Our Gemara lists a number of miracles that occurred in the Beis HaMikdash, including that a pregnant woman never miscarried as a result of smelling the cooking sacrificial meats and craving them, as well as that the Coeh Gadol never had a nocturnal seminal emission on Yom Kippur night.

What was the exact miracle regarding the pregnant women not miscarrying?  Some quote in the name of Rashi that the women would feel cravings for the meat, not be allowed to eat it, and by thwarting this biological urge, endearing her and the unborn child . Many ask on this, it is against an explicit Gemara (Yoma 82) which states that a pregnant woman can eat on Yom Kippur if she has cravings that do not abate. This shows we treat cravings as life and death and therefore why would that holiness of the sacrificial meats supersede human life any more than the prohibition to eat on Yom Kippur? Many argue that this Rashi is not authentic. Other explanations for this Gemara include that the women would refuse to take the meat out of the piety, despite the cravings. Thus, the miracle was that they did not crave in the first place. Others explain (Yachin Avos 5:5) that even though they will be permitted to eat, the miracle was assuring them that they would not feel the cravings, so they wouldn’t have to prophylactically avoid entering the area of the Beis HaMikdash.  Yair Levanon says they would experience the cravings, the miracle was that they knew that they would not be harmed by ignoring the cravings.

In any case, we find an interesting juxtaposition between a miracle of the pregnant women not having a miscarriage due to smelling the meat of the sacrifice, and the miracle of the high priest not having a seminal emission on Yom Kippur at night. I believe within this is a message of understanding and respecting the natural constraints of human and gender biology. 

A woman is not bad nor is she weak for becoming aroused by the smell of the sacrifices and getting cravings. This is exactly who she should be, and what she should be. It requires divine intervention to miraculously intervene in what is a normal human process. Similarly, physiological sexual drives that can result in a seminal emission are also normal and human. Likewise, it required a supernatural process but it never occurred. Let us not forget, we are all human, and men are men, and women are women.

When a pregnant woman experiences cravings, they should not be dismissed as histrionic.  They must be treated with respect and concern. When a man experiences sexual urges, though of course there are halakhic criteria for how they must be managed, but in and of itself, it is a normal part of manhood and likewise should be respected.


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Translations Courtesy of Sefaria