LOS ANGELES ““ Ask Dr. David Ribner what he thinks about Jewish couples using sex toys and you get an answer you may not have expected.
The chairman of the sex therapy training program at the School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and himself a certified sex therapist, Ribner answers questions about the acceptability of the devices at www.koshersextoys.net, a website that sells the devices and is geared to Orthodox Jews.
“While Jewish law and tradition have long recognized the centrality of sexual satisfaction to a successful marriage,” he said in a response to a question for this article, “only recently have we been witness to more public efforts to promote this goal. Kosher Sex Toys [which runs the website and sells the items] is a step in this direction.”
Ribner, who also is a Yeshiva University-ordained rabbi, co-authored “Et Le’ehov [a time to love]: The Newlywed’s Guide to Physical Intimacy,” with Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld.
The mission of Kosher Sex Toys, the website proclaims, is to “provide married adults with products that can help enhance their intimate moments without involving crude or indecent pictures or text.” The website promises that nothing on the site “will make you blush,” and product pictures do not feature people.
“It is our firm belief at koshersextoys.net that there is absolutely nothing wrong from either a moral or religious standpoint with two married adults enjoying each other sexually in whatever way makes them happy,” the website adds. “As a matter of fact, we believe it is the moral obligation of each partner in a marriage to do whatever is possible to satisfy their partner, and that the only way for a marriage to be happy and fulfilling is for it to have a healthy and exciting sex life. We hope with our site to help people who would otherwise be reluctant to buy the types of product we carry be more comfortable doing so, and to help them have happier and more fulfilling sex lives and marriages.”
In a real sense, Kosher Sex Toys is everything you wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to look at – and uncertain whether to use. The company, located in Lakewood, a city with a large center-right Orthodox population, would seem ideally situated to service this niche market in what Inc. magazine estimates is a $2 billion industry.
Many of the items available for sale – we hesitate to list them in a family newspaper – are sold on other sites, as well. “It’s our attitude and how it’s sold that makes it different,” said founder and CEO Gavriel (his wife made him promise not to use his last name).
At first blush, a sex toy web site operated by an Orthodox Jew from Lakewood might seem unusual, but Jews and sexual aids appear to go back into biblical times. Rachel, the barren wife of Jacob, asked her sister Leah for some mandrakes, a root found in the Middle East that was considered to have aphrodisiacal qualities.
Gavriel says he researches each of his more than 300 items but does not personally test them, adding that “I only want to carry things that are safe.”
JTA Wire Service