Jewish Sex- Between The Sheets

WestbankMama made a comment on Shira’s blog that irked me. However, I want to make something clear. I have no personal issue with WBM just a disagreement on some ideological points.

One more remark. This post is not meant to be a scholarly essay citing chapter and verse. It is just five minutes of my thoughts. And now the comment:

As far as we frummies and the “racy stuff” – I think that Orthodox Jews have a much more realistic idea of the power of sexuality than other streams of Judaism, and that is why we follow a stricter set of rules about the separation of the sexes (yichud, modest dress, etc.)

There is a stream of thought that ties into this that suggests that the sexual urge is so strong that people cannot control it. The problem that I have with this idea is that it infantilizes people, men in particular. There is an abdication of responsibility for our own actions that goes with it.

Instead of accepting responsibility for our own actions we resort to extreme measures to prevent impure thoughts and forbidden behavior.

Conceptually there are aspects of kol isha, negiah and tznius dress that make sense to me, but in practice they go too far and do us a disservice.

Your imagination can take you any place you want to go. A long skirt that hides shapely legs is no match for a persons imagination. Separation of sexes minimizes some distractions but does not teach us how to handle distraction. Instead it teaches that we cannot handle it. I find that to be offensive.

Men are capable of choosing to control our urges. We don’t have to live in a monastery to do so.

And that is my five minute rambling on this topic.

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  1. Jack's Shack March 11, 2007 at 9:29 pm


    The issue to me is very simple. Do we say that men can control our urges or do we say that we are incapable of controlling our urges.

    I believe that we can and that the overwhelming majority of us do. My issue lies solely in the false assertion that we cannot.

  2. Soccer Dad March 11, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Sorry Jack,
    I have to disagree here.
    Scantily clad women are used to sell everything from beer to cars. Clearly someone on Madison Ave understands the allure of sex.
    And I think that the Gemora that Shira cites proves rather than disproves the point.
    Obviously sexual attraction is natural and necessary. But without limits it can be corrupting.
    Do the limits always help? No. But that doesn’t mean that they should be discounted.

  3. Jack's Shack March 7, 2007 at 8:17 am

    as long as they aren’t telling me and my kids what to do. We won’t be joining the club, so no worries there.



    I hear you.


    Again, I agree.

  4. Shira Salamone March 7, 2007 at 12:35 am

    I appreciate the power of sexuality. I just have a problem with a tendency among some in the Orthodox community to put the onus on one gender to protect the other from that power. I’d prefer to see a more balanced attitude.

  5. Another meshugannah mommy March 6, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    I concur with Stacey. I am all about people doing their own thing – if you want to be shomer negiah, dress tzinusly, pray separately and ban women for singing in front of men – have at it. Just don’t tell me that I have no appreciation for the power of sexuality because I do not believe that women are responsible for men’s behavior.

  6. Stacey March 6, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    As a member of a non-Orthodox “stream of Judaism,” I take issue with said comment.

    Just because I don’t find meaning in the stricter rules and way of life that the Orthodox follow does not mean I have no (or a lesser) appreciation for the power of sexuality. That is ludicrous.

  7. Paula March 6, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    I think the modesty rules are silly, hypocritical, infantalizing, etc. But I don’t care if people want to follow them (or not tear TP on Saturdays, LOL), as long as they aren’t telling me and my kids what to do. We won’t be joining the club, so no worries there. 🙂

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