“It is Not Good for a Man to Be Alone” Guiding Religious LGBTQ Jews Episode 27

Harav Binyamin Lau, community leader, author, teacher, and former Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem, recently introduced a document providing guidance for members of the religious LGBTQ community and their families. This document is a collection of recommendations that, according to Rav Benny, “Do not permit prohibitions or prohibit things that are permitted,” but seek to pave the way to integrate one’s identity with religious life.

In this bonus episode of Intimate Judaism, Rabbi Scott Kahn and Talli Rosenbaum speak candidly with Rav Benny about reconciling religious and homosexual or transgender identities, and how to promote greater acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ individuals and couples in Orthodox communities.

To read Rav Benny’s original Hebrew article, go to https://www.facebook.com/Dr.Benny.Lau/posts/3338571199554276

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What is Tantra and is it Kosher? Enhancing Sexual Intimacy Using Ancient Eastern Philosophy and Techniques Episode 26

Tantric sex originates from ancient Hinduism and revolves around sexual practices that focus on creating a deep, intimate connection. It is a meditative sexual practice that encourages people to focus on the connections between the mind, the body, and the soul. It is intended to lead to fulfilling sexual experiences and greater intimacy.

Taoism is a system of traditional beliefs from China. Taoists believe that when a man ejaculates, he loses some aspects of the vitality, or life force, and Taoist practices include learning to delay ejaculation, thereby increasing energy as well as enhancing the sexual experience.

While these practices have pagan origins and sound antithetical to our tradition, Yiscah and Yehonatan Schumer, Tantric and Taoist religious sex instructors from Zfat, say “When you see wisdom amongst the nations, you may believe it,” and describe how they merge these practices with a Jewish approach to sex and intimacy.

Join this exciting episode as the Schumers speak with Rabbi Scott Kahn and Talli Rosenbaum.

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Visit Yiscah and Yehonatan Schumer’s website at www.kelimshloovim.co.il.





Sex and Guilt Episode 25

Intimacy and sexual experiences are so closely connected with a person’s sense of identity, and so seldom discussed in many religious communities, that they often are the source of tremendous feelings of guilt.

When are these feelings misplaced and when do they serve a constructive purpose?

How should a religious individual manage his experience of guilt?

Is there a way to reframe the experience of shame or guilt in order to create a sense of empowerment?

Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn as they tackle these and other timely questions.


Masechet Avoda Zara 17a

אמרו עליו על רבי אלעזר בן דורדיא שלא הניח זונה אחת בעולם שלא בא עליה. פעם אחת שמע שיש זונה אחת בכרכי הים והיתה נוטלת כיס דינרין בשכרה. נטל כיס דינרין והלך ועבר עליה שבעה נהרות. בשעת הרגל דבר הפיחה; אמרה כשם שהפיחה זו אינה חוזרת למקומה כך אלעזר בן דורדיא אין מקבלין אותו בתשובה. הלך וישב בין שני הרים וגבעות אמר הרים וגבעות בקשו עלי רחמים אמרו לו עד שאנו מבקשים עליך נבקש על עצמנו שנאמר, ‘כי ההרים ימושו והגבעות תמוטינה.’ אמר שמים וארץ בקשו עלי רחמים אמרו עד שאנו מבקשים עליך נבקש על עצמנו שנאמר, ‘כי שמים כעשן נמלחו והארץ כבגד תבלה.’ אמר חמה ולבנה בקשו עלי רחמים אמרו לו עד שאנו מבקשים עליך נבקש על עצמנו שנאמר, וחפרה הלבנה ובושה החמה.’ אמר כוכבים ומזלות בקשו עלי רחמים אמרו לו עד שאנו מבקשים עליך נבקש על עצמנו שנאמר, ונמקו כל צבא השמים.’ אמר אין הדבר תלוי אלא בי! הניח ראשו בין ברכיו וגעה בבכיה עד שיצתה נשמתו. יצתה בת קול ואמרה רבי אלעזר בן דורדיא מזומן לחיי העולם הבא… בכה רבי ואמר יש קונה עולמו בכמה שנים ויש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת ואמר רבי לא דיין לבעלי תשובה שמקבלין אותן אלא שקורין אותן רבי.


