Toward a Meaningful Life with Simon Jacobson
Radio Show Transcript - June 20, 1999
Mike Feder: Good evening,
this is Mike Feder and welcome to another edition of Toward
a Meaningful Life with Simon Jacobson. Tonight our topic
is sexuality. Iím going to plunge right into the subject if
you donít mind the expression. I never just say hello. I just
barge right into the subject. Hi, how are you?
Simon Jacobson: You always
seem to be plunging. Itís a metaphor for life. Try to swim once
in a whileÖ
Feder: Instead of just jumpingÖ.
Okay. Here we go. So tonightís subject is sexuality, which is
something I presume is going to interest everybody listening.
Letís start off with a simple question. What would you say is,
in your opinion, the origin of sexuality?
Jacobson: Okay. Well I should
preface this by saying that everyone comes with his or her axioms
or points of reference. This show, Toward a Meaningful Life,
which has been very gratifying to myself and I know to you,
Mike, and to many of our listeners who have written and called
us, is essentially based on Torah wisdom. A scholarship, a body
of knowledge and experience, that goes back thousands of yearsótime-testedóand
I think itís important at the outset to state from which perspective
Iím coming from.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion
and everyone has their approach, based on life experiences,
trial and error, education, schooling, home, or just whatever
they pick up. This show comes from a body of information and
knowledge called the Torah, which is considered and believed
to be Divine in nature, but not in any form of presentation
that is dogmatic: that this is what you must believe or this
is what you must accept.
Our show is meant, as the name
implies (Toward a Meaningful Life) to offer an option, or to
offer a life approach that for me has been personally transformative,
and I feel it is my responsibility and obligation, as it is
for everyone to share the knowledge that youíve learned.
I particularly elaborate here because
we are dealing with a topic (sexuality) which is by no means
one that anyone is neutral about. Everyone has a sexual nature,
everyone has a need for sexuality, everyone has a sexual personality,
so to speak, and everyone has been shaped, in one way or another,
in their sexual preferences, in how they express and experience
it, whether inside or out of marriage today, and Iím sure everyone
listening will have a very strong opinion in the matter, so
I feel it is very important to preface that Iím coming from
a perspective that is very defined, yet extremely flexible and
surprisingly, extremely free-spirited.
I specifically use that word because
most people would attribute religion or Torah to a very inhibited
and narrow definition of sexuality. Especially in our generation
called the Sexual Revolution, a generation of free-spiritedness:
non-conformist, even marriage, should not be seen as "just
because everyoneís doing it" type of thing. And it became
a much freer approach to it.
Now, what I intend to discuss,
and I hope we cover it extensively enough, is to describe what
actually is sexual freedom? What does it mean to be free, to
be a free spirit? How does sexuality play into that and what
happens when sexuality enslaves you to your obsessions, as we
see people sometimes can become completely irrationalÖ
Iím sure, Mike, you have some of
these questions, but Iím just expressing from my own mind some
of my own terms.
So letís begin with the question
you asked which is the foundation of it all, "What is sexuality?"
Where does it originate from, where does it come from?
Now, I think for contrasting purposes,
I think itís wise to use two models or two approaches to sexuality.
One, the prevalent, contemporary, scientific approach. I donít
even know if the word scientific is right; letís call it a theory,
a biological theory: the evolutionary theory of sexuality. And
then Iíll contrast it with the biblical one.
Iím sure there are many others
and I donít want to pigeonhole ourselves.
Feder: I think those two
will cover a lot of ground.
Jacobson: But even within
the secular world, Iím sure there are many approaches. Iíll
just take one as an example, and thatís the evolutionary theory
which is essentially based on the idea that perpetuation of
the species, survival of the fittest, is the primary force in
nature, in all species.
Feder: From single cells
right up through the chainÖ
Jacobson: Exactly. Through
animals and humans. So perpetuation of the species is the result
of a sexual relationship between a male and a female and the
case of human beings as well as animals, from this perspective,
(Iím just presenting this briefly) the key is perpetuation of
Based on this theory, the male
will search for the female that is most fertile, that will bear
the healthiest offspring, and the female will search for a male
that provides the healthiest seed, that is the most virile and
that will protect the young. This is a theoryówithout discussing
the virtues or the vicesówhich explains quite a few reasons
how people mate or search for each other. Why certain features
in the woman or in the man are extremely enticing or attractive
to the opposite sex because they reflect on elements of fertility
or signs of health that are important for the perpetuation of
the species. This objective is the underlying force behind all
courtship, behind the beauty, and the romance, and behind the
Feder: Or mysticismÖ
Jacobson: Right. Behind
it all lies really a primal force. Existence, and perpetuation
of that existence. Since human beings do have some sophistication,
this theory states that human sophistication has evolved. People
are not ready to think of themselves merely as production machines
to bear children, so in order to justify, or to entice, two
people into a union, evolution and biology have evolved to the
point where it creates pleasure in sexuality; it creates interest,
mystique as you put it, Mike, a mystery that attracts you, an
elusiveness, and all that results in the romantic journey.
