Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Okay so originally an article i read about sexual abuse sparked this post, but whether or not the article is true, these are my thoughts.

The idea of abuse ad Orthodox sex issues in general I discussed within the past 24 hours before having it come up again, by coincidence. The Orthodox community has a lot of challenges and a lot of things to work on. Within the past ten years, growing up, people took a stand and finally challenged adults to get a handle on the drinking and the drugs that happens in the Yeshiva High Schools and began to set limits, like on Simchat Torah and Purim. However, now it's time to face a new issue- again, they may not want to- but it's time. And if no one else will, as soon as i have the means, I will.

The issue of sex and sexuality can no longer be ignored. I know, every Rabbi has a "Shomer Negiah" Shiur, in high school, in Israel, in college. Everyone knows that kids are struggling with "Negiah". But it's much bigger than that. Sex is much bigger than that. Sex is happening in front of our eyes when people are way too young. Children are being molested and teenagers are being reckless (ie- sex in broom closets and pregnancies). While I don't say- give a Shiur and control teens, I say FACE IT. Face the fact that Orthodox teens are having sex, now more than ever. Gay, straight, that's not the issue. If schools open their eyes and their mouths and being to make sex less taboo and allow their students to discuss it more openly and understand what they do in high school has ramifications on the future ie- STDs, condoms. And if sex becomes more open- hopefully molestation will also be an issue that people don't have to be scared about, to talk about, to finally discuss. And maybe we can help bring Orthodoxy to the next stage of it's growth and understanding the next challenge facing a new generation.


  1. I have a huge problem with what you've said. I see where you're coming from, and that we should not EMBRACE this but face it head on and allow openness, but that is (in my opinion) one hundred percent incorrect. Instead, we need to rebuild the basic foundations of these Orthodox boys and girls, and not through boring shiurim that preach sexual abstinence like it was the actual Holy Writ WITHOUT some sort of compensation. We've all gone through puberty, or the act of being attracted to someone; sometimes, the pressure is unbearable, so why should they be abstinent if there is nothing in return?

    Obviously, a lot of these kids aren't exactly interested in regaining their Judaism because it's not interesting, and the world has so much more to offer, so to speak. The physical pleasures overcome the spiritual ones hundredfold, in their eyes. But it should stop; it must stop. A friend once told me that the only addiction one should ever quit cold turkey is that of a sexual nature; i.e. masturbation, sex, etc.

    What would I suggest? I have no idea. I am only reminded of a conclave of Rabbeim in which one Rav asked if young girls should start going to the mikvah, because of such a thing happening, and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l responded with a resounding no, due to the fact that it would be condoning pre-marital sex.

  2. Simcha, I think you did not understand the point. He was not condoning premarital sex, rather saying that a frank discussion of sexuality is needed in order to properly educate youth, and even 'nip the problem in the bud.' One of the reasons sexual topics are so alluring is the taboo-ness of it all. Talking about things openly rather than relegating the matter to "You'll find out when you're older" would probably result in a lot less overall issues.

    Also, I think it's a bit disturbing that you equate having premarital sex with 'losing one's Judaism.' Lots of people engage in lots of acts that the torah may not permit, but that doesn't make them less Jewish than you.

    Finally, if masturbating is an addiction - meaning one feels the need to do it compulsively, or to the extent that it affects his or her day to day life - then of course that individual needs professional help. But otherwise, come on, masturbating is normal and healthy and we all do it so lets not get all crazy. (To those of you out there who masturbate (most of you!), more power to you, there's nothing wrong with it.) The restrictions on spilling seed are really pretty archaic and based on medieval science. We've progressed a bit since then and we now know that sperm is regularly replaced (sperm only live up to 72 hours, so what do you think happens when you don't use it for procreation, as I assume any unmarried guy is not? - you got it, they die. And then get replaced.). Also, we now know that the Rabbis were completely incorrect when they said that the sperm is actually a miniature man; indeed it is nothing like that, and does not have any potential for life on its own. So no, you are not murdering any more than you are murdering skin cells when you clap your hands. As far as females go...well last I checked they have no seed to spill regardless.

    Finally, with regards to the whole mikva-for-unmarried-girls thing. Well, if theyre gonna do "it" anyways, wouldn't it be better to at least not be a menstruant? This just seems to make sense...