It was said about Rabbi Eleazar ben Durdaya that there wasn’t a single prostitute in the world with whom he didn’t have intercourse. One time he heard about one prostitute in the islands of the sea who would take a purse of coins as payment. He took a purse of coins, went, and crossed seven rivers to reach her. While they were having sex she passed gas, and said, “Just as this gas won’t return to its place, so Eleazar ben Durdaya will never be accepted as a penitent.” He went and sat between two mountains and hills and said, Mountains and hills, request mercy for me! They answered, before we ask for mercy for you we need to ask it for ourselves… He said, Sky and earth, request mercy for me! They answered, before we ask for mercy for you we need to ask it for ourselves… He said, Sun and moon, request mercy for me! They answered, before we ask for mercy for you we need to ask it for ourselves… He said, Stars and constellations, request mercy for me! They answered, before we ask for mercy for you we need to ask it for ourselves… He then said, the matter is dependent upon me alone. He placed his head between his knees, and cried out in agonized cries until his soul left him. A heavenly voice proclaimed, “Rabbi Eleazar ben Durdaya has earned the life of the World to Come!” Rebbe cried and said, some acquire their world over several years, and there are those who acquire their world in a single hour. Rebbe also said, It’s not enough that penitents are accepted, but they’re even called “Rabbi.”


“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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Masculinity, Male Sexuality, & Judaism: Navigating Love, Lust, & Intimacy Episode 23

Men are sexually assertive, they constantly think about and want sex, and their masculinity is determined by the frequency of their sexual conquests and their performance. This stereotype is perpetuated by the media in Western culture. Jewish sources, on the other hand, acknowledge the power of the male sexual drive, but require men to direct this drive exclusively towards marital relations. The expectation to live up to contemporary societal expectations of masculinity, to struggle with forbidden sexual arousal, yet be commanded when appropriate to perform sexually with one’s wife, may contribute to feelings of confusion, frustration, and anxiety.

Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn as they lead a panel discussion about male sexuality. They discuss the love/lust split, sex outside of marriage among religious men, mindfulness for the treatment of sexual performance anxiety, creating meaningful and enjoyable sex within marriage, and much more.

Click on the link below to watch the panel discussion on YouTube:







“Just Do What He Tells You to Do”: Take- Home Messages from the Unorthodox Panel (BONUS EPISODE) Episode 22

Intimate Judaism’s recent ZOOM live panel (https://www.intimatejudaism.com/unorthodox-intimacy-and-authenticity-how-accurate-is-the-netflix-series-portrayal-of-chasidic-intimacy-episode-21/) aroused a great deal of interest and discussion. Many of our listeners wrote in describing their experiences, and in this bonus episode, Brooklyn trauma therapist Chaya Feuerman relates how the messages she received from her own kallah teacher shaped her negative beliefs about sexuality.

Join Rabbi Scott Kahn and Talli Rosenbaum as they discuss premarital sexual education, wedding night anxiety, what to do about painful sex, and the tension between maintaining cultural sensitivity while promoting sexual health and autonomy.

Click on the link below to watch the panel discussion on YouTube:

Unorthodox, Intimacy, and Authenticity: How Accurate is the Netflix Series’ Portrayal of Chasidic Intimacy? Episode 21

The Netflix series “Unorthodox” portrays the journey of Esty, a young Satmar Chasidic woman who ultimately leaves her marriage and her community to live a secular life in Berlin. Her marital life with her husband, Yanky, and in particular, their dysfunctional sexual relationship, is fraught with conflict and unhealthy intervention of others. Moreover, Esty is seen as having little autonomy over her body or entitlement to withhold sexual consent.

