Kosher Sex - Chat with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Maintaining Passion in Marriage

Host says:
Rabbi Shmuel Boteach, Director of Oxford University's L'Chaim Society, is our guest today. He is the author of Kosher Sex: a recipe for passion and intimacy. Our topic today is marriage and sex in Judaism.

Thank you Rabbi Boteach for joining us here today. You can now make an opening statement before we let chat participants ask their questions.

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Thank you for inviting me to join you online today.
I would like to start the chat off with the following statement, and then let you ask questions from there.

Monica Lewinsky brings back to our minds the ancient stereotype of the woman as sexual predator. All ancient texts warn man than the female seductresses would try to steal his innocence and his purity of character. Of course, today everyone would laugh at that stereotype, and argue that it is men who are predatory, and women who are going off sex.

I contend that the main reason for this is that for a woman sex is a fully-integrated experience of body, mind and soul, and since they are now being asked to separate those entities sex is becoming boring to them. They're now seeing hugging, cuddling, romantic walks as real acts of love, and sex is really a physiological, biological endeavour.

Host says:
What should a woman do when she feels her husband is losing interest in her sexually and too often looking and fantasizing about other women?


Rabbi_Boteach says:
Men only lose interest in their wives when they are convinced that their wives are totally devoted to them. Therefore, a wife who feels that her husband is losing interest should withdraw slightly and show great feminine independence so that their husbands have to seduce them instead of seducing strangers.


A women who thinks that her husband is not focused on her during sex should not capitulate having sex with her husband. In other words, the general approach is that a wife must always remain mysterious and slightly out of her husband's grasp so that he will be slightly jealous. Jealousy, although at times destructive, is a beneficial and necessary emotion in a marriage when used in proper doses.

Yael says:
Isn't that too much of an effort? Why does she have to see he doesn't loose interest?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Because men have very limited sexual attention spans. Men are attracted physiologically, while women are attracted psychologically. Also, men need novelty in a relationship. In the same way that he has his responsibilities, one of hers is to create novelty for him.

RThumper says:
I noticed that the word jealous comes out. What if you are not jealous of what your wife does and have felt that she is overly jealous towards other women for no reason?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
By all means, jealousy must be kept in moderation. But I see nothing wrong with a wife being possessive. In fact, I believe that a wife should indeed police her husband. Even men who love their wives are not naturally monogamous. Maintaining Passion in Marriage Host says:
Rabbi Shmuel Boteach, Director of Oxford University's L'Chaim Society, is our guest today. He is the author of Kosher Sex: a recipe for passion and intimacy. Our topic today is marriage and sex in Judaism.

Thank you Rabbi Boteach for joining us here today. You can now make an opening statement before we let chat participants ask their questions.

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Thank you for inviting me to join you online today. I would like to start the chat off with the following statement, and then let you ask questions from there.

Monica Lewinsky brings back to our minds the ancient stereotype of the woman as sexual predator. All ancient texts warn man than the female seductresses would try to steal his innocence and his purity of character. Of course, today everyone would laugh at that stereotype, and argue that it is men who are predatory, and women who are going off sex.

I contend that the main reason for this is that for a woman sex is a fully-integrated experience of body, mind and soul, and since they are now being asked to separate those entities sex is becoming boring to them. They're now seeing hugging, cuddling, romantic walks as real acts of love, and sex is really a physiological, biological endeavour.

Host says:
What should a woman do when she feels her husband is losing interest in her sexually and too often looking and fantasizing about other women?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Men only lose interest in their wives when they are convinced that their wives are totally devoted to them. Therefore, a wife who feels that her husband is losing interest should withdraw slightly and show great feminine independence so that their husbands have to seduce them instead of seducing strangers.

A women who thinks that her husband is not focused on her during sex should not capitulate having sex with her husband. In other words, the general approach is that a wife must always remain mysterious and slightly out of her husband's grasp so that he will be slightly jealous. Jealousy, although at times destructive, is a beneficial and necessary emotion in a marriage when used in proper doses.

