Friday, June 12, 2009

Proper "Chosson and Kallah Classes"

Many young women, once they are engaged, usually go to a "kallah" class where they're supposed to learn the various halachos of niddah. Depending on who's teaching the class, the young women may also learn other tidbits such as which sex positions are allowed ("missionary"), acts that aren't (oral sex, male masturbation), and even what to think at the moment the man ejaculates.

How about enjoying yourself?

Unfortunately, the view of sex within the frum community has become rediculous and untenable. Sex needs to be taught and young couples need to understand that sexuality must be explored, together with a willing partner. How anyone can mandate what happens in the privacy of a couple's home is ludicrous. There is no "spilled seed" within a married couple's bedroom. Ther ought to be nothing off-limits.

Our rabbis teach us that sex is primarily for procreation. Why don't they also teach that sex is great recreation? Granted, Judaism places great emphasis on raising families - as it should. However, I maintain that many a failed marriage would have been altogther more successful had the newlyweds been granted "permission" to explore their sexuality together. I am willing to bet any amount that the vast majority of divorces take place because of sexual incompatibility. One partner wants to try something and the other is afraid to perpetrate an avairah. I say, as long as nobody gets hurt, why not?

If you don't think sex is a major issue, take a look at Craigslist or Otherwise frum Jews are starting to find ways to help themselves. If our rabbis don't step up to the challenge, the future won't be so bright.


  1. To me, this whole problem was started by the Kabbalists and their emphasis on spilling seed, which was then codified in the Shulchan Aruch. From googling, it seems Maimonides also favored that approach, but the emphasis in the Shulchan Aruch is clearly Kabbalistic in nature. Also, the Shulchan Aruch's prohibition on a man going down on a woman, since I can't think of the actual scientific term, was the worst idea ever. It has no basis in anything whatsoever besides the fact that he may have tried it once and his wife smelled awful down there, which is no surprise, given that in his time, a bath once a month was a luxury.

    There should not be anything wrong with ejaculation through oral sex for men, at least it seems logically so, and Jews shouldn't have a problem with it, so long as it's with a married partner. Unfortunately, because of textual precedent which is very, and I might so say poorly, sourced in the Tanach, many sexual avenues are forbidden to couples. Isaiah 1:15, which it appears that the Rambam sourced, first off, has nothing to do with seed emission, in the pshat. Also, it seems pretty clear that the sin of Yehuda's sons was the unwillingness to fulfill the institution of Levirite marriage and take the place of their brother with Tamar. If anything, it teaches than anyone who make a commitment with, you should not avoid fathering children with them, especially if you're gonna have intercourse with them. As a great poet said "If you liked it, then you should've put a ring on it." If you have a feeling, go through with the commitment all the way.

    The rabbis are not gonna step up to this challenge and revoke these principles, I'm pretty sure. I would be seriously surprised if it happened. I also seriously doubt that the institution of sex therapists will become accepted in any form of Orthodoxy in the recent future. I can be proven wrong, but seeing the uncomfortability with sexual issues, sex therapists, which are probably the best solution to these problems in addition with loosening on seed spilling mores, are a long ways away from being accepted.

  2. LM,

    First of all, thank you for the well thought-out post. Whereas I'm approaching this from an emotional perspective, you seem to be taking a more halachic tone. (Could be because I don't have the "learning" background you do...)

    Second, the concept of "spilling seed" - like so many so-called medical issues addressed by Judaism - is plainly silly. Nature does not - as some say - change, and certainly did not change from the time of the Talmud. That a man can "use up" his viable seed is ludicrous. (Maybe they meant that a man should wait a day or two, so he could have a more forceful - and effective - ejaculation.)

    Anyway, great comments and I hope to hear from you some more and we continue along this path.

  3. Regarding oral sex - my spouse and I were taught in our chatan/kallah classes that oral sex is allowed, as is anal sex, so long as the husband ejaculates into the wife's orifice.

    To LonelyMan: The proper term for "a man going down on a woman" is cunnilingus.

