Everything You Want to Know About Jews & Sex

Religion Dispatches has a very thorough and scintillating interview with Danya Ruttenberg, author of The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism, up on their website.

I found the story of Rahab quite interesting (as did many of your contributors—quite a few of them utilize it in their analysis). Who would have thought that Pretty Woman had its roots in Judaism? Why is this such a compelling story?

The tale of a gentile prostitute who hides Israelite spies so that they can conquer the land is pretty ripe for reading, isn’t it? It has, over time, evoked so many different tropes: the hooker with a heart of gold, the righteous gentile, the redeemed ‘fallen woman’, the colonized woman colluding with her colonizers, etc. According to some midrashim (rabbinic homilies), she converted to Judaism; so there she is portrayed as the woman who went from the depths of depravity to the heights of piety. Her foreignness and her sexuality are exoticized, feared, deplored, considered titillating. There’s a lot to say, and so much of what has been said by the rabbis is so deeply troubling that there remains, for us, plenty more to say.

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