Yael says:
Isn't that too much of an effort? Why does she have to see he doesn't loose interest?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Because men have very limited sexual attention spans. Men are attracted physiologically, while women are attracted psychologically. Also, men need novelty in a relationship. In the same way that he has his responsibilities, one of hers is to create novelty for him.

RThumper says:
I noticed that the word jealous comes out. What if you are not jealous of what your wife does and have felt that she is overly jealous towards other women for no reason?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
By all means, jealousy must be kept in moderation. But I see nothing wrong with a wife being possessive. In fact, I believe that a wife should indeed police her husband. Even men who love their wives are not naturally monogamous. Shappy says:
Women need novelty in a relationship as well.

Rabbi_Boteach says:
True, but their novelty comes about vertically, through deeper levels of the male personality. But men think that novelty means new flesh. They see novelty as coming horizontally. That's their mistake. But a wife must still grapple with it.

Host says:
What do you mean by "turning a marriage into an illicit affair" and how can couples do this?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Whereas marriage often loses its spark and novelty, statistics show that adultery retains its interest, for couples who are having an illicit affair. What I do is teach couples how to take the best elements of adultery and bring it into their marriage, for example, separation and renewal, jealousy, etc.

Phantasea says:
What if the man and woman’s sexual IQ are not on the same level, and say the woman wishes more sex in the marriage then she is getting from her husband, then what?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I believe that sexual incompatibility is a myth created by lazy men who don't take the time to stimulate their wives. The same is true when a man says that he isn't as interested in sex as his wife, often he is saying that he is losing interest in his wife. This is a problem with the marriage, not only with one of them.

Host says:
How does the outlook on sex differ in Judaism than in other religions?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Judaism has a very positive view of sex, referring to it as knowledge. Sex in Judaism is the essence of marriage because it brings forth our deepest emotions, unlike conversation or shopping. G-d designed for us to be lovers, not music or museum lovers.
Host says:
What is the importance of the purity laws to a good sex?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
They are extremely important. They allow for a rebuilding of our libidinous reserve. Also, they allow for two weeks of physical intimacy, followed by two weeks of emotional intimacy. So that we can be lovers for two weeks, and then best friends for two weeks, rather than trying to do both simultaneously.

Phantasea says:
Yes, but is it not true that in orthodox Judaism sex is thought of only as a vehicle to procreate?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Absolutely not. That's Catholicism. In Judaism, the purpose of sex is to sew two strangers together as one flesh.

Host says:
Are birth controls allowed in Judaism?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Yes, if the couple already has a boy and a girl, or if the mother is suffering mental duress, etc. But we love children. Condoms are not allowed, serving as they do as an artificial barrier to intimacy.

Vivax says:
Rabbi-how are you coping with the storm of criticism directed against you?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Criticism comes with the job. It sucks, but that's life.

Host Susan_host1 says:
lol

Host says:
Do you think Judaism is a sexist religion?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
No, Judaism is a deeply feminine religion. It believes that the feminine nurturing model is the way all people should live. Our great men throughout the ages were feminine figures, teachers, scholars, rather than warriors. Purity Laws, Birth Control, Sexism Shappy says:
Women need novelty in a relationship as well.

Rabbi_Boteach says:
True, but their novelty comes about vertically, through deeper levels of the male personality. But men think that novelty means new flesh. They see novelty as coming horizontally. That's their mistake. But a wife must still grapple with it.

Host says:
What do you mean by "turning a marriage into an illicit affair" and how can couples do this?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Whereas marriage often loses its spark and novelty, statistics show that adultery retains its interest, for couples who are having an illicit affair. What I do is teach couples how to take the best elements of adultery and bring it into their marriage, for example, separation and renewal, jealousy, etc.