Feder: So now weíre one
step above survival of the fittest. Weíre rising higher.
Jacobson: No. Our rising
higher is essentially just a way of nature packaging that attraction.
So in a sense, it is like two bees searching for each other.
So one bee will buzz a certain way or give off a certain scent
because itís attracted to the other, but essentially what it
comes down to is that these are tactics that get them together
to mate and bear offspring.
Human beings are sophisticated,
so they need to have some type ofóI donít want to call it an
excuseóbut itís a means to another end. The attraction, the
chase, the romance, the flowers, the music, the moonlight, are
really essentially just natureís way of getting two people together.
Feder: Hereís our scientific
Jacobson: Itís a view which
basically means that all the mystique and the romance and the
beauty that we so attribute to love, is essentially to get people
together to mate and perpetuate the species.
Remember, nature is merciless.
Nature must prevail. And thatís how people establish a relationship.
Now, Iím not minimizing the extent
to which people will pursue love in that fashion, I just wanted
to give you that approach.
Now, letís contrast it with the
The Torah approach is stated specifically
in Genesis, in the Bible, right in the beginning, that sexual
attractionómeaning the attraction of the sexes to each otheróman
to woman, woman to man, is driven by a completely different
force. Not perpetuation of the species, but the search for their
divine image; for their quintessential self.
The way the Bible puts it, that
G-d created male and female He created them, G-d, split them
into two, and they search for each other.
Theyíre not half individuals, obviously,
man is a complete personality and woman is a complete personality,
but there are elements in their transcendental search, in their
completeness, that remain incomplete if they donít find each
other. Because thereís something missing in each of them; they
were once part of a greater whole.
To put it in more mystical, or
more divine terms, theyíre really searching to become one with
The human race is really one entity;
male/female. The male and female are split into two. When these
two come together, unite in a marital union, mate, they together
reflect the divine image in which they were both created as
Feder: I assume part of
this plan, that there is a particular female and a particular
male searching for each other, to unite. Itís not just any male
Jacobson: Right, but before
we get into specifics, letís talk about Adam and Eve. There
were no other human beings, so itís only Adam and Eve who represent
the human race...before we break it into millions or billions
of people. Weíre talking about the male species and the female
Male and female are really two
forms of energy that are complete only when theyíre together.
When I say complete, I donít mean to minimize any individual
personality, but complete in a more divine, more cosmic sense.
Like a positive and a negative charge. Interestingly, the Kabbalah,
which is the mystical area of Torah thought, discusses male
and female not just among humans. It sees it as two forms of
energy that, in the most abstract form, one can be called an
internal energy and the other a projective energy. Feminine
energy and masculine energy that exists in each man and in each
woman for that matter and in every part of nature.
In the most tangible, physical
sense, itís a man and a woman, but on a subtle and sublime level,
male and female are two forms of energy that essentiallyóeven
G-dliness is sometimes described in the feminine and sometimes
in the masculine.
Feder: In Torah? Itís not
always just the paternalistic G-d?
Jacobson: No, not at all.
On the contrary. Many of the spiritual terms are all feminine.
One of the names for G-d is, for example, the Shechinah,
which is the feminine dimension of G-dliness.
What you usually find is that the
masculine is more of a projective energy and the feminine is
much more of a regal, majestic, internal type of energy. But
itís just really two types of forms that together create one
whole, one entirety.
So "male and female He created
them" combine both male and female energies, which ultimately
evolve into what we call the biological man and the biological
woman. But their biology and their anatomy is simply the tip
of the iceberg. They only express a much deeper, more profound
psychological, spiritual distinct energy.
This doesnít mean that theyíre
completely different. Man and woman can be 90% similar, as we
know in the chromosomes, but there are elements which are primarily
male and others which are primarily femaleóI should add that
there are men who have more feminine energy than do some women,
and there are some woman who have more masculine energy. But
essentially, there is a general balance. The gentle character
of a woman, as opposed to a man, meaning, the man can be more
brutal, physical stronger, more dominantÖ
Feder: More aggressiveÖ
Jacobson: More ego, you
know, the male ego. All this is essentially reflective of masculine
energy. And I want to qualify this and say to all the listeners,
do not apply this to every man and woman you meet, because we
are talking somewhat about a quintessential man and woman.
Remember, when you look at yourself
in the mirror, you have to remember that youíve been shaped
not just by the way G-d created you, but also by social forces,
work force, home, schooling, educationóso much of it is social
programming. Letís not consider that everything that has been
socially programmed into the feminine consciousness or male
consciousness is divine.
Feder: Let me just bring
it back to a question you said before. These energies were split
and became men and women on earth, presumably G-d, the Divine
presence, split these energies and they come together and rejoin
with G-d, or become not one with G-dóthatís more like an Eastern
way of looking at itóbut my question is: a) why were they split
in the first place? But really, weíre all struggling towards
each other, why the need for the struggle, or is that a whole
Jacobson: Itís definitely
another program, but, itís in context and Iíll incorporate it
into my final sentence as we proceed here.
So what we have is as follows.
