This week, third and fourth year students finished studying hilkhot Niddah, focusing on the sensitive and highly important topic of the halakhot that surround the wedding night. They also heard a presentation from Dr. David Ribner, an eminent couples sex therapist in Israel, and co-author with Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld of the new "The Newlywed Guide to Physical Intimacy". Dr. Ribner talked about how a rabbi can help in preparing a bride and groom for their sexual life as a married couple, and also the critical role played by one's family of origin and the messages that one receives growing up. This talk was followed, on the next day, by a presentation by Dr. Batsheva Marcus, director of the Center for Female Sexuality. Dr. Marcus discussed the types of sexual problems that couples - newly married or married for many years - may experience and the role that a rabbi can play in making sure that these issues are surfaced and that the couple gets the help that they need. All in all, a powerful week on a very sensitive topic.
We also had the pleasure of welcoming Rabbi Yair Kahn, a longtime rav in Gush Etzion and a former chavruta of mine, to the yeshiva on Tuesday. Rav Yair gave a shiur on the topic of Birkat HaMazon, and its emphasis on the Land of Israel and the agricultural produce of Israel. The shiur was a wonderful lead-on to Tu BiShvat the following day, when students arrange a special Tu BiShvat seder in the afternoon.
It was a very full week, and it is wonderful to be back.