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Do we really need to teach modern orthodox folks about sex?

That was my thought when I read the following line from the Forward’s Sisterhood blog about Sex Toys and Talmud. “Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld is equally at home teaching a page of Talmud and showing women how to use a vibrator.”  Yes, whenever an article starts off with sex, especially women learning gemara and masturbating, you know it’s going to be worth reading. But, the article is about teaching sex to modern orthodox women and I doubt they really need to know these things. Do they? 

I’m not implying that modern orthodox people are more likely to have premarital sex or better sex (there was a study saying that Atheists have the best sex, which leads me to believe that the less frum you are the better sex you’re gonna have) I’m just saying that it seems to be something that isn’t really applicable to the community she’s trying to reach.

After reading through Calm Kallah’s, the frum sex forum, many years ago – I decided that frummies definitely needed some sort of sex education that went beyond the classic kallah class teacher that told you to do it missionary position with the lights off and think of the Rebbe while you climaxed (if you happened to discover that women could have fun during sex too) Anyone could have told you that mixing gemara with vibrators was just too modern. I can see frum sex education classes being given to mature audiences (19 year old girls fresh out of seminary) but is it really necessary, I mean we’ve had the same system forever and you don’t hear too many complaints.  The one comment on the sisterhood blog post was about a woman who waited 5 months for her husband to figure out how to have sex with her – that’s pretty crappy if you ask me.

I also love how when she talks about her book she says that she didn’t want the information to be trivial, but that she didn’t want to offend anyone on the right. Tell me, do you think anyone on the right would read this without being offended, this in response to her thoughts about the YU Beacon sex scandal.

That I really don’t know. But I definitely think that violation of “shomer negiyah” [the prohibition against touching] is common in Orthodoxy — but whether people are having premarital sex or are engaging in other forms of sexual expression, such as mutual masturbation and oral sex, in order to preserve the woman’s virginity, of that I’m not sure. Either way, many singles feel isolated and alienated from the mainstream Orthodox community because of issues of sexuality and halachic violations in the sexual realm.

I know it may seem like I’m making fun, but I’m just trying to draw attention to the fact that right wing frummies do need to read something like this, or just watch a couple porn videos so they can educated and get some.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Yes January 18, 2012, 7:22 AM

    Of course sex ed is necessary for them. And watching pornographic videos has zero to do with sex education. Given right-wing attitudes towards women, I’d suggest that’s one of the last things they need

  • U Avi January 18, 2012, 9:10 AM

    Actually probably watching some amateur porn would help the most because it is not as glammed up as other kinds of porn.

  • U Avi January 18, 2012, 9:12 AM

    Ok my comment I guess is in moderation so let me try this again…

    Actually watching some amateur p o rn would probably be good because it is not as glammed up as other kinds. A little more realish

  • DS January 18, 2012, 11:51 AM

    There is a very real problem in the yeshivish world, and even in the right-wing modern orthodox world. There is a lot of information that couples need to know and are not told before marriage. Dr. Rosenfeld is doing very important work.

  • Crowin' Cock January 18, 2012, 1:26 PM

    Funny how the article doesn’t mention her giving gemara shiurim…

    Just picturing a heimishe Kallah teacher with old Jewish accent like Dr. Ruth, like “hef your man pleasure mit zee vibrater vile you sack zee pipik”.

    • A. Nuran January 18, 2012, 2:06 PM

      There’s no shortage of instruction in the neurosis- (psychosis?) inducing taboos – how many days, what constitutes bleeding, what sort of cloth to shove up your korva, what a horrible sin it is to pass the mashed potatoes during your period, how to “lie still and think of England”, the “fact” that you will go to Hell and burn for all eternity if you mess up even once and all the rest. This is an attempt at an antidote to a lifetime of really stupid shame and guilt.

      A good physical relationship is an important part of a good marriage. A bad one can ruin it. Like anything worth doing accurate information and knowledge of the subject makes it better.

      Where else are young people going to get this? In some of the sub-cults even mentioning The Dirty Place “Down There” is tabu. Self exploration in women has been shown to lead to greater understanding of their own response and more satisfactory shalom bayising. But that’s forbidden, unspeakable, unthinkable.

      Talking openly with older sisters, aunts, married friends? From what people say it’s a lot rarer in the frum world than the real world.

      Reading Susie Bright, let alone Nina Hartley, Jack Morin or Dossie Easton? This is the religious movement which has banned newspapers, novels and the Internet.

      Experimentation with boyfriends or girlfriends? Not if you want your brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews or cousins to marry anyone but the town drunk or a convicted pedophile.