Phantasea says:
What if the man and woman’s sexual IQ are not on the same level, and say the woman wishes more sex in the marriage then she is getting from her husband, then what?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I believe that sexual incompatibility is a myth created by lazy men who don't take the time to stimulate their wives. The same is true when a man says that he isn't as interested in sex as his wife, often he is saying that he is losing interest in his wife. This is a problem with the marriage, not only with one of them.

Host says:
How does the outlook on sex differ in Judaism than in other religions?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Judaism has a very positive view of sex, referring to it as knowledge. Sex in Judaism is the essence of marriage because it brings forth our deepest emotions, unlike conversation or shopping. G-d designed for us to be lovers, not music or museum lovers.
Host says:
What is the importance of the purity laws to a good sex?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
They are extremely important. They allow for a rebuilding of our libidinous reserve. Also, they allow for two weeks of physical intimacy, followed by two weeks of emotional intimacy. So that we can be lovers for two weeks, and then best friends for two weeks, rather than trying to do both simultaneously.

Phantasea says:
Yes, but is it not true that in orthodox Judaism sex is thought of only as a vehicle to procreate?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Absolutely not. That's Catholicism. In Judaism, the purpose of sex is to sew two strangers together as one flesh.

Host says:
Are birth controls allowed in Judaism?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Yes, if the couple already has a boy and a girl, or if the mother is suffering mental duress, etc. But we love children. Condoms are not allowed, serving as they do as an artificial barrier to intimacy.

Vivax says:
Rabbi-how are you coping with the storm of criticism directed against you?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Criticism comes with the job. It sucks, but that's life.

Host Susan_host1 says:
lol

Host says:
Do you think Judaism is a sexist religion?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
No, Judaism is a deeply feminine religion. It believes that the feminine nurturing model is the way all people should live. Our great men throughout the ages were feminine figures, teachers, scholars, rather than warriors. Host Susan_host1 says:
What should happen if one member of the couple cheats on the other?
Rabbi_Boteach says:
If a man cheats on his wife and sincerely regrets what he has done, and repents amply, I believe that he should be forgiven. With women it is more complicated because women become more emotionally involved with their lovers than men.

Lynne1 says:
I have just read that it is in a man to have to find as many partners as possible to be able to produce as many off spring as he can, and that a woman has to find the strongest and best to have children with - how does this fit in to the monogamous marriage?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Monogamy may not be natural, but then it is the best way to live, and caters to our emotional need to find a soul mate. Not everything that is natural is good. It is natural to be lazy. But G-d's intention is for people to be monogamous, that's why he created Adam and Eve. All experiments for open marriage throughout the generations, to accommodate sexual urges for strangers without disrupting the couple's intimacy, have failed. A good case in point is the life of Bertrand Russel.

Host says:
When is a good time to start sexual education?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I don't believe in explicit sexual education. By talking about something, you excite interest in it. But teaching laws of modesty, and laws that allow us to master our sexuality, should be taught from age fourteen.

Host says:
What do you think about masturbation?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Masturbation in a marriage is very destructive, because it leads to the marital partners losing their sexual steam without it bringing them closer. The strongest human need is our sexual needs. This should be used to our advantage in marriage.

Host says:
Rabbi, what about masturbation before the marriage?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Well, it’s very similar. It means that I can't hold back a sexual urge. So rather than allowing it to lead me to a soul mate, I just rid myself of the urge through masturbation. I realize that we have to be realistic. But everything in moderation. I want people to have real happiness through finding a permanent and passionate sexual partner.

Vivax says:
Is there good sex education in Yeshivas?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Well, the Yeshivas basically try and segregate the sexes. I think this is a good thing. Because boys and girls remain mysterious to one another, thereby heightening attraction. I believe that this is the reason that Yeshiva people marry earlier. They are not afraid of commitment.

