Rabbi Slifkin wrote in a recent post that:

... in some Chabad chosson/kallah classes, they are taught that during climax, they should visualize the Rebbe.

Slifkin brings the writings of Rabbi Teberdovich (spelling?) as a source who writes:

בשעת מעשה ראוי שלא לדבר אלא לחשוב אותיות התורה ולצייר דמות הרבי .

"At the time of the act it is fitting not to speak but rather to think of the letters of the Torah and to form an image of the Rebbe"

Given the problem of visualising someone else during marital relations (mishna berura חלק ב' רמ:ט) how is this a practice deemed acceptable in chabad? If it is indeed acceptable (as the 'chabad rabbi' link suggests) is it accepted by chabad i.e. is it normative that chatan/kallah learn this in their classes?

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    As with most questions about the frequency of questionable practices in habad, it is hard to find reliable data, and one generally ends up with anecdotal evidence, that is quite susceptible to biases such as apologism.
    – mevaqesh
    Mar 23, 2017 at 11:24
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    @YaacovDeane, thanks for pointing this out. Rabbi Slifkin is therefore either exaggerating the original text, or drawing a conclusion from it i.e. if you want to think of holy things during sex, then the point of climax would be the optimal time to think of it... The text still suggests that one should form an image of the Rabbi during sex.
    – bondonk
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:46
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    @bonkdonk In the context of the entire paragraph, it is talking about preparation for the act by sanctifying oneself through proper thoughts. It starts with elements of preparation such as speaking with ones wife in a pleasant fashion. As one draws closer to the act, the level of kedusha is to be higher and more focused. Talking stops and one enters the realm of thought. But it is all preparation beforehand. Not during the act itself which would violate halacha. There is no replacement for a proper Chattan class. What Rabbi Slifkin is presenting is simply not correct. Mar 23, 2017 at 16:25
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    @YaakovDeane i dont think that Rabbi Tederdovich can be read with the diyuk like Rashi, as you suggest. Its quite clear from the link that he's talking about visualising Rabbi Schneerson during (and more likele completion/climax of) sex since this advice is sandwiched in between (twice) warnings about ensuring not to waste even a 'drop of seed' i.e. until 'completion'.
    – bondonk
    Mar 23, 2017 at 17:33
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    Please relocate answers to answers and discussion to Mi Yodeya Chat. Thank you. Mar 23, 2017 at 18:05

3 Answers 3


I can attest to what Rabbi Slifkin claims. I took my kallah classes from a Chabad rebbetzin and was shocked and bothered when told I must think of the Rebbe during what they refer to as "the Mitzvah". She said specifically it must happen towards the end of intercourse right before you know your husband is going to be "done" so to speak. I was troubled because in my mind it seemed wrong to think of anyone besides my husband during such an intimate and private moment. I was told that also a kallah must cover her hair with at least a snood during "the mitzvah" and it must be completely dark as well. She also taught that one is required to think of the rebbe while under the chuppah and while at the mikvah. I am not Chabad so I have chosen not to keep this custom.

  • I completely understand you’re feelings, I don’t know why this kallah teacher told you that. She doesn’t have common sense, such an hanhaga is only for pious Chassidim of the Rebbe not for everyone. Specially if she said required as you wrote. May 9, 2022 at 23:15

the source that it is forbidden to think about other people during relations is from the gemorah
see https://www.sefaria.org/Nedarim.20b.2?lang=bi
and even what the woman thinks is a problem see https://www.sefaria.org/Pesachim.112a.14?lang=bi

but also in the gemara it also says https://www.sefaria.org/Berakhot.20a.7?lang=bi

Similarly, the Gemara relates that Rabbi Yoḥanan was accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the women’s immersion sites. Rabbi Yoḥanan, who was known for his extraordinary good looks, explained this and said: When the daughters of Israel emerge from their immersion, they will look at me, and will have children as beautiful as I.

from the above and other places we see that what the woman thinks about during relations affects the child

and it seems to me that what is forbidden is to think that you are having relations with someone you are not having relations with now, (for woman it seems to only happen if she had relations with someone else, in the past)
but if you are not thinking you are having relations with someone else but only how they look it seems not to be a problem at all (the opposite this effect should be used to make good children)

PS it seems to be a very popular Minhag in Chabad to imagine the Rebbe (i guess it is because he is considered beautiful and ... so it will have a good effect), based on what I heard from many hasanim in the habad kollel in crown heights.

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    Do you have any sources that cite the story in Berakhot as relevant halakhically? Do you have any source that states that "what is forbidden is to think that you are having relations with someone you are not having relations with now"?
    – mevaqesh
    Mar 28, 2017 at 18:00
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    @mevaqesh it is my chidush but I will be happy to know that I was mkaven daas gedolim, I know about Chabad becouse I was in the habad kollel in crown heights and often the hasanim speak about it, but usually they speak about it that it is hard for them to do
    – hazoriz
    Mar 28, 2017 at 18:06
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    For a heterosexual married male, I imagine it would indeed be challenging to actively incorporate thoughts about another man during sex.
    – bondonk
    Mar 26, 2018 at 7:44
  • @hazoriz I was gonna write an answer and noticed you included everything. By the way you’re 100% right that’s the simple meaning not a chidush, I don’t know why people are making a fuz about that Halacha. Also I don’t think it’s just about the beauty aspect but to help having holy intentions Tanya perek beis. May 9, 2022 at 22:55

The Ben Ish Chai in Benayahu makes the distinction based on the Gemara of Rabbi Yochanan that a woman may picture another man bshaas bia, while the She'arim Metzuyanim Behalacha qualifies that this is only with regards to a Tzaddik Gomur, and that it is not only permitted, but it is even the correct thing to do & a segula for good children. He also brings more mekoros.

See Mekor that bnei t'murah doesn't apply to women- berachot 20a? for more info.

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    The quotation seems to apply to men though.
    – N.T.
    May 31, 2021 at 21:34

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