- The Good Stuff
- Contact Us
Written by Sender Rozesz. Sender Rozesz is a practicing attorney with a background in Jewish pluralistic education for adults. The views reflected in his columns represent his own personal views, and are not intended to reflect the views of any organizations, institutes or associations with whom he may be affiliated. For more Double Mitzvahs by Sender Rozesz, check out A Woman’s Vow, Sexual Motive, Choose Your Own Spouse, The Post-Honeymoon Journey, A Wise and Understanding People, The Blessing of Fertility, Abominations, Coitus Interruptus, Sexual Struggles,The Unspeakable Language of Passion, Cut vs. Uncut, The Silence of Bitterness, Sex and the Holiest Day of the Year, Shifting Beds and Sex in the Sukkah,Sex…In the Beginning, A Sexual Reboot, She’s My Beautiful Sister,Kosher Incest?, How They Met, Male-Female Intercourse, The First Kiss, The Power to Transform, Onanism, Daughters-in-Law and Moshiach, Issues with the In-Laws?, The Undoing of Captivity, Shift Beds – Part II, Pharaoh’s Assimilation Policy, Passion vs. Pleasure, Loving in Reverse, Music is Female, Fecund Fluids and Revelation, Sexism in the Commandments, and Divine Lust.
When do lovers use each other’s names? And how?
Conventional wisdom suggests that if you’re lucky, and you’re just that good, someone will be “screaming your name” in the throes of passion. Not so lucky if he or she is screaming someone else’s name. But in general, someone screaming my name is a good thing. Just Google it: “screaming my name.”
But it’s really all in the way you say it, right? Your name doesn’t sound so good in a shrill or accusing voice. It sounds great when it’s being moaned or murmured. It all depends on the tone and the circumstances.
A name is an interesting thing. I don’t need my name for myself. When I think about myself, my thoughts don’t refer to me by name. I’m just me. Not only that, but if I’m alone in a room with someone who isn’t wearing a Bluetooth headset, she doesn’t need to use my name either. When she speaks, I know that she’s talking to me, even if she doesn’t mention my name.
So really, a name is a handle; an attention-summoner. You’ll need my name if I’m in the other room. If I’m engrossed in something, and my wife wants my attention, she’ll begin with my name. She thus summons me, anchoring my focus for whatever it was that she wanted to bring to my attention. A name allows someone else to pull you towards them from a distance. Whether it is a physical distance or an emotional distance, our name is the leash, the lever, that allows others to command our attention.
It’s a bit different when you scream or moan or murmur your lover’s name in passion, though. That’s more about you than about him or her. In that case, verbalizing your paramour’s name makes her more real to you. It conjures all of the warm/hot and intimate/erotic feelings that you feel towards her, and injects them into the lovemaking. Or, if the person writhing beneath you is exhibiting a side of herself that is much different than what you usually see, you might whisper her name as a bridge, an attempt to connect and link the two aspects of the one you love, merging her differing faces into one persona.
However, when you think about it, even in those intimate moments, calling someone by their name actually confirms a certain distance that exists between the two of you. You need to make your lover real? What, are you making love to a phantom? Hopefully, your lover is already the most real thing in your life! Ideally, you should not need to groan her name in order to ground her in your reality or you in hers.
The same is true of the “bridge-the-gulf” name-calling. If at some conscious or unconscious level you perceive a disconnect between your lover’s various facets, and you need to remind yourself that you’re making love to the same person that just took out the garbage, then your knowledge and embrace of him is not complete. Ideally, you and your lover should share such a degree of intimacy that each of you fully grasps the other, holistically, without any pesky little incongruities. This is why the Torah refers to Adam and Eve’s sex life it use the expression “knowing” each other. (In the biblical sense.)
When there is true intimacy, no name is needed. There is no distance. It’s just you and me, here and now.
This idea is aptly illustrated in this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh.
G-d loves names. He Himself has many: E-l. Elokim. Ado-nai. Sha-dai. YHVH. But He also calls those He loves by their names. “And these are the names of the Children of Israel.” Exodus, 1:1. He counts the number of the stars; He call them by their names.”. Psalms, 147:4. His affection towards Abraham was clear by the way G-d called him, repeating his name twice: “Abraham, Abraham.” Genesis, 22.11. An intimate murmur.
Moses was particularly special. One of the most ubiquitous verses in last four books of the Torah is: “And G-d spoke to Moses saying.” It’s everywhere. In fact, once Moses is first introduced in the beginning of Exodus, you would be hard-pressed to find a single Torah portion in which his name is not mentioned. G-d was always speaking to Moses, calling him by name.
Sometimes G-d would get angry at Moses. In that case, Moses’s name would be shrill, or a snarl. Sometimes there would be warm intimacy in G-d’s tone: “Moses, Moses.” Exodus, 3:4. A tender whisper. G-d loved calling Moses’s name. In fact, in a few weeks we will read the Parshah of Vayikra, beginning with the words: “And He called to Moses.” There, Rashi comments that “every time G-d communicated with Moses, whether it was represented by the expression ‘And He spoke, or ‘and He said,’ or ‘and He commanded,’ it was always preceded by G-d calling to Moses by name. ‘Calling’ is an expression of affection.”
Except there is one Parshah in which Moses’ name is not mentioned at all – the Parshah of Teztaveh.
Instead of the customary “And G-d spoke to Moses, saying, speak to the Children of Israel,” using the more-distant third person, this week’s Parshah begins with the words: “And you shall command the Children of Israel.”
“You” is a highly intimate form of expression. It captures and encapsulates all of “you” – not just a particular side or facet, but you. And “you” works only when we’re alone; where it’s clear that the only person that I could possibly mean by “you” is you.
By substituting Moses’s name for “you” throughout the Parshah, the Torah teaches that true intimacy is when we fully know and embrace one another; when we have removed all of the distance and separations between us; when we no longer need a “handle” because our attention at this moment is fully and intensely focused on the only other person that occupies my universe.
You know who you are 🙂