A split of two energies, and a yearning and inclination to become
one whole. The human race is created in the Divine image, but
that human race is half male and half female, and through their
union they become that larger whole, that Divine image that
unites or searches for union with G-d, for a higher reality.
Now, this is, in essence, the soul
of sexual attraction. This attraction, which manifests itself
in many physical sensations, from a faster heartbeat to a physical
attraction to another person, is essentially the attraction
of male to female and female to male to become a complete whole
or a complete unit. Connecting to their "higher reality,"
not that theyíve ever been completely disconnected, but consciously,
people can go off on their own individual narcissistic, even
selfish, path. And here, thereís a voice in you saying, I yearn
for something greater. So itís interesting, when a man is attracted
to a woman physically, it may sound like a very biological thing,
but from a Jewish, Torah perspective, itís just a physical manifestation
of a very deep spiritual attraction.
Feder: In both directionsÖ
Jacobson: Right. Male to
female, female to male. Now, your question must be answered.
The reason for this split is precisely the same reason why we
exist. You can ask the question: who needs this whole thing?
Because G-d wanted us to be partners with Him in creation, in
existence. And in order for that to occur, there has to be a
split, which we overcome. In other words, existence is, in essence,
also a split-off from G-d in a conscious level.
Like the analogy given of a wise
parent who wants his or her child to earn something on their
own, the parent will hide his or her presence; they will make
sure that they are not impeding by influencing the child, they
wonít hold his hand. But theyíre watching, and they want the
child to be wise.
In other words, the split is almost
most like an obscuring, a shrouding, so we can deceive ourselves
into thinking that all there is is myself.
There is a famous analogy (you
see it on greeting cards, itís already turned into a cliché
but it doesnít take away from its truth) where you see a picture
of your life as captured by two sets of footprints in the sand
walking along a beach. And then suddenly it turns into one set
of footprints, which represents a time of deep personal pain
and was loss.
So he says to G-d, "Why did
you forsake me? You walked side by side with me my entire life,
but then in my most difficult times of loss, thereís only one
set of footprints there. You left me." So G-d responds,
"Well, that was when I was carrying you."
Feder: I heard this put
another way in a Buddhist book once, where someone was explaining
what this is all about and he said, "Think of a waterfall
and weíre all on one stream together. It hits a cliff and all
the individual droplets and streams drop and fall off, but at
the bottom, what theyíre all yearning for is to join in that
Jacobson: I think thatís
a beautiful analogy and I would parallel it with a Kabbalistic
one which does the same with sparks. You take, for example,
two stones and you crash them against each other, they do not
fuse into one. However, when one unit of fire begins crackling,
the sparks go off into the dark. But essentially, if youíre
able to bring two sparks together, they melt and fuse into one
indistinguishable unit. Fire, similar to water, has that magnetic
attraction. Bring two flames together and they become one, you
canít distinguish, as it is with two drops of water. So actually,
water and fire are two very good analogies, and the one with
the sparks is an analogy for the soul, because every soul is
compared to a flame, and flamesóyour flame inside of you, Mike,
and mine inside of me, and everyone listening, everyone in this
world, has a small flame. And when you open your flame up, it
draws another flame closer. Thatís really what love is all about.
Itís like two flames coming together, and when they do, they
both melt into one without one becoming less than the other,
because they now equally contribute to the larger whole.
And the split is necessary, because
thatís what gives life purpose.
Feder: Speaking of contributing
to a larger whole, it is time for us to reidentify ourselves.
Youíre listening to Toward a Meaningful Life with Simon Jacobson,
and Iím Mike Feder. This is WEVD 1050 AM in New York. We
are here every week from 6-7pm on Sunday evening.
Rabbi Jacobson is the director
of the Meaningful Life Center in Brooklyn out of which a lot
of things flow, and one of the main things that we talk about,
thatís a blueprint for the program is the Rabbiís book, Toward
a Meaningful Life, published by William Morrow. Virtually
every subject that we cover on this show, no matter how specific,
general, or newsworthy, is covered in this book.
Let me give you some of the ways
in which you can contact us or send us questions on the various
topics you are listening to, anything that you have to direct
towards us. The most important thing is the telephone number:
1-800-3MEANING or 1-800-363-2646. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can always write to us at: The Meaningful Life Center, 788
Eastern Parkway, Suite 303, Brooklyn, NY 11213.
Iíd like to also tell you that we
have a new website where you can download transcripts of this
program, and previous and future programs. Itís www.meaningfullife.com.
Okay, so letís sort of split up
a little bit so we can reunite at the end of the show. Let me
ask you some questions here. So then, since we have these descriptions,
both scientific and Torah knowledge about this, is the main
purpose of sexuality to unite and find a higher power and higher
Is there any other kind of sexuality
besides marital sexóI guess what Iím struggling to say is óis
that the highest kind of sexuality? I wouldnít want to say that
itís the only kind, but is that the higher goal of sexuality,
then, is to unite in marriage? I mean, after all, this is a
religious perspective and a lot of people would probably say
thatís what heís driving at.
