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March 31, 1978 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-03-31

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56 Friday, Nara 31, 1978


ch Love and Sex' A Prescription for Moderns

With sensitivity to all
concerned and value judg-
ments kept to a minimum,
Dr. Robert Gordis presents
in his new volume an over-
view of the areas of love,
sex, marriage, divorce,
premarital and extramari-
tal sex, interfaith marriage
and the role of women as
they are regarded according
to strict Jewish observance
and their affect on mankind
generally and modern
Jewry, specifically.
Published by Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, "Lov e
and Sex: A Modern Jewish
Perspective," offers ex-
cerpts on codes of behavior
from the Talmud and major
religious tracts and it
suggests a rational
guideline for behavior in
the aforementioned areas.
= What the reader will find
most striking about the
scholarly volume is_the
fairness with which the au-
( thor handles his sensitive
subjects. In his prefece, Dr.
Gordis puts forth the follow-
ing objective:

character, premarital sex
weakens its staying power.
Premarital sex transforms
the sexual act from being an
expression of the highest
level of intimacy and love
into a run-of-the-mill sen-
sual experience, casual or
irregular, available at any
time and with any partner.

of conception. This is owing to the great increase
cation in its broadest
true even today with the in the number of interfaith
sense, the drawing out of
various contraceptive , marriages, Dr. Gordis is
the finest capacities of
devices available, as the very much the realist. At
men and 144romen, by in-
mounting tide of illegiti- the same time, the common
standards of
mate births and abor- sense factor also reappears.
conduct that will do jus-
tions testifies. When the He writes:
tice both to human na-
act of supreme intimacy "However unpleasant ture
takes place outside of the conclusion may be, it idealism."
marriage, it must inevit- is clear that intermar-
ably be beclouded by riage cannot be elimi-
"Even for a couple who
point, positive attitude and
concern and anxiety, in- nated or even reduced to
are engaged and are plan-
regard for common sense all
stead of bringing total joy the near vanishing point
ning to be married, the sig-
are fused in a rational, sen-
and release to the par- so long as Jews live in a
nificance of the marriage
Bible guide for modern liv-
free or at least an open
state is vitiated by eremari-
ing. In addition, he pre-
y ...
tal sex, because the pattern
Looking toward the pose- societ
of their life together before tive is another factor which
In the
th f
He recommends that
and after the marriage makes the Gordis book so tide of intermarriage, the psychological and psychiat-
ceremony is virtually indis- Palatable. In his discussion Jewish community simply ric counseling
Creator, who fashioned me
services be
tinguishable. Nothing in of the role of women in the cannot afford to lose made more readily availa-
and women with differen n
t their behavior has been
Jewish experience, Gordis' thousands upon thousands ble. He particularly recom-
anatomical endowment
and with correspondingl s changed by the intervening essay rests mainly on the , of its sons and daughters mends the establishment of
distinct roles to play in th Y ceremony. As a result, the notion that for the most part without making a yeoman a consultation and informa-
e sanctity of marriage, that is the Jewish scriptures re- effort to refute — not elimi- tion center on Judaism. One
sexual process."
to say, its claim upon Joy- Bard women as inferior to nate but reduce — the defec- such center has already
The argument span
s alty and permanence even
men. However, Gordis is tions from its ranks." With proven successful in New
several pages, howeve r
in the face of inclination quick to point out that "the the insertion in his sentence York.
the author is quick t
thrust of the Halakha of the "not eliminate" the
present the other side o f weakened, if not destroyed.
the reader gains
was in the direction of author demonstrates he is then,
the question when he
a greater mea- cognizant of the scope of the •• en, b reading Dr. Gordis'
"When young people who
Love and Se x, - s is a pract i -
sure ofequality between the threat of interfaith mar-
"The homosexual in con _ have had sexual intimacies
cal guide for modern living
liege to the survival of the
temporary society has a ju s t together marry and live sexes."
It is a scholarly volume,
claim to be free from lega I happily after — an d this society
based on much thought, re-
ll has a l ong way
"While I venture to penalties and social dis _ does happeir— the best
He be
that to go
sti the
full equ
al ity J In an effort to give direc- search and concern for hu-
hope that this book is abilities .. .
manity that is reflected in
based on solid scholar.
"There can be no question
ship and reflects a that homosexuals are enti- marital relationship did not is remarkable is not that lems which arise in the the objectivity of the vol-
firsthand knowledge of tled to more than justice be- destroy their marriage; it women still suffer various areas related to love, sex, ume.
cannot be regarded as disabilities in Jewish law marriage, et al, Dr. Gordis
The Gordis book is a not-
the sources, it is not an fore the law. It is not enough strengthening
the bond.
today but that so much prescribes "a system of val-
able addition to the vast
academic treatise offer- merely to remove the vari-
progress has been regis- ues and code of behavior" scholarly works available
"Nor is this all. Premar-
ing a historical survey of ous kinds of legal disability
that serves as a compromise on Jewish living. It should
the sexual ethics of the and overt hostility to which ital sex robs the love act
between the scriptural dic-
be regarded as must reading
Jewish tradition or of the they have long been sub- of its full potential for joy.
and modern trends. He for all Jews concerned with
past behavior patterns of jected. Whatever evalua- Intercourse -always car-
of great concern to the suggests:
4 Jews. The work has a
ries with it the possibility Jewish community today
heritage and with the
tion is placed upon their
"We must turn to edu- future of the Jewish people.
twofold purpose. The condition, be it moral, medi-
first is to present a fair- cal, or psychological, they
minded and objective are human beings, our
survey of the new moral- brothers and
sisters, who
ity, its goals, its achieve- deserve compassion and
ments and its weaknes- love from their fellow men
ses. The second is to and above all, from their
bring to bear on the sub- brothers in kinship and in
(Editor's note: The fol-
ject the most vital and faith."
The draft of Spain's new
Given Spain's long. dren, although the pre-
lowing analysis was pre- constitution certainly
significant elements of
Common sense_ plays a
Catholic tradition, it is ob-
the Jewish tradition, the major role in the Gordis dis- pared by the European
suggests the intent to pro- viously too much to expect sent enrollment is only
wisdom and insight of courses, particularly in the office of the American
vide full equality for religi- that the separation of about 120, of whom about
which -transcend any writings on premarital sex. Jewish Committee.)
ous groups. Article 2 de- church and state will be as 20 are not Jewish.

