Month: August 2020

“Unorthodox” and Male Sexual Functioning Problems Episode 24

The Netflix series “Unorthodox” inspired two Intimate Judaism ZOOM panels on female and male sexuality  respectively. But many listeners had further questions about sexual functioning in men-particularly with regard to “performance anxiety”- and asked us to discuss the topic in more detail.

Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn in this bonus episode, as they discuss the factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation, and how religious and social pressure can contribute to these conditions.

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Masechet Yevamot 53b

אנוס דמתניתין היכי דמי? אילימא כשאנסוהו עובדי כוכבים ובא עליה; והאמר רבא אין אונס לערוה לפי שאין קישוי אלא לדעת! אלא בישן; והאמר רב יהודה ישן לא קנה ביבמתו!…


What is the case of [male intercourse] against his will as mentioned in the Mishnah? If you say that he was forced by idolaters and had intercourse with her – but didn’t Rava say that there can be no forcing a man to have illicit sex, as there can be no erection without knowledge! Rather, [the Mishnah must be speaking about ] a man who is sleeping – but didn’t Rav Yehudah say that a sleeping person cannot acquire his brother’s widow [in a case of levirate marriage]!… 


Tosafot, Yevamot 53b, on “There can be no forcing a man to have illicit sex”

אין אונס לערוה שאין קישוי אלא לדעת. אין לפרש במאיימין עליו להורגו אם לא יבא בעצמו על הערוה דאם כן אפילו יש קישוי שלא לדעת תיפוק ליה דאגילוי עריות יהרג ואל יעבור כדאמר בפרק בן סורר אלא איירי כשעובדי כוכבים מדביקים אותו על הערוה ואי אפשר לו להשמט אם לא על ידי שיהרג וקאמר רבא דיש לו למסור עצמו ליהרג אם יודע שאי אפשר לו אם לא יתקשה דאין קישוי אלא לדעת וחשיב כעושה מעשה אבל אם יש קישוי שלא לדעת או שהיה כבר מקושה או שיודע שלא יתקשה אין חייב למסור עצמו כיון שהוא אינו עושה שום מעשה והוי כקרקע עולם כדאמר בבן סורר גבי אסתר דקרקע עולם היתה…


There can be no forcing a man to have illicit sex, as there can be no erection without knowledge. One should not explain this as referring to idolaters threatening him with death if he does not allow himself to have forbidden intercourse… Rather it refers to a case when idolaters physically push him upon the person [who is forbidden to him] and he cannot escape without being killed. Rava says that in this case, he must allow himself to be killed if he knows that he will inevitably have an erection, for there is no erection without knowledge and it is considered like doing an action [rather than remaining passive]. But if he has an erection without knowledge, or if he already had an erection beforehand,  or if he knows that he will not get an erection, he is not obligated to be killed since he is not doing any action, and he is rather like the ground of the earth [i.e., a passive participant], as is said in Masechet Sanhedrin regarding Esther, who was like the ground of the earth…


Chidushei haRamban on Yevamot 53b:

…אלא הא דרבא משכחת לה כגון שתקפתו אשה וקרבתו לעצמה לאונסו, או שדבקו אותו עכו”ם לערוה ואין שם פחד מיתה דכיון דליכא אונס דגופיה אע”פ שדבקום זה לזה ובא עליה חייב, שאלמלא דעתו עליה לא היה אפשר לו לבעול שאין קישוי אלא לדעת.


… Rather, the case of Rava [where a man cannot be “forced” to have sex] occurs in a case such as when a woman brings a man close to her against his will, or when idolaters push him onto a woman forbidden to him – and he has no fear of death, as no one is physically forcing him [i.e., on pain of death] – even though they had intercourse after being physically pushed together, he is nonetheless liable. For if he had not been thinking about this woman [sexually], he could not have had intercourse, for there is no erection that is unwilling. [Meaning, if he had an erection, it is considered a voluntary act.]


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