It was another interesting day at the Shalom Hartman Institute. We were asked to read some Jewish texts this morning. The session was titled 'Husbands, Wives and Torah: Negotiating Passions'. The main gist of these texts was trying to affirm some form of right between a husband and wife on issues such as sex. There are clear stipulations in some of these texts which state that a husband and wife have sexual needs and that they must be met. The texts then deal with the situation where this is not always possible, such as when a husband has to go and study Torah and how their has to be a negotiation between them about ‘times’ when they are able to fulfill their sexual desires. Such stipulations are also evident in Islamic texts and traditions too. What I find interesting is the way in which these ‘laws’ or ‘traditions’ come across as rights than desires. A right obligates the duty of love wheras a desire would see it just happen. I guess there are men (and women) who don't have the desire and so need a law to obligate them. I am left confused as to how you can carry out a sexual act (of love?) in a rights based situation? Is it even viable to call it a marriage in that instance? There was much discussion on this and it left a huge space for further discussion and dissemination of these texts.
In the evening I attended a public lecture where Muslim, Christian and Jewish thinkers were presenting their views on 'family under fire' in their faith community. I found the discussion very interesting with much debate about how scripture is interpreted in view of the living realities. A Jewish female Rabbi summed up the three areas pretty well, they were position of women, sexuality and the dislocation of the non-religious from faith communities. It is a shame that there are many people who believe that their interpretation is in some way 'sacred' which in turn cuts off so many from the path of God. Much to think about folks!