Double Mitzvah – Kedoshim

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by David Bookbinder. David is an educator and part of the amazing Leadership Team of Jewrotica. For more of David’s columns, check out Double Mitzvah – Tzav, Double Mitzvah – Shmini, Double Mitzvah – Tazria, Double Mitzvah – Metzora, Double Mitzvah – Acharei Mot and last week’s column Double Mitzvah – Pesach.

Rated PG-13
Sex is great, let’s wait

Take your age, multiply it by the average amount of weeks you normally wait to sleep with a guy, now divide by the amount of times you’ve actually had sex, now add 17. That’s how many days you should make him wait.

Wait. What? That’s ridiculous. And totally arbitrary (1)

When is the right time to have sex with someone? Of course, the answer is far more complex and varied than the facetious solution above. Searching Google is of no help either, as you can find articles from “3 Reasons to Hold Out” to “Time to break The Rules: Why sleeping with a man on the first night is no dating disaster.” So, is there a right answer? If so, what is it? Perhaps a little bit of Torah can help us out – enter parashat kedoshim.

This week is chock full of mitzvot, commandments, from God to Israel. The entire section is book-ended by the phrase קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, you(pl.) shall be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. Contained within, we find the prohibition of idolatry, the command of charity, more laws on sexual practice, honoring one’s parents, loving one’s neighbor as oneself, legal equality, honesty in business, observance of Shabbat, and the sanctity of life. But one command in particular will serve to help us this week, when to eat fruit.

Lev. 19:23-25
[23] When you come to the [promised] land and plant any tree bearing edible [fruit], you must avoid its fruit as a forbidden growth. For three years [the fruit] shall be a forbidden growth, and it may not be eaten. [24] Then, in the fourth year, all [the tree’s] fruit shall be holy, and it shall be something for which God is praised. [25] In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit and thus increase your crops. I am the LORD your God.

“So…,” I hear you saying, “what does an ancient agricultural law have to do with when I should have sex?” The answer is…nothing. The law itself can’t help us; it’s the concept that it expresses which has relevance for us. The law is counter-intuitive for someone who is hungry. We plant fruit trees to eat their fruit once they bloom, not to stare at them for four years first, say “praise God there’s fruit,” and then finally eat in the fifth year. When we see food, especially food that we own, our natural inclination, when we’re hungry, is to consume it immediately. It is that natural inclination which the Torah is fighting against here. That’s all well and good, but why and what does this mean for sex?

Sex is a hugely social institution. When we have sex, how we have sex, and with whom we have sex is highly influenced by the society and culture around us. There are many articles on the best ways to have sex, and how to find your perfect partner, whether for a one-nighter or for marriage. When it comes to when to have sex with someone there are just as many ‘hold out’ articles as there ‘let loose.’ With so many conflicting messages how do we decide? – enter Glamour’s John Ortved.

You can set whatever rules you like. You could wait until you’re exclusive. You could wait until X number of dates has passed. You could wait until you get bored of oral. Or until you’ve met [the] parents.
[…] But none of these landmarks will matter if [they’re] just after sex. They just won’t. If you want a [relationship] and not a hookup I’d say the best thing to do is to talk […] about what you’re looking for before it ever gets intensely physical. You don’t have to throw it out there on the first date, but it’s something you can bring up as things progress.(2)
*edited for gender neutrality

So what’s the answer? It is up to you, not society, not your friends, not even your family. You, and no one else, are the master of your sexuality. It is time to put aside social pressures of when we should have sex. Terms like “putting out,” “being easy,” “holding out,” etc. are nothing more but judgment statements on our behavior and it’s time to stopped being defined by them.

So…fruit trees. The Torah is serving as balancing act to our modern notions of sexuality. Articles like “Time to break The Rules: Why sleeping with a man on the first night is no dating disaster” serve to show us there is nothing wrong with having sex on the first date in pursuit of a relationship. The Torah is here to tell us there is nothing wrong with waiting either. The entire point of waiting to eat the fruit is to gain an appreciation for what we have, the beauty and magnificence of another living thing which produces something just as beautiful.

When speaking about sexual freedom we talk about the idea that social pressure should play no role on who we are as sexual beings. We have the right to be who we want and have sex with who we want as long as it’s consensual. This freedom also extends the other way. A person who wishes to wait after the first month before having sex should feel just as free as someone who wishes to have sex after the first night. Whether you want to eat your fruit now or later remember, when it comes down to it, no one is the master of your orchard but you.

Shabbat Shalom!



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