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Heavenly Sex: Sex and the Jewish Tradition

Overview

Dr. Ruth bridges the gap between sex and religion.

In this light-hearted, lively tour of sexuality within Jewish religion and culture, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Jonathan Mark team up to reveal how, contrary to popular wisdom, the Jewish tradition is much more progressive in many regards than one might think.

Applying Dr. Ruth's unique brand of couples therapy to such Biblical relationships as Abraham and Sarah, and Joseph and Potiphar's wife, the...

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Overview

Dr. Ruth bridges the gap between sex and religion.

In this light-hearted, lively tour of sexuality within Jewish religion and culture, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Jonathan Mark team up to reveal how, contrary to popular wisdom, the Jewish tradition is much more progressive in many regards than one might think.

Applying Dr. Ruth's unique brand of couples therapy to such Biblical relationships as Abraham and Sarah, and Joseph and Potiphar's wife, the authors enlist Biblical lore to cover such topics as surrogacy, incest, and arranged marriages. They offer a clearer understanding of the intertwining relationships between sexuality, spirituality, and sexual roles through a look at the latter books of the Bibleā€”The Song of Songs, Ruth, Proverbs, Psalms, and some of the bawdier tales of the Prophets. One chapter provides a provocative metaphorical perspective on the Sabbath as a weekly revival, highlighting not only its spiritual, but its marital and sexual aspects as well.

Focusing specifically on Orthodox forms of Judaism and offering Dr. Ruth's singular interpretations, the book answers such questions as: What night of the week is best for making love? How often should couples have sex? Can traditional Jewish notions of sex and sexuality be reconciled with contemporary beliefs? What roles can and do dreams and fantasy play?

Heavenly Sex familiarizes the reader with a generous and lusty religious tradition that has too often been lost within the rubric of a larger Christian culture with a completely different view of sexuality.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"America's favorite sex therapist probably best known for making the word orgasm a TV talk show favorite, collaborates with Jewish Week editor Mark in a more significant accomplishment-a thoughtful study of the roles of sexuality in Judaica."

-Booklist,

Forward
The argument -- that Judaism, as opposed to Christianity, celebrates sex as a divinely sanctioned act -- is presented in a relentlessly upbeat tone...Through this book, Dr. Ruth offers a sexual "light unto the nations."
Jewish Book World
Contrary to popular wisdom, the Jewish tradition is much more progressive in many regards than one may think. Dr. Ruth applies her "couples therapy" approach to such Biblical relationships as those of Abraham and Sarah, and Joseph and Potiphar's wife. The authors enlist Biblical lore to cover topics as surrogacy, incest, and arranged marriages, among others. The book focuses on Orthodox Judaism's answers to such questions as How often should couples have sex? Can traditional Jewish notions of sex and sexuality be reconciled with contemporary lifestyles?
Library Journal
Arousing. Sexy. Seductive. You're talking about Judaism? Yup, or so says world-renowned sex educator Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Though many might find the statement above hard to believe, Westheimer contends that the religion celebrates human sexuality. Even the holiest of men are required to marry and, as Dr. Ruth so skillfully reminds us, "Celibacy is not a virtue. Orgasms are." The authors interpret various stories and help readers understand the significance of each. The book concludes with a handy biblical glossary and an annotated listing of legal codifications in Jewish law. Mark is associate editor of Jewish Week. Rotenberg's offering, which reads partly like a scholarly lecture and partly like a doctoral thesis, covers many of the subjects discussed in Heavenly Sex), only in greater depth. This shouldn't come as a surprise because Rotenberg has spent many years researching the impact of religion on the psychology of everyday life. The Dr. Ruth book is an enjoyable read that is essential for all libraries or certainly those serving a Jewish readership. Rotenberg should be considered only if a more scholarly work is required on the subject.-Marty Dean Evensvold, Magnolia Branch Lib., Tex.
Aaron Cohen
America's favorite sex therapist, probably best known for making the word "orgasm" a TV talk show favorite, collaborates with "Jewish Week" editor Mark in a more significant accomplishment--a thoughtful study of the role of sexuality in Judaica. The two use an array of sources for their inquiries and discussions: interpretations of the Talmud, such customs as the ritual bath, and the Bible's commandments are the principal ones. Particularly interesting is the reading of the Book of Ruth as a primer for sex therapy, but then, a Dr. Ruth book can be expected to conclude that healthy sexual activity between consenting adults is a "bracha" (blessing). This positive reading of Jewish erotic traditions does not prevent the frank discussion of troubling issues, such as, especially, the Hebrew Bible's condemnation of homosexuality. A topical glossary collocates biblical quotations on such matters as kissing, modesty, and lewd behavior. Public libraries should add this book to ensure that yeshiva students not be the only ones to discover how fascinating Torah study can be.
Booknews
The well-known "Dr. Ruth" and Jonathan Mark (associate editor, Jewish Week) offer an engaging, accessible tour of sexuality within Jewish religion and culture. They look at the Bible and its galaxies of commentaries and at customs surrounding marriage and sexuality to describe a tradition that both honors and esteems the pleasures of sex. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814792681
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to Israel as a seventeen year-old orphan, is an Adjunct Associate Professor at New York University. Widely known as Dr. Ruth, the host of a variety of television and radio shows, she is the driving force behind a one-hour documentary on the Beta Israel, the author of five books, and has taught at Adelphi University, Columbia University, and West Point.

Jonathan Mark is Associate Editor of Jewish Week.

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