Jacobson: Well, actually,
what Iím driving at is something much more profound than marriage,
and maybe then, letís give a more profound definition of what
marriage really is.
Feder: Iím also talking
about pre- and extra-marital relationsÖ
Jacobson: I understand.
Let us now compare these two schools of thought, and Iíll carry
that into your questionóbecause I think that preface will help
greatlyóone is driven by biological needs of perpetuation of
species. Contrast that with two souls in search for a greater
whole and, as I often say on this program, we donít draw any
conclusions here, I just try to present this objectively to
the audience, and see what resonates in your heart. Which approach
do you prefer in defining love, which approach resonates more:
a love that is simply natureís way of getting you to mate with
someone so that the species can perpetuate itself, or perhaps,
the attraction is more sublime, as an end in itself, to achieving
a greater unity. Frankly, I know what resonates for me. When
I first studied this, I found it amazing that the Torah's view
is much more romantic than the secular view.
I should add, that the sacred marital
union also has the effect of creating new life. Indeed, it is
as a result of the powerful divine nature of a marital sexual
relationship that it gives us the ability to actually create
as G-d creates. And bearing children enhances and actualizes
the manifestation of the divine unity achieved in the relationship.
However, this does not mean that perpetuation of the species
is the only end in itself. On the contrary: the unity of two
people becoming part of the divine image gives them the power
to bring life into the world. So itís really a completely different
Feder: So the point of getting
together is not specifically or exclusively just to produce
Jacobson: Exactly. There
is something divine about that in itself. That is why you find
the sanctity of mating and marriage, which weíll soon discuss,
even with people who are older, beyond childbearing age, and
even people, whom doctors say cannot have a child. So one would
argue, according to the Torah view, "Hey, no perpetuation
of the species, whatís the point of marriage and sexuality?
Just a selfish pleasure?" The answer is no. Male and female
uniting is a divine act, a divine experience.
Now this leads me directly into
the question you asked. I ask everyone to listen to this objectively,
as if itís not ourselves, because as soon as you think about
it in relation to yourself, you get emotional, subjective, and
I donít necessarily mean you Mike, I mean everyone in general,
We live in a society, a community,
thatís strongly influenced by different sexual attitudes. Sexuality
is a real part of our lives. That's why it is critical to attempt
to discuss this issue somewhat dispassionately. And then weíll
bring it back to a personal situation.
Based on this principle, sexuality,
according to the Torah view, is essentially a sacred experience.
Even the attraction of male and
female to each other, every element of it, is inherently sacred.
That is why, in my book, Toward a Meaningful Life (that
you mentioned earlier, Mike) I named the chapter on sexuality
And I make the point there that
thereís sexuality and thereís intimacy. I would say sexuality
is, letís call it, the physical part of the union; intimacy
weíll call the spiritual part of the union. Sexuality without
intimacy is essentially somewhat animalistic and primitive.
It is missing a crucial ingredient if it remains merely a physical
thing, as mundane, say as consuming food.
Now Iím not saying that sexuality
is not pleasurable, even divorced of intimacy, but itís by no
means fulfilling its potential, and I would even say it has
many destructive elements if itís lacking intimacy.
We live today in a crisis of intimacy.
People are very sexual, but ask them if theyíre intimate. Let
me define intimacy. Intimacy is not just a sexual act. Itís
not just about technique, and itís not just in the bedroom.
Intimacy is even at the kitchen table. I donít mean sexuality
at the kitchen table, I mean, even at work, itís the ability
to celebrate your vulnerability. To be with someone in an intimate
way means that you can share, your defenses are down, you donít
feel the need to protect yourself as you do when youíre in the
street, or at work, or when weíre with people who are like sharks
and we need to protect ourselves.
Feder: Itís apropos. Because
where are people more defenseless than in a sexual setting.
Jacobson: They are, but
I must say that people have brought their tools of defenses
into the bedroom as well. So sexuality is perceived like an
intimate act, but it not always is. In most cases, people are
protecting themselves and thatís why you find that thereís a
certain kind of frivolousness in sexuality as well.
People, especially you hear it
from the male side, and women are trying to emulate that somewhat,
a certain depersonalization which people are proud of. "Iím
not committed to you, but Iíll have sex with you," that
kind of thing.
That is sexuality without commitment.
Now commitment is sometimes seen
by some as the price you pay for getting your sexual needs met.
Itís not seen as something to celebrate. Because commitment
means, "Oh, that means I also have to provide for her,
or she for me, it means taking out the garbage, there are inconveniences.
Feder: This is what I have
to do if I want regular sex.
Jacobson: Right. That type
of approach. And unfortunately, that has seeped into our culture,
where sexuality has become an end in itself, that the act in
itself has become an end. Whatís missing is that, no, this is
a male and female energy thatís uniting in a divine way, and
therefore in a sacred way. And part of sexuality is intimacy.
Therefore, sexuality is not just about technique and physical
preparation, but also communication is an integral part of the
intimate experience of a male and female uniting. THIS is what
the Torah calls marriage. The intimate committed part of the
relationship. The vulnerability that you celebrate. The sanctity
that you embrace.
