Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sabbath Sex

Sabbath involves both a withdrawing from the humdrum and whir of ordinary preoccupation and relishing sacred moments of time set apart from work and the pressures of the outside world, where food, candles, wine and prayer waft together as people decompress and reconnect with the rhythm of God, ourselves and those we love. Jewish traditional tells us that two candles are to be lit on the Sabbath. It is usually a woman who lights the candles, which represent the dual, slightly different reiterations of the Ten Commandments in the Hebrew Bible. We are told in Exodus to "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." Deuteronomy instructs us to "guard the Sabbath." Rabbis Kerry M Olitzky and Daniel Judson write in their book, Jewish Ritual: A Brief Introduction for Christians, that everything comes in twos on the Sabbath: Two loaves of Challah bread, two angels to escort us home the Sabbath evening, two candles, and in some interpretations, two lovers enraptured in the "double mitsva" of sex on Shabbat. Olitzky and Judson communicate that on Shabbot, two is really about becoming One. "The Rabbis even say that the two times where the Ten Commandments appear in the Bible, God actually spoke them at the exact same time, somehow, in the mystery that is the Oneness of God...Shamor vezakhor bediboor echad, God utterered the words guard and remember as one word." And according to the most special text of Jewish Mysticism, The Zohar, "just as the male and female aspects of the Divine unite above, so they also unite below in the mystery of the Oneness.' Some understand this as a sensual whisper from Adonai on the Sabbath calling husbands and wives to weave the dance of sex as an act of worship. Could it be that just as Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen a holy path in setting aside the work to listen at Jesus feet, Sabbath might be a time of setting aside all but our lover? A time for a woman to light the candles, setting fires dancing, allowing moments to run seamless together with each caress of an unhurried tryst; passion mirroring the Divine male and female aspects of our Creator. Perhaps some Sabbath soon you will hear God whispering with a holy quiver, "Make love tonight."

14 comments:

Nancy said...

I like the idea of exploring further the potential for sacred experience in sex. Some questions come to mind though...for example, is sex only sacred if you choose it to be or is it always sacred, even in a one night stand? I'm not being glib, I'm just wondering.

Jemila Monroe said...

Nancy, this is a valid question. What are your thoughts? Can you give a stab at clarifying what you mean when you refer to "sacred" in this context?

Cynthia said...
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Beyond Words said...

Jemila, that is so beautifully written....Thanks

Jemila Monroe said...

Hi Beyond Words, thanks for coming by :)

Nancy said...

Jemila: Just referring to your initial blog....maybe I misundertood your point?

Jemila Monroe said...

Nancy, I'm not sure quite how to articulate this: my question to you is whether you define "sacred" as based on the act itself or the if the context, intentions and attitude of the practitioner are necessary ingredients for the act to be considered sacred?

My original post was more poetic than expositive, so I hadn't really thought through intellectual definitions of sacred sexuality. I'm curious about your thoughts.

Nancy said...

LOL! Jemila, I think that was what I was wondering "aloud" at the beginning. I have read different points of view on this. For example, some believe that a bond is formed on a soul level between two people with the sex act that creates the "oneness" and it is forever. Others see it as purely a biological thing.

I'm not sure exactly what I adhere to...and that is why I liked your post. It was indeed poetic, you have a gift there. It certainly inspired in me thoughts about approaching a sexual encounter with my husband with that intention, as a sacred kind of event. : )

Jemila Monroe said...

Nancy, I think as in many things, the truth is somewhere in the middle, with a both/and to boot. I think there is something about sex, and that is INTENDED to be sacred, and I think there's a price to pay for using sex as a purely biological thing; at the same time, I don't think marriage automatically "sanctifies" sex and makes it sacred. You can be two married people just using each other for physical satisfaction. So I think there's an element of intrinsic and an element of intentional consecration as well.

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