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Lust is good. Well, who would have thought it? - A Book Review

Rabbi Boteach . . . eyebrow-raising title

The four-letter words


By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Gefen Publishing House, 2014 Hardcover; 213 pages

Reviewed by Pnina Moed Kass 

Lust and love have the same number of letters, and both start with the letter "L". But that's where the similarity ends. That is the core message of this book.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has been counseling couples for more than twenty-five years, and the book he has written is his 'take' on the institution of marriage. As befits a man of religion he leaves no biblical episode unexamined, nor overlooks any of the religious writings (Song of Songs, Kabbalah) – from the meaning of their words to the modern-day conclusions that can be drawn from them. I was quite prepared to yawn, snicker, and wave this book away but mea culpa – it is well-written, makes many telling points, and despite its eyebrow-raising title, is worth a read.

"I hope that in the pages of this book I have convinced you that your sexual and erotic relationship with your spouse is holy, necessary, and worth fighting for . . . To embrace Eros is to embrace life itself."

Boteach overlooks nothing, discusses (in a tasteful manner) orgasms, cheating, platonic love, materialism, romanticism, Kabbalah. He analyzes the underlying desires of the male and female psyches and the nature of intimacy, and highlights these aspects with relevant case histories. He then goes on to explain lust and what he has identified as its three principles. Throughout the book the author continually scorns the Christian attitude towards lust which automatically assumes that 'it is illicit, forbidden, selfish, denigrates the human condition, speaks to our basest human impulses'. It is the Rabbi's feeling that there must be satisfaction in the marital bedroom and 'tender drowsiness' will not bring satisfaction.

The book takes on feminists, social scientists and contemporary value systems and does not come out on the losing end. Kosher Lust has a clearly stated point of view and, agree or disagree, you will have to admit it is artfully stated. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a man who has been labeled a 'cultural phenomenon'; he sums up his belief using the four-letter words he considers most important: "So go on: live, love and lust." 



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