We invited a panel of experts to discuss some of the topics raised by this series, including sexual autonomy and agency vs. obligation, vaginismus and unconsummated marriage and the state of sexual education in Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox communities.

Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn as they interview Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, Yehudis Fletcher, and Diana Melnick in this fascinating and important panel discussion.

Love (and Sex) in the Time of Corona Episode 20

The Coronavirus has affected how we live, how we work, how we congregate and how we experience touch and intimacy. The world at large has had to renegotiate the common norms of social intimacy with distancing measures that are increasing daily.

Meanwhile, couples are faced with a new reality: confinement at home, the need to keep children occupied and help them cope with stress and uncertainty, as well as provide comfort and reassurance to one another.

How do couples navigate their intimate relationships during this time? Midrashic sources point to several times in history where mankind refrained from relations in times of existential crisis , hunger and enslavement. On the other hand, it may be specifically during times of crisis that couples wish to re-affirm their vitality, comfort one another, or even simply relieve tension through sexual relations.

Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn in discussing emotional and physical intimacy in the time of Corona.

Bereshit 7:7

ויבוא נח ובניו ואשתו ונשי בניו אתו אל התבה מפני מי המבול.

Noah went in, and his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, on account of the flood waters.

Rashi on Bereshit 7:7

נח ובניו – האנשים לבד והנשים לבד לפי שנאסרו בתשמיש המטה מפני שהעולם שרוי בצער.

Noah and his sons – the men and the women apart from each other, as they were forbidden to have sexual intercourse because the world was enmeshed in agony.

Bereshit 8:16

צא מן התבה אתה ואשתך ובניך ונשי בניך אתך.

Leave the ark – you, your wife, your sons, and their wives with you.

Rashi on Bereshit 8:16

אתה ואשתך וכו’ – איש ואשתו. כאן התיר להם תשמיש המטה.

You and your wife etc. – Husband and wife together. Here [G-d] permitted them to have sexual intercourse.

Masechet Sanhedrin 108b

…ומנלן דנאסרו? דכתיב “ובאת אל התיבה אתה ובניך ואשתך ונשי בניך אתך.” וכתיב “צא מן התיבה אתה ואשתך ובניך ונשי בניך אתך.” ואמר רבי יוחנן: מיכן אמרו שנאסרו בתשמיש המטה.

…And from where do we know that they were forbidden [to have sexual intercourse]? As it is written, “You will go into the ark – you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” And it is written, “Leave the ark – you, your wife, your sons, and their wives with you.” And Rabbi Yochanan says, from here [the Sages] said that they were forbidden to have sexual intercourse.

Talli Rosenbaum, “Your Love Life in Lockdown”:


Porn, Fantasy, and Compulsive Sexual Behavior: How Much is Too Much? Episode 19

Our sources teach us that lusting after our hearts is prohibited. Yet sexual curiosity, fantasy, and thinking about sex are part of the normative developmental process. Therefore, how do we determine how much is too much and what thoughts and behaviors are problematic? Is what may be “bad for your neshama” like viewing porn, necessarily bad for your mental health, and might the battle to guard one’s eyes and control one’s thoughts actually backfire, leading to obsessional thinking and compulsive behaviors?
Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn as they discuss sex addiction, pornography, and compulsive sexual behaviors, as well as identification, prevention, and treatment. Special thanks to Dr. Yaniv Efrati, educator and sex researcher, for his valuable contribution to the discussion.

Bamidbar 15:39

והיה לכם לציצת וראיתם אתו וזכרתם את כל מצות ה’ ועשיתם אתם ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם אשר אתם זנים אחריהם.


“It shall be for you as “tzizit.” You will look at them and recall all of the commandments of G-d and do them; and do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes, after that which you stray.”


Masechet Berachot 12b

דתניא: אחרי לבבכם זו מינות… אחרי עיניכם זה הרהור עבירה, שנאמר “ויאמר שמשון אל אביו אותה קח לי כי היא ישרה בעיני.”

