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Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach

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Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach

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Marital Intimacy
A Traditional Jewish Approach
By Rabbi Avraham Peretz Friedman
Compass Books: Linden, NJ (2005)
ISBN: 978-0-9761-9660-0

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - January 4, 2012

Taking a traditional, Torah-based approach to the subject of marital intimacy, Rabbi Avraham Peretz Friedman provides a concise, sensitive, and astute study of this pivotal, yet often overlooked aspect of Jewish philosophy and law. Rabbi Friedman recieved his semikah (rabbinic ordination) from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University, he is the author of several books, served as the Chaplain at Duke Univeristy, and is currently the Rabbi of Congregation Anshe Chesed in Linden, New Jersey. This is not a 'how-to' book nor a book on the laws of Niddah. Rather, it is a book that delves into the philosophy and traditions surrounding Jewish views of intimacy. It shows that marital intimacy is something that should be embraced (no pun intended) and relished. Marital intimacy is a positive commandment, and when approached with the right frame of mind, can be a spiritually uplifting activity. As such it should be enjoyed and celebrated, not denied.

In Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach, Rabbi Friedman examines the myriad of misconceptions that surround the Jewish view of physical intimacy, and how, in general, Jewish views differ from generally held beliefs in the western world. He also outlines, using primary sources, both the halachic (legal) and philosophical underpinning of Jewish views on marital intimacy. Throughout he provides an astute and authoritarian discourse on the subject, without ever becoming pedantic or moralistic. He concisely outlines the positive aspects of marital intimacy and he is clear about what forms of intimacy are forbidden. In addition, he does not shy away from the difficult aspects of this subject. Nor does he 'sugar coat' the various means by which marital intimacy can be debased. In totality, this book shows how a husband and wife can work together to bring a greater level of spirituality to all aspects of their physical and emotional relationships.

Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach was not meant to provide a comprehensive study marital intimacy. Rather it was designed to serve as an introduction to the subject and the vast amount of literature that is available to those who wish to delve more deeply into this complex subject. For those so interested, the book includes a bibliography that will serve as a guide for further study.

Written with the utmost sensitivity, this book is suitable for both men and women - married and unmarried. Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach should be required reading in all Kallah and Chatan courses, and for all married couples.


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