For example, here we read about Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Ruth’s destitute, widowed mother-in-law, Naomi.
Boaz invites Ruth, along with other young women, to collect unharvested produce in his fields.
This basic Jewish value, in turn, can lead us to Judaism’s view of the potential sacredness of all relationships, including sexual ones.
As Rabbi Paul Yedwab teaches in “Sex in the Texts,” his guide for Jewish teenagers, “In our sexual activities, we need to retain our human character – indeed our divine imprint.” Finding a potential for divine connection in sexual encounters does not make Jewish tradition averse to sex and sexuality; it encourages sexual pleasure.
The curriculum notes that teens, especially girls, are “bombarded with the glorification of idealized, romantic, obsessive love” and that many boys are “inundated with hyper-sexualized messages reducing relationships to degrading sex, glorifying control of women’s bodies, and promoting violence.” But it also reminds parents and other trusted adults that they can counteract these influences by sharing their own values with their children.
Although the Book of Ruth is an ancient text told in only four chapters, it can be a source of Jewish values for teens entering the world of dating today.
Best known for its embrace of Ruth as a convert to Judaism and its emphasis on loving-kindness, the Book of Ruth also includes interactions that have a potentially sexual cast to them.
It is a text that names what it sees rather than sugarcoats.
30-something guys shop discerningly for bed sheets. JWI’s holiday guide, “Rethinking Shavuot: Women, Relationships, and Jewish Texts” (available as a free download), provides excerpts from the Book of Ruth along with contemporary commentaries and conversation starters, especially for college-age students and adults at all stages of life.As the Jewish world prepares to celebrate revelation at Shavuot, may we all continue to learn and teach enduring Jewish values that continue to be revealed to us through our conversations with and about our texts.Of course, there's a huge difference between dating people in their 20s vs.
their 30s, and men aren't the only ones guilty of tangling with younger mates for recreational reasons. 30-somethings are too tired for happy hour on Fridays. 30-something guys will make you feel better about your own body. 30-somethings will make your bed before they leave. 30-somethings order wine with dinner without looking at the menu.
A third is that sex is potentially holy and not something innately shameful.