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Ask Gil
Dear Readers: I LOVE READING YOUR EMAIL!!!! SO, if you'd like to say something about this website, the Email of the Week column or have a different Jewish issue/question on your mind please send it in. I am always looking for emails for future columns and a book I am writing (you will remain anonymous, of course). So, please email me at GilMann@BeingJewish.org just click on the blue letters. I look forward to your emails! 

Thanks,
Gil


 

Dear Readers,

These columns began on my area of America Online, called:  Judaism Today:  Where Do I Fit?   People anonymously sent me E-Mail, and I began to choose one for a public response in my Jewish E-Mail of the Week column. The column has become quite popular and is now syndicated internationally in many Jewish papers and websites.  I hope you find they help you as you think about the Ethics, Spirituality and Peoplehood components of the Jewish way of Life.  I welcome your comments... see the end of the column.

Gil

PS  Teachers and others, feel free to copy my columns and forward them or use them as you see fit.  Please see the friendly copyright notice at the end.

BIZARRE JEWISH SEX?

 

The following E-Mail came to me under the subject: What's up with the hole in the sheet?

Dear Gil:

I have been asked by many non Jewish friends about a practice in which Jewish people have sex through a hole in a sheet. Is this an actual practice with some Jews, or just another example of a false Jewish stereotype?

J

 

 

Dear J:

"Sex through a hole in a sheet?" Anybody who would hear something like this about Jews would have to wonder about us!

Judaism's attitude toward sex is between two extremes. Judaism rejects the extreme of "anything goes" and also rejects the opposite extreme that sex is dirty or sinful. Instead Judaism imposes numerous restrictions on sexual relations, but also promotes regular sex between a husband and wife as healthy, worthy of enjoyment and a mitzvah (an affirming commandment.)

As for sex through a hole in a sheet, I must confess I had never heard anything like that so I began to investigate. Tracking down information was not easy. Ultimately, I contacted 6 different rabbis. All 6 of them said they knew next to nothing about the practice--FYI, 4 of the rabbis where Orthodox. One of the Orthodox rabbis told me he had never heard of it.

The other 5 rabbis told me they had heard some mention of this practice but that is about it. None of the rabbis had ever known anybody who actually practiced "hole in the sheet sex."

Since I was already on the subject, I asked further, what would be the rational for this kind of sex? None of the rabbis knew. One guessed that it might have something to do with modesty or "tziniyut" since sex in the dark or at night is encouraged by some sources for modesty reasons. Another rabbi thought it might be some form of "negiah" taken to the nth degree. Negiah is a part of Jewish tradition that prohibits physical contact between a husband and wife if she is menstruating.

Three of the rabbis told me that in their opinion, this alleged sheet practice would actually be a violation of Jewish law! One told me that Jewish law encourages full contact between a husband and a wife and even grants the wife permission to request full body contact...a sheet in the way would obviously cause a problem!

Just to add a little (more) humor to this mystery, one rabbi told me that he speculated that this rumor may be a result of non-Jews seeing tzitzit hanging from the clothesline and assuming it was a sheet with a hole in it. (Tzitzit are the undershirt like garments with fringes on the four corners that many observant Jewish men wear beneath their shirt.)

Rabbi number sixth I spoke to had the most plausible explanation to me. After racking his brain he called me back to say that perhaps the rumor comes from a little known Jewish divorce law that speaks of a spouse willing to have sex only through a sheet. This is considered so bad, that the other partner can cite "the sheet" as grounds for divorce--with no financial remuneration! In other words the law condemns such behavior.

In conclusion, apparently having sex through a sheet is not practiced by Jews and indeed is a false stereotype. I am amazed that you say you have been asked about this practice by "many" non-Jews since all 6 of the rabbis barely knew what I was talking about when I asked them. Things in the rumor mill about what we Jews do must be getting pretty slow!

If anybody out there can shed any more light on this subject, I welcome your E-mails. I suppose now I will receive all kinds of mail with questions and comments on the subject of Judaism and sex. I am sure, I won't be bored!

Thanks for writing,

Gil



A FRIENDLY COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Copyright Gil Mann

These columns can be found at www.beingjewish.org.  Not only do I give you permissions to copy these Jewish Email columns...I HOPE YOU WILL and that you share them with others!  All I ask is that you never charge anyone for them and that you also include this little copyright notice.  Thank You!
Ask Gil
Dear Readers: I LOVE READING YOUR EMAIL!!!! SO, if you'd like to say something about this website, the Email of the Week column or have a different Jewish issue/question on your mind please send it in. I am always looking for emails for future columns and a book I am writing (you will remain anonymous, of course). So, please email me at GilMann@BeingJewish.org just click on the blue letters. I look forward to your emails! 

Thanks,
Gil

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