Kol Nidre: Yom Kippur 2015/5776

Posted on September 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm


Recorded live in Amsterdam’s historic 17th Century, Portuguese Synagogue, the concert features three of the world’s greatest cantors performing with a 46 piece orchestra and choir, Alberto Mizrahi of the Anshe Emet Synagogue, Chicago, Naftali Herstik of Great Synagogue Jerusalem and Benzion Miller of Young Israel Beth-El of Borough Park, New York.

A blessed Yom Kippur to all who observe it. May you and those you love be inscribed in the book of life.

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Interviews: Jewish Views on Sex and Intimacy in “The Lost Key”

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm

“The Lost Key” is a documentary that explores contemporary society’s confusion of sex and intimacy, and how the ancient principles from Jewish theology can restore the holy connection between husbands and wives. I spoke to director Ricardo Adler, whose own divorce inspired him to explore these traditions, and Rabbi Manis Friedman, who introduced him to Kabbalah’s ancient secrets to attain the highest form of intimacy. The film portrays the dramatic transformation of Ricardo’s new marriage, and the reactions of other couples to this revolutionary way to sexual connection. Adler says that “‘The Lost Key’ reveals forgotten wisdom that could inspire society to rediscover intimacy, one bedroom at a time.”

I asked Adler how he got started with this project.

Adler: I grew up in just a regular, modern, traditional, secular Jewish home. And at some point when I was getting divorced, as the film says, I just decided to start exploring different things, and I ended up discovering that in my own Jewish roots there’s all the answers I need in life. In fact, a lot of the things that I discovered in Judaism and in Kabbalah include some of the ideas that I used to like about other belief systems. You know, Buddhism, Taoism, and etc, so that was kind of nice. And then that process, you start going to school and meeting rabbis and talking to different types of people. After about a year of having started that process, the local Chabad house here in Venezuela organized a shabbaton with Manis Friedman. So he came down, and I must say, I was fascinated by him and his talks and just the way he conveys the knowledge. In fact, he gave one talk where he answered a question I was asking myself for over 20 years, which is,
“What’s the purpose of life? Why are we here?” In one hour, he answered a 20 year search. So I just loved him. So I proposed the idea to him and to my surprise he said yes. And here we are.


What is the difference between sex and intimacy?

Rabbi Friedman: So the difference is a number of things. Number one, what we’re referring to generally, casually to as sex is impersonal. It’s an activity, it’s a performance, it’s a thing. It’s something you do. And this thing can be good, it can be bad, it could be better, it could be worse, like anything. Intimacy means connecting person to person beyond all things. So if we have to put it in a simple phrase, the lost key is the ability to connect to a person beyond all things, which is really what we all want and need.

Why do we get so many contrary messages?

Rabbi Friedman: Actually I think that the experts of the mental health field very recently are saying that it was a mistake to emphasize the pleasure of the relationship and to make people paranoid about whether they’re getting the maximum pleasure, the greatest pleasure, the 25 new secrets to greater sex, constant, constant bombardment, when in fact, people don’t really need more pleasure, they need closeness. Because with all the freedom that we have, and with all the openness on the subject, I think Americans are pretty much, and even so-called happily married couples, the moment they’re quiet and sober, they would admit that they basically feel alone. It’s a very lonely society. Even though we’re very social and we’re very cosmopolitan and we’re outgoing, everything is open, everything is free and casual, but in the end, we feel alone. Because until relate intimately, we really are isolated and alone.

Adler: I think this started with the so-called sexual revolution of the 60’s which emphasized pleasure-based sex and you should have sex with as many people as you want and all this stuff. And then that led to a sexual invasion of society. Sex is used to sell everything. And so that’s what sells because it’s an emotional directive. They are talking to something that is very dear, very important and intimate to any human being, and that’s the pleasure of sex. So it sells, it works, that’s who we are today. The story’s not over. Here we come, hopefully, with a different message. And it’s not just us. I think there’s a lot of people that are really looking at sexuality views today and just saying there’s something wrong here. I mean, if sexuality is your number 1 cause for divorce, along with financial issues, there’s something going on, right? We have a new thing called sexual addictions we didn’t have before. Something’s going on. You have all these young people with these self-esteem problems; something’s going on. We think it’s the lack of intimacy in sexuality.

