[Milton-L] PL and the sabbath, etc.

Dan Knauss daniel.knauss at mu.edu
Tue Dec 21 15:35:53 EST 2004



Fascinating stuff. Are there any theories as to why this sort of thinking
didn't translate into Christianity--but quite the reverse? 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of 
> Jeffrey Shoulson
> Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 9:11 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] PL and the sabbath, etc. 
> 
> 
> On Dec 21, 2004, at 12:47 AM, Dan Knauss wrote:
> >
> > I can't remember where I heard this, but supposedly sex on
> the Sabbath
> > was/is encouraged among Jews.
> 
> What Dan Knauss is having trouble remembering is slightly
> more complex 
> than this:
> In the talmudic discussion of marital obligations in Tractate 
> Ketuboth 
> (the tractate that deals with the marriage contract), the 
> rabbis state 
> that a husband is required to provide three things to his wife:  
> sustenance (she'er), shelter (k'suth--both clothing and a home), and 
> sexual satisfaction ('onah).
> Not content with this simple formulation, the rabbis then go 
> on to try 
> to quantify all three of these items.  In their analysis of sexual 
> satisfaction (presumably since the rabbis were all men and didn't 
> consult with any women!) they chose to delineate the obligation in 
> terms of quantity, rather than quality, reducing the question to how 
> many times a husband should have sexual relations with his 
> wife. Again, not content with a single simple answer, the 
> rabbis concluded 
> that this number varied by the husband's profession.  The 
> following are 
> some of the minima.  A sailor, who could be expected to be away from 
> home for months at a time, was obliged only once every six months.  A 
> man of wealth and leisure who didn't work for a living was obligated 
> every day (except, of course, when his wife was deemed 
> ritually impure 
> because of her menstrual cycle).  Rabbis were obligated to have sex 
> with their wives once a week; and since the Sabbath was the day of 
> rest, the most appropriate evening in which to fulfill this 
> obligation 
> was deemed to be Friday night.
> Rabbinic literature and Jewish liturgy often speak of "oneg Shabbat," 
> the delight or pleasure of the Sabbath.  A good meal, a good nap, 
> and--ahem--a good lay are all elements of this delight.
> 
> Thanks, by the way, to Professors Herman and Di Cesare for their very
> important comments about the impossibility of polarizing the biblical 
> and the classical in Milton's writings.  This is an aspect of 
> Milton's 
> poetry from the very beginning.  The Nativity Ode may insist on a 
> silencing of the pagan oracles and a banishing of the pagan gods with 
> the birth of Christ, but inevitably they return "in order 
> serviceable," 
> there to do the bidding of a poet more than willing to mine Egyptian 
> gold.
> 
> Jeffrey Shoulson
> 
> ___________________________
> Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor, Department of English
> Director, Program in Judaic Studies
> Fellow, Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic
> Studies University of Miami 5202 University Drive 105 Merrick 
> Building, Rm. 109 Coral Gables, FL 33124
> 
> o: 305.284.8180
> f: 305.284.8190
> m: 305.742.6973
> 
> http://www.as.miami.edu/judaic/
> 
> “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more
> and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and 
> glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's 
> desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright 
> moron.”
> 
>                                 --HL Mencken
> 

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