Thursday, February 5, 2015

New York Times' "The Orthodox Sex Guru" - furthered an inaccurate stereotype that Orthodox Jews are clueless about reality

Times of Israel     Last week, the paper of record contained a 3,000 word profile piece on Bat Sheva Marcus “Orthodox Sex Guru” who feeds into the hands of the New York Times by furthering the ignorant stereotype of unworldly Orthodox Jews clueless in the bedroom.
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You don’t have to be a guru to recognize that rather than remaining in the dark ages as Marcus describes, in the last few years, Orthodoxy has been advancing in healthy sexual awareness, building on our rich treasure trove of holy traditions surrounding the spousal relationship. 

The Orthodox community in Israel is paving the way for healthy discourse and learning surrounding intimacy and sexuality. Where Dr. Marcus finds it challenging to gather a crowd for sexuality training course, we are seeing the opposite here in Israel.

In my work as an educator and therapist, I have found that the words ‘Orthodoxy’ and ‘Sex’ are not incongruous, but describe a fast growing and important area. There are a number of burgeoning organizations that offer training in the topic of intimacy to a variety of medical professionals, as well as kallah and chatan teachers.

In addition to numerous private practitioners, organizations like the Eden Center, Merkaz Yahel, the Puah Institute, and Nishmat’s Yoatzot Halacha Program, to name a few, are all doing pioneering work in expanding the healthy discussion surrounding intimacy and sexuality within the religious community in Israel.

In America steps are definitely being taken in this direction with pioneers taking the field in the form of religious and community leaders, among them; Drs. Scott and Rivky Chudnoff as well as Chani and Shmuel Maybruch. [...]

23 comments :

  1. While it is true that a large segment of the modern orthodox world are confronting these issues and have a clear understanding of the basics of sexual health, a disturbingly large portion of the Orthodox world are trapped in the Victorian era, and really are clueless regarding basic sexual facts.


    For example, http://www.jewishsexuality.com/my-psychologist-says and http://www.guardureyes.com/gue/rtwerski/Can'tStop.asp

    There are thousands of orthodox Jews today that believe masturbation
    is an unhealthy, negative and destructive habit that destroys people and marriages.
    (Ironically it is the guilt that these
    views cause that is destructive)

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  2. Masturbation is an aveira d'oraysa, it is a violation of Torah Law. If cheeseburgers were healthy it would still be treif and assur to eat. Irregardless whether masturbation is unhealthy or healthy it is strictly forbidden.

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  3. Catskills1, you don't understand what I'm saying. Did you read what I wrote, and did you check out my examples?

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  4. restated for accuracy:

    While it is true that a large segment of the modern orthodox world has abandoned halacha in favor of the forbidden sexual activities promoted by a hedonistic western culture, there still remains a large portion of the orthodox world and even some in the modern orthodox world that retain a strong attachment to halacha and do not engage in forbidden sexual activities.

    For example, http://www.jewishsexuality.com... and http://www.guardureyes.com/gue...

    There are thousands of orthodox Jews today that do not care whether masturbation is a healthy or an unhealthy, negative and destructive habit that destroys people and marriages. Rather, they avoid it because it is a severe violation of Scriptural law.
    (Ironically it is this fealty to halacha that avoids the terrrible destruction wrought by pervasive attitudes one finds in western culture)

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  5. Adam HaRishon apparently has relations with all the animals

    before he found a shidduch.

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  6. Dave Berg z"l was a contributor to MAD Magazine. He had a feature called "The Lighter Side..." One cartoon panel went something like this: (1) A room full of young men of high school age, are hanging out in one friend's room. Each young man is trying to top the others by making exaggerated claims about his exploits with girls. (2) The mother of the boy at whose house they are gathered is annoyed at the loud voices and asks the boy's father to get the young men to lower the volume. (3) The father opens the door to the room, immediately understands the nature of the conversation, and makes an observation, "It's been my experience that those who speak about it the most do it the least." (4) The last frame has the mother asking her husband, "What did you say to get them to be so quiet?"

    "Healthy discourse and learning", "burgeoning organizations that offer training", "pioneering work in expanding the healthy". The more people overanalyze this or that component of something that has a myriad of components with subtle interplay, the more they detract. This leads to a vicious, downwards spiraling cycle. The more they detract, the more they analyze, and the more frustrated they become. People who talk about it excessively derive the least benefit.

    Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn counsels couples, before and after marriage. He taught a husband and wife that some of what they learned in Chasson and Kallah classes contradicts Halacha. He taught a man how to embrace his wife. All based on the Mesorah.

    I suspect that classes and manuals that are a mishmash of Torah and the latest fad in the realm of Z'nus turn unsuspecting Kallahs into cannon fodder for those who promote Gets on Demand.

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  7. And before God forbade bestiality.

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  8. I think he understood perfectly well, and responded correctly. Your ridiculous statement was not all that difficult to grasp.

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  9. No, sorry you both don't know what I am talking about, and you actually prove my point. I NEVER said anything about halachah. I agree we can't change halacha.
    I think people have way too much baggage when it comes to disscusing the M word.
    It is difficult to have a normal civilized conversation about it.

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  10. Asher pihem diber shavFebruary 8, 2015 at 2:19 AM

    It is actually quite comical that the orthodox community is the "clueless one" about sex. Do you mean we are clueless about the fun of teen pregnancies ? Or is it the single parent, child out of wedlock, we are missing out on ? Perhaps we don't know the joys of herpes and HIV ?

    Sex is a natural instinct in humans and animals. Based on our healthy birth rate, I think we've figured it out, thank you. Bat Sheva, we got it covered. NYTimes we are doing just fine.