The adults in the film seem to know very little about intimacy. Who should teach kids and teenagers about this? And when?

Rabbi Friedman: It should be the parents or the teachers. It shouldn’t be a secret subject, a taboo subject that you have to find an expert to talk to your children about it. It should be a natural part of life. You don’t sit your children down and your child and say, “We’re going to have the talk. Now you’re old enough or whatever it is and we’re gonna have the talk.” That sends a bad message. Why don’t you just talk about it the way you talk about anything else in casual conversation? I don’t mean make it casual. It’s not different from the rest of life. You don’t have “the talk” about money, you don’t have “the talk” about jobs, about career, it comes up in casual conversation—you talk about it. So you hear a story of kids who got in trouble or whatever, so you talk about it. It’s not “the talk”. Don’t treat it like something other than life itself.

In the film you talk about not having any devices like phones or television in the bedroom. How do couples create physical and emotional space for intimacy?

Rabbi Friedman: If the bedroom is sacred, then walking into the bedroom actually supports the intimacy that you’re going to engage in because it promotes that feeling of intimacy. You set it aside for that purpose and that kind of generates that kind of energy. So when a husband and a wife walk into a bedroom and close the door, it creates an intimate atmosphere, an intimate mood that supports the emotions that you’re supposed to feel but you can’t always. So you come into a bedroom with all sorts of concerns and distractions, and you’re worried about your bills and you’re worried about your job and you’re worried about your extended family, and now all of a sudden you have to focus to become intimate? That’s not easy. So if you can have some support from the room, from the environment, from the atmosphere, it’s very helpful. I mean, you need help. You do. We all need help to achieve intimacy.

Are there lessons in the film for those who are not Jewish?

Adler: The film is for any married couple. The idea is that you are one before you got married and you can reclaim that oneness within marriage. So intimacy is for any couple whether you are Jewish or non-Jewish, old or young, black or white etc. etc. If you are married you can be intimate. You can have a beautiful healthy marriage and this is one way to get there.

Rabbi Friedman: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, just thinking about the benefits to the children born from the relationship. When husband and wife are truly focused on each other, it invites the baby into a world in a much healthier way than if the baby is an afterthought. Nothing you get from your spouse can be more important than your spouse. And that includes love, the love you get from him is not as important as him, otherwise you’re married to love. And it includes the physical pleasure of intimacy, because if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re married to it, not to him. And also, the difference between sex and intimacy is that after sex, you feel a little diminished. You feel a little loss of dignity or self-respect or respect for the person you’re with. It’s just the nature of the behavior of the act that it takes you down a little. Whereas intimacy, after you’ve experience intimacy, each time you feel more innocent than before. Because to be intimate, you have to get past all things to just be you and I, the I and thou, and that is the most innocent part of ourselves.

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New on DVD: Biblical Archeology of Israel

Posted on June 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Alden Films presents “Biblical Archeology of Israel,” including: 

ANCIENT ROOTS  — a compilation of recent discoveries in archaeological research in Israel

THE BOOK AND THE IDOL — Israel through the ages, from the stone age to biblical times

EXPLORERS OF THE HOLY LAND IN THE 19th CENTURY — a docudrama about the opening up of Israel to exploration in the 1800s

TREASURES OF THE HOLY LAND — religious sites in Israel from ancient times

The complete set of BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF ISRAEL is $189.95, plus $10.00 for shipping and handling. Individual DVDs are $24.95 each.

For orders, call 800-832-0980 or email: info@aldenfilms.com

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Documentary Epic/Historical Spiritual films
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