Thatís why I wanted to give a preface.
You hear the word marriageóIíll ask the question as a skeptic
would, as I do in my book the other way aroundó"Why should
two people get married altogether? Why go through the formality,
and the marriage contracts, and marriage licenses and all that
stuff, prenuptial agreementsÖ?"
Feder: Well, I wanted to do a whole radio program on
Jacobson: We will. But I
wanted to just state it here. People argue, "Why not just
live together?" Some may answer: Well, the families want
a party. -- Iím just being a little facetious. Others will say,
thereís more of a commitment when thereís a contract. And Iíll
say, Oh really? In other words, itís like a business contract.
But remember, when two people donít
love each other, no piece of paper will help then remain truly
Feder: It said in the paper
that Marla Maples got cast off because she signed a pre-nuptial
agreement, so it was a business deal they made.
Jacobson: Well, yes. Because
whatís happening is that intimacy is becoming more and more
compromised, and whatís happening is that sexuality is turning
into nothing more than another human need. You want to have
someone on your arm to go to a party withóthere are certain
conveniences and my needs need to be met, in other words, sexuality
is seen as a need. And a very powerful need, but nothing more.
What Iím trying to suggest is that
by taking the approach that you understand this as being a divine
experience, what you give is more important as what you get.
Itís not as much about your needs as much as itís about what
Feder: Maybe this is an
interesting point to ask as the next question, which flows into
this, which is, if all these things which seem to be very subtle,
and some things that you have to live with a lot of experience
to understand, then letís talk about teenage sex, which is rampant.
Jacobson: I think itís important
to address this in terms of preventive medicine, from the root,
so to speak.
We will get into this a little
later, when we discuss what can be done today, under the circumstances,
about our sexual/intimacy crisis.
But, you see, I donít want to shape
the thoughts and philosophy based on a crisis, or based on a
certain distorted attitude toward sexuality. To put it bluntly,
and I donít like to speak this way, because I donít want to
appear like an evangelist or a preacher, which Iím not, and
this show is not meant to be thatÖwe live in a time of crisis
in understanding our sexual personalities. We live in a time
where we do not fully relate to our intimate personalities.
Sexuality becomes increasingly technique, method, conquest,
bedroom politics. Itís what we see in the newspapers, itís how
men treat women, how women in turn treat men.
Now thereís much beauty, and Iím
not suggesting that there is no great joy out there, but thereís
a lot of pain. And personally, Iíve seen much, much pain in
this particular area, to the point where many, many people are
wondering whether itís worth it. Or, itís worth it to some extent
but Iím not going to put myself on the line too much.
Feder: Thereís a whole movement
out there of people choosing celibacy as the way to go.
Jacobson: Okay. Thatís one
extreme. Or, which I think is even worse, is those that are
choosing sexuality but not allowing their intimate selves to
emerge. They donít want to be hurt. So theyíre not becoming
vulnerable. Theyíre coming with their tools, but theyíve learned,
weíve learned in a way to be sexual without being personal.
Itís almost considered to be a virtue. And some people feel
that they just canít do it. They donít know why. I would say
itís very healthy that they canít do it. And those who could,
have, in a sense, numbed part of their personalities.
Feder: Weíre going to get
to the part of the program soon where weíre going to discuss
what you think we can do about this, or how to address this,
but let me ask you one or two other questions which fit into
this whole subject.
One that inevitably comes up is,
you were talking the whole program about men and women, then
what about homosexuality. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe
a couple of million people in this country who identify themselves
as homosexual, and maybe even more that donít identify themselves
publicly. This is a big question in this country. And if itís
man and woman struggling towards each other to reach a higher
level, then how is it possible that anyone who is a homosexual
could be engaging in even legitimate sex from that point of
view, from either point of view, the scientific or the Torah.
Hard questions but they need to be asked.
Jacobson: Itís important
to ask because theyíre very relevant today and I embrace the
questions. I hope you embrace my answers as well as I embrace
Feder: Iím listening. Iím
sitting here listeningÖ
Jacobson: Iíll say this
and I want to address it in context of what you asked earlier
about pre-marital sex and so on. I think that there is a very
distorted definition of marriage in peopleís minds, and that
is, that itís seen as an institution, similar to other institutions
in our society. What I was trying to present here is that from
a Torah point of view, marriageóletís not call it marriage,
letís call it sacred union or the sanctity of intimacy and sexualityóthe
marriage between intimacy and sexuality. Thatís what marriage
is about. Where two people love each other and that love permeates
not just the bedroom, and not just their bodies, but it permeates
their psyches, their minds and their hearts, and above all,
their souls. They share a common vision, they want to build
something greater than the sum of the parts, and sexuality is
part of that bigger whole.
When two people like that come
together, their sexuality is not just a temporary one-night
stand, and itís not just pleasure-oriented for the moment. Which
is good litmus test, by the way. Any sexuality which does not
spill over into your daily life, into your work in a healthy
way, that makes your life more harmonious, means that itís sexuality
and not intimacy. If it was intimacy, your next day will be
a better day, too.
