Kosher Sex

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Kosher Sex


   The phrase “kosher sex” seems to be a joke. Yet, it is not. The word “kosher” as used in the Torah means “fit” and refers to food. It can be used with respect to sexual conduct as well. Consider that two of the Ten Commandments deal with sex. The seventh commandment, “you shall not commit adultery” and the tenth commandment “…you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife (husband)”  can hardly be misunderstood.

   In Vayikro, Kedoshim, also known as Chapter XX of Leviticus, we find a long list of prohibited sex practices followed by an admonition to “separate between the clean beast and the unclean.” So you can see that kosher food and kosher sex are mentioned in the same chapter.

    In view of the unalterable fact that the Torah is the Constitution of the Children of Israel, we cannot deviate from those basic laws without risking the destruction of our mission and our purpose. That mission is “to be a light unto the nations.”

    Anyone can sink into sexual depravity, as we can see all around us. Consider this. In 1970, unmarried mothers with children under age eighteen made up 12% of all American families. In 1994 such families became 33% of all American families.  As of 1999 and in 2000 37.8% of all American children were born to an unmarried mother. This means that 1,400,000 American children begin life without the benefit of an intact family. The vast majority of fathers of these children do not support their children in any fashion.  This means that these fathers give these children no emotional or financial support.

   We Americans also suffer from a 50% divorce rate. This means that in one year we have about 2,400,000 marriages and 1,200,000 divorces.  That includes Jews.  Generally, divorced women and their children are faced with a 20% decline in income, not only because many divorced men will not support their children, but also because living apart is so much more expensive than living together.  In other words, many men really don’t have the money to support two households.

    There are now more than 20 million American children living in one-parent homes. Around 44% of these children share their home with a man other than their father.  That man may be their mother’s new husband but is usually a “live in” boyfriend.

    In addition to all this we have some women who are single mothers by choice. These are usually high earning business or professional women who can afford to raise children without benefit of any man.  Despite the argument by some feminists that men are really not needed, it is the contention of professional sociologists that children need to live with fathers as well as mothers in order to understand our bi-sexual world and attain a balanced personality. 

     The most recent sociological research on the American family reveals these facts. 1. Young people are becoming sexually active much earlier than was true before 1990. Thus, 80% of men and 76% of women engage in sex before age 20, many starting at age 14. Looking back to the 1940’s, we find that only 33 percent of single women had sexual intercourse then.

     Now, very few Americans have only one sex partner in a lifetime. Instead, a significant percentage of American men and about 15% of American married women  have extramarital “affairs”.

     AIDS and other diseases threaten the lives of innumerable Americans and their children.

     Added to all of these self-inflicted “tzores” is the prostitution plague. There are about 330, 000 prostitutes in this country, not counting the so-called “escort services”, which have seen a 400% increase in business in the past decade. Meanwhile, pornography is exploding on the internet, in movies, in books and on video tape.  

    So you ask: “What does all this have to do with Jews and Judaism?” Everything, of course. If the Jewish message means anything at all then at the very minimum it means that family life is sacred. It means that we are to be an example of sexual morality and decency. That we are never participants in the practices just recited, not only for the sake of our children but also for the sake of our survival. We are very few. Our numbers are infinitesimal, minute. We have been brutally persecuted in the past and face a host of enemies even now. Why then have we survived despite all odds? The answer is given us in the Torah (Vayikroah, Kedoshim or Leviticus Chapter XX:26 :  "And you shall be holy unto me, for I the Lord am holy; and have set you apart from the peoples that you should be mine."

     What applies to us applies to non-Jews as well. Yet, if we are to have any influence on the deplorable “sexual wilderness”, as Vance Packard has called it, then we need to “bring our own house in order”. We must be the example. We must be the role model. Once more borrowing a phrase from our Catholic brethren, “We are Jews. Let it show”.  What better way to exhibit our Judaism than to lead a Jewish life according to “the laws of Moses and Israel” as it is written in your Ketuba (marriage contract)?

Shalom u’vracha.

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