sexCome on…you know you want it. (670 comments can’t be wrong…)

According to the JTA:

A new initiative at Yeshiva University here aims to tackle an issue that organizers say has received insufficient attention in the Orthodox Jewish community: Judaism and sexuality. Tzelem, which is Hebrew for “image,” is a nascent organization founded by two Y.U. alumni, Koby Frances and Jennie Rosenfeld, who say they hope to encourage a greater willingness to discuss questions surrounding intimacy, relationships, dating and sexual identity among the Orthodox…

Teens will receive particular attention from Tzelem, which aims to work with Orthodox high schools to develop curricula and seminars that address sexuality.

They’re talking mostly about programs for teenagers. The article goes on to point out that low self-esteem can lead to usage of drugs and engaging in “promiscuity” (but does not define what kind of behavior constitutes promiscuity–presumably, this category includes all pre-marital physical contact). The idea is not to provide sanctioning of pre-marital dancing sexual expression and experience, but to reduce discomfort in communication between teenage boys and girls. (Note that this is in diametric opposition to the “NEVER NEVER TRUST A BOY“-type discussions that abound on the internet. Not that we should rampantly start trusting boys. But you know what I mean.)

According to Ari Fridman, an undergraduate senior who serves as editor in chief of The Commentator, the student newspaper of Yeshiva College and Sy Syms, the issue of premarital sex is particularly troubling for modern Orthodox couples. “While large portions of the Orthodox world now accept dating as a precursor to marriage, new issues related to that process continue to emerge, not least of which is the premarital sexual relationship, commonplace in general society, but unacceptable according to Jewish law,” he says.

“For American Orthodox Jews, foregoing a premarital physical relationship proves quite difficult, particularly because the partners have imbibed from the youngest age a cultural view that permits, even encourages, such relationships. The issue plagues many dating couples in the modern Orthodox world,” Fridman adds. “Whether there is a halachic solution to this dilemma, I am not sure.”

And that’s how the article ends. But unless teenagers are administered some sort of hormone suppressant that prevents them from thinking about sex (or at least, the opposite sex), that’s not the end of the issue. Programs designed to reduce awkward conversation between the sexes? A new SAT (Social Aptitude Test)? I’m totally for it. In fact, I’d like some of those programs administered to people my age.

But if a previous post with 670 comments has taught us nothing else, it has informed us that pre-marital sex as an issue only grows in urgency as the population of singles leaves their teens and enters their twenties and thirties. Modern Orthodox leaders in Israel recognized this, and made an effort (at least) to talk about it.

Tzelem’s a good first step into an issue that many Orthodox Jews don’t really want to talk about; my hope is that the discussion doesn’t end there.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

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  • Huh? I found it in the JTA. But really, I had the press release two weeks ago. Do you really think you have the patent on “Let’s Talk About Sex”? If anything, we both owe royalties to Salt-N-Pepa. I mean, really.

    But if it’s a link you want, here you go.

  • Maybe, seeing as, let’s face it, Salt-N-Pepa haven’t done much lately, we can get them to give a free Jewlicious show in exchange for the publicity. I have a total crush on Spinderella.

  • hey, i dont read neither jta nor other websites so i m grateful for esther bringing it here. and what u have some financial or emotional loss b/c it s the same title?
    and u cared enough to put some comment here on jewlicious so maybe u d better contribute to the discussion?

    so tell me the problem of the premarital relations, isnt it coming out of the moern orthodox urge to melt in to general society. and i dont mean that we shud live in a getto or a shtetl (i dont say we shudnt either) but if u wanna be part of the world u get all the schmutz. is it fair price to be paid or not?

  • ybocher:
    Does “wanna be part of the world” include “making more money than minimum wage?”

    We have recently had posts here about the high cost of Jewish education. Don’t you think many large Jewish families would be in trouble if the breadwinners didn’t have college degrees?

    Not everyone is cut out to be a scholar, tradesman or shopkeeper.

    Are you aware that several rishonim and achronim were actually professors of mathematics and physics – not to mention those who, like the Rambam, were physicians? Were these sages wrong to venture forth from the 4 walls of the beis medrash?

  • This topic has at two parts, 1) the difficulties of obeying the rules when QUITE YOUNG and probably on the way to the Chuppa pretty soon, but impatient, and, 2) the difficulties of obeying the rules when NOT SO YOUNG, living on own, and the Chuppa is just a possibility among many lifestyle choices.

    Those are two entirely different matters.

    The overheated young are going to be fine; they will be married soon, and will confess at Yom Kippur.

