by Alieza Salzberg

Torah and Taboo

Reinventing Jewish sexual ethics

The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press, $19.95) is a “playground,” in the words of editor Danya Ruttenberg, for exploring and re-imagining a contemporary sexual ethic based in the Jewish tradition. The anthology derives from Ruttenberg’s premise that “as much as Judaism has to teach us about sexual relationships… from our contemporary perspective, its teachings may feel uncomfortable or deeply challenging.” None of the thinkers who contributed to the book shy away from critique. They uncover and deconstruct misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, pornographic, and xenophobic outlooks found in the Jewish texts we have inherited; still they honor the very same tradition as a source for reconstructing a contemporary, healthy sexual ethic.

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