      Your typical kallah/chosson class? Thank the gods I never went through one of those. But if what the overwhelming majority or respondents say is at all true the useful information – outside of ritual observance – is the thin end of nothing whittled down to a point. And I don’t mean “Insert Tab A into Slot B. Repeat if necessary. It will hurt, but she has to go through with it. Just make sure it’s a three-way with God in the middle.” Watching farm animals mate would probably be more instructive. “My people know all of love which sheep and cows can teach.”

      Given that, these classes sound like a great idea, especially if they’re taught by someone earthy, older but not so old that she’s forgotten what it’s like to be young, eager and nervous, and willing to answer all questions honestly.

      • Crowin' Cock January 18, 2012, 4:21 PM


        “Older but not so old”…

        Reminds me of a standup gig by Sam Kinison on Dr. Ruth.

        • A. Nuran January 19, 2012, 3:35 AM

          Not one of his better efforts

          • Crowin' Cock January 19, 2012, 5:10 AM


            Maybe, but I love his line “When was the last time you saw a man’s p*nis… did we have cars yet or did you suck d*ck on horseback?”.

  • Person January 18, 2012, 5:32 PM

    I know someone in the frum community, went to a Bais Yaakov-y girl’s high school, who was with a guy… Didn’t know if she had sex or not with him. Girl obviously wasn’t shomer behind closed doors, or at least in sketchy hotel rooms… But she didn’t want to “lose it” either. Guy told her it wasn’t sex… Yeah, later realized that what she did was actually normal sex. Not oral, or whatever other combo. Obviously I don’t think most girls are thaaaat naive. MOs are probably not on thaaaaat level, but I think as least frum teens, should be taught a little BEFORE kallah/chosson classes.

    I find it rather peculiar, that you are expected to have sex on the same night you first hug a person of the opposite sex. I am pro-shomer negiah, and don’t plan on touching my beshert until the wedding. I’m not worried, but it also hasn’t been embedded into my conscious since I could talk that touching boys is a horrible thing to do. -not sure if I’m explaining my feelings on this right… whatever.

  • Person January 18, 2012, 5:35 PM

    oh I’m in the moderation bubble of fun. I need to learn the tricks apparently.

    • Dan January 18, 2012, 6:59 PM

      Don’t put any links, and misspell the bad words. Prn, sx, hshy frd, frmsatire

      • U Avi January 19, 2012, 7:35 AM

        Hshy frd lolol

  • Dave January 18, 2012, 7:57 PM

    Hesh, what’s ur favorite position?!

    • Dan January 18, 2012, 7:59 PM

      My favorite position is the short-against-the-box. It is economically exactly the same as selling it, but you don’t have to realize gains. But they ruined it in 1997 by creating the constructive sales rule, section 1259.

      You did mean a stock position, right?

  • mg January 19, 2012, 12:40 AM

    If anything, Modern types need more of this education than frummie types. At least with frummie types the sheltered-ness makes everyone a blank slate, so you can anticipate the types of questions that will be asked and provide broad, think-about-it type answers that will do it for most new couples. But Modern types are bombarded with different messages from everywhere, so as educators you have to deal with not just the legitimate questions but also misconceptions driven by the secular media (does size matter etc.).

    Thankfully the right place to start everyone off isn’t a steamy flick at all, but rather a version of Kinsey (2004) that would be edited for a newlywed-frum audience to cut out the, shall we say, less applicable scenes. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362269/

    • A. Nuran January 19, 2012, 3:23 AM

      Among the hardcore frummie crowd you have other problems. Severe body shyness, intense shame around these issues, massive ignorance and, according to people who have gone through it, some of the worst “education” on the subject out there. Modern types at least have access to real, fact-based information that has a chance of partaking of reality-based information.

      • Crowin' Cock January 19, 2012, 5:20 AM


        I think more people in the hasidic community are experienced before marriage than you think. The chosson/kalla teacher don’t get into the topic unless they are asked to. Otherwise, they just stick with the laws related to niddah and mikvah, which is the core of the lessons to begin with.

        I never needed any “how to” instructions, and definitely wouldn’t take them from some rabbi (who ended up divorced) that imagined that it was wrong to look at bush, etc.

        The vast majority of extremely frum couples have plenty more time to spend figuring out each others bodies, as they don’t have TV’s or internet. With the number of kids some have, you know they’re going at it like rabbits.

  • BasyaD January 19, 2012, 5:31 AM

    What’s porn got to do with it? Nothing. Most porn (and amateurs don’t count — why would you assume they know what they’re doing?) focuses on the results and not the process. And nothing on emotions. Wrong. Especially for the women. And as an excellent book on the subject says, “She Comes First.” Because if she doesn’t, gentlemen, you ain’t gettin’ much from her.

    I agree with the person who said they need good how-to videos. And good luck.

