Women and Jewish Law

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, January 1996

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Women and Jewish Law

I am not happy in my marriage of ten years and have wanted a divorce for some time. My husband is a mechanic at a garage and we only have sex about once a week and it is not always satisfying. I have recently cheated and have become pregnant, but he does not know anything of this yet. On what grounds can I get a divorce? Is an abortion out of the question? What are my options according to your understanding of the Halakhah?

The following is an interpretation of the Torah and the Oral Torah by Rabbi Azaroff to a married woman:

The first issue that has to be addressed is, 'Do you have any rights in the matter of not having enough sex?'. The answer to this question is yes. The law that states this is called Onah. Onah is one of the special rights a woman has, and it is a key part of the life of the family (Biale, 40).

It is the law that states a guideline for sexual relations between the husband and the wife. This law was established by the rabbis to require a man to satisfy his wife's sexual needs. Onah was derived from a passage in Halakhah which states the three minimum rights for a female sold into slavery, '...he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. If he fails her in these three ways, she shall be freed...' (Exodus 21 : 7-11, cited by Biale, 126). The Talmud then concludes that if these are the rights of the woman in slavery, than they should definitely be the minimal rights of a free woman. It states in two separate parts that '...onah defines the frequency of sexual relations that a...