    Things need to change, as no doubt the author of this blog agrees...We cannot to use outdated morals and social constructs in a modern time. Though I don't think anything can be said for certain, perhaps this is one of the reasons the Jewish population has a negative growth rate (i.e. we're shrinking.).

  3. I agree that open discussion would likely be a step in the right direction in addressing these issues, but I also think you're raising two very different issues in teen sex and molestation. I think that they would have to be addressed separately if anyone was ever going to try to seriously tackle them.

    Simcha, I guess I see where you're coming from, but how would you rebuild the basic foundations of these Orthodox boys and girls? That seems a bit vague.

  4. JJay: As I said, I have no idea. It seems to me that it would be those foundations that would need to be rebuilt; how to do it, I have no idea, which is why I am not a mechanech.

    JAG, a few points for you:
    a) I never equated having pre-marital sex with losing one's Judaism. You may have misunderstood my statement that today's youth aren't interested in regaining their Judaism; that was a totally separate point entirely.

    b) Masturbation is not a problem from a health point of view; as you said, according to some health journals, it's perfectly healthy to 'release some pressure', as it were. That's not the standpoint of Judaism; the release of seed is an impure action, EVEN in the very holy act of marital sex. Why? That's the mechanics that God put into place. So yes, wasting one's seed is a huge problem according to Judaism, not from a health standpoint but a purity standpoint.

    c) No, it would not be good to allow these girls to go to a mikvah, because, once again, it would condone pre-marital sex. It allows the mindset of "Oh, we're going to have sex ANYWAYS, may as well not be a menstruant." Whereas the mindset should be "I am allowing my desires to take hold of me, even though this is not permissable in the least."

    To say that Judaism is full of outdated morals and obtuse laws is to disregard it as a religion completely. It is Judaism that shapes itself to the world with laws that existed thousands of years ago and still hold credence today, not the world that must shape Judaism to meet it's needs.

    (sorry, edited post)

  5. So just a quick response to y'all-
    Simcha, I appreciate your thoughts, although for the generation right now, it is too late to rebuild what they have learned. we have to act now on what IS, and then we can deal with the next generation.
    JAG- thanks for standing up for my thoughts, but there are a few things I don't necessarily condone in what you're saying- and if I ever have the guts to cover masturbation on here, well we can talk more then :-)
    J Jay- you're totally right, but I do not have enough knowledge of the molestation issue to be able to post a full post about it, so I included it where I did. Maybe i'll touch on it again sooner.

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  7. Rabbi Wohlberg, Shlita, always speaks about how in the 50's and 60's the orthodox community was much more open and accepting of what the teens were doing. The yeshivas would have co-ed dances and mingling events so the kids should meet each other. People of that generation feel thats what's lacking in today's generation. The yeshivas have become so right wing, and have been enforcing shomer nagia as a platform, that it has created a taboo within the community regarding, not only sex, but teenage coed relationships in general. They feel that if we allow our teens to intermingle with each other in a respectable fashion they will actually treat each others bodies with respect, and not have sex in closets. You didn't see kids in that generation screwing in closets like you do today. The more we keep teens from being with each other, the more they will want to be with each other. We need to modernize modern orthodoxy. Let's keep shomer nagia for the kids in boro park, eh?

    p.s. for all interested in joining Ohav Sholom please contact Dan Seid.

  8. With all due respect to R' Wohlberg, I think condoning intermingling is not an appropriate result. Just take a look at the institutions that are more open to that sort of thing... the more to the left modern orthodox co-ed high schools, conservative high schools, etc... Do you really think there's less inappropriateness going on there then in the more right wing yeshiva high schools? puh-leeze! We here of that one Beis Yaakov girl who became pregnant in high school and we bash the right wing. Come on... there are so many more pregnancies and abortions in the left wing "pro co-ed" high schools. Just when in happens in the more yeshivish circles, it strikes a cord becasue we don't expect it, and we bash the entire institution. Get real.

    And the comment about shomer negi'a is pretty out of line. It's a halachah, even if you disagree with its accuracy. If you wanna leave shomer negi'a to the guys in Boro Park, why don't you throw in shmiras Shabbos and shmiras kashrus too?

  9. Exactly right, Anonymous 11:37 - shomer negiah is not a chumra or an option or a minhag; it's a full-fledged halacha medeoraisa, on the same level as (or maybe even stricter than) every other normal halacha regarding which no one would ever dream of saying "keep it for the kids in Boro Park."


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