Religion & Beliefs

Orgasm of Biblical Proportions

For the audio version, click here. To subscribe to this podcast, click here. This week, Lauviticus is celebrating a private birth of a lovely little girl, auspiciously echoed in the weekly Torah episode in which a much anticipated little boy … Read More

By / November 8, 2006

For the audio version, click here. To subscribe to this podcast, click here.

This week, Lauviticus is celebrating a private birth of a lovely little girl, auspiciously echoed in the weekly Torah episode in which a much anticipated little boy is born. Also, this week, a visit to that intimate domain which is most often referred to in the Scriptures as ‘Procreation’, otherwise known as ‘sex’. There’s lots of that this week – including wife-swapping and what will one day be known as sodomy, but our focus is senior citizen orgasms. There is a moment in this week’s tale, VaYera, when Sarah, at 90, hears the Divine promise of motherhood, and laughs to herself, at herself, a mythic laughter foretelling the name of her son. But at this moment in the story Isaac is not even a twinkle in her eye. it’s all about her, and her body. She laughs and then asks a mysterious question, recorded in Genesis, Chapter 18, verse 12:

"Now that I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I still have pleasure?"

The word here translated as pleasure is the Hebrew ‘Edna’. Derived from ‘Eden’ that origin dream place of perfection, this rare word ‘Edna’ is our word for the week, as we examine a wild variety of translations for it and suggest a new one. ‘Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment?’ This is JPS. The King James Bible, and most other English versions use the word ‘Pleasure’, while the Orthodox Stone Edition of the Artscroll Torah uses, for some odd reason, the expression ‘good skin’.

Commentaries go to town on this verse. The 11th century interpreter Rashi writes: ‘She looks at her uterus and at her breast, wondering, will this still work?’ The  Pseudo Jonathan translates this verse: ‘And Sarah derided in her heart, saying, Now that I am old, is it possible to return to the days of my youth, for me to have conception, and Abraham old?’ What’s striking here is that Sarah responds not to the promise of fertility, which one would think would be uppermost in her mind—all those barren years, and finally the promise of a child of her own—but to the prospect of pleasure, enjoyment, and sexual excitement: A return to the Garden of Eden. Is she talking about the bliss of orgasm? God not only makes Sarah fruitful again; God makes her juicy. The laugh of the crone, tinged with irony and a sense of the divine ridiculous, rings also with the joy of remembered ecstasies, maidenhood and maidenhead, a sensual and sexual fulfillment which, for the moment, overshadows even the dream of motherhood. Often in religious poetry—see the Song of Songs—sexual imagery may be a code for spiritual pleasure, carnal knowing a metaphor for divine bliss. Eden then is both the garden of earthly delights and the paradise of spiritual union. To honor the sacred sex life of our matriarch, Lauviticus would like to suggest:

‘And so Sarah laughed, privately: ‘post menopause, with an old man for a husband – am I to enjoy Eden once again?’

There are many ways to re enter the Garden of Eden. Beyond the obvious orgasmic option that sex has to offer, in whatever context and age – what is YOUR personal way to enter this state of mind and heart? MazalTov and Shabbat Shalom!