As it says in the Baraita: “After your hearts” refers to apostasy… “After your eyes” refers to thoughts of licentiousness, as the verse states: “Samson said to his father, ‘Take her for me, for she is pleasing in my eyes.’”


Masechet Sotah 8a

[ה]אמר רבא גמירי דאין יצר הרע שולט אלא במה שעיניו רואות.

Rava said: We have a tradition that the evil inclination only rules over that which his eyes see.


Masechet Berachot 24a

אמר רבי יצחק: טפח באשה ערוה. למאי? אילימא לאסתכולי בה – והא אמר רב ששת: למה מנה הכתוב תכשיטין שבחוץ עם תכשיטין שבפנים – לומר לך: כל המסתכל באצבע קטנה של אשה כאילו מסתכל במקום התורף!

Rabbi Yitzchak said that a handbreadth in a woman is licentiousness. To what does this refer? If you say it means looking at her [such that only seeing a handbreadth or more is a halachic violation], didn’t Rav Sheshet say, “Why did the Torah list the adornments worn openly with those worn under the clothes? To teach you that even looking at a woman’s little finger is like looking at the place of obscenity!”


Sefer HaChinuch, Introduction

…והחיוב של אלו לעשותן אינו בכל עת, רק בזמנים ידועים מן השנה או מן היום. חוץ מששה מצוות מהן שחיובן תמידי, לא יפסק מעל האדם אפילו רגע בכל ימיו, ואלו הן: א. להאמין בשם. ב. שלא להאמין זולתו ג. לייחדו. ד. לאהבה אותו. ה. ליראה אותו. ו.שלא לתור אחר מחשבת הלב וראיית העינים.

The obligation regarding [the preceding mitzvot] is not to do them at all times, but rather at specific moments during the year or the day. The exception is six mitzvot which are constantly obligatory, and they should not leave a person even for a moment of his life. They are: 1. To believe in G-d. 2. Not to believe in another god. 3. To accept his Oneness. 4. To love Him. 5. To fear Him. 6. Not to follow after the thoughts of the heart and the vision of the eyes.


Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 387

וכמו כן שלא ירדוף האדם אחר מראה עיניו, ובכלל זה שלא לרדוף אחר תאוות העולם הזה…

In the same way, a person should not chase after the sight of his eyes, and included in this is not chasing the desires of this world…


Chayei Adam 1:5

שלא לתור אחר מחשבת הלב וראיית העינים שנאמר ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם וכו’ ואמרו חכמים אחרי לבבכם זו מינות ואחרי עיניכם זו זנות… ובכלל זנות הוא כל תאות העולם הזה, שאם יסיח דעתו למלאות תאותו בדבר אחד, ימשוך מזה שלעולם יתאוה לה.

[One should not] follow after the thoughts of the heart and the vision of the eyes, as the verse states, “Do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes” etc. The Sages said that “after your hearts” refers to apostasy, and “after your eyes” refers to licentiousness… And included in licentiousness are all of the desires of this world, for if a person turns his mind to fulfilling his desires in one thing, he will be drawn after it such that he will always desire it.



Sex Is Not Something You “Have” Episode 18

“Sex is not something you ‘have’ but rather an expression of an intimate and erotic energy that a couple mutually shares.”
This quote, from the recently released book, I Am For My Beloved: A Guide to Enhanced Intimacy for Married Couples by co-authors Talli Rosenbaum and David Ribner, reflects the theme that a passionate marriage is about cultivating a loving, emotionally intimate relationship.
In this episode of Intimate Judaism, Rabbi Scott Kahn interviews co-host Talli Rosenbaum, and her co-author Dr. David Ribner about the book, which helps couples improve both their emotional and physical intimate lives. Join Rabbi Scott, David, and Talli, as they discuss the challenges of writing a book about sex for Orthodox Jewish couples, the topics they chose, and the book’s relevance for Jewish couples, regardless of their background.
Finally, listen as Talli and David offer suggestions for sustaining passion in a long term, monogamous marriage.

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