With an estimated 17 million adherents, Judaism is the world’s 10th most-practiced religion. No matter your background, there may be aspects of this faith that remain unclear, particularly affecting matters of the heart. Jewish couples shared with our experts from datingadvicehelp some frequently asked questions that can help us to understand Jewish relationships better.
1 – How do Jews relate to cohabitation?
In common with other religions, as society has evolved there has been a rise in secularism within Jewish communities, with fewer marriages taking place against a strict religious background. While some Jews still believe cohabitation doesn’t offer the same stability as marriage, around 60% of Jewish marriages are preceded by cohabitation. Some choose to live together because they don’t feel financially prepared for marriage. The popular consensus is cohabitation a natural way for couples to develop a bond.
2 – How important is virginity before marriage?
Sex is not regarded as a sinful act, so the question of whether someone is or isn’t a virgin before marriage isn’t as weighted an issue as it is in other religions. Premarital sex is still disapproved by conservatives, but a child born to an unmarried mother isn’t viewed as being ‘illegitimate,’ not would they ever be penalized or treated as a social outcast. However, Jewish law does have certain safeguards about the need to protect female virgins.
3 – Does Judaism allow extramarital sex?
Traditionally, extramarital sex has been castigated in Judaism – one of the Ten Commandments (the seventh) specifically states it is forbidden. But like so many aspects of relationships, there have always been contradictions. The Biblical figures Abraham and Jacob fathered children out of wedlock, while later Hebrew scripts recognized concubines although Jewish males having multiple wives died out over time. Today, there are no rules against extramarital sex, just simple morality.
4 – Is interfaith marriage good for the Jews?
The Talmud (the central text of Rabbinic Judaism) is quite clear on this subject. Marriage between a Jew and non-Jew is not only prohibited but isn’t recognized under Jewish Law. Orthodox rabbis will refuse to conduct interfaith marriages. But Judaism isn’t impervious to changes within society, with the natural order of religious barriers being eroded, and Jews emigrating to start new lives amongst cultural melting pots. It is tacitly recognized that a Jewish community being solely inwardly-focused will eventually decline.
5 – What about divorce?
Jews have always placed a strong emphasis on marriage as the bedrock of family stability. Divorce has seen as a last resort, as couples will be expected to try and resolve any issues since they have agreed to a contractual bond with God. Jews also recognize that, in practical terms, divorce is sometimes the only answer to a failing relationship, whether there has been adultery, a communication breakdown, domestic violence, or any other reason.
6 – Is remarriage possible?
In days gone by, remarriage was not possible for women because the rules were unfairly stacked against them. Even when they had been abandoned by a husband, they were considered an ‘again uh’ (an anchored woman) and forbidden from remarrying. Thankfully this has all changed, with Judaism regarding loneliness as the deciding factor: remarriage is now encouraged as the key to a richer and more fulfilling life for those living lives of solitude.
7 – What does Judaism say about homosexuality and bisexuality?
Again, in common with other faiths, the attitude of Judaism to homosexuality and bisexuality has moved with the times. The Old Testament might rail against the abhorrence of same-sex relationships, but opinion has liberalized considerably. Jewish institutions now accommodate gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender parishioners.