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Ask the Rabbi
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
The results of the poll regarding the need for Jewish sex education on the Internet are conclusive. A definitive 55% of the voters believe that an open forum of issues of Jewish sexuality has a positive influence. 28% of the voters feel that the subject has positive value, but should be reserved to specialty sites like jewishsexuality.com, and not be posted on Arutz 7. 9% feet the issue should be dealt with only in closed discussions and classes, and 8% believe that exposure to the subject has a negative influence and does not belong on the Internet.
Interestingly, an INN news article posted yesterday reports that the National Council of Synagogue Youth has initiated it own website (www.negiah.org) dealing with Jewish teenage sex in order to educate Jewish youth of the dangers of premarital sex. This is the first time that a major mainstream Orthodox organization has taken the issue out of the closet, with the hope of stemming the tide. The announcement of the new program stated that it stemmed from NCYS's deep disturbance at the fact that "teenagers, including Jewish teens, are increasingly engaged in sexual experimentation." INN writer, Hillel Fendel, reports that the NCSY website uses frank language to convey the risks faced by young men and women engaging in sexual experimentation. The NCSY leadership became convinced that the only effective response to the troubling state of affairs was a comprehensive educational program in the modality (i.e., the Internet) and language to which teens relate. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Dean at Yeshiva University, and Jewish-legal consultant for OU Kosher, approved the program, noting that the language was straightforward but not so graphic as to render it too unsuitable for observant teens to read.
Boker tov, fellahs! Welcome to the battle!
We took a look at the site, and we recommend it highly. It is missing some of the major stumbling blocks that teenagers encounter, like the Internet itself, the problem of masturbation, sex with gentiles, and abortion, but it is a very good beginning. The Zohar teaches that three things drive out G-d’s Presence from the world: sexual relations with non-Jews, relations with women considered "Niddah," and abortion, and these are all likely to occur in situations of pre-marital sex involving Jewish teenagers.
Tonight marks 41 days of the Omer, associated with the Kabbalistic sefirah, "Yesod of the Yesod." This day is associated with sexual purity. For this reason, hundreds of Hasidim will make a pilgrimage tonight to the city of Shechem and the Tomb of Yosef, who is known for his great valor in overcoming sexual transgression.
In addition, tonight marks the 300th anniversary of the yahrtzeit of the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzutto. It would be a good idea if the new NCSY website included his writings on separation and cleanliness from sexual sin. In the meantime, in tribute to his memory, here are a few reminders to teenagers of all ages, excerpted from his classic work, "Mesillat Yesharim:"
"We shall now consider the sin of illicit relations. One who desires to be completely clean of this sin requires no little effort, for its prohibition takes in not only the act itself, but anything that approaches it, as Scripture clearly states: "Do not come near to uncover nakedness" (Vayikra, 18:6). And our Sages of blessed memory have said, "The Holy One Blessed Be He said: Do not say, ‘Since I may not have relations with this woman, I will hold her and be free of sin, I will hug her and be free of sin, I will kiss her and be free of sin.' The Holy One Blessed Be He said, ‘Just as when a Nazarite takes a vow not to drink wine, he is forbidden to eat grapes or raisins, or to drink grape juice, or to partake of anything that comes from the grapevine, so it is forbidden to touch any woman but your own wife; and anyone who does touch a woman other than his wife brings death to himself'" (Shemot Rabbah, 31:6).
"By applying this principle to the area of illicit relations, the Sages prohibited anything partaking of the nature of fornication, or anything approaching it, regardless of the particular avenue of approach, whether that of deed, sight, speech, hearing, or even thought."
We see then that all of one's faculties must be clean of licentiousness and anything relating to it. This goes for adults as well as for teenagers, and INN readers too!