As Spain
ethnic or sectarian On that topic, Dr. Gordis
clares that the state is non-
The Franco Government
moves purposefully but confessional; Article 15 sharp as it is in the U.S. The
boundaries. The claim is writes:
overriding issue will proba-
never established diploma-
haltingly toward democ-
not being made that the
makes all citizens, regard- bly be the nature and
"Far from strengthen-
relationS with Israel. For
racy, its 11,000 Jews can, at
answers to all the prob- ing the institution of mar-
less of race, birth, religion, of state support for Catholic
a while, there was reason to
long last, hope for civil and
lems in this area are to be riage, a premarital rela-
opinion, or other personal or institutions, and the big
this situation would
found in the Jewish trad- tionship undermines it at
social condition, equal be- question for Jews and Pro-
change, especially after an
Catholics. This develop-
ition, only that there is a its most basic. If mar-
fore the law; Article 17 testants will be
American Jewish Commit-
ment seems a minor miracle
substantial measure of riage is to survive in
spite- to anyone who remembers guarantees religious liberty they get equal support.
tee delegation met with
light and direction within of all its liabilities, it must
to all cults, limited only by
King Juan Carlos and
that only 30 years ago, Jews considerations of public or-
it for all people."
be endowed with one un-
A new law granting social
Queen Sofia during their
had to conduct their religi- der, and bars the govern-
An example of the au- ique attribute charac-
security coverage to religi-
1976 visit to the U.S.; and
ous services virtually in ment from compelling any-
thor's fairness can be seen teristic of it and of it alone
ous functionaries applies
secret; that the first
indeed, the King himself
in his treatment of the situ- — It must be the only the- synagogue and community one to reveal his or her re-
only to Catholics; it is hoped
to Rabbi Yosef his
ligious beliefs; another that the new constitution
ation of homosexuals.
ater for experiencing the center since the 1942 expul-
hope that diplomatic rela-
will eliminate the distinc-
The author discusses at most intimate interplay sion was built in 1956, in clause places marriage and
not far off.
dissolution of marriage
f love and sex. Marriage Barcelona, and was not al-
length that the general
under civil law.
community, and Jewry must have this special
lowed — until 1967 — to
More recently, however,
uality in order to sur-
Spain's Jewish. popula-
When the draft - Con-
specifically, take a negative
place a sign outside the
Spanish officials have de-
ive the limitless chal- structure to show it was a
stitution was made pub- tion, though small, has been
attitude toward homosexu-
clared that it will not hap-
anges and temptations Jewish institution.
lic, Catholic bishops were increasing steadily over the
ality. He writes:
pen until Israel meets
f modern life in a free
quick to point out that past two decades, largely
By contrast, in January
"legitimate" Arab demands,
"This negative attitude a nd open society.
because of immigration
and Spain voted consis-
toward homosexuality has
"Never have these
ingly Catholic country; from Morocco; and the
Justice, for the first time,
tently against Israel during
been maintained by Jewish h azards been as ubiquitous
but Socialists retorted communities in 11 major
called in Protestant and
the 32nd UN General As-
tradition to the present. It a nd as powerful as they are
sharply that other Spanish cities show signs of
Jewish leaders, almig with
sembly, although she tends
regards homosexuals as fl-
n society today. By robbing
Catholic countries — Fr- new vigor. (More recently, a
Catholics, for discussion of
to vote along with other
outing the will of the m arriage of this unique
ance, for instance — are few thousand Jews arrived
religious affairs.
West European countries on
from South America, prin-
governed by civil law.
most other issues.
cipally from Chile and
Catholic authorities re- Argentina, but they do not
This capitulation to Arab
lented, insisting they were have much contact with
pressure troubles Spain's
not opposed to separation of other Jews.)
but like most other
church and state, but
Spaniards, they are pre-
wanted safeguards for their
occupied right now with the
own right to teach and
Sephardi Chief Rabbi of
nation's economic crisis and
preach. Complicating the Israel, Ovadia Yosef, was
the quest for constitutional
situation is the fact that in guest of honor at the
Spanish Jewry's
Spain, as in Italy, a new opening ceremony of a
chance for true religious
Concordat with the Vatican Jewish school that can
equality lies in this struggle
is under discussion.
accommodate 300 chil-
for freedom.

Official Climate for Spain Jews Improving
Despite Problems With Catholics, Arabs

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