I would go even a step beyond that
and say that sexuality divorced of intimacy will not only not
spill over into harmony, it will create havoc with the rest
of your day. Because either youíre searching for your next mate,
or youíre having your politics with this one. It becomes a very
Feder: As they say in debates,
the question is still sitting on the table.
Jacobson: Iím getting there.
Iím not avoiding the question, Iím just articulating what my
understanding is, from a Torah perspective, of what a full,
complete union is. And therefore, pre-marital sex is a symptom
of other underlying problems. So Iím not going to point my finger
that thatís the problem.
Thatís a result of other problems.
Thatís a result of young people in a generation like ours that
donít know what sexuality is. What is the reason that we don't
find it acceptable for infants to have sex. Even the concept
is repulsive. Why? Because they are not ready for such an experience.
They donít know anything. What do they know about that part
of their personalities.
So at what age, I would ask the
secular scholar, or the government for that matter, or any parent,
at what age exactly is the age of maturity. Is the answer, when
they know how to inhale? When they can smoke? When they can
drive? Because they become more mature chronologically, or is
it because youíre not in control of them, does that make them
no longer infants?
Now Iím not suggesting that everyoneís
an infant, but I believe that sexuality and spirituality and
intimacy are very much interlinked, and you can be 40 years
old and still be five years old on a sexual level. Not in sexual
experience, mind you, I donít mean that. But on an understanding
of whatís happening when two people come together. Do we even
know? Is it anything more than pleasure? Is anything deeper
And what happens when it creates
havoc in our lives. And we realize that we have to go to therapyÖ
So what Iím suggesting is that
weíre living in a time, and now Iím leading up to homosexual
issue, where our entire sexual identity is completely unknown
to most of us, and itís completely trial and error. People get
involved, the dating process, teenagers, experimenting, and
with all the confusion of adolescence intertwined with drugs
and rock and roll and everything else. And what happens is that
once you have the experience, it just contributes to divorcing
it from intimacy, from true communication.
The essential problem with pornography
has always been stated as being depersonalized sexuality. And
pornography doesnít always mean very overt pornography. There
is pornography in spirit. A general attitude to sexuality. Many
of the exposé shows on televisionÖ
Feder: And every magazine
cover you see on a rack.
Jacobson: Exactly. And Iím
not from the fire and brimstone point of view. I think those
are all symptoms. When you talk to a person individually, as
Iím talking to you, and weíre trying to talk to our audience,
weíre trying to say to you, look, you have a divine calling,
a higher calling to live up to. You have a soul. That is part
of your intimacy and part of your sexuality. Itís not divorced.
Donít think that sexuality is a compartmentalized thing and
my spiritual search and my transcendental search is another
Thereís a soul to your sexuality
and thereís a sexuality to your soul.
Feder: Are you calling homosexuality
a symptom, then?
Jacobson: Exactly. Thatís
exactly what Iím leading to. From my point of view, I donít
want to use the word "corrupt," so Iíll say distorted
sexuality can be distorted heterosexuality, which is in many
ways similar to a distorted view that ultimately can lead also
If two men say to me, hey, we love
each other and itís a love no different from any one between
a man and a woman, why are you delegitimizing it?
My job is not to delegitimize anything.
Thatís not my responsibility. And once people are emotionally
involved, itís very difficult to say anything. But my approach
would be, and I know many people that I have discussed this
with, who do consider themselves to be homosexuals, I donít
attack, so to speak, or directly discuss their homosexual natures.
I will discuss what is sexuality? What is intimacy? And divorced
of male/female, letís just talk about the concept.
There may be disagreements, but
the presentation I would make is that yes, there is such a thing
as a distorted view of sexuality. There are sexual aberrations
and Iím not ashamed to say that homosexuality is prohibited
in the Torah, not because of some taboo or something of other
nature, itís because it doesnít fit into, letís call it, the
intimate experience that G-d intended for human beings.
Feder: I donít understand
why it wouldnít. Letís just say if two men live together for
25 years, forget about the fact that they want to get married,
but letís say that they live together for 25 years and there
is a beauty to their love, maybe other people can see it, what
in any way is different about that than the people who live
next door who are man and woman?
Jacobson: Because healthy
sexuality, like any healthy behavior, cannot be based solely
on people's subjective feelings. Let me give you an example.
Thereís a man and woman living
with each other, not in marriage, theyíre just living with each
other, and itís very beautiful. Their union may be more beautiful
than a couple married in a court of law in a religious ceremony,
and theyíre just bickering with each other and their relationship
continues to erode.
Letís just use that as an example.
So the same argument can be made.
Here two people are living with each other and thereís no marriage.
Their relationship is healthy, secure, and wholesome.
And here are people who are married,
and they just donít get along with each other. As we see so
often today. My approach to all these scenarios would be the
same: that all of them are not necessarily living up to the
Torah standards for a true marriage. The unhappy marriage I
described may be a marriage in the technical sense, but theyíre
not truly married in the spiritual sense of it. Marriage is
much, much more than technical. They went through a ceremony.
Human beings are human beings, and they can mess it up.
