OUR BODIES...IT'S ALL "GOOD"
Neither sexual organs nor sexual intercourse are obscene, for how could God create something that contains an obscenity? God created man and woman, and all their organs and functions, with nothing obscene in them. We believe that God created nothing containing either ugliness or obscenity. - Iggeret ha-Kodesh, 13 C.
Three things enfeeble a man’s body, namely, to eat standing, to drink standing, and to have marital intercourse in a standing position. - Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 70a
IT'S A RIGHT
"to give happiness" - sex not for purpose of procreation but rather for pleasure.
A man is forbidden to compel his wife to have marital relations…Rabbi Joshua ben Levi similarly stated: Whosoever compels his wife to have marital relations will have unworthy children. - Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 100b
A woman once came before Rabbi and said, 'Rabbi! I set a table before my husband [i.e. I prepared to make love with him], but he overturned it [i.e. wanted to engage in anal intercourse].' Rabbi replied: 'My daughter! The Torah has permitted you to him — what then can I do for you?' - Babylonian Talmud, Nadarim 20b
Sexual intercourse is an action that is important, good and valuable to the soul also, and there is no act of flesh and blood that compares with it – if it is done with pure intention and a pure, clean mind, then it is called holy. Sefer Mor v’Ketziyah
When you and your wife are engaged in sexual union do not behave lightheartedly and regard this act as vain, idle, improper. Therefore, first introduce her into the mood with gentle words that excite her emotion, appease her mind and delight her with joy. Thus you unite your mind and intention with hers. Say to her words which in part arouse in her passion, closeness, love, will, and erotic desire, and in part evoke in her reverence for God, piety and modesty...Never impose yourself upon her nor force her. For any sexual union without an abundance of passion, love and will, is without the Divine Presence. Do not quarrel with her nor act violently whenever coitus is involved. The Talmud says, "A lion ravishes and then eats and has no shame. So acts the brute: He hits and then cohabits and has no shame." Rather, court and attract her to you first with gracious and seductive, as well as refined and gentle words, so that both your intentions be for the sake of God...Do not hurry in arousing passion. Prolong till she is ready and in a passionate mood. Approach her lovingly and passionately, so that she reaches her orgasm first. - Iggeret Hakodesh, 13th C.
Judaism insists on a holistic approach to human love and sexuality whereby they are one and the same and cannot be separated. Carnal love must be accompanied by heartfelt love, and attraction to the body must engender attraction to the soul. - Shmuley Boteach, Dating Secrets of the 10 Commandments, p189
SOME CHALLENGING TEXTS
Since a man’s wife is permitted to him, he may act with her in any manner whatsoever. He may have intercourse with her whenever he so desires and kiss any organ of her body he wishes, and he may have intercourse with her naturally or unnaturally, provided that he does not expend semen to no purpose. -Mishnah Torah Issurei Biah 21:9
Once a woman came to Rabbi [Judah I] and said to him, "I have been raped." R. Judah: "But did you not find the experience pleasing?" [If you were a willing partner you are forbidden to your husband] The woman: "Suppose someone dipped his finger in honey and stuck it in your mouth on Yom Kippur, would not the experience distress you at first, but after a while please you?" So R. Judah accepted what she had to say." [He declared her permitted to her husband] - Bamidbar Rabbah 9:10
The intent of sexual relations is the preservation of the species and not only pleasure. The aspect of pleasure was introduced only to motivate the created beings toward that ultimate goal...The proof of this is that desire and pleasure cease after ejaculation; this was the entire goal for which our instincts were aroused. If the goal were pleasure, satisfaction would continue as long as man desired. - Rambam's commentary of Mishnah Sanhedrin 7:3
Rav Judah said in Rav's name: A man once conceived a passion for a certain woman, and his heart was consumed by his burning desire [his life being endangered thereby]. When the doctors were consulted, they said, 'His only cure is that she shall submit.' Thereupon the Sages said: 'Let him die rather than that she should yield.' Then [said the doctors]; 'let her stand nude before him;' [they answered] 'sooner let him die'. 'Then', said the doctors, 'let her converse with him from behind a fence'. 'Let him die,' the Sages replied 'rather than she should converse with him from behind a fence.' Now R. Jacob b. Idi and R. Samuel b. Nahmani dispute therein. One said that she was a married woman; the other that she was unmarried. Now, this is intelligible on the view, that she was a married woman, but on the latter, that she was unmarried, why such severity? — R. Papa said: Because of the disgrace to her family. R. Aha the son of R. Ika said: That the daughters of Israel may not be immorally dissolute. Then why not marry her? — Marriage would not assuage his passion, even as R. Isaac said: Since the destruction of the Temple, sexual pleasure has been taken [from those who practice it lawfully] and given to sinners, as it is written, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. (Proverbs 9:17) - Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 75a
“When in the course of cohabitation [the husbands] will hold your pearl in one and the kiln in one hand. You, however, should offer them the pearl, but the kiln you should not offer them until they are tormented, and only then should you offer it to them.”- Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 140
Here is how Rashi explains it: “When your husband caresses you to arouse your desire for intercourse and holds the breasts with one hand and “that place” with the other give the breasts [at first] to increase his passion and do not give him the place of intercourse too soon until his passion increases and he is in pain with desire.”
