HEAVENLY SEX by Ruth K. Westheimer


Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition
Email this review


 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.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-8147-9268-5
Page count: 188pp
Publisher: New York Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995

Kirkus Interview
Ruth K. Westheimer
June 9, 2015

Everyone knows Dr. Ruth as the most famous and trusted sex therapist, but few people know she narrowly escaped death from the Holocaust, was raised in an orphanage in Switzerland, or that she was a sniper during Israel's War of Independence. After years spent as a student in Paris, Dr. Ruth came to America dreaming of a new life though never expecting the dramatic turns that would take place. And at the age of 87, she is as spirited as ever. In the intimate and funny stories in her new memoir The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre, shows readers how they too can learn to deal with tragedy and loss, challenges and success, all while nourishing an intellectual and emotional spark. “Her warmth, wit, and wisdom shine through this lively account of a life well-lived,” our reviewer writes. “A joy for her many fans, old and new.” View video >


NonfictionTHE DOCTOR IS IN by Ruth K. Westheimer
by Ruth K. Westheimer
NonfictionTHE VALUE OF FAMILY by Ruth K. Westheimer
by Ruth K. Westheimer