& Jewish Law

Women & Jewish Law


This book provides a review of women in classical Jewish sources including the Talmud and other Halakhic sources.

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What NSFW facts are not mentioned in history books?(r/AskReddit)

In the Talmudic Period, the importance of physical pleasure in a sexual relationship was an active area of discussion and academic pursuit in the universities of the ancient Jews. There are many discussions on the books about how much sex people should be having (i.e. lots) and how orgasms are an important part of it. This is, of course, only heterosexual sex — homosexual sex was condemned for men and they just didn’t even think women could have sex with each other at all.

From this period come such laws that are still upheld:

— Sex outside of wedlock is permitted, but it is considered a form of engagement and a sexually active woman can choose to cover her hair if she wishes (in Talmudic times there wasn’t much time to date around since you were betrothed in your teens most likely).

— A couple are encouraged to have sex at least once a day, it is a considered a “mitzvah” — a commandment, and are required to do it once a week minimum, on the sabbath (a “double mitzvah”) as part of oneg shabbat, meaning sabbath pleasures which include rich food and wine as well.

— A man is required to please his wife even if she cannot bare children and failing to do so is considered grounds for a divorce.

It is my understanding that still, in observant communities, a sexually inexperienced groom is required to have a meeting with the rabbi before his wedding where he gets a earful about where the clitoris is and how to keep it (and his future wife) happy, maybe a few tips about good positions, etc.

As odd as it sounds to people brought up in a largely Christian society, there are many laws and guidelines about how to enjoy yourself in multiple ways — dressing nicely, giving gifts, resting on holidays, drinking wine and eating good food. I am proud to say that, when it comes to these laws, I am a very observant Jew!

EDIT: Several people have asked me for sources for this information, and perhaps it wasn’t clear but the source is the Talmud. For those who want an academic approach to the topic but a bit more accessible and specific, I recommend Women in Jewish Law by Rachel Biale. For those who want something more accessible, I suggest starting with the Jewish Book of Why, Vol 1&2, you can just search for “sex” and “orgasm” in the index to get started.

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Rachel Biale

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Schocken Books

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Women & Jewish Law

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What NSFW facts are not mentioned in history books?

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