Host says:
Should a husband and wife share their sexual fantasies, or could that ruin the mystery?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I believe that it's a good idea, although not for everyone. It should specifically be used when a couple's sex life is on the brink. Having said this, a husband and wife should not be sexually inhibited around each other. Affairs, Monogamy, Masturbation Host Susan_host1 says:
What should happen if one member of the couple cheats on the other?
Rabbi_Boteach says:
If a man cheats on his wife and sincerely regrets what he has done, and repents amply, I believe that he should be forgiven. With women it is more complicated because women become more emotionally involved with their lovers than men.

Lynne1 says:
I have just read that it is in a man to have to find as many partners as possible to be able to produce as many off spring as he can, and that a woman has to find the strongest and best to have children with - how does this fit in to the monogamous marriage?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Monogamy may not be natural, but then it is the best way to live, and caters to our emotional need to find a soul mate. Not everything that is natural is good. It is natural to be lazy. But G-d's intention is for people to be monogamous, that's why he created Adam and Eve. All experiments for open marriage throughout the generations, to accommodate sexual urges for strangers without disrupting the couple's intimacy, have failed. A good case in point is the life of Bertrand Russel.

Host says:
When is a good time to start sexual education?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I don't believe in explicit sexual education. By talking about something, you excite interest in it. But teaching laws of modesty, and laws that allow us to master our sexuality, should be taught from age fourteen.

Host says:
What do you think about masturbation?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Masturbation in a marriage is very destructive, because it leads to the marital partners losing their sexual steam without it bringing them closer. The strongest human need is our sexual needs. This should be used to our advantage in marriage.

Host says:
Rabbi, what about masturbation before the marriage?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Well, it’s very similar. It means that I can't hold back a sexual urge. So rather than allowing it to lead me to a soul mate, I just rid myself of the urge through masturbation. I realize that we have to be realistic. But everything in moderation. I want people to have real happiness through finding a permanent and passionate sexual partner.

Vivax says:
Is there good sex education in Yeshivas?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Well, the Yeshivas basically try and segregate the sexes. I think this is a good thing. Because boys and girls remain mysterious to one another, thereby heightening attraction. I believe that this is the reason that Yeshiva people marry earlier. They are not afraid of commitment.

Host says:
Should a husband and wife share their sexual fantasies, or could that ruin the mystery?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I believe that it's a good idea, although not for everyone. It should specifically be used when a couple's sex life is on the brink. Having said this, a husband and wife should not be sexually inhibited around each other. Vivax says:
Rabbi, is this the first online live chat you have held? Do you plan to hold more?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Yes, the first. If there are people interested, why not?

Host says:
Does pre-marital sex lessen the chances of being happily married?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I think so. It makes us more objective about sex. A man should not be able to answer whether or not his wife is good in bed. Only, whether or not he enjoys sex with her. Men and women today are far too great experts in sex. We are becoming far too objective.

Helenmalcolm says:
Why is being objective about sex not good?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
It is good to be objective about your children? There are those areas of life which are fundamentally subjective. Sex, is one of the those areas. It’s about putting ourselves on autopilot, behaving instinctually, not evaluating each other's performance.

Host says:
Rabbi - are Jews allowed to visit prostitutes?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
No. Don’t believe any balderdash that says then can. Judaism demands that all men and women experience sex the best way. And that is, where they can have really uninhibited sex because they are devoted to each other. They are not ashamed to be around one another because they are totally committed. They are not afraid of exposing their soft underbelly. Many people today have sex with full body armor, with all their inhibitions intact, with their defenses up.

Host says:
What about Yehuda and Tamar?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
It seems that he raped her. But whatever the story is, it certainly wasn't allowed.

Host says:
Rabbi-what do you think of cyber-sex and phone-sex?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
They may be fun while they last, but very, very cold and disappointing when they end. That's why I'm opposed. I want people to enjoy sex so that they use it to their advantage in marriage. If we don't, what glue do we have to keep a man and woman under the same roof for the duration of their lives.