People are born lame because they [i.e.. their parents] overturned their table; dumb, because they kiss 'that place'; deaf, because they converse during intercourse; blind, because they look at 'that place'. - Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 20a
For by following entirely the guidance of lust, in the manner of fools, one loses one’s intellectual energy, injures one’s body, and perishes before one’s natural time; sights and cares multiply; there is an increase of envy, hatred and warfare, for the purpose of taking what another possesses. The cause of all of this is the circumstance that the ignorant considers physical enjoyment as an object to be sought for its own sake. - Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, Chapter 33
YETZER HATOV/ YETZER HARA
And God saw all that God had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Nahman said in R. Samuel’s name: “Very good” refers to the Good Desire [Yeitzer Hatov]; and “very good” refers to the Evil Desire [Yeitzer Hara]. Can then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extraordinary! But without the Evil Desire, however, one would not build a house, marry, beget children, or engage in business. - Bereishit Rabbah 9:7
“When a man has had sexual intercourse with a woman, both of them have to ritually cleanse themselves in a ritual bath, after which they remain ritually impure until evening” (Exodus 16:18). We must therefore conclude that it is not the act of engaging in marital relations which causes the ritual defilement. The problem is that the urge to engage in sexual relations is aroused by the evil urge [Yeitzer], and this being so, even when the act is performed in order to fulfill the commandment to have children, it is impossible not to derive some physical pleasure from performing this act, and this part of performing the commandment is what accounts for the need to purify oneself subsequently and thus atone for impure thoughts entertained during performance of the commandment, i.e. the act of impregnating one’s partner with one’s sperm. The same distinction applies to husbands who perform the act of marital intercourse with their respective wives, knowing that they thereby fulfill their Creator’s command. A husband who uses the opportunity of marital intercourse with his wife in order to satisfy his sexual urges, cannot lay claim to have done so as a way of “enthroning,” i.e. confirming that he recognizes God as his Master. - Kedushat Levi, Vayikra, Metzora 2
If a man sees that his evil inclination (Yeitzer) is conquering him, let him go to a place where he is unknown, cloak himself with black, and do as his heart desires...but let him not publicly profane God's name. - Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 40a
Angels [have intelligence and] serve their creator, and do not have a yeitzer hara. Animals, on the other hand, have yeitzer hara, but lack intelligence. The result is that angels cannot receive reward for their service, as they have no yeitzer hara to overcome, and animals cannot be punished for their actions, as they do not have the intelligence necessary to overcome their drives.
Therefore God found it necessary to create the human on the sixth day, and God created the human with both sides: God gave him a spiritual soul that enables him to recognize the Creator as does an angel, as the verse states: “God's candle is the human soul...” (Mishlei 27:20). And God created him in a body which is thick material, like a beast, to eat, drink, and sleep. This state of affairs gives rise to a constant struggle within a person all the days of his life. His animal nature incites him to desire this world like an animal, and the pure soul battles against him and shows him that he was not born for this, but to serve God like an angel. His soul further insists that even necessary physical needs, such as eating, drinking, and sleeping, should be done with intent to better serve God. - Complex Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 1:1-2
FROM SHMULEY BOTEACH'S KOSHER SEX
Life loses its magic when it loses its eroticism. That thirsty desire to uncover the mystery of all life has to teach us is noticeably absent from our being. It is undeniable that the metaphor chosen by the Bible (in Song of Songs) to convey these religious insights is that of a highly erotically charged relationship between two people.
God is a burning, raging vibrant inferno. Moses encounters God in a burning bush. The Jews are led through the wilderness of Sinai by a pillar of fire. And in our relationship with God, and with all things outside us, we need to find passion! The Song of Songs challenges us to feel for God and life what two people feel for each other in the heat of passion.
Great sex has you focused entirely on the body of your partner; kosher sex has you bound with the soul of your lover.
Great sex promotes physical exhilaration; kosher sex leads to spiritual integration.
Great sex satisfies a hormonal urge for sexual release; kosher sex caters to a spiritual need for human fusion with another soul.
Great sex consists entirely of motions; kosher sex consists of motions that elicit lasting emotions.
Great sex is making friction; kosher sex is making love.
Great sex is measured while you’re in bed together with your partner; kosher sex is measured in the period thereafter, when you are physically apart but emotionally close.
Great sex can be had even while all one’s barriers and inhibitions are still up; kosher sex is humans at their most vulnerable, when their defenses are down and their heart exposed.
Great sex is an end to an encounter; kosher sex is the beginning of a relationship.
R. Yohanan said: There is a small organ in man. When he starves it, it is satisfied, when he satisfies it, it is starving. - Sukkah 52b
It was taught at the school of Rabbi Ishmael, ‘Thou shall not commit adultery’ implies, Thou shall not practice masturbation either with hand or with foot. - Babylonian Talmud, Niddah 13b
The sexual organs are the most sensitive organs of the human being. They are not diplomats. They tell the truth. - Isaac Bashevis Singer