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Many orthodox singles do not know about intimacy until right before the wedding. An asexual girl may of course choose not to get married, however, without prior experience she may find herself to be repulsed by intimacy, only after the wedding.

How should such a situation be dealt with? Do we force her to marital duties? Is there a base for divorce?

  • 1
    I'd like to believe that in most communities, unless a young woman is 100% sheltered from ever encountering the opposite gender, that a person would be somewhat cognizant of their sexual inclination before actually being expected to consummate a marriage. (It could sadly be the case that the young lady had a feeling something was wrong, but didn't feel safe to discuss it with anyone in advance...)
    – Shalom
    Dec 31, 2013 at 15:51
  • @Shalom Did you ever experience to end-of-spectrum chassidim? (Your parenthesis: Definitely!)
    – Adám
    Dec 31, 2013 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


Well, here's Rambam Laws of Husbandhood Ch. 14:

יד,י [ח] האישה שמנעה בעלה מתשמיש המיטה--היא הנקראת מורדת, ושואלין אותה מפני מה מרדה: אם אמרה, מאסתיהו ואיני יכולה להיבעל לו מדעתי--כופין אותו להוציא לשעתו, לפי שאינה בשביה שתיבעל לשנוי לה; ותצא בלא כתובה כלל, ותיטול בליותיה הקיימין, בין מנכסים שהכניסה לבעלה ונתחייב באחריותן, בין מנכסים שלא נתחייב באחריותן. ואינה נוטלת משל בעל כלום; ואפילו מנעל שברגליה ומטפחת שבראשה שלקחן לה, פושטת ונותנת לו. וכן כל שנתן לה מתנה, מחזרת אותן, שלא נתן לה, על מנת שתיטול ותצא.

If a woman says: "my husband is a good man, doesn't beat me, practices perfect hygiene, all of that -- but physically I just find myself convulsing when I get close to him, for no particular reason", she can demand a divorce (though she wouldn't get her ketubah payment) -- we don't demand celibacy of those who didn't go into the marriage on those terms, and we can't ask her to do something on a regular basis that feels traumatic.

Obviously each couple is going to be different. In some situations, therapy may help. In some, they can determine some arrangement that works well enough for both of them. But if either side absolutely demanded out, a beit din would respect that. If they're asking their pastoral rabbi what to do, he'd assess the particulars of their situation before making a recommendation.

Keep in mind that when it comes to Jewish divorce law, sometimes there's "what is legal" and then there is "what would a good person do in this situation?" E.g. if she gets sick and her medical bills are high -- by the letter of the law he could figure out how much he would owe her upon divorce, pay that, and throw her to the curb. Ask any rabbi (or the Shulchan Aruch) what the right thing to do is? Don't be a savage. You take care of your wife.

  • asexuals don't care, not that they feel convulsive
    – ray
    Dec 19, 2013 at 8:43
  • @ray Not true, see this survey.
    – user3318
    Dec 19, 2013 at 18:07
  • I find your answer very good, but as the question was put on hold, I'll give some time before choosing as an accepted answer.
    – Adám
    Dec 19, 2013 at 21:17
  • 1
    @Emracool Some people display symptoms like if they were true asexuals, e.g. after being traumatized. In such situations, therapy may help. I think Shalom meant that.
    – Adám
    Dec 31, 2013 at 15:36
  • 4
    @Emracool thank you. Therapy can help a person make sure they really understand their condition (and that they're not confusing it for something else), figure out how to best cope with it, and determine, given their priorities in life, strengths, and weaknesses, what goals are most essential in an desired outcome that may be sub-optimal. I didn't mean that a therapist can magically make problems disappear.
    – Shalom
    Dec 31, 2013 at 15:48

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