    It is the non-marital, rather than pre-marital, sex that is sad, because it never leads anywhere except to crankiness and a desire not to get hurt again, and a raising of the bar for the next one. The bar gets higher and higher, until only gorgeous, rich geniuses need apply. Only for them will we risk another disappointment. (Actually, they are the most likely to disappoint, being stuck-up, and having the most choices.)

    Proposed headline for Jewlicious Thread:

    “Marriage?? For This I Went To College??”


    “Marriage – That Icky Thing Your Parents’ Generation Did, Which We Got Past, Thank G-D”

  • the 670 comments were more related to the moral dilema that is facing NJG. She had thousands of hits. People related to her dilema not so much that it was sex talk.

  • Jobber, you’re thinking of the Nice Jewish Girl post. That was a different topic, although the 670 comment discussion touches on it for obvious reasons.

  • It goes way beyond her.

    It goes way beyond any one kind or type of woman or man.

    Plenty of good-looking, nice, smart, employed people are not getting to “Yes, let’s do that thing. It will work. It will be good.”.

    “NO ONE could ever surpass my perfect mother. I am not marrying anybody until I find someone who can bake a cherry pie like hers, yum hum. I don’t need anybody, really. I’ve always got my Mummy, if I need to feel better about things. I jsut date for fun, and call my Mummy for real love. MOOOOOOMMY….”

    “OOOOOh sweetie, I pinch your cheeks, you are so sweeeeeet…. Are you seeing anybody? No? Who could be good enough for my snookums? You’re too young anyway. In the immortal phrase, you have PLEEENTY of time. You’re only out of graduate school ten years or so and you have to get somewhere first. “

  • errr…isn’t anoyone going to talk about sex? Muffti only bothered to read the headline and figured this would be the place where Jewlicious users shared their cool/funny sex stories. All Muffti sees is some unintelligble ranting from Town Crier, some discussion of the real thread of conversation in our mammoth 670 comment post and Jewish Mother being, well, Jewish Mother. Get the ball rolling, y’all! In return, Muffti will start reading the actual text of the story.

  • ben-david, i hope u r not mislead by my nick. i m not saying one shud not study and have a proffesion but there is still smth b/w this and trying to melt into the general society. i dont think rishonim and achronim had problems of above-mentioned youth themselves.

  • You first, Client. Muffti’s gotta start making up remembering all his zany antics.

  • Okay, Muffti, deal: I’ve got a funny sex story, that involves a person you have met.

    So one Shabbat not too terribly long ago, I’m walking back from dinner probably around midnight. I’m all tired and want to go to sleep. But my room isn’t open. I knock on the door. No answer, but I hear voices. So I knock again. My roommate opens the door. He’s in his underwear, and so is his new boytoy. It’s totally dark, and they’re blasting Basement Jaxx and giggling like schoolgirls. Here is a transcript of the ensuing conversation:

    “Oh. We weren’t expecting you.”
    “I live here.”
    “Mike, I’m gonna level with you. I’m rolling on E. Can I touch your beard?”

    Comic hijinks ensued, with the eventual result of them, being of a pleasant disposition because they were high out of their minds, deciding that they should respect Shabbat and go elsewhere for the continuation of their activities.

    Of course, this isn’t a particularly Jewish or personal sex story, but the Michael, he plays his cards close to the chest…

  • Muffti, thanks for keeping us on track with the mission statement of this post.

    JM, you’re right about the existence of (at least) two groups of people: the frum teens who will get married too quickly young and who require the basic conversations about treating the opposite sex like people and not like jellyfish, and there are the others, the older singles that (in more ways than one) the Jewish community doesn’t know how to handle.

    To an extent, the large number of older singles is due to increased opportunities. If post-graduation, the theoretical I had only the option of going for my “MRS” degree, perhaps (the theoretical) I wouldn’t be the Jewish societal burden that the theoretical I seem to have become today. Theoretically. I just think it’s unfair to paint marriage as “that thing our parents did but which we, ourselves, find icky.”

    Everyone may not want an early marriage, but almost everyone wants companionship. Well, except the Unabomber.

  • ybocher- I strongly suspect many rishonim/achronim had the exact same problems. They were human, and human beings have hormones, even when they don’t act on them (think NJG). We’ll never know exactly what fooling around went on back in the day, but even if you must believe that everyone behaved back then (and there are she-elot utshuvot suggesting otherwise), it couldn’t have been easy.