Host says:
what about oral sex?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Now you're getting controversial. I got into a lot of trouble on that one. Basically, the Torah prohibits intentional destruction of seed. But, I contend that oral sex does not constitute this since the couple is not looking to frustrate the impregnation process but rather simply to do something new so that their sex doesn't become boring. The most important thing is always to have a healthy sex life with your spouse.

SSB says:
Do you really think sex is a major Jewish topic today?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Well, Judaism should respond to all the great questions of existence. And this, is certainly one of the greatest. The Bible deals with the subject openly and in a very mature way.

Host says:
Thank you Rabbi Boteach for volunteering your time and energy to join us online today. Do you want to make a closing statement?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
For any relationship to be successful, what we need is the coming together as opposites. We want to be best friends on the one hand, and lovers on the other hand. Friendship is a love like water - it is predictable, soothing, calm. The other is a love like fire - it's consuming, it thrives on novelty, it flickers constantly.

How can fire and water come together? It's specifically by using sex, or passion, as the road to intimacy - specifically when sex is used to bring forth our deepest emotions to co coalesce, otherwise they remain permanently at war.

Host says:
Thank you very much Rabbi Boteach. The chat was informative and fun. Thank you all for joining us in chat today too. Pre-Marital Sex, Prostitution, Cyber-Sex Vivax says:
Rabbi, is this the first online live chat you have held? Do you plan to hold more?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Yes, the first. If there are people interested, why not?

Host says:
Does pre-marital sex lessen the chances of being happily married?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
I think so. It makes us more objective about sex. A man should not be able to answer whether or not his wife is good in bed. Only, whether or not he enjoys sex with her. Men and women today are far too great experts in sex. We are becoming far too objective.

Helenmalcolm says:
Why is being objective about sex not good?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
It is good to be objective about your children? There are those areas of life which are fundamentally subjective. Sex, is one of the those areas. It’s about putting ourselves on autopilot, behaving instinctually, not evaluating each other's performance.

Host says:
Rabbi - are Jews allowed to visit prostitutes?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
No. Don’t believe any balderdash that says then can. Judaism demands that all men and women experience sex the best way. And that is, where they can have really uninhibited sex because they are devoted to each other. They are not ashamed to be around one another because they are totally committed. They are not afraid of exposing their soft underbelly. Many people today have sex with full body armor, with all their inhibitions intact, with their defenses up.

Host says:
What about Yehuda and Tamar?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
It seems that he raped her. But whatever the story is, it certainly wasn't allowed.

Host says:
Rabbi-what do you think of cyber-sex and phone-sex?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
They may be fun while they last, but very, very cold and disappointing when they end. That's why I'm opposed. I want people to enjoy sex so that they use it to their advantage in marriage. If we don't, what glue do we have to keep a man and woman under the same roof for the duration of their lives.

Host says:
what about oral sex?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Now you're getting controversial. I got into a lot of trouble on that one. Basically, the Torah prohibits intentional destruction of seed. But, I contend that oral sex does not constitute this since the couple is not looking to frustrate the impregnation process but rather simply to do something new so that their sex doesn't become boring. The most important thing is always to have a healthy sex life with your spouse.

SSB says:
Do you really think sex is a major Jewish topic today?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
Well, Judaism should respond to all the great questions of existence. And this, is certainly one of the greatest. The Bible deals with the subject openly and in a very mature way.

Host says:
Thank you Rabbi Boteach for volunteering your time and energy to join us online today. Do you want to make a closing statement?

Rabbi_Boteach says:
For any relationship to be successful, what we need is the coming together as opposites. We want to be best friends on the one hand, and lovers on the other hand. Friendship is a love like water - it is predictable, soothing, calm. The other is a love like fire - it's consuming, it thrives on novelty, it flickers constantly.

How can fire and water come together? It's specifically by using sex, or passion, as the road to intimacy - specifically when sex is used to bring forth our deepest emotions to co coalesce, otherwise they remain permanently at war.

Host says:
Thank you very much Rabbi Boteach. The chat was informative and fun. Thank you all for joining us in chat today too.