Is Desexualizing Jewish?

Rabbi Zev Farber discusses "Desexualizing Public Space" in a column in the Jewish Journal.

The rabbi intelligently reviews several recent events, statements and controversies that he groups under the rubric of "desexualizing" within Orthodox Judaism.

On fact and on its face, the answer is yes, desexualizing is an Orthodox Jewish activity. Farber provides texts and examples of how that works.

There's no doubt that rabbis engage in many methods of desexualizing, of prescribing numerous taboos that forbid many forms of dress, taboos that forbid a lot of ordinary contact between men and women, and also what appear to be haphazard and unfocused prohibitions, extended for the sake of making restrictions on the social lives of Jews.

Aside from the potential of social ostracism, the violation of many of the desexualizing taboos bring upon the transgressor no punishments or repercussions of any kind.

The taboos are therefore in effect suggestions, not regulations. We assume that these proscriptions are meaningful to some Orthodox men and women. And yet we do know Orthodox people who just ignore them, others who mock them, and others who feel uncomfortable about them.

So yes, desexualizing is (Orthodox) Jewish.

But personally we don't think it does much good for Judaism. Across the board generalizations about sexuality make about as much sense to us as the idea that we legislate that only one shoe size will be sold in our shoe stores. People have different sized feet and yes, they have different sized sexualities.

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