Torah Portion: Acharei Mos
“איש איש אל כל שאר בשרו לא תקרבו לגלות ערוה” (ויקרא יח ו)
It is a negative commandment that we not take pleasure from any of the forbidden relationships (arayos), which are: certain relatives, a married woman and a niddah. This prohibition extends to hugging and kissing and the like, as it is written, Any man shall not approach his close relative to uncover nakedness (Vayikra 18:6). Our Sages explain that the prohibition is that a person may not do any act of approaching that could lead to the uncovering of nakedness [i.e. an illicit relationship]. This negative commandment is doubled through the prohibition of You shall not commit any of these abominations (ibid. v. 26), which extends to include all activities that is abominated by Hashem—meaning, that one who does them distances himself from the good and removes from himself the Providence of Hashem, may He be blessed.
The laws of the mitzvah include those activities that the Sages forbade as a safeguard, such as: the one should not gesture with his hands or signal with his eyes at any one of those forbidden to him; that he not laugh with them whatsoever; merely smelling perfume that is upon them is forbidden; to not look at women at all, and they even forbade looking at their little finger for the sake of pleasure. This is except for one’s wife, at whom one may look at her beauty at all times, and even while she is a niddah the husband may look at whatever [parts of her body that are] normally exposed because she will inevitably become permitted to him with time. Our Sages also said that it is forbidden to look even at the hair of a woman to whom he is forbidden, and even to listen to her voice for the sake of enjoying it is forbidden.
This commandment applies in all places and at all times, to both men and women, for women as well are forbidden to cogitate about men other than their husbands.