Besides the reason of having children, are there other reasons to the מצוות עונה (marital sex)?

  • 6
    How do you know there is a מצות עונה? What even is עונה, for those on here who don’t speak Hebrew?
    – DonielF
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 21:57
  • 3
    מצוות עונה is to have children?? That's clearly false. עונה applies to minors, infertile women, the elderly, women who have children already, etc.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 22:02
  • @DoubleAA Just because someone cannot do something for ALL its reasons, would that mean he shouldn't do it at all? There are other reasons too, and those who don't have that reason have the other reasons. Commented May 17, 2018 at 22:34
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    Does "providing your wife with her needs just like clothing and shelter" count as a reason? Commented May 17, 2018 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


A woman has a right to receive sexual pleasure from her husband, just as much as food and clothing. See below:

Ra’avad, Ba’alei Hanefesh, Gate of Holiness – selection 4:

:הארבע כוונות אשר המעשה ההוא נכון עליהם
הראשונה לשם פריה ורביה והיא הנכונה שבכולם…
והשנית לתקון הולד… וגם זו הכוונה נמשכת בכונת פריה ורביה.
והשלישית אף על פי שאין בה לא זה ולא זה אלא שהיא משתוקקת אליו… גם על זו יש קבול שכר והיא היא מצות העונה שאמרה התורה, דמיון שארה וכסותה לא יגרע שהם צרכי האשה והנאותיה.
והרביעית שהוא מתכוין לגדור את עצמו בה כדי שלא יתאוה לעבירה…
ואם לא נתכוון כי אם למלאות תאותו מן הנאות העולם הנה הוא בדרך הסתת היצר ורחוק מן השכר וקרוב להפסד…
ואחרי שראינו כל אלה שהאדם חייב לעשות חפצי אשתו ולשמחה במצוה זו בכל עת שהיא צריכה לה, על כן הזהירוהו שתהא שמאל דוחה וימין מקרבת פן תסיתנו לעבור על המדה ותמשכהו אחריה אל הבלי העולם ויאבד בעבורה.

The four intentions (or “motivations”) which are proper for that act (of marital sex) [are as follows]:

The first is for the sake of procreation, and this is the most proper of all the intentions…

The second is for the well-being of the fetus [when the wife is pregnant]… and this intention is connected to the intention for procreation.

The third is even in a case when neither of the above two apply, but merely that the wife is longing for her husband… even in this case there is reward in the act (i.e., it is a religiously positive act), and this is the Biblical mitzvah of onah. It is comparable to the mitzvah “thou shall not withhold her food and clothing,” for these are the things that the wife needs and which give her pleasure.

The fourth is if he is intending to protect himself so that his sexual desire does not lead him to sin (so he gives licit outlet to this desire through sex with his wife)…

But if his only intent is to satisfy his sexual desire with this-worldly pleasures, then he is following his evil inclination. Such an the act is distant from any reward and close to being a loss (i.e., a religiously negative act)"…


The sefarim explain that even when a couple cannot have children, every cohabitation (which is done properly) brings out "Neshamos", and later these will be considered their children. So we might say that this purpose of "Having children" is relevant even when they canot conceive from their union.

There is also discussion of ייחוד השם and תיקון עולמות which happens through every proper union between man and his wife.

[Hebrew readers see here.

  • 3
    What are "the sefarim"?
    – Alex
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 23:27
  • @Alex see the link that i posted. I know this is in Kaballa seforim. I was taught this before my marriage, and I have seen it quoted a number of times since. Commented May 17, 2018 at 23:31
  • 6
    Answers that require the reader to do their own research or to just trust the answerer have less value. Why should readers trust you?
    – Alex
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 23:49
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    Of course it's always are prerogative to not trust you. But if you are posting an answer why would you not make it as valuable as possible?
    – Alex
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 0:19
  • 7
    It's fine if you don't remember the exact sources. But you should always include as much detail as possible. For instance you can say in the answer that you don't remember the exact sources but you remember that you were taught this before marriage. You can tell us who taught it to you or what institution you learned it at (yeshiva, seminary, etc.) unless that would be revealing too much personal information. The point is, you can almost always be more precise than "the sefarim explain", and any additional details usually add credibility.
    – Alex
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 0:26

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