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  11. Apparently no one but yourself understands your comment. What was the point of your statement, especially considering that motzi zera is forbidden and will remain forbidden?

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  12. Dave Stern, we will quote your original post:

    While it is true that a large segment of the modern orthodox world are confronting these issues and have a clear understanding of the basics of sexual health, a disturbingly large portion of the Orthodox world are trapped in the Victorian era, and really are clueless
    regarding basic sexual facts.

    For example, http://www.jewishsexuality.com... and http://www.guardureyes.com/gue...

    There are thousands of orthodox Jews today that believe masturbation is an unhealthy, negative and destructive habit that destroys people and marriages.

    (Ironically it is the guilt that these views cause that is destructive)

    Dave, the website to which you refer quotes the Rambam. Are you saying that the Rambam had an incorrect attitude towards masturbation? Are you saying that the Rambam was clueless about sexual facts? Do you believe that masturbation is healthy? You agree that we can;t change halacha? Does this mean that you would change halacha if you could do so? The truth is that you said what you said, which is totally against Judaism and the Torah, and you are somehow trying to back away from it.

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  13. The Rambam used the scientific knowledge of his time and was a brilliant physician, if he were alive today i am sure he would be one of tbe best in the world.

    He did not have accurate scientific knowledge regarding sexuality.

    do you believe "Whoever indulges in sexual excess becomes prematurely aged, his strength wanes, his eyesight becomes dim.... Plus he becomes susceptible to numerous other diseases...."



    Yes I believe masturbation is generally healthy, especially when single.


    I also believe you cant change halacha.


    What is heretical about my words?

    ReplyDelete
  14. 1. There is a principle across the Talmud that "Deracheha Darchei Noam," meaning that the ways of the Torah are the ways of pleasantry. Saying that "You can't change halacha" implies that there is something wrong with the halacha and that we would change it if we could. This statement could be taken as heretical.

    2. Yes, the Rambam was a physician. However, everything in the Rambam's Mishneh Torah has a source from Chazal. The Malbim wrote a sefer called Alim Letrufah giving a Talmudic source for each one of the Rambam's pieces of medical advice.

    3. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that would disprove what the Rambam said with regards to masturbation. And I think that we can agree that there are many areas of medicine that are yet to be understood completely by the researchers. And how reliable is the base of scientific knowledge regarding sexuality anyway? Masters and Johnson? The Kinsey report? Please.

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  15. @Sorry Eddie - a rabbinic takana for a specific condition is not comparable to a case of a doreissa halacha

    A more relevant case would be whether you would want Shabbos or Kashrus to change because you feel they are too much trouble or too much expense.

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  16. @narmer - you should reread what I posted. It is clear that Rav Zilberstein deferred to Rav Eliashiv's judgment in this case after he apparently asked for Rav Eliashiv's views. Rav Zilberstein regular notes where Rav Eliashiv or Rav Kaniefsky were consulted and disagreed with his view - and he deferred to their judgment.

    Bottom line it is not just this blog which is concerned with Rav Eliashiv's views - it is also Rav Zilberstein!

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  17. Eddie, please do me a favor. Someone of your intelligence should understand that I was not referring to cancelling a gezeira. I hope that we can be in agreement that Dave was expressing his desire to permit masturbation because of its "wonderful health benefits" in contradistinction to the explicit prohibition by halacha.

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  18. I'm pretty sure you meant to post this on the other thread.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I did write "The above comments refer to halacha in general and not the specific discussion of these posts."
    There is debate as to whether the specific issur (which I did not address) is d'oraita or d'rabbanan.
    But it seems that in principle you do agree with me, that halacha does change and it is not heretical to want or call for such a change.

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  20. @Eddie you are conflating many things. Doreissa versus Derabbanon. halacha changing verus the desire to get rid of a halacha whether it is indicative of feeling mitzvos are burdens or whether the situation has changed and therefore certain rabbinic laws are not as productive as they were. Different standards of kashrus are not the same thing.

    Bottom line - before plowing ahead please have a clear idea of what the issue is.

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  21. Both Nat and DT - i was referring to " Saying that "You can't change halacha" implies that there is something
    wrong with the halacha and that we would change it if we could. This
    statement could be taken as heretical." as a general statement, and not relating to the particular issue at hand (forgive the pun).
    I am only referring to Rabbinic decrees, which form about 99% of halacha.
    The pint is that Chazal were "chas" = considerate of Israel's wealth in poskening halacha. Thus to say that a halacha is a burden whether economic or not is not heretical. D'oraita there are not that many laws we have to keep today. I agree that we cannot say Shabbat is a burden etc - this is precisely the Reform philosophy.
    Another example of Kashrus is R' Yose HaGalilli - who did not keep basar/chalav when it relates to chicken or fowl. If someone said that it is a burden, and if only we could go back to the days, it would not be accepted in halacha, but it equally would not be apikorsus either.
    Another example is yom tov sheni b'galuta. For soem it could be an economic burden to take 2 days off work for a month. One cannot call them apikorsim if the burden is too much for them that they wish it was only 1 day.
    Deracheiha Darchei Noam refers to the Torah Sh'Bikhtav. Chazal were very careful on imposing excess gezeiros, and we see in Avot D'Rabbi Nathan that this is how Adam and/or Chava sinned by making the first gezeira in history - making the issur of negia for the Tree.

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  22. Eddie: But we weren't talking about that. If you have some kind of axe to grind, please insert it when it is relevant or write your own guest post. Please stop hijacking other posts with your progressive agendas. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "progressive agendas" -
    I cited rishonim , and that is the source of my "progressive" agenda

    ReplyDelete

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