Written by Tamar Fox. Check out last week’s post in this series, Double Mitzvah – Va’era.
This week’s parsha doesn’t have anything explicitly sexy in it, but it does have the repeated commandments to tell the story of the Exodus to your children. The questions and their answers are famously brought together in the Haggadah as the four sons asking different kinds of questions about the Israelites’ redemption from Egypt, and receiving different answers as a result. Telling your children the story of the genesis of our people is an important mitzvah that is reiterated over and over in this week’s parsha.
It got me thinking about the sex talk. Sex is the beginning of life. If Exodus is the central narrative, the “creation myth” of the Jewish people, then sex is the “creation fact” of all people, Jewish or not. And how we talk to our children about sex is important, if stressful and awkward.
Even if you don’t have children, and don’t plan to have children, there’s plenty to think about when it comes to telling children and young adults about intimacy. Will you relate to them as the wise son, including both yourself and the child in the conversation? Will you relate to them as the wicked son, enforcing a barrier between your child and intimacy? Will you give your child the basic explanation that the simple son needs, or just a vague outline, as might be the expected response to a kid who can’t even begin to ask about sex.
And what about daughters? It seems to me that sex education needs to be designed for the different genders, giving information to girls that doesn’t just emphasize a need to protect their virginity, but also empowers them to ask for and expect their own sexual pleasure. There’s plenty to teach to both sexes.
So this week, when you read the commandment to tell your children where you came from, think about how you might really go about doing that (but I’m going to suggest not doing so at a seder table).