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I know that there is a concept of prishus (going beyond the letter of the law, and abstaining from things that are really allowed) within Jewish marriage, but what exactly does this constitute, and what are its halachic sources?

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30440/5323 (possible duplicate?) – MTL Dec 30 '14 at 22:18
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    @Shokhet, I don't think it is a duplicate, as this is looking for things that go beyond the letter of the law, that question didn't seem to be. – Yishai Dec 30 '14 at 22:21
  • @Shokhet Didn't you just edit part of the answer into my question? – Adám Dec 30 '14 at 22:29
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    @NBZ Were you asking for the definition of the word "prishus," or for the application of the concept in the laws of Jewish marriage? If the second, then I would recommend "dejargonifying" the question. – MTL Dec 30 '14 at 22:32
  • @Shokhet I was asking for both. – Adám Dec 31 '14 at 14:58
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Well, I guess you could start with Rambam Hilchos Deios Chapter 5 8-9[4-5]:

ולא יהיו שניהם לא שיכורים, ולא עצלנין, ולא עצבנין; ולא אחד מהן. ולא תהיה ישנה; ולא יאנוס אותה, והיא אינה רוצה--אלא ברצון שניהם, ובשמחתן. יספר מעט וישחק עימה מעט, כדי שתתיישב נפשו; ויבעול בבושה ולא בעזות, ויפרוש מיד

ל הנוהג מנהג זה--לא דיי לו שקידש נפשו, וטיהר עצמו, ותיקן דעותיו; אלא שאם היו לו בנים--הווין בנים נאים וביישנים, ראויין לחכמה ולחסידות. וכל הנוהג במנהגות שאר העם, ההולכים בחושך--הווין לו בנים כמו אותן העם

Proper behavior (not being drunk, disinterested, irritable, non-consensual passively or actively), with humility and including Prishus (ויפרוש מיד) in the literal sense (avoiding excessive physical closeness) leads to the couple's own holiness and that of their children.

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 240 is a siman dedicated to this. I would encourage someone contemplating what it all means to focus on the Magen Avraham there s.v. 21. The main thing is that actions be for the sake of Heaven and selfless consideration for your spouse is the desirable goal.

Reshish Chochma in Sha'ar HaKedusha goes into this more at length as well, where he first address the point that it is a mistake to think that marital relations are negative or a "necessary evil", and then goes into how a self-centered focus is what turns it negative.

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The Ramban to Vayikra 19:2, in his discussion of general concepts of prishus, has the following line:

ימעט במשגל, כענין שאמרו שלא יהיו תלמידי חכמים מצויין אצל נשותיהן כתרנגולין, ולא ישמש אלא כפי הצריך בקיום המצוה ממנו.

Limit cohabitation, as the Sages said "Talmidei Chachomim should not be with their wives like chickens," and only cohabit as is necessary for fulfilling the Mitzvah.

There is no letter of the law prohibition as to how often to be together, but the Ramban lists limiting it as an example of prishus.

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