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Jewish Tradition and the Secrets of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’


Jewish Tradition and the Secrets of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

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I once counseled a French man married to an attractive woman who, after a few years together, refused to have relations with her. She desperately wanted children. She was convinced he was gay and all but forced him to come and see me. He swore to me he was straight. “Then why aren’t you attracted to your wife?,” I asked him. “Because she puts me down constantly,” he said. “She’s not nurturing at all. She’s harsh and mean.”

What he was saying was that his lust for his wife had disappeared as soon as, in his view, she had lost her femininity. Sexual polarity had vanished and with it the feverish gravitation a man is supposed to have for his wife. They divorced, the man later remarried and enjoys a healthy marriage with a wife to whom he remains deeply attracted.

I have heard the same from many a husband. But I have heard it even more from wives. Countless married women have told me they are not attracted to their husbands because of how poorly they are treated. Sex is a chore rather than a pleasure. They have been turned off their husbands.

But there’s another, more fundamental reason we disrespect lust. We don’t know how to sustain it so we disparage it. We don’t’ know how to hold on to it in marriage so we curse it. Be gone, you emotion of the devil. What results, however, are marriages based on the weak link of friendship, as opposed to the fiery and scorching bond of lust.

To be sure, both are necessary. The complete marriage is one where husband and wife are both lovers and best friends. But today we are mostly, and sometimes only, the latter. I have heard husbands tell me this countless times. Pointing to their wives they’ll say, “This is my wife. She’s my best friend.”

But friendship is not the nuclear bond that marriage requires in order to not just survive but flourish. I wrote my book “The Kosher Sutra” in order to establish the 8 principles of eroticism so that married couples can bring lust back into their relationships. But modern marriages for the most part don’t have it and modern men and women don’t have a deep understanding of the erotic mind. Which is not only sad, but also explains, in my opinion, the reason that marriage is dying as an institution. It seems so boring and routine. People end up sustaining lust by regularly changing partners, a counterfeit, compromising, and lazy version of lust.

Be that as it may, and simply put, lust is where you are made to feel intensely desirable. It’s where a man can’t stop thinking about you, obsessing over you, can’t keep his hands off you. It’s where you’re placed at the center of another person’s existence and where they permanently bask in the glow of your light. You are the planet and they are drawn into your gravitational orbit. And there is no feeling in the world quite like it. Nothing can make you feel more special.

Now we get to why women – and so many married women especially, as was parodied by Saturday Night Live – are reading Fifty Shades of Grey. The book is really the story of a billionaire who can have whatever he wants, but he wants this one woman. He wants her so badly that he obsesses over controlling her completely, making her submit, owning her, and taking complete possession over her. Nothing else matters, only her. He doesn’t want to ink any deals except with her. She has to, has to, sign on the dotted line or he’ll wither away. In other words, it is he who is her slave, and not the reverse. He can’t be without her, can’t live without having her. He is utterly smitten.

The truth of the story is that she is the one who is dominant. It is she who has a far greater hold over him than the opposite, and it is she who controls her submission. He, however, has no control, pursuing her doggedly, making her feel intensely desirable at all times.

And why submission specifically? Yes, women want to be wanted, but why in a position of subservience, even if only feigned? Simple. In a world where lust has died, where sexual polarity has all but disappeared and where sexual attraction has been reduced to the single dimension of the physical alone, an author gives us a wild story of a man and a woman recreating extreme sexual polarity of masculine and feminine – and we lap it up.

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About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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