  • That WAS a pretty funny story CK. OK, Muffti will tell a quickie (no pun intended). He was in the cannon room at the top of a little fort in Kingston with his (then) girlfriend. Anyhow, we all know what a cannon room will do to libidos and, given the relative seclusion, Muffti and aforementioned ex decide to give it a go. Anyways, as things draw to a close and clothes start going back on, in walks a family…the parents ascertain immeadiately what’s going on. Dad gives me a knowing look and says ‘you coulda just told us to wait a minute when you heard us coming up the stairs…’

  • Esther, what is companionship?


    It comes in so many gradations and degrees that it amounts to a thing undefined and therefore more or less nothing, a word which means nothing.

    Marriage is exactly what gets you companionship in the sense of someone who will not say, “… I guess somebody else must know where she is… Oh well. Yawn. Gonna sleep now. Will call her in a day or two to see what she thinks about all this.” Meanwhile, you might be a little messed up somewhere, and no one is tearing the doors off the emergency room, to demand to know what are they doing to you? Are you a resident or the attending? Do you have her records?

    Only next of kin, sir.

    Well, I really LIIIIKE her.

    Sorry, sir. Only next of kin.

    Companionship is fun but has no vitamins, protein or fiber. There is no harm in it but you can’t live on it. The big problem is when people eat candy to quell their hunger pains and think they are eating food. It becomes a place-holder like carbon monoxide, which only kills because it takes up the place of oxygen in the blood.

    But you knew that.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, Jewish Mother, but are you telling me not to rule out the Unabomber?

    BTW, I’m not sure this was the kind of “talking about sex” I had in mind for this post.

  • Kingston somewhere lame. Sorry Esther. But once a post is out there, it is cut off from the authority of its producer.

  • The Unabomber retired to lordly seclusion, but he was always hitting up his brother for money. So he was a big phony, with his supposed indepence from everything modern and technological. He couldn’t make it on his own in the forest. He kept having to break his own rules and obtain modern stuff.

    In addition to being nuts and a murderer, he also illustrated that going off-grid does not work, but I have no idea if there is any analogy to adult, adorable, educated people not marrying. Are they trying to go off-grid in another sense? You brought him up.

  • Very well. Just so it’s noted that I tried to start a serious discussion with you fratboys, and it degenerated beyond my means to control it. This is why we should NEVER NEVER TRUST A BOY.

    And I would argue that “re. muffti – jackhammer rembrandt museum shooters me and phil blah blah blah. Heh.” is not so much a story as it is either a) a cryptic Jewlicious code, b)a private joke between Muffti and CK, or c) word salad. All I know is that I’ve seen spam that contained more coherent statements.

    So…who’s Phil? And why doesn’t he post here?

  • Well, Esther, Muffti thinks you should have included an option (d) for ‘all of the above’. Sorry about highjacking your post, but Muffti is glad that he made the point: NEVER TRUST A BOY. Or a Muffti for that matter.

    Now loosen up, woman, and let’s hear a good sex story!

  • Who told you to trust them? I just told you to wear large sunglasses and kitten heels.

    Trust the one you like best and don’t worry about the others.

    If you have any problems with mothers let me know. Grrrr.

  • Large sunglasses? Kitten heels? Grrrr?

    Speaking of word salad, if TM is so busy making appointments lately, can we appoint an official “Parser of Jewish Mother’s Posts In Order to Figure Out What She’s Talking About”?

  • Michael. That was girl talk. You don’t have to understand. You just have to break the glass under your heel and enjoy the way the light changes.

  • Oh, good. I was really worried I would be expected to get a job or provide a steady income or something lame like that.

    Fortunately, now I realize I just have to break the glass, enjoy the way the light changes, and go back to the Playstation 2. Thank God!

  • You male people should understand that we NEED you. Not your money. We have some of that already, at least a little, more or less enough. No, YOU. We are SCARED and can’t sleep. Have you seen the pictures from London? We don’t need friends. We have friends. We need a family. It doesn’t matter if you are neither armed or employed. We need a protector. There is not one thing wrong with that.

    We didn’t mean all those awful things we said back in the peaceful, prosperous sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties.

    We need a shoulder that is broader than our own, with hair on it. We are crying.

    What is a playstation?

  • Boy talk. You don’t have to understand.

    Although, I gotta say, I think there’s a solid gold pick up line somewhere in there. “Hey baby, you crying? You need a shoulder broader than your own? Take mine, baby. There’s hair on it. Aww yeah.”

    My troubles is over! Allahu akbar!

  • OK, I won’t worry about the playstation.

    Nobody wants King Kong, too frightening, (except maybe Mrs. Kong).

