Shmuley Boteach: Interview with the Rabbi

The kosher sutra.


If Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is remembered for one thing, it will be Kosher Sex, a frank, unabashed discussion of sex and sexuality . When it was first published (1998 in Britain, 1999 in the U.S.) the idea of a Hasidic rabbi on Oprah was as foreign as the idea of a Hasidic reggae singer on Letterman.

Now, Boteach is a regular guest on Oprah’s show. In addition, he hosts his own radio show as well as a reality TV show, Shalom in the Home. He’s created a virtual media empire of his own mix of Jewish ethics and relationship counseling, covering every subject from family relationships to, well, sex.

Kosher Sex championed the idea that sex and Judaism–and sex and religion in general–are not mutually exclusive. In Kosher Sex, Boteach (that’s “Rabbi Shmuley” to his fans) reminded us of the connection between Divine love and physical love. Ten years later, Boteach’s latest book, The Kosher Sutra, is a follow-up of sorts, an eight-step program toward a better love life and a better relationship, with tips taken from the Torah, his counseling work, and common sense.

In December 2010, I spoke to Rabbi Shmuley about love, sex, the importance of lust in a marriage, and why he never talks about Hasidic Jews in his books.

The Kosher Sutra feels more like a direct sequel to Kosher Sex than your other books. Are you harvesting the seeds you planted there, or is it an issue you keep coming back to, or do people just like to talk about sex?

Yes and no. On one hand, it was the tenth anniversary of Kosher Sex. That book dealt with passion and intimacy; this new book deals with erotic contractions.

It’s about rejuvenating a couple’s sex life, love life, and intimate life–these are all components of the same thing. You know, I look at the subject holistically. Kosher Sex wasn’t supposed to be everything that was said on the subject, and even Kosher Sutra wasn’t. But I’m, you know, working toward it. I’m publishing books that deal with every aspect of the laws of passion, disintegration of relationships–I’ve written a lot of parenting books, so [Kosher Sutra is] more of an extension of my commitment to the family than an extension of Kosher Sex.

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Matthue Roth's newest book is Automatic. He is also the author of three novels and the memoir Yom Kippur a Go-Go, and is an associate editor at His screenplay 1/20 is currently in production as a feature film.

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