Eros and the Jews From Biblical Israel to Contemporary America

ISBN-10: 0520211340
ISBN-13: 9780520211346
Edition: 1997
Authors: David Biale
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Description: Contradictory stereotypes about Jewish sexuality pervade modern culture, from Lenny Bruce's hip eroticism to Woody Allen's little man with the big libido (and even bigger sexual neurosis). Does Judaism in fact liberate or repress sexual desire?  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 1997
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/3/1997
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 334
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

Contradictory stereotypes about Jewish sexuality pervade modern culture, from Lenny Bruce's hip eroticism to Woody Allen's little man with the big libido (and even bigger sexual neurosis). Does Judaism in fact liberate or repress sexual desire? David Biale does much more than answer that question as he traces Judaism's evolving position on sexuality, from the Bible and Talmud to Zionism up through American attitudes today. What he finds is a persistent conflict between asceticism and gratification, between procreation and pleasure. From the period of the Talmud onward, Biale says, Jewish culture continually struggled with sexual abstinence, attempting to incorporate the virtues of celibacy, as it absorbed them from Greco-Roman and Christian cultures, within a theology of procreation. He explores both the canonical writings of male authorities and the alternative voices of women, drawing from a fascinating range of sources that includes the Book of Ruth, Yiddish literature, the memoirs of the founders of Zionism, and the films of Woody Allen. Biale's historical reconstruction of Jewish sexuality sees the present through the past and the past through the present. He discovers an erotic tradition that is not dogmatic, but a record of real people struggling with questions that have challenged every human culture, and that have relevance for the dilemmas of both Jews and non-Jews today.

Robert S. Westman is Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego.David Biale is the Emmanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History at the University of California, Davis. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Preface
Introduction: Dilemmas of Desire
Sexual Subversions in the Bible
Law and Desire in the Talmud
Rabbinic Authority and Popular Culture in Medieval Europe
Sensuality, Asceticism, and Medieval Jewish Philosophy
Sexuality and Spirituality in the Kabbalah
The Displacement of Desire in Eighteenth-Century Hasidism
Eros and Enlightenment
Zionism as an Erotic Revolution
Sexual Stereotypes in American Jewish Culture
Epilogue: Creating Desire
Notes
Bibliography of Selected Secondary Works
Index

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