Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Jewish Sexual Mores

  • Mark PopovskyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_349

Classical Jewish tradition contains a wide spectrum of opinions about sexuality and sexual ethics. All rabbinic authorities share the core belief that sexual desire is natural and should be expressed through licit sexual behavior. The majority of traditional voices find nothing shameful about permissible sexual activity. To the contrary, most rabbis claim that sex can be sacred and holy when accompanied by the proper intention.

The first commandment humans receive in the Bible is “to be fruitful and multiply.” This has been interpreted as a religious obligation to marry and attempt to have children. However, reproduction is not the sole purpose of sex in classical Jewish thought. Sexual pleasure, relief from desire, and the health benefits of sexual activity are often cited in rabbinic literature as reasons to engage in sexual intercourse even in situations when procreation is not possible. Jewish law, in fact, provides a wife with conjugal rights that continue after menopause which...

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  1. Dorff, R. E. N. (1996). This is my beloved, this is my friend: A rabbinic letter on intimate relations. New York: Rabbinical Assembly of America.Google Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pastoral Care, Weill Medical College of CornellNew York Presbyterian Hospital – ChaplaincyNew YorkUSA