Do Rabbis Belong in the Bedroom?

In light of On the Main Line’s recent review, my answer would usually be an emphatic no. People trained in yeshiva and kollel generally have little to no understanding of male and female sexuality outside of relevant texts which they generally don’t really get. They lack any kind of training or education and obviously lack experience. To them, sex is at most a technical halachic obligation and at worst something disgusting to be tolerated.

This is exemplified in even in the RZ communities in Israel. Kallah classes focus almost exclusively on niddah and relevant prohibitions and only in a minor way on actual sexual contact. All sorts of crazy hanhagot and recommendations are taught as the letter of the law, with the result that the truly observant end up unsatisfied and deeply frustrated.

This is not simply a matter of not having enough fun. Sex is a critical component of physical and emotional intimacy in a marriage. Frustration or non-activity can help drive a marriage off the rails even if it’s not explicitly mentioned in the divorce papers. Even if this doesn’t lead to divorce, the subsequent distancing between the spouses can rub off in the household and radiating onto the children.

If anyone asked me, I would encourage couples to actively search and read up on the literature of mutual attraction and pleasuring in married life. It’s muttar now, enjoy things to the fullest. Get books like “Married Men Sex Life” and learn how to maintain attraction over time.

The problem with making my “no” an unqualified one is the fact that a substantial part of Orthodoxy, perhaps the majority, would not do so. Having been educated to avoid sexual material at all costs and ask a Rabbi on virtually everything. So they won’t do independent research even if it’s suggested.

The book reviewed by S. seems to meet a happy medium. Although I haven’t read it, it sounds like it might provide relief for thousands of couples who are suffering from a suffocating anti-sex culture that makes Puritanism look like Jersey Shore. I hope it is only the beginning, and that more such books are on the way.

Let’s ask the readers:

Should Rabbis and by extension halacha have a role in the bedroom outside of nidda restrictions?


Hi, my name is Avi Woolf. I'm an American-Israeli MO Jew living in Israel. I have a background in Israeli (as in Land of Israel) and Jewish History and an insatiable need for knowledge. I also have professional experience as an editor, translator and indexer. Enjoy the ride! If you are interested in using my services or just want to drop me a line, contact me at:
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2 Responses to Do Rabbis Belong in the Bedroom?

  1. Shlomo says:

    I don’t know. Should rabbis have a role in what we eat, how we spend our time on Saturdays, how we conduct our business, how we relate to our parents, etc.? In all these cases there are sources (books, customs, traditions) from which you can figure out what you should do. But if you want to ignore what rabbis say on those subjects, well, you will fit in well with many of your brethren across the sea!

  2. tickletik says:

    Just because they are rabbis doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t listen to them.

    I know my answer sounds a bit smart alecky, but that’s actually how your question comes off.

    Maybe it’s more a matter of looking out for each other, asking learned, sane and truly Heaven fearing scholars who love the people to study this and advise us.

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