    Yes, that will be fine. IMHO.

  • OMG, that’s it exactly. I’m scared and can’t sleep. Except what scares me? Hairy shoulders. And you know why I’m scared? Because I can’t run in my stupid kitten heels, and I can’t see in my stupid humongous sunglasses. Some people just can’t win.

  • Hairy shoulders are scary, especially when someone can make the loop part of velcro jealous.

    I certainly hope the thread keeps going until after my town sustains its visit from the USYers. I plan on observing like a hawk, and at least warming myself in true vicarious fashion by the fires of youthful indolence. Unless they’re the nerdy joykill uber-frum (for Conservative guys, and more power to them), in which case I still won’t remember what it was like to be a real boy, though the challenges in my youth involved an addiction to the fun fold-here thing in the back of Mad Magazine and the laughing cow from that fancy supermarket French cheese. Nevertheless, I am curious as to similar licentious doins amongst this crop of Conservative youth, and how its handled/discussed.

  • Sheesh. Is no one else going to tell a sex story? Dontcha guys ever get laid? Must everything be about tznius, homsexuals, conservative judaism and (ahem) withdrawl?

  • Oh! And you think muffti that with one story you are done with “pimp up your Jewlicious”?

  • Well, client, Muffti was hoping that he could get the ball rolling. Now he knows better. Thanks tons for your participation.

  • Junior year of college, two of my friends were getting “real close,” but kept denying that they were together. One of them was my roommate, the other one was a long-time friend of ours. I came home one night and heard them giggling in the other room. “Guys? Are you awake?” I yelled. But all I heard was laughter. I decided that they were there, but not listening. The perfect opportunity for me to surprise them. It was going to be hilarious.

    So I stood at the door, yelled “Sex Patrol! We’re coming in!” and I burst through the door (which was open). I have three words for you: in flagrante delicto.

    They screamed. I screamed. I slammed the door and ran to my room and hyperventilated. The moral of the story, boys and girls? If you’re gonna do it, close the friggin’ door.

  • Yeah…let’s talk about SEX! 104 Battilion of Essex Troop coming home from Gitmo very soon! BARUCH HASHEM!!!!
    My advice to my “frum” daughters someday regarding pre-marital sex will be the same advice my mother gave me at 18 “you don’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first.”
    Jewish Mother, throw away the damn kitten heels and get a hot pair of stillettos, then your husband won’t have to oogle all the Spanish secretaries at his office like the Orthodox executives I work with do.

  • It is an interesting issue, that some people enjoy sex more than others. Singer makes this point in his book ‘The Penitent’. One could analyze that western society obsesses about sex more than it should.

  • Jewish Mother (#36) said:

    ==== quote ===

    You male people should understand that we NEED you. Not your money. We have some of that already, at least a little, more or less enough. No, YOU. We are SCARED and can’t sleep. Have you seen the pictures from London? We don’t need friends. We have friends. We need a family. It doesn’t matter if you are neither armed or employed. We need a protector. There is not one thing wrong with that.

    We didn’t mean all those awful things we said back in the peaceful, prosperous sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties.

    We need a shoulder that is broader than our own, with hair on it. We are crying.

    === end quote ====

    This is exactly how my wife (we just had our 23rd anniversary) feels about me.

    I come home late from the office, or school, or am on the computer or reading till late, and she complains that she had to stay up for me… she couldn’t sleep without me being next to her… she wants to take a walk with me, etc.

    You have succinctly stated in words what she is expressing to me in action. I’ll do tshuvah now, and be there physically for her more from now on.

    BTW, hairy shoulder, front, back, etc… that’s me.

  • For all those who complain about the men not acting in a satisfactory manner for the wives, I remember when I was first married. I was sensitive to the fact that my performance was an issue. So, I did what all frum guys are supposed to do. I asked a shaila of my rav.

    [Remember, I’m a chabadnik, so when the Rebbe said “osay l’cha rav” we all comply like the good mind-numbed robots we are.]

    So my rav, with his beard past his waste tells me: “Use your hands.”

    Voila! Problem solved! Now, the only problem is that sometimes wifey falls asleep afterwards before there is any conclusion for me. Oooooh, such problems >. I’ll wait. This is a very “good” problem. Being ancient (48), not handsome, overweight, and generally non-sociable, she is all over me whenever we’re alone.

