Welcome to Marriage Companion!
Reviewing any area of halacha enables us to observe it more completely and more meaningfully. As we refresh our knowledge, we become aware of nuances we did not initially perceive, questions we did not ask, leniencies or stringencies whose significance we only now appreciate. We enhance our perception of the whole picture and learn to integrate our knowledge of the details with our understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of the Torah.
It is particularly important to review the laws of taharat hamishpacha. Most of us either learned these halachot during the hectic period of our engagement or during the sometimes bewildering process of enhancing our observance later in life. A review course allows us to refresh our knowledge when we are more settled and relaxed, and when our experience in actual practice can give us new insights and perspectives.
Our bodies also change over the course of marriage. Pregnancy and breastfeeding may lead to years when hilchot niddah are rarely applicable, and will need to be reviewed. Family planning and gynecological and fertility treatments have significant halachic implications. The transition to menopause presents new halachic challenges.
Marriage Companion combines a comprehensive halachic review with an in-depth presentation of women's health issues as they affect Jewish couples. The final units of the course focus on intimacy and marital harmony. We also present a bibliography of primary sources for further study.
We encourage husbands and wives to learn and discuss the material in this course together. We hope Marriage Companion will enable you to refresh and renew your understanding of taharat hamishpacha, and its relationship to a woman's life cycle.
Many communities offer review sessions for married women and men, and we encourage you to take advantage of those opportunities. However, we feel that our online format offers a unique resource for many couples. Marriage Companion is available at any time of day, anywhere in the world. You can opt for lots of short sessions or for fewer long ones, at whatever frequency suits you best. You can choose the topics that apply to your own situation, and skip those that aren't relevant. You can review material, test your comprehension, and ask questions whenever you want.
The lessons in this course were prepared by yoatzot halacha, women halachic consultants. These are women who have devoted two years (over 1000 hours) to intensive study of the Talmudic and halachic sources of taharat hamishpacha, augmented by studies in medicine, psychology and other specialties relating to women's health and halacha. The Medical Advisor to the course is Dr. Deena Zimmerman, the author of A Lifetime Companion to the Laws of Jewish Family Life, who is both a yoetzet and a practicing physician. The Rabbinic Advisor is Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin, author of four volumes of halachic responsa, Shu"t B'nai Banim.
In this first unit, we'll explain how Marriage Companion works and how you can get the most out of the course.