    To Jewish Married Sex: there is such a thing as "using up" one's "viable seed", but it's a temporary state. The ideal ejaculate is around three days after the last one, at which point the sperm is at its most active and ready to fertilize the egg. As far as modern medicine's relationship with Talmudic Judaism... You'd be amazed at some of the idiotic things I've come across, almost all of them dealing with sex. (Most of the rest are just added prohibitions in Kashrut, usually dealing with fish. Since then, science has discovered bacteria.)

  4. Just a tiny note on the medical proof of why masturbation is good for you. Apparently, and do correct me if I am wrong, according to some researches and experiments it has been shown that semen that stays in the body for over a week becomes damaged and weak. Eventually, the body recycles it but a better way to ensure you have a full load of fresh and healthy semen is to simply regularly eject the aging semen.
    Assuming your wife is very cooperative with this medical theory, you may have 2 weeks of bliss a month but the other 2... Nida prevents you from restocking fresh semen. Why would religion force that on anyone?

  5. Three days is what I've heard from medical people I know and trust. My spouse and I can wait three days, but by Day Four, we're ready for more!

  6. Anon - I have never read about such an approach to ejaculation but please note that unprotected (without condom) anal sex can be VERY dangerous to a man and his equipment. However you turn it, even a thorough duche cannot prevent the risk of fecal matter finding its way into the urethra. And you don't want that. Trust me.

    And here's another question I couldn't ask at my Kallah classes (at the risk of being kicked out on my behind) - what is the approach toward female to male anal penetration? Granted, we are not equiped with a penis, being women and all, but anal penetration is far more pleasant for men than it is for women due to the location of the prostate. In my past occupation as dominatrix I've specialized in this and had the experience described as a continuous orgasm without ejaculation and in more poetic cases as a rain of falling stars behind one's eyes.
    An old running joke with dommes is that God must be gay to put the male g-spot up their anus. I prefer not to argue the gender and sexual preference of deities. :)

  7. As far as I know, there is no prohibition of male anal penetration, as long as it is by anything other than a penis! Homosexuality - we all know - is expressly prohibited by the Torah. But if a woman wants to strap one on and give her man a little taste of his own medicine...that's OK :)

  8. 1. There is one word missing from this whole discussion. “G-d”. Understandably missing: because that’s not what the discussion is all about — it’s about one’s pleasure.

    Shulchan Aruch is a work of Halacha — a codification of G-d’s Will as expressed in the tradidition going back to the Mass Revelation at Sinai. It’s that simple. If you don’t believe any of the above, you’re not in the realm of Orthodox Judaism — so, fine, stop pretending and go enjoy yourself.

    G-d does not owe you anything. He can mandate you to do something which is not pleasant and forbid something which is both pleasant and healthy. The rabbis are merely carrying out G-d’s Will (even when they enact laws that create additional precautions — i.e., those that are not biblical in origin). Again, it’s OK to believe this is not true, but if you do, you’re not an Orthodox Jew by definition.

    2. There is more to reality than what we see. Something may be pleasurable physically and good from physical health point of view, but bad from spiritual (mystical) point of view for one’s soul.

    But that’s not even the point. We do not follow the commandments for us — for our pleasure or benefit, either physical or spiritual. We do it for creating a Dwelling Place for G-d in this world. This is why we were created. And, by the way, this is the greatest pleasure one can achieve (although this fact is hidden from us).

    3. Dude. According to Halacha there is no problem going down on your wife. In fact, since your whole purpose is to pleasure your wife, and most women cannot come without men going down on them, you should do it.

    You just need to remember that we learn Halacha in context. E.g., we (Ashkenazim at least) learn Shulchan Aruch with Rema’s glosses. For instance:

    Gloss: He may do with his wife whatever he wants; he may engage in relations whenever he wants, and he may kiss any body part he wants, and he may come upon her in the typical way or not in the typical way, or by way of limbs, as long as he does not waste seed (Tur). And there are those who are lenient and say that the non-typical ways are permitted even if he does spill seed, if is is done occasionally, and they do not become accustomed to it (also Tur in the name of Ri). And even though all this is permitted, he who sanctifies himself with what is permitted to him is called holy (Divrei HaRav). (source

    4. Judaism is not about texts. It’s about living people. Find a rav. Stop chakking chainik.