Parshas Noach.


The laws of marriage and forbidden relations.


1. Every Jew has a mitzvah to marry. This mitzvah applies from age 18 and at any rate one should not delay its fulfillment till after age 20.


2. One should try to find a wife from a kosher family. The Jewish people possess three special qualities – modesty, mercy and loving-kindness and one should try not to marry a person who is lacking these qualities.


3. After a careful check of references and the decision to marry a semi-formal engagement is held. The wedding is scheduled in such a manner that the bride will probably not be Nidah (the laws of Nidah are discussed in Parshas Sazria). 


4. On the day of wedding the sins of the new couple are forgiven like on Yom Kippur. For this reason the custom is that the bride and the groom fast on this day but  among Sephardim only the groom fasts. If they are too week to fast, at least they should return to the Creator with all their hearts – now they are starting a new life. If they deserve, the Creator’s presence will be in their homes. Before the wedding, the bride goes to a Mikvah (the laws of immersion are described in Parshas Metzorah).


5. The wedding has to be organized in a kosher manner – this is the most fundamental event in their future life. It is strictly forbidden to organize mixed dancing – on a Jewish wedding the men dance separately and the women – separately.


6. The groom is accompanied to the chupa by two people, usually his father and the father of the bride. Afterwards two women lead the bride.


7. The Rabbi makes a blessing on wine and on Kiddushin – the marriage. Afterwards the grooms tells the bride “Harey at mekudeshes li betabaas zu kedas Moshe Veyisroel” – “You are consecrated to me by means of this ring according to the law of Moses and Israel”. He then puts the ring on the bride’s finger. Afterwards one of those present reads the Kesubah – the marriage contract. Then the Shevah Brochos are made – in these seven blessings we bless the Creator for creating the people, we express our hope in speedy ingathering of the exiles and at last ask that the newlyweds will live a happy and holy life. After this, the groom leads his bride to the room of Yichud – a place where nobody else will enter for a few minutes and this makes the couple fully married according to Jewish law. Some Sephardim have a custom not to go to Yichud room until later.


8. After the wedding, for seven days the newlyweds are resting, they are like king and queen. Usually, their parents or friends make festive meals for them every day. Following Birkas Hamazon – blessing after the meal, the seven blessings are pronounced again.


9. A man should always respect his wife; this brings a blessing to the home.


10. The Torah commands each Jew to be fruitful and multiply. Even though this mitzvah does not always fully depend on us, we should make effort to fulfill this commandment. Once a person has a healthy boy and girl he fulfilled the Torah’s commandment but even then he should not live alone without a wife and he should try to have as many children as possible. Every new child is a special light that enters this world and our sages teach us that Moshiach will not come until all the Jewish souls come down to this world. Thus each new child brings Moshiach closer.


11. If a family can not have children or the doctors consider pregnancy dangerous for a woman the couple should talk to a Rabbi.


12. One of the most powerful types of Etzer Hara – the evil inclination is the desire for opposite gender. Therefore our sages teach us to be extremely careful regarding the observance of the related prohibitions, whoever passes the test is called holy. It is strictly forbidden to touch (for pleasure) any forbidden woman except the mother, the daughter or granddaughter and the wife when she is not Nidah. Hugging, kissing or dancing together is even more strictly forbidden.


13. For the purpose of treatment a male doctor can touch a woman and a female doctor can touch a male patient. However, if there is a doctor of the same gender available, and he is not worse, one should go to him.


14. A man and a woman are forbidden to seclude themselves in a place where nobody comes in. If the place is such that people can come in at any time, the prohibition against seclusion does not apply. For this reason, a man and a woman can be in the same elevator or car in places where there are passersby. However they can not drive in places outside the city where other cars are not passing for long periods of time or late at night on empty streets. The prohibition against seclusion applies to doctor’s office. Thus, a woman visiting a male doctor should not fully close the door or make sure other doctors and nurses come in from time to time without warning.


15. Even two women are forbidden to seclude themselves with one man. For Ashkenazi Jews it is permitted for two kosher men to seclude themselves with one woman but this is forbidden for Sephardim – only a few men can be secluded with a few women. However, if a Jewish couple is present among the assembled the prohibition against seclusion does not apply.


16. If the husband of a woman is in the city it is not forbidden to come into her house. There are other ways to avoid the prohibition, for example to take along a girl between five and nine years old, to leave the door of the building open so that people can enter, to give Jewish neighbors keys from the apartment so that they can enter at any time etc, each case should be discussed with a Rabbi.


17. The husband is not forbidden to be in seclusion with his wife even when she is Nidah. Since she will later become permitted there is no danger that seclusion will lead to forbidden relations. However, newlyweds who never had relations and the bride became Nidah, are forbidden to enter into seclusion until the wife counts seven clean days and immerses in the Mikvah (see Parshas Metzorah).


18. The Torah not only forbids us to come close to forbidden women, but also to look at them for enjoyment or to think about them. For this reason, one should not buy irreligious newspapers and magazines – they usually have immodest pictures and stories that lead one to inappropriate thoughts. A man is forbidden to listen to a woman singing. According to most opinions this prohibition applies to the singing on the radio or tape as well. At any rate most of such songs also bring one to sinful thoughts.