This collection of case studies and commentaries explores sex and intimacy with candor and from many different perspectives. Here is an excerpt on the quest for meaning in sex by Rabbi Mark Dratch, founder and CEO of JSAfe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment, and an instructor in Jewish Studies and Philosophy at Yeshiva University in New York City.
"Few things in our lives are more complicated than sex. It is both a simple physical act and a complex emotional, personal, social, and religious experience. It is a dynamic mix of physical pleasure, libidinous desire, emotional pulls, psychological baggage, and personal agendas: With whom will I have sex? When will I have sex for the first time? When will I have sex with a new partner or with a spouse? Where will we do it? What kinds of sexual activities will we engage in? What is my motivation for having sex: pleasure, pressure, lust, desire, obligation, routine? Do I want to have sex? How do I satisfy myself? How do I satisfy my partner?
"Sex is also complicated because it is not just about 'me'; it is a shared activity. Engaging in sexual intercourse with concern only about one's own satisfaction is tantamount to masturbating in front of someone; it is selfish and demeaning to the other person. We need to be aware of and concerned about the desires and needs of another, often keeping our own needs and sexual expression in check. In addition, baring ourselves in front of another person literally and figuratively makes us vulnerable and exposes us physically, emotionally, and psychologically. And sex is complicated because while sexual relations can contribute to the intimate nature of a relationship, creating bonds of mutual trust, understanding, and love, they can also communicate a whole set of messages, different for different genders and for different individuals, that we may or may not mean to communicate."