Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kosher Sex: Traditional Despite the Marketing

Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy by Shmuley Boteach is by turns interesting, informative, advanced, reactionary and frustrating.  I suppose that is what kept me reading a book that otherwise annoyed me.

As an Chasidic rabbi, Boteach, despite his celebrity type exposure and hip language, is very much satisfied with traditional Jewish sex roles, both in and out of the bedroom.  

In this book he will offer the majority opinion on a topic: for example, a married Jewish couple can make love any way they wish. He endorses this mainstream religious Jewish opinion, but then explains why he thinks the missionary position is the better.  This is a common trend in this book.  Alternatives within the tradition are offered, but not explored. Tradition narrowly conceived is always the high road for Boteach.

Boteach is not a post-modern Jew.  He believes the old ways, tweaked here and there for modernity, are just fine.  So we Jews who struggle with sex in a complicated, post-modern world, will find this book, so promising at first, disappointing.  

He also engages in some deep seated gender stereotyping, makes comments about staying in difficult relationship which people in such relationships will find repugnant.  He means well, but his advice is liable to cause such people, particularly women, much harm.

So, beware of this book.  Read it, but do so critically.

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