“Oprah’s Rabbi” is back in the sex business — writing about it, that is. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who has spent time learning in Lubavitch yeshivot and leading an outreach center at Oxford University, is the author of “The Kosher Sutra: 8 Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life” (HarperOne), his third book on physical intimacy. His earlier books on the subject, “Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy” and “Kosher Adultery: Seduce and Sin With Your Spouse” became bestsellers.
Q: Why another sex book?
A: I have nine kids to feed, and only two kidneys. But as of last Friday, the book was the No. 2 relationship book in the country on Amazon. It just shows you how badly people want books that merge spirituality and sex.
More importantly, in hosting my TV show on TLC, “Shalom in the Home,” and in counseling couples on an everyday basis, I was struck by how much marital strife results from a simple loss of desire. “Kosher Sex” dealt with the loss of intimacy in marriage. “The Kosher Sutra” deals with the loss of lust and desire.
You write that your emphasis is on eroticism, not sex. What’s the difference?
Eroticism need not be something sexual. Eroticism is, rather, an electric curiosity for life. It is a desire to pull back the hood and uncover the engine of existence. To live erotically is to peel back the superficial layers and discover essence in all that we experience. It is to rise above boredom and to always be engaged by life.
In yeshiva, you learned to be Dr. Ruth?
No, she learned to be Rabbi Shmuley.
Look, Judaism has the most profound teachings regarding relationships in general, and marriage and sexuality in particular. Rather than being known for Wall Street and finance, I believe that the Jewish community should be known first and foremost for relationships. Nothing wrong with the yeshivas sharing the profound wisdom found in the Torah and especially the Talmud that pertains to relationships. Heck, if we taught more stuff like this, yeshiva enrollment would quadruple.
When does God enter into the equation about sex and relationships?
I think America wants to return to a more sacred sexuality. One based on sex as the union of souls, rendering two strangers, who are man and wife, bone of one bone and flesh of one flesh. In that sense, God and spirituality are essential to the orchestration of halves becoming one indivisible whole.
Do you let the Boteach children read your sex books?
I let them buy them, because I need every possible sale. But no, they cannot read them. When they are of marriageable age it will be time.