To me it is clear that if (G-d forbid) a person is sick to the point that it will kill them, or that (G-d forbid) they will get their wife sick, there's obviously no obligation to please their wife (fulfill the requirement of ona). If the doctor tells them not to, also it is clear to me that they are not obligated to (and maybe obligated not to).

So that raises the questions:

  • Minimally how sick should one be for that obligation to be nullified?
  • What about extended illnesses (e.g., G-d forbid, a broken hip or leukemia)?
  • 3
    @CharlesKoppelman You need to source your premise. Why would being sick free him of his obligations to his wife? If I owe you a hundred dollars and I become paralyzed and I cannot get the money to you, do I not owe you the money anymore? This man entered a contract and it is his obligation to fulfill it. From a purely technical, legalistic point of view, I would say that such sickness, if it was not expected at the time of the marriage, is grounds for the woman to demand a divorce, even if it would not be nice of her. I therefore cannot accept your premise until you provide a valid source.
    – Dov F
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 19:24
  • @DovF That's a good point. Not sure of that. Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 20:01
  • Why isn't this a case of having to ask a rav a specific shaila for a specific set of circumstances? As far as I know, there are two categories of cholim: 'she yesh bo sakanah' and 'she ein bo sakanah.'For 'yesh bo sakanah,' everything goes out the window. Therefore, you should edit your question to ask if a male in the categoray of 'choleh she ein bo sakanah' is obligated in 'ona.' That would be a much more productive question and to the point - unless you're trying to ask something else which you have not yet articulated.
    – Shemmy
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 3:48
  • @Shemmy This isn't really specific (many married men get sick), and I'm not asking for a psak. I think the question "Minimally how sick" implies that I'm looking for an upper bound. If that upper bound were sheyesh bo sakanah, that's a legitimate answer to the question. DoubleAA has a less-restrictive and more-sourced answer below. Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 13:11
  • The question is legitimate. Rambam (and subsequently S"A) uses the words "עומדים אותו" - literally "they evaluate him", implying a Beis Din of three, where the husband was sued by his wife. The Halakha does not set a bar of illness, instead every case is judged personally.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


The Shulchan Aruch discusses this issue (Even HaEzer 76).

In Seif 3, he comments regarding the standard onot as fixed by profession:

בד"א, במי שגופו בריא ויכול לקיים העונה הקצובה לו, אבל מי שאינו בריא אינו חייב אלא לפי מה שאומדין אותו שיכול לקיים. ‏
In what situation do [the above times] apply? For someone who's body is healthy and is able to perform his set onah. But for someone who is not healthy, he is only obligated according to what he is evaluated to be able to perform.

But note that in Seif 11 he writes:

ואם חלה או תשש כחו ואינו יכול לבעול, ימתין ששה חדשים עד שיבריא, שאין לך עונה גדולה מזו, אחר כך, או יטול ממנה רשות או יוציא ויתן כתובה
And if he became sick or weak and he is unable to perform his onah requiremnets, he can wait up to six months to get better, for that is the longest standard onah [that of a sailor]; then, he must either ask her permission to delay further [which is in general permissable] or he must divorce her and pay her ketubah.

So in summary, one may delay his onah requirements due to illness up to six months. If he still is too sick, then his wife may grant him more time or sue for divorce.

  • Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 76) only cites Rambam's Ishut 14 adding nothing new.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 22:38
  • @AlBerko Only adding his stamp of approval.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 22:44

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