The Western concept of sexuality is deeply flawed, according to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. The author of “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Adultery” says sexuality is looked at as merely of the body and not the mind, which leads to passionless encounters and decreasing marital relations.
That just won’t do.
Boteach’s new book, “The Kosher Sutra” (HarperOne, $25.99), is hitting shelves now and its purpose is to restore a sense of eroticism in America, said its author. Eroticism comes from exploration, he said, and a couple’s sex life should “truly transform sex into knowledge.”
“Sex is the life force; it’s the human life force,” said Boteach, a columnist for this newspaper. “It’s not just about procreation, Judaism never believed that.”
So what is eroticism? Despite what many may think, Boteach said, it’s not watching pornography or using sex toys. Instead, eroticism is often approached in kabbalah as a way to gain knowledge. Eroticism, he said, is desire – and that’s what’s missing in many marriages where seemingly nothing is held back between spouses.
“It’s a deep desire to peer beneath the hood of life and examine its engine,” Boteach said. “Eroticism is a desire to penetrate the outer layers and expose the other layers. Eroticism is curiosity incarnate.”
According to the Talmud, Boteach said, one of the greatest gifts a person can give is to bring peace between husband and wife. That has been one of his goals in his counseling, which led to “The Kosher Sutra.”
A few years ago, he read an article in The New York Times about the burgeoning popularity of homes with “his and her” bedrooms. While filming his TLC show “Shalom in the Home,” Boteach found that half of the couples on the show were in platonic relationships. He cited a study by Intel that 80 percent of American wives would give up two weeks of sex rather than two weeks of Internet.
“The Kosher Sutra” outlines eight steps to restoring eroticism within married life, illustrated by examples from his counseling sessions. Altogether, the book provides a blueprint for recapturing desire between husband and wife, Boteach said.
Rekindling that erotic spark will enhance not only life in the bedroom but in other aspects as well – professional, family, and social.
“Shalom in the Home” is slated to begin filming its third season later this month. While the past two seasons have mainly dealt with families and their children, the new season will address more problems between husband and wife, including sexuality.
In February, Boteach’s Jewish Values Network is launching “Turn Friday Night into Family Night.” With participation from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the program’s goal is to give children one night each week of uninterrupted attention, Boteach said.
“The Jewish people have so many gifts to give to the world,” Boteach said. “I’ve hosted tens of thousands of non-Jews at my Shabbos table over the past 20 years. They always say, ‘Why is this only something the Jews do?'”
Even though Boteach is busy promoting “The Kosher Sutra,” he is already working on his next book, which he said examines the Jewish roots of Jesus. That book uses Christian sources to trace Jesus’ preaching to Jewish teachings.
Dubbed by some as “the sex rabbi,” Boteach is familiar with the controversy surrounding his books. (Readers should note that parts of “The Kosher Sutra” are sexually explicit.) After he wrote “Kosher Sex” more than 10 years ago, some critics slammed him for writing about topics they considered inappropriate for a rabbi. Since then, he said, most of his critics have been silenced.
“People have seen the impact my books have made on Jewish and the wider culture,” he said. “People are beginning to understand that if religion in general and Judaism in particular don’t address these issues, who are we going to be learning them from? Hugh Hefner?”