קונגרס העולמי ה-18 למדעי היהדות

R. Moses Cordovero’s Spiritual Directives for Conjugal Love

R. Moshe Cordevero (RaMaK) provides guidance on why, when, and how to make love to one’s wife. In Ohr Yakar, his commentary to the Zohar, and in Tefilah Le-Moshe, his commentary to the liturgy, RaMaK details how to channel erotic desire and link Tiferet to the feminine sefira of Malkhut. Unlike halachic authorities such as Rambam, Raavad, Tur, and Shulhan Arukh who mitigated the pleasure element in sex, RaMaK promotes romantic intimacy as a unique mitzvah facilitating union with the Shekhinah. He reprimands those who promote “pious sex” using the "hole in the sheet" method because they wedge an artificial separation between male and female. He cites a 14th-century Kabbalistic dictum that without experiencing exhilarating passion towards a woman, a man cannot truly appreciate the love for God. Similarly, in Sheyur Komah, RaMaK justifies listening to troubadours to arouse passion. In Ma’yan ‘Ein Ya’acov, he defines the hugging and kissing essential for connecting to the Shekhinah. He adds that sexual intercourse can create new Spiritual Souls. In brief, RaMaK frames conjugal sex as a redemptive undertaking utilizing physical bodily passions in the service of spiritual therapeutic actions to harmonize Divine Sefirot.

RaMaK’s directives can be better understood by comparing them to the romanticism of his brother-in-law, R. Shlomo Alkabetz (Lecha Dodi and Ayelet Ahavim), to Lurianic intertwining of physical sexuality with erotic spirituality, and to 16th century Ottoman Islamic conceptualizations of the Divine Femininity traditions as derived from the Sufi poet Rumi.