Talli's blog

Sexual relations are considered to be a meaningful aspect of Jewish marriage. Sex is a positive commandment for procreation, and it is considered  a negative commandment for a man to withhold his wife's "onah", understood to mean, her entitlement to sex.


How often “should" Orthodox couples have sex?

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 12/20/2018 - 21:27

I  recently received the following question from a therapist:


Marriage and the traveling spouse

Submitted by Talli on Tue, 12/11/2018 - 14:23

Tamar and Avi are an American couple in their late thirties who made aliya to Israel two years ago with their four children.  They presented to couple therapy in distress. They reported that they argued frequently about their children, their in-laws, household tasks and money. Tamar said she felt that Avi took her for granted and had no idea what her life was like.  Avi complained, “We hardly ever have sex.”


Intimate Judaism: Sex within marriage-what is allowed and what's not

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 12/06/2018 - 13:34

In the Talmud, (Nedarim 20a-b) Rabbi Yochanan Ben Dabai provides some advice about marital sex that he received from ministering angels. Children are born lame, he relates, because, the parents  "turned the table upside down" for intercourse. They are born mute because of kissing 'that place' (the genitals),  are born deaf because the parents spoke during intercourse, and are born blind due to the man looking at his wife's genitals. In the same Talmudic passage, Rabbi Yochanan, a well known sage in the Talmud, takes a different approach. "Anything a man wants to do with his wife, he can do. One can take an example from a piece of meat from the butcher. One can eat it with salt, cook it or broil it, however he pleases. Same thing with fish."

In his recent analysis of the “#MeToo earthquake,” Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel of America’s director of public affairs, bemoans the “supposedly enlightened, progressive, post-patriarchal society, with its proud claim to value and respect women,” and questions how we can expect men to respect women who dress and behave immodestly. In contrast, he asserts that sexual abuse is “relatively rare” in a society guided by Jewish law, where modesty and strict boundaries on gender interaction provide a carefully controlled environment, and women are valued and respected rather than objectified.   In this episode of Intimate Judaism, Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn discuss Rabbi Shafran’s premise and his conclusion. While acknowledging the socio-cultural contrasts, they question the value of this self-idealization; though the mechanisms of abuse of power and authority may look different, objectification and victimization exist across cultures, and Orthodox Judaism is no exception. During the second half of the show, they are joined by Dr. Rachel Yehuda, an expert on trauma, who led a team of researchers who demonstrated that sexual abuse is indeed not a rare phenomenon in Orthodox society. To listen to the episode, click here


Intimate Judaism: The Wedding Night Episode

Submitted by Talli on Tue, 10/09/2018 - 17:30

Many couples await the wedding night with anticipation and excitement, as they are finally permitted to express their desire for one another and to consummate their relationship.  For some couples, however, the wedding night, and sometimes the weeks and months thereafter, can be a source of anxiety and distress, and represents an obligation they struggle to “perform successfully.”


Tightly Wound: A Review and Social Commentary

Submitted by Talli on Sun, 09/09/2018 - 15:53

Tightly Wound is a film by Shelby Hadden and Sebastian Bisbal that tells Shelby's story of dealing with vaginismus and her path to finding treatment.


Intimate Judaism: The premarital sex episode

Submitted by Talli on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 19:37

As human beings, we are wired for connection. When we connect emotionally with a member of the opposite sex, and experience attraction, and/or affection, the desire for intimate touch is a natural instinct. In society at large, this desire is understood to be moderated by social rules that include determining availability, and mutual consent and should include communication about boundaries and prevention of pregnancy when applicable. According to Jewish law, however, premarital sexual activity, even when it doesn't involve sexual intercourse, is strictly forbidden. This can result in an inner conflict.  We are committed to observe the laws but struggle, and sometimes fail,  with refraining from all touch which can feel awkward and un-natural. This tension between human longing and restrictions in behavior is at the core of what being an observant Jew is about. Yet, the paradigm of this power struggle, particularly when the desire side wins out, as it often does, may fail to address the important issues of boundaries, mutuality, consent and birth control, as well as relate to the “degrees” of  religious prohibition involved. What are the keys to discussing premarital sexual activity with Orthodox Jews in an honest and healthy manner? Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn for a fascinating and frank discussion of these important religious and educational issues.  Listen to the episode here.


Introducing Intimate Judaism

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 08/09/2018 - 10:14



Free Podcast -Jewish Intimacy: The Mind and Body Connection

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 06/07/2018 - 13:25
This interview with Chana Deutsch focuses on emotional and physical intimacy on the context of Orthodox Judaism. We explore the questions:In what ways is sexuality a part of the developing self?How do we address the cognitive dissonance involved in the expectation to refrain for all physical touch with the opposite gender until marriage, but have sexual intercourse on the wedding night?How does emotional intimacy affect physical intimacy, and vice versa?What lies at the core of sexual shame and embarrassment?How can Orthodox Judaism as a culture, engage with sexuality in a healthy way? The following are excerpts from Talli's presentation"At the foundation of a passionate marriage, is a feeling of full autonomy and consent for each partner.""When sex is presented as a goal to accomplish, it feels like a chore and not an opportunity for communicating love, caring, bonding and affection.""We need to reframe sexuality away from women feeling obligated to provide for their husbands needs. Both men and women are wired for connection and long for intimacy." Listen to the full interview here