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Prayers For A Holy Union PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael   
Monday, 18 June 2012

Question:

Are there any special prayers that can be said before engaging in marital relations?

Answer:

Water is poured from the vessel three times on each hand beginning with the right hand, and alternating
Washing hands from a vessel
Yes. Just as there is a custom to wash hands from a vessel before engaging in marital relations in order to enter a frame of mind of purity and holiness, so too,  special prayers can be recited by both husband and wife. These prayers help prepare for the exalted holiness of the mitzvah and help elevate the physical pleasure to an intense spiritual encounter.

In his book, "Darke Tahara," the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, writes:

While one's hands are still clean, it is proper to say the verse, "May the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us, and may the doings of our hands be established upon us; O prosper the doings of our hands" (Tehillim, 90:17).

At the actual time of the union, it is proper to concentrate on the following  words "L'sham yichud Kodsha B'reechu V'Shechintei," meaning, "For the sake of uniting the Holy One Blessed Be He and His Shechinah."

There are men who are accustomed to say, "For the sake of uniting the Holy One Blessed Be He and His Shechinah, behold I am ready to perform the mitzvah of Onah, fulfilling marital relations with my wife at the proper time, as it says in the Torah, "You shall not withhold her marital relations," and it is my intention to bring forth a holy soul into the world."

Others are wont to recite the 23rd Psalm. Still others recite the long version of  "L'sham yichud," as follows:

"For the sake of uniting the Holy One Blessed Be He and His Shechinah,
behold, I am ready to perform the mitzvah of Onah, fulfilling marital relations with my wife at the proper time, as it says in the Torah, "You shall not withhold her marital relations," and it is my intention to bring forth a holy soul into the world. And behold, I am ready to perform the commandment of marital relations, to unite and cleave to my wife, as it is written, "Thus a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife"(Bereshit, 2:24), in order to rectify the root of this commandment at its exalted source.

May it be Thy will, L-rd our G-d,  and G-d of our forefathers, that You grant me and my wife the strength, and ability, and assistance, and proper preparation for this mitzvah, to draw down bountiful blessing and Divine influx from their exalted source to all of the holy worlds and to our beings, our spirits, and our souls. Just as Rachel and Leah merited to build the house of Israel, and to give birth to sons marked by righteousness, wisdom, understanding, wholesomeness, honesty, and goodness, so may my wife and I give birth to sons who are righteous, wise, understanding, healthy, and strong, who will merit long and fulfilling lives. May my wife and I find joy in them and in their children, and their children's children. May they all merit exalted holy souls forged from a transcendental source.

And just as You granted assistance and Divine blessing to the union of Yaakov and Leah, as is written, "And he lay with her that night. And G-d hearkened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Yaakov a fifth son... and she called his name Yissakar" (Bereshit, 30:17-18), and he and his offspring merited to wisdom and understanding in Torah, as it says, "And the children of Yissakar possessed the understandings of the times" (Divre HaYamim,1:12:33), so also may this be a time of favor, and help and assist me in this union with my wife. May it come before you as if I had all of the proper holy intentions, and ‘May the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us, and may the doings of our hands be established upon us; O prosper the doings of our hands'" (Tehillim, 90:17).

Yet another prayer for men by the Ramban is included in some of Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi's books. The Ramban's prayer begins with a supplication that the man have the necessary testicular fortitude to perform the mitzvah, and is recommended for men who face difficulty in this realm.

There are also special prayers for women, for example:

On Friday evening before sundown, the Jewish woman lights Shabbat candles and opens her heart in prayer
Friday evening candle lighting is conducive to woman's prayer

"May it be Your will that You cast Your Shechinah (Divine Presence) upon me and my husband, and that You cause Your holy Name to be unified through our union. And may You plant in our hearts a pure and holy spirit, and distance all evil thoughts and mental images from us, and grant that the union of our beings be taintless and blemish free. And prevent my husband and myself from gazing at other women and other men, but that my eyes should only be for my husband, and his eyes for me.

"May it be in my eyes that there be no better and attractive man or more pleasant husband in the world than my husband, as it is said, "Hearken O daughter and consider, and incline thy ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house (Tehillim, 45:11). And may it be in my husband's eyes as if there were no more beautiful woman and pleasant and honest wife in the world than me. May all of his thoughts be on me, and not on any other person in the world, as it says, "Thou art fairer than all others; grace is poured upon thy lips" (Tehillim, 45:3), and, "So shall the king desire thy beauty (Tehillim, 45:12), and as it says, "Thus a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife" (Bereshit, 2:24).

"May it be Thy will, My G-d, that our marital union rise up in a splendid manner, a union filled with the reverence of Heaven and the fear of sin, a union that will bring forth wholesome, healthy children, excelling in righteousness, integrity, and inner purity. May our marital union merit Your blessing, as it says, "The L-rd has been mindful of us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel" (Tehillim, 116:12).

It should be noted that the Kabbalah teaches that even when pregnancy cannot result from a particular marital union, for instance if the wife is already pregnant, or unable to bear children, holy souls are nonetheless brought down into this world which become the souls of converts to Judaism. Also, the marital union, when conducted in the proper holy fashion, draws Divine influx to all of the worlds, so all couples should guard against unthinking, unbefitting behavior. (See the essay posted on this website, "Daughters of Israel ," by HaRav Eliahu Leon Levi).

Last Updated ( Monday, 18 June 2012 )
 
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