The first episode of “The Joy of Text” may make you blush. If it does, you’re likely its target audience. The podcast, which is sponsored by JOFA and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School (YCT), includes a frank and lively discussion about the role of fantasy in sexual activities between Jewish spouses. Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, a renowned sex therapist and Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rosh Yeshiva of YCT, dispel myths about Talmudic prohibitions on fantasy. They explain how fantasy, most often, is a helpful way to trigger arousal and strengthen sex lives.
The two explore the vast halakhic permissibility of fantasy, and, along with moderator Ramie Smith, talk about ways in which fantasy can bring husbands and wives closer together. Dr. Marcus contends almost all fantasy is healthy and cautions women not to edit their imaginations because they feel they have drifted into untoward or shameful territory. She points out that the very nature of fantasy is unreal and therefore it is almost impossible to commit a transgression in that realm. At the conclusion of the podcast, in response to listener questions, they discuss the role of props, including vibrators and Kama Sutra cards, in fulfillment of onah, the Talmudic commandment to sexually fulfill one’s wife.
The podcast also includes an interview with Michael Lesher, an attorney and writer, whose new book Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities, looks at the tendency to hide abuse. Mr. Lesher says that, historically, victims of sexual abuse were discouraged from reporting the incidents and advocates discussing healthy sexuality with children to help them understand what is appropriate and when lines have been crossed.
In the second episode, released today, Dr. Marcus and Rabbi Linzer discuss whether Orthodox Jews who engage in premarital sex are permitted to use condoms to prevent STDs, and how parents should talk to their kids about