  • Thanks for the props, themiddle. Generally, no one reads my blog, and there’s nothing worse than blog anonymity…

    My sex stories made kids, so I can’t personally relate, but when I was a private in the 101st, my roommate destroyed semipermanently any romance. This fellow was a chronic Onan-a-like with socks, and he turned to me, then 18 and extremely unworldy, for sex advice when he finally tied the knot. This wasn’t even the war on terror, we can’t get no recruits years, and this guy was scraped off the bottom of some fertilizer vessel. His sex questions still haunt me, and as much as decorum could ever permit, I shall paraphrase and still hopefully satisfy mufti’s call for good stories.

    1. Why does she defecate when I take my mouth to her genitalia? I could only fathom that he seriously relaxed her. My advice was never to surprise her with bouquets or jewelry on special occasions, or things could get messy.
    2. Why does it hurt her when we do it? I could offer nothing…medical consultation revealed somehow her urethra was involved. I shudder, and still struggle to understand how this was physically possible.
    3. I met her finally at our unit’s *ahem* “Holiday” party one December, and this predates the Black Eyed Peas ill-fated “Let’s get retarded in here” by 10 years. She asked me if I wanted to pet her puppy, an extremely worn Pound Puppy creature. Suddenly, things made so much more sense, though I still only feel pity, and concern that somewhere in Tennessee, there is a trailer full of their unfortunate progeny.

    My second roommate, a fellow who shed his “slave name” during the course of our rooming and was the posterboy for the Nation of Islam, wasn’t so religious that it kept him from a revolving door of women. All I know that after nights sleeping in the hallway, our room always reeked of cocoa butter.

    I read Shmuley’s “Kosher Sex,” and I’m still lost. Apparently, how to overcome scarring from unwilling exposure to such things falls outside of his expertise.

    How many cocoa plants must die so that man can love?

  • ok, I love hearing details and am totally into the military thing, but this was way too much information for even me…YUCK!

  • Alternatingly thanks, or sorry for the excess of crass. The rest of my life is bereft of perversion. Personally, I saved it for marriage or something, and that turned out to be a waste, no matter what Shmuley says,

  • Wow, what an interesting thread, and I almost missed it.

    Jewish Mother, lay off my son, please. He has his own Jewish mother who is still alive, well, and perfectly capable to tell him when to break the glass.

    Not yet, Michael, you are only 19. Stick with the playstation.

    Now, as far as protection: an unemployed, unarmed hairy shoulder is good for diddly squat. Get a couple of German Shepherds, a loaded Smith&Wesson (I recommend lessons) and you will sleep like a baby.

    BB, interesting. And I thought I heard everything…

  • Phew… when I saw that Michael’s mother had posted here I kinda cringed. I was like “she’s NOT going to post a sex story is she?” cuz that would be a bit odd. But thankfully no. Her post was anti-sex. “No nooky for Michael b/c he’s only 19.” That goes against the advice he received from the Yemenite healer dude in Machanei Yehudah, doesn’t really correspond to that full beard of his and all the testosterone it implies and finally, that’s so quaint to think that 19 is too young! Who thinks like that any more in this day and age! Adorable! And look at you expressing a preference for cold hard steel and sycophantic dogs over a hairy shoulder! That I disgree with b/c as you know, being a Moroccan, the vast majority of the men in my family possess unemployed and unarmed hairy shoulders. That and the habit of throwing trash out the window. But I digress. The point is … how cute!

  • ck, not to worry, I will save my bizarre mind-boggling sex stories for when we meet. Despite my somewhat redneck tendencies, I do have class–all that European upbringing, I’m afraid.

    Is “breaking the glass” some kind of a Moroccan euphemism for “sex”? If it is, thanks for enlightening me, I did not know that. Of course, I don’t have as much pull as the Yemenite healer dude, but I believe I told Michael pretty much the same awhile back, and it didn’t cost him a shekel.

  • You know us simple minded but lusty sephardim. we equate sex with marriage and so every time we have an itch to scratch so to speak, a glass gets broken. Thank goodness sephardic jews never really banned polygamy! I hope i didn’t offend your delicate european/ukranian sensibilities!

  • You know, looking back on it, I’m beginning to become convinced that the Yemenite healer dude was not a reliable herbalist. Not only am I fairly convinced that the liquid gat juice he sold me is really just guarana and ginkgo and contains no actual gat (I KNEW I should have got the chewable gat leaves!), he was manifestly unsuccessfuly (despite his professional guarantee) in making ck and Matt quit smoking.

  • You would probably have gat in a Temani area, like Rosh Haayin, Kiryat Ono. You would have to know someone of course. From what I have read of Gat, it sounds like a mild cocktail, puts you in a chill mood.

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