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By Tzvi Fishman
3/5/2007, 12:00 AM

Religious Jews too can benefit from a short refresher course in modesty, by being reminded of things that are easily forgotten because of the powerful temptations surrounding the marital act.

Of course, the Internet is the proper place for an educational forum on modesty. First, it will be a tikun to counterbalance the cyberspace pornography that has become a leprosy in Jewish homes the world over. We know that a little light can expel walls of darkness. Certainly, the light of our Torah, and the mystical light of our Tzaddikim, will deal a devastating blow to the forces of Amalek and Midian that are purveying their smut on the web, precisely to damage our holiness and separate us from our G-d, may Heaven help us. In the merit of our holy Torah and Sages, may all Jews download porn filters today, and may pornography be banned from the Internet, Amen.

Secondly, because the Internet reaches people worldwide, it is such a valuable tool in spreading the light of the Torah. Beginners to Judaism must begin with the truth, rather than be allowed to fall into ways of sexual transgression, that bring damage to themselves, their families, the entire community of Israel, and to all spiritual worlds. Religious Jews too can benefit from a short refresher course in modesty, by being reminded of things that are easily forgotten because of the powerful temptations surrounding the marital act.

Thirdly, as we will explain in a forthcoming blog, sexual modesty is the foundation of our exodus from Egypt and the inner theme of the Pesach holiday.

Furthermore, guarding our sexual modesty is the foundation of the Covenant between G-d and the Jewish People. It is the foundation of our holiness as G-d’s chosen nation. It is the key to our settlement of the Land of Israel, and it is the key to our security and defense. With G-d’s help, we shall explore all of these critically important matters in the upcoming weeks. Even if all of my readers should abandon this blog, I will continue to write, if only to remind myself of things that stand at the pinnacle of Creation, and at the core of our identity as holy servants of the Holy One Blessed Be He.

Therefore, let us press onward. Before moving on to the Book of Vayikra, we can learn some additional secrets about the marital union from the service of the Kohanim in the Mishkan. The master Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, sets them forth in his book, “Kedushat Yisrael.” He writes:

It is written, “And Aharon and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet when they come into the holy sanctum.”
Kohen Washes Hands and Feet

The explanation of this is that the holy Torah requests that when Aharon and his sons wash their hands, they immediately raise them up, so that the spiritual lights that are emitted from the fingers will be ready to return to the head. In doing this, harmful, external spiritual forces (chitzonim) will not be able to feed off the lights of the fingers, thus insuring that the thoughts of the Kohanim remain lucid and pure. Similarly, when we come to perform the holy marital union, we must be very careful to wash our hands in the proper manner from a vessel, three times in an alternating manner, then raising them up to the head, as we have written, without reciting a blessing. This is to safeguard that your thoughts will be holy, and you will thereby merit righteous children, who will be devoted to Torah and the service of G-d. Thus we learn that great care must be taken to have holy thoughts during the holy marital union, for G-d looks down from Heaven and knows all thoughts, including the holy thoughts you have when you are with your wife, engaged in the marital union.

Regarding the kohanim, it is also written, “You shall make linen breeches to cover the nakedness of your flesh.”

This verse teaches that the holy Torah wants Aharon and his sons to dress in a very modest fashion, and not expose parts of the body that should be covered. Due to this guarding of modesty, blessing with rest on them. Similarly, when a husband and wife come to engage in the marital union, they must be careful to do so in a very modest manner. At the very least, they must cover themselves with a sheet over most of their bodies. This will prevent harmful spiritual forces (chitzonim) from negatively influencing their union.

It is also written: “A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate…. And its sound shall be heard when he goes in to the holy place before the L-rd.”
Bells and pomegranates of the blue robe of the High Priest
This verse teaches that Aharon HaKohen and his sons are to shake their robes so that the bells will make a loud noise when they go into the holy place. From this we can learn wise and proper behavior that no Jewish person so enter his house without permission, or before he rings the bell or knocks on the door, even though it be his own house – he stills needs permission to enter! In this way, he will not frighten his children or his wife. Similarly, when a husband comes to have holy marital relations with his wife, he must be sure that she is in a happy mood. He should speak words of love to his righteous mate, things that please her and make her feel love toward him. In other words, he should be sure to ring the bell – that is get her permission, and thus when the marital union is performed with great happiness between them, this gives much satisfaction to our Creator.

“He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire… and bring it inside the veil, and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the L-rd, that the cloud of the incense may cover the covering that is upon the Testimony…”

The holy Torah commands Aharon to place the incense on the burning coals so that the cloud of burning incense will fill the inner sanctum with darkness. Similarly, when a husband and wife engage in the holy marital union, it should be in darkness. According to the secrets of Torah, it is forbidden for a husband and wife to see each others sexual organ, in order to guard the sanctity of their eyes, and in order that they be enveloped in holiness.

When marital unions are conducted in this holy fashion, great material and spiritual blessing will be drawn upon us, upon our homes, and upon our nation, from our holy Father in Heaven, and we will merit to raise righteous children, and to receive great pleasure in them. And we will merit the coming of Mashiach, our righteous one, may he come soon in our time, Amen.

[From the book, “Kedushat Yisrael.”]