Books by Jonathan Mark

Released: Nov. 6, 1995

Diminutive sex therapist ``Dr. Ruth'' presents a sex guide for Orthodox and traditional Conservative Jews. ``People pick up the Bible for many different reasons but rarely, if ever, as a sex manual. That is their mistake,'' writes Westheimer. Here, with Jewish Week associate editor Mark, she sets out to correct this error. Westheimer begins by explaining Judaism's attitude toward sex, one which she considers particularly healthy. Judaism doesn't exalt celibacy; in fact, it frowns upon it. Women's satisfaction in marriage is not only discussed among the Talmudic sages, it is absolutely required of the husband. Lust and sexual impropriety are acknowledged and treated within Jewish law. In addition to the commandment against coveting thy neighbor's wife, Westheimer finds many explicit and implicit references to sex in the Hebrew Bible and rabbinical literature, focusing in particular on Genesis, Ruth, Song of Songs, and Talmudic and Kabbalistic sources. This last especially provides much fodder for the author. Westheimer also covers the commandments, the ritual bath, or mikvah, weddings, and the Sabbath, a day on which it is a special mitzvah (commandment) to have sex. Here the author offers a lovely metaphor for the relationship between husband and wife on the Sabbath: At the beginning of the day, the woman lights and blesses two candles, which according to Westheimer may represent the man and woman. At the end of the Sabbath, another blessing is made by candlelight, only this time the two wicks are joined together, often intertwined, representing the married couple, who have been brought closer through their sexual union. But this small gem is a rarity in a basically didactic and monotonous little book. Read full book review >