Project Genesis

Family and Relationships

Modesty & Sexuality

Wholesome Premarital Values

Question: I believe that before marriage we should have limitations in relationships with people. The way we talk and interact should be definitely different from the way we interact with fiance or husband. This limitation is a means for respect and dignity for ourselves. I am very interested to know the religious reason for avoiding immoral relationships with strangers (people who are not fiance or husband) I really love to know the religious reasons

Answer: The primary source for this prohibition is in Leviticus 18:6. The specific details of this law are set out in the Maimonides (Laws of Forbidden Relationships, chapter 21) and Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’ezer 21: 5).

In addition, if the woman happens to be a Niddah (which is the case for as long as she hasn’t been to the Mikveh subsequent to menstrual flow), then there is an additional Torah prohibition (Leviticus 18:19).

While I cannot claim to understand all of G-d’s thoughts on any of his commandments, I will offer a possible and partial explanation for this particular law. The gift of sexual intimacy was created for us by G-d as a tool to enhance our Torah lives. Through the life-long love and loyalty between a man and his wife, a healthy family can be built in which the cheerful home atmosphere becomes a crucial element in transmitting the Torah’s moral message.

However, just like sticky tape doesn’t stick nearly as well the second time, so too a marriage – if it’s just the latest in a series of sexual relationships – isn’t so likely to succeed. How sacred and wholesome will the creation of such a partnership be if either or both members are experienced – even cynical – in these matters? How much harder will it be for each partner to live up to the comparisons that will certainly be made with this or that former partner?

There’s a reason that second marriages are statistically less likely to succeed. And, I believe, there’s a connection between the sudden rise in divorce rates in the western world (starting in the 1960’s) and the breaking down of moral barriers (occurring at roughly the same time).

Now you might argue that casual contact between young people isn’t the same as what I’ve described. I will observe that, human nature being what it is, casual contact is rarely the end of the story. And, in any case, any emotional bond now, is bound to take away at least some of the “stickiness” of an eventual marriage.

The bottom line: the beliefs that you have long maintained are right on target and they produce just the kind of approach that will bring a person both success and happiness! I wish you further success in your Torah endeavors.

With my best regards,

Rabbi Boruch Clinton

Ottawa, Canada

Question: Thank you very much for explanation. Now, the problem that I have faced is to be accepted and appreciated by mainstream society. Although I never break my rule because of being accepted by others and I continue to do things that are right, I have worries of not being able to marry in today’s society. Unfortunately, nowadays people are more inclined to pay more attention to superficial things such as to pose, walk in certain way and superficial beauty more than inner beauty. and also not pay attention to the real person (soul) who is behind this physical face. They have forgotten the balance between inner and outer beauty. People who think the way I do, have hard time attracting others. This worry is with me always. What is your suggestion to solve this anxiety  Thank you very much!

Answer: It’s very difficult for me to know what might be causing your problem: Perhaps it just that the people around you are too physically-oriented and lack a sensitivity to inner beauty. If that’s the case, then the solution might be to try to find a community of individuals who think the way you do and care more about the whole person. It would make the most sense to look among other people committed to Torah values. On the other hand, perhaps you aren’t “advertising” yourself as well as you could and people who see you aren’t aware that you, too, have a “balance between inner and outer beauty.” The Torah certainly does allow a woman to attract a future husband’s attention with her beauty – as long as the goal is marriage and the style used is wholesome and healthy. A man wants a wife who will be attractive and the only way he can know that a particular woman is, is through speaking with her and modestly watching.

I am confident that you will find the way to achieve success in this!

With my best wishes,


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