I would say that marriage, as I
understand it, is a divine union. If these two people that are
living with each other would actually get married in the spiritual
sense, in a true ceremony, their union would be even more wholesome
than it is now, they would access their deepest intimate potential.
Itís like the argument where people say, "Hereís a religious
person whoís following Torah law and heís a crook. And hereís
a person who doesnít follow Torah law and heís an ethical, kind
My answer is, donít throw out the
baby with the bath water; meaning, do not confuse people with
the system. So what Iím discussing here is the system. My argument
would be that the question is not what two people say about
their relationship. The question is, what is the spiritual perspective
on that relationship.
Feder: From whose point
Jacobson: Well, thatís why
I began this whole program saying that I am coming from a Torah
point of view. That there is a system, and again, Iím not trying
to force this system onto anyone, Iím presenting it. But I have
the right to present a system that has a very clear and distinct
approach. And the approach would be that you two men may love
each other, but there may be distortions in what you call love.
There may be distortions in what is true intimacy.
The fact that you both are happy
with each other isnít the only criteria for what makes a relationship
work. How would I approach it? Iíd tell them, you need to study
more about what sexuality is. What male energy is, what female
energy is. Now, I know itís difficult, because people who are
in such relationships like that say, "This is my natural
place. Iíve tried to be married." I know. I have people
that Iíve studied with who say, "I was married and I tried
it. But it kept going against the grain of my nature."
So what did I say to a person like
that? I donít reject anyone with that nature. I donít throw
them outÖI will say to them, as a friend, and we remain friendsógay
people come to my classes; some openly, some not openly, but
I know of it because some of them have shared with meóand theyíll
come to a class where Iíll say very clearly: we live in a time
of a crisis in sexuality. Part of the symptoms is the homosexuality
in our times. And Iíll say it very clearly.
Many people in society think theyíre
happy. Just because they think theyíre happy doesnít mean theyíre
happy. Am I here to take away their happiness? No. G-d forbid.
But I am here to present a perspective. Do with it what you
wish. And thatís how Iíd present it, as I do right now. And
I would say as follows:
That two human beings can love
each other, male/male, female/female, male/female. Love has
many forms. But when weíre talking about the sexual, intimate
side, weíre dealing with forces that are not completely known
to us. Thereís a mystique. No one really understands sexuality.
What I will say, as I write in
my book, that sexuality is Divine energy. It is like entering
into the Holy of Holies with G-d. There are forces that are
unleashed at that moment that many of us do not have a conscious
We do have the pleasure element
that we sense. We feel the closeness. Something gratifies us.
But thatís a very small part of what sexuality is. So the fact
that many, many people are having sex in a very frivolous way,
in uncommitted ways, or even committed but in what Torah considers
as an aberration, not in synch with our spiritual personalities,
or in homosexual relationships or others, that still does not
faze me from saying that sexuality is much more than that, and
I would, as a friend of yours, suggest that Iíll study with
you, what is the soul? What is intimacy? Are you living up to
your highest potential?
Itís the same as if Iíd met someone
who said to me, "Iím happy! I donít need G-d. I donít need
morality. Iím living my life and Iím happy. What do you want
from me? Do you want to make my life miserable?"
G-d forbid I donít want to make
anyoneís life miserable. But I will say to the person, you know,
you have 90% potential that you havenít even touched. Iím a
friend of yours. I donít want you to be 90 years old and it
will be too late for you to access your potential.
The person will say, yes, but thatís
not your business. Thatís my business.
If someone does say that to me,
Iíll still persist and say look, as a friend, Iíll remind you
once in a while.
Listen, Mike, someone came to my
class, and came every Wednesday night for two years, and after
two years he stopped coming. A few months passed and I hadnít
heard from him, so I thought, I donít know what it is. You know,
everyone has their journey.
He calls me up and says to me after
two months, "I want you to know that I stopped coming to
your class not because you said anything wrong. You didnít offend
me in any way and I think your classes are great. I stopped
coming because youíre making my life miserable. Why? Because
Iím still young and I want to have some fun. Youíre making me
too aware. I donít want to know all this. Itís too much. Itís
making me feel guilty. It makes me feel that I have to live
up to something greater. I still have a few years, and I want
to be a party animal.
Feder: So when he gets around
to it, when the pupil is ready, the master appearsÖ
Jacobson: So he did appear
a few weeks later, and I didnít mention any names, I said, "I
just want you to know that thereís a person sitting here in
this class who has brought me to make the following statement:
I wish I made more peopleís lives miserable."
G-d forbid I donít want to make
anyoneís life miserable. I think, more knowledge, more pain,
including myself. You donít always want to know everything.
But I do want to say this. I think that at the end of the day
most of us would like to live with some integrity, to be true
to ourselves. If someone believes that he or she is happy, let
them live with that, and Iím not here to disrupt that. But that
in itself is not enough reason to say that theyíve reached their
zenith, their goals. Happiness is very relative. Iíve seen people
who have become happy with the worst of circumstances. Like
women who have been battered in a relationship. Theyíre happy.
Because to go out into the street is worse. So they choose the
worst of two evils.
