Monique Susskind Goldberg
Sex in Judaism
Dear Rabbi Monique Susskind Goldberg
My name is Alicia Haber, I am an Art Historian and Curator from Montevideo, Uruguay, I am Jewish, and have been to Israel many times and travel there frequently.
I am interested in your opinion now about one subject matter.
I do want to know what is your opinion in regard to sexual practices, sex in general and sexual pleasure from a Jewish point of view. The Catholics have been condemning sexual pleasure for centuries and lust is among what they call the 7 deadly sins. We live in the Western World and to a certain extent are influenced by their thoughts, even if we do not want to be.
I am focusing very much on issues in Judaism for the last five years not only because I am Jewish but because I am very much interested, as an Historian and as an Art Historian, in Jewish Artists from South America and in Jewish issues in general. I am learning Hebrew again (actually I speak Hebrew, but I am trying to revive it since I forgot a lot), I lived in Israel for a year many years ago (Majon le Madrijim), and travel there frequently, and I am deeply Jewish. Every day I want to know more about my people: History, Ethics, Literature, Bible, Talmud, etc. Step by Step.
Thank you so much. Looking forward for your answer and our dialogue Todá Rabá, Kol Tov, Le Shalom
Thank you for your question.
Jewish Law limits sexual relationship to the framework of marriage.
For example, according to Biblical Law (see Exodus 22:15-16), if a man seduces a woman who is virgin, he must marry her or if the woman's father does not agreed to the wedding, he must pay compensations to the father. And if a man seduces a woman who was already betrothed, both are put to death (see Deuteronomy 22:22).
However, we learn from the story of Judah and Tamar (Genesis Chapter 38), that the Torah accepts the existence of prostitutes (kedesha).
In the framework of marriage, sex and sexual pleasure is not at all considered as a sin by Jewish Law, quite the contrary.
As I wrote elsewhere, in a Jewish marriage, man and woman are supposed to enjoy each other. A few of the seven blessings recited at the Jewish wedding speak about the joy bride and groom bring one another. For example:
You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, who created joy and celebration, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship...
According to Jewish Law, a husband is responsible for providing his wife with food, clothing and sexual relations (see Exodus 21:10). On the sexual obligations of the husband to his wife, see Shulhan Arukh Even Ha'ezer chap. 76. This sexual obligation is not only for procreation. The primary purpose of sexual relations is to reinforce the loving marital bond between husband and wife.
No act is forbidden between husband and wife. See Shulhan Arukh Even Ha'ezer 25:2 especially in the Rama who states for example that the husband is allowed to have intercourse with his wife at any time, and kiss her body where he desires.
Judaism sees in the sexual act between husband and wife a way to accomplish one of the foremost purposes of marriage, which is intimate long-term companionship (not just bearing children in a family context).
Rabbi Monique Susskind Goldberg