The Jews on Sexual Desire, Gender Relations and the Talmud

As the rest of the world struggles to understand gender roles (with the Church hardly awake to that discussion), the Jewish people have been wrestling with it for ages but in an entirely different way. Their tangible understanding of the sacredness and power of the physical body and the integration of body-spirit-mind is challenging to the secular–and, also, the Christian–world. They may be trying too hard to separate the men and the women, but I wonder if we don’t try nearly hard enough. We want too much to be “equal” and don’t want toΒ  “oppress” anyone to the extent that we disregard social safeguards. No wonder abuse is rampant in our communities.

This is an open letter from one non-Orthodox Rabbi to an Orthodox Rabbi. It is intriguing, challenging, and a glimpse into a world still run by strict social rules. It’s hard for me not to wonder–is this a murky glimpse of how my God once instructed His own to behave** because it was what was best for them? How off am IΒ  in my own thoughts of gender roles and relationships?

And anyway, I’ll argue that it is a mutual responsibility to honor and protect the female body and the male sexuality. The daily interactions and safeguards of how to do that, alas, I can’t even begin to suggest.

**I know that the Talmud was compiled/written after Jesus, but I think it is safe to assume that its under girding was somewhere in Jewish tradition.