Iím not suggesting that every relationship
is that way. But I think that weíre quite subjective and weíre
quite resilient, meaning, that we accommodate, we work with
what we have, and unfortunately, most young people today are
getting on their platter a sexual identity, or a sexual approach,
thatís far, far from giving them really healthy options, far,
far for allowing them to actualize their greatest potential.
Feder: Okay, letís just
take a moment to thank the person responsible for bringing tonightís
show to you. Tonightís show has been underwritten by Ivan Stux,
whom we applaud for helping us bring this kind of programming
Jacobson: Yes, Ivan Stux
has been a close friend and a great benefactor, and has also
motivated many others. I want to personally thank him myself.
Feder: All right, so we
have only a few minutes left and Iíll put it to you this way.
There is teenage sex everywhere. There is irresponsibility:
children being born everywhere. Thereís sexuality everywhere
you look. Weíre overwhelmed by it. There are things which you
called symptoms, as you called it, everywhere. You say that
the lack of intimacy is a kind of tidal wave in this country,
itís everywhere. Itís something that needs to be addressed.
There is, in fact, even the subject of sex education in schools
and people donít quite know what to do about that, but the point
of it all is, as you said yourself during the course of the
program, intimacy and sexuality seem to be divorced, and thereís
a big problem in the country, and weíd like to end the program
with addressing ways in which you see that people can prevent
this and to help it out.
Jacobson: Well, much thatís
being addressed is, as you said, on a symptomatic level. You
hear a lot about "safe sex," not to pass along disease,
and so on, which is, literally, the very tip of the iceberg.
I believe that this is a result of a resignation that has settled
in, many have resigned themselves to the fact that we cannot
do much about the prevalent attitudes to sexuality, and thatís
just the way it is, thatís the way itís going to stay, so at
least keep it as safe as possible.
Fine. Anything that keeps people
healthy is good. Short term. But on a deeper level, with an
issue like this, itís hard to make quick suggestions, but I
will say this: that the younger age you begin with this type
of sensitivity to healthy intimacy, the better it is. We start
developing our sexual attitudes at a very young age, by example,
in our homes, in schools, what we see on TV. So the younger
the better, as they say: When we are young we are like warm
wax, where every experience is etched and engraved into our
personalities, shaping and hardening as we grow and the wax
hardens, thus bearing fruit that has such a profound impact
much later in life.
I think as far as speaking to parents
and educators, particularly of the young, it doesnít mean to
give overt sexual education to a 3-year-old, but you can teach
healthy intimacy to a 3-year-old. What I mean is you can teach
a 3-year-old how to communicate in a trusting way.
Feder: Or how to let your
Jacobson: Right. That even
as you develop your defenses, always be in touch with your vulnerability,
be in touch with your child. Itís a nurturing environment that
just allows you to trust your voices as you grow older. Because
one of the single, most important challenges in life are the
disappointments. We grow older and we get disappointed, so we
protect ourselves. Itís like we go into a deeper shell. So my
shellís hardened. When your shellís hardened, your sexuality
is going to get more and more divorced of your intimacy. Because
you still remain sexual. Weíre not talking about someone who
chooses celibacy. Weíre talking about someone who chooses sexuality,
but their sexuality is in a shell. The person remains in a shell,
and they allow their sexuality out for a night, for a few yearsÖ
The education process must contain
teaching young people, and I include older people as well, what
it means to be a sensitive human being. And essentially it comes
down to the fact that you have a soul. A soul that was created
in the divine image. You are, in a way, half a soul, and thereís
someone out there whoís like a long lost friend, to your soul.
And thatís your counterpart. Male and female.
We must tell ourselves, our children,
each other: You are responsible for your divine image, for your
soul, for your intimacy. Let us make it a call for our times
to sanctify our attraction to the opposite sex. How many people
actually think about this attraction in a sacred way? For many
people, attraction is about leering or flirting, but thereís
something sacred there. The sanctity is that thereís a divine
calling. A divine calling that takes the shape of male/female
attraction, but thereís much more there than just whistling.
Itís much more than just trivial experience. Thereís a certain
sanctity to it. And the sanctity is very much linked in how
you treat human beings. Because ultimately, we hear this constantly,
itís a matter of respect. Is there really respect from one sex
to the other? Do most men really have true respect for a woman?
Or is she just an object? And respect for a woman means that
you respect the divine image in that woman, and vice versa.
Thereís the rebound effect of a
woman treating a man in kind. So it becomes a vicious cycle.
Remember, itís not just a question of respecting the opposite
sex, itís a question of respecting all human beings. Itís a
sensitivity that a person is special not because youíre attracted
to him or her, itís respect because thereís a divine image in
every human being.
This requires a new emphasis in
our education, because our current education system doesnít
teach us that. It teaches everything thatís the opposite: to
value people for their looks (just look at any glamour magazine)
and so, on a final note, itís recognizing the divine image in
yourself and in other people, and remembering that life is much
more than just a nice, entertaining ride for a few minutes.
It has a divine and higher destiny to it.
Feder: Thank you.