Jewish Sexuality: Balance and Passion

танцуя хава нагилу

In an upscale jewelry store nestled in the prestigious quarters of northern Tel Aviv, the proprietor was taken aback by an unusual request. It came from a religious woman in Jerusalem, the wife of a highly respected figure in the ultra-Orthodox community. Adorned in traditional attire, she sought a bespoke creation: a golden ankle bracelet adorned with platinum touches and twelve diamond-studded charms.

Despite the substantial nature of the order, the owner’s curiosity got the better of him: “Pardon my inquiry, but are you indeed seeking an ankle bracelet for personal use? How does this reconcile with religious principles advocating modesty for Jewish wives to avoid any allure?”

Her response was swift: “Beyond my husband, no other eyes will see this bracelet around my ankle,” she countered. “We’re celebrating our ten-year anniversary, and I wanted to surprise him with this gift. It appears that you’re secular and might not fully grasp the intricacies of a religious couple’s union.”

The discussion ventured further, touching upon the avoidance of physical contact between men and women. However, her perspective was nuanced: “While I’d never expose my arms to another man, for my husband, I’m willing to bring joy. There’s no contradiction with Jewish tradition. Quite the opposite…”

… A misconception is that Jewish sexuality is rife with restrictions. The rationale appears straightforward: if religious Jews follow over 600 commandments, abstaining from many mundane activities, then one might assume sexual intimacy is even more regulated.

Prepare for a surprise. The foremost Jewish directive is “be fruitful and multiply.” The Talmud even suggests that, for couples unburdened by labor, sexual activity is ideal daily, or at least weekly. Saturdays, the day of rest, are an especially opportune time. Intimacy, after all, is a source of joy.

Now, consider pleasure itself. Jewish tradition underscores sexual foreplay’s importance, equally vital as the act itself. More so, a wife’s satisfaction becomes the husband’s duty: prior to his climax, he must arouse his wife, ensuring her pleasure. Failure prompts a wife’s right to divorce, which is usually granted. A wife similarly assists her husband’s readiness through various means, from slow undressing to intimate kisses.

Talmudic sages, incidentally, exhibit keen interest in sanctioned, even encouraged, marital relations.

Crucially, true unity of souls and bodies is essential during sexual activity, deepening the divine connection.

The initial prohibition prohibits visualizing others in place of one’s spouse, impairing the union’s sanctity. Consequently, relations are halted during menstruation and for seven days after. A mikveh immersion lifts this restriction.

An acquaintance immigrated to Israel in the ’90s, marrying a native. Marriage evolved from passion to matrimony. Suddenly, her husband embraced orthodox practices. Amid her adaptations, hurdles arose. His avoidance during menstruation and mikveh practices were unfamiliar. Yet, the rewards were immense – the king’s treatment after mikveh.

Around 12 days of abstinence each month seems substantial, yet it coincides with the least fertile window. It clarifies why religious Jews have large families and why marital attraction remains strong, unburdened by infidelity. Their pleasure mirrors honeymoon bliss.

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