  • Anonymous January 19, 2012, 5:57 AM
  • Tess January 19, 2012, 12:50 PM

    There is good reason to teach frum girls about sex. There are many frum girls that need to know what is going on. This is something they don’t know who to ask about. When I was first married I worked an a goy employee told me about her relationships. Frum girls shouldn’t feel shame for being interested in sex. Having sex running in the mind is the part of the life cycle that urges us to procreate and are common in all adult females. We can’t control all of our thoughts. Now, where can a frum female learn about sex? What happened to the drive in movies? That is the question. The situation is this: Frum girl interested in sex, knows some about sex, but doesn’t know the details that provide her the specifics. It is not easy for a woman to climax. All are different. When will we meet our Basharat? When we do meet, what will we do? Well, to explore before you’re married is not an option with in the Jewish community. We all want to marry within the community. I’ve seen girls rush into marriage in order to satisfy their urges. Once married they still can’t figure it out and it feels shameful to ask. Education on conception is sometimes not needed it just happens. When it doesn’t happen in the bedroom it can defeat the wonderful experiences that occur while married. Eventually we find our own way to figure this out. If I found a toy in my daughters bedroom I would not be furious. I would tell her to get her own.

  • Sad Jewish Girl January 19, 2012, 8:51 PM

    The answer to your question is yes, you do need to teach Modern Orthodox people about sex. Modern Orthodox has many different connotations. Some people assume that being Modox means being lax in halacha and therefore they are willing to have premarital sex or break other rules. But there are a lot of Modox people who just believe that secular studies are important, Zionism is important and that boys and girls don’t have to be totally secluded from each other- and that doesn’t equate to knowledge of sex.

    I am in the throes of a miserable situation caused by a mixture of my not understanding what the hymen was, what sex was and a variety of other factors. Other young people who have talked to who haven’t engaged in physical intimacy also had or have misconceptions about these things (especially about what the hymen is and how it works). Granted, not every person has to struggle with sexual dysfunction the way I do. Not every person has vaginismus or dyspareunia. But having more information available is always better than having less, and yes, this is information that people in the Modox community can benefit from as well.

  • bob March 4, 2012, 6:49 AM

    I went to a modern orth yeahivah in NY because my mother wanted me to go. My moms family descended from famous Rabbis in old russia(like balshemtov), but because of the holocaust they became more reform and my mom married someone very reform(a matzo ball jew). My dad hated to pay and completely turned me off to Judiasm. The yeshiva always encouraged me to listen to my father and he said everything you learn there is shit, eat un-kosher food, drive on shabbos etc etc. Of course the yeshivah taught me how bad it is to have premarial sex, or even touch a girl, and I sort of believed it.

    Now, I’m a 41 yo very confused virgin because I keep parts certain of Judaism and not others. I will put on tiffilin every day but have no problem rebuilding an engine on shabbos after shul or eating in McDonalds(no meat though). I never really had a real relationship, I have few friends and not part of any community. I’m also shy too. I work as a software developer/electrical engineer.

    I have a catholic girlfriend now who is a virgin that I taught to be shomer negiah and she is thrilled with me. I keep telling her I’m going to marry her but I probably never will because of the guilt. I took her to shul once and someone said you finally brought your wife!

    Most of the Jewish girls I met were not virgins. I don’t want to let her go because I will be all alone and crave some female company. In the end two people are going to end up very hurt. My dad wants me to marry her but it would hurt my mom very deeply.

    I think my dad my be right, the beshert thing is A TOTAL Easter Bunny LIE. First of all at this rate I probably won’t get married till my mid or late 40s, and missed up the best years of my life without a woman. I’ll be an old man when my kids graduate college. Also, at this point the Jewish women I get introduced to are either divorced or have very serious problems/hadicaps and probably won’t even be able to have kids. I am also very much into fitness, and its wrong to pair someone like that with a girl who weighs 300 lbs.

    Also, here is a girl that is perfect for me but I will never be able to be with her. It don’t take to much reading in the Tanach to see how much G-d tests and tortures people until their breaking point.

  • never frum enough March 4, 2012, 8:31 PM

    Modern Orthodox Jews are exposed to lots more video examples of what sex could and perhaps should be on TV, in movies, online. If you set aside the porn and realize how many movies emphasize the woman’s pleasure during sex, they have to be getting the point that sex can be pleasurable to women. If that message gets out to girls and guys, then both will make sure the other is getting what they need out of it. My opinion is that modern orthodox couples are more likely to find their way to a healthy sex life without any extra literature. Of course they are usually willing to read the literature about sex and relationships off the shelves at the library and bookstore and have the seychel (common sense) to apply the information appropriately to their religious lifestyle.

    No thanks… No special literature about kosher sex for me or my modern orthodox family. Give the rules and let me work the rest out.

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