In B. Ketuvot 63a, we learn the following story (translation with commentary from R. Adin Steinsaltz):

רב יוסף בריה דרבא שדריה אבוהי לבי רב לקמיה דרב יוסף פסקו ליה שית שני כי הוה תלת שני מטא מעלי יומא דכפורי אמר איזיל ואיחזינהו לאינשי ביתי שמע אבוהי שקל מנא ונפק לאפיה אמר ליה זונתך נזכרת? איכא דאמרי אמר ליה יונתך נזכרת איטרוד לא מר איפסיק ולא מר איפסיק:

On the same subject it is related: Rav Yosef, son of Rava, was sent by his father to the study hall to learn before the great Sage Rav Yosef. They agreed that he should sit for six years in the study hall. When three years had passed, the eve of Yom Kippur arrived and he said: I will go and see the members of my household, meaning his wife. His father heard and took a weapon, as if he were going to war, and went to meet him. According to one version he said to him: Did you remember your mistress, as you are abandoning your studies to see a woman? (The Maharsha has the girsa of "your partner/זוגתך".) There are those who say that he said to him: Did you remember your dove? Since both father and son were involved in an argument, they were preoccupied and this Master did not eat the cessation meal before Yom Kippur and that Master also did not eat the cessation meal that day.

Isn't that a bit of an excessive reaction? A grown man, after spending three years of his life in learning, wishes to visit his home Erev Yom Kippur for one day. His father becomes infuriated, calls his son's wife a harlot, and tells him to go back to Yeshiva! Isn't it healthy for him to maintain a warm relationship with his spouse - how bad could it be for him to spend one afternoon with his household?

(See also B. Ketuvot 62b and Bereishit Rabba 95 for similar instances of very infrequent relationships between rabbinical colleagues and their spouses.)

  • 2
    (1) Regarding calling the son's wife a harlot: I remember being told the story, but with the זוגתך (your partner) version (as is also in Ein Ya'aqov's version), and that זוגתך/יונתך referred to the Torah, along the lines of:" (You remembered your family, and came home.) Did you remember your spouse (the Torah) you left behind at the Beit Midrash"? (2) As I was given it, the harshness was intentional, to emphasize how important uninterrupted Torah study was/is, especially to the Chakhamim of the Talmud.
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 19, 2018 at 10:52
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    (3) Regarding Talmidei Chakhamim being away from their wives for long periods of time: I don't know what Halakhah le-Ma'aseh is today, but the Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Ishut 14:3[2] says that Talmidei Chakhmim can be away from their wives for Torah study, even without permission, for 2-3 years.
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 19, 2018 at 10:53

1 Answer 1


I think you can understand his attitude from Rashbi's outlook when he left the cave after 12 years of continuous study (and meditation of some kind) (Shabbat 33). From his perspective people working in the field, preparing food for Shabbos were sinners actively cancelling Torah study.

When you stay in a closed Yeshiva for a long time, studying Gemorah and commentaries you will eventually develop such a "black and white" attitude toward the outer world. If you talk to righteous frum bachurim (if you can find some) that do not read newspapers, don't watch TV have no idea of Internet, and ask them about their attitude to their forthcoming marriage, you will get similar answers. (see Ben Azay ideals)

  • your the first person i have heard off nowadays who is/ or has met people so far removed from their yetzer hora. The way people act in public might not reflect on their inner battles that they are fighting. those to whom you refer are great for fighting their Yetzer hora not for removing it. see sefer tanya about the description of a beinoni and a tzaddik.
    – user15464
    Dec 14, 2017 at 18:46
  • user15464 You don't believe there are tzaddikim nowadays?
    – ezra
    Jan 19, 2018 at 2:04

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