordial sin (i.g. Adam and Eve having some kind of improper sex on Friday, instead of waiting for Shabbos and doing it the right, spiritual way). So after the world is fixed, we're supposed to move into Eden, namely having the status of "Adam and Eve before the sin".

But apparently, they were intended to have sex on Shabbos. Therefore, if the world-to-come is called "the day that will be completely Shabbat and rest in everlasting life., and we're back to Eden, we are going to have sex. The proper way, of course. No idea what could be. A happy ending!

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  • Interesting, I was wondering as sex is considered holy why would it cease. In Minhat Yehuda a destroying Angel tells Rabbi Yehuda Fatiya his kind eats, has intercouse, marries, and they die Dec 26, 2021 at 19:35
  • @RaulValdezJr. Sex is not holy! We eat we sleep we have sex. None is holy, however, we do it in a "distinctive" way, we refrain from certain forbidden activities (aka Arayot, permitted sex is not limited according to Rambam's MT) similarly to non-Kosher food and that "distinctiveness" we call holiness. And please don't take R' Fatia literally!
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2021 at 7:07
  • Not what the Rabbis say...sex is holy as it’s a union between husband and wife. Please do not interject your opinion Dec 28, 2021 at 15:57
  • Trying to educate you a bit, to make a differentiation between terms. Animals and gentiles do sex, so sex itself is not "holy". Rabbis do not try to be exact and that may lead you astray. Especially if you're into Kabbals etc. "Holy" means "distinct", "separated". Sex itself is not separated, we don't do it any special way (AFAIK). Similarly, the food we eat is not holy, we eat it in a "holy - distinctive" way.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2021 at 20:01
  • Don’t try to educate me, I’m not your student Jul 6 at 0:49

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