I read a secret transcript of Hasidic sex advice. Ive read worse. – Forward

Posted By on August 12, 2022

In the movie "Unorthodox," the bride dreads having sex with her husband and ends up fleeing the Hasidic community.

Senior Contributing EditorRob EshmanAugust 09, 2022

All first-time Hasidic grooms prepare for their wedding night by getting blow-by-blow instructions from a rabbi. But one young man did something unique: He recorded their conversation.

The 25-minute Yiddish recording, made in Williamsburg around 2017, found its way to Frieda Vizel, a formerly Hasidic tour guide of the area. Vizel translated the lesson to English, changing just enough details to preserve the anonymity of the groom and his teacher.

Instead of seeing Hasidic sex as abusive or as perfect and pure, this is just the experience in a very raw form, said Vizel in a phone interview.

To me, the raw form was a revelation.

My knowledge of Hasidic sex begins and ends with the TV shows Shtisel and Unorthodox.

You have a hole inside you, leading to a hallway, leading to a little door, Esty, the young woman in Unorthodox, is told by a bride teacher in advance of her wedding night. When the man enters the hallway with his

No! Esty interjects, horrified and scene. Estys experiences in the marital bed turn out to be physically painful and emotionally miserable. Ultimately and not just because she dreads having sex with her husband she ends up fleeing the Hasidic community.

But the real lesson taught pre-wedding night, as translated by Vizel, struck me as far more sensitive. It is still a man Hasid-splaining a womans feelings to another man. But the groom teacher began well before the actual sex which was the first pleasant surprise. He detailed what the groom should do in the yichud room, where traditional brides and grooms go for a bit after the wedding ceremony.

You say to her, Mazel tov, Libby! shaking her hand with both of yours. Okay?

He told the groom what blessing the couple must recite.

As soon as you finish this with Amen, let go of her hand, embrace her. Give her a good kiss here and here. Okay? On the cheek. Not on the mouth. Okay. And as soon as you are done kissing her, you let go of her and you say: Wow! Libby, your gown is BEAUTIFUL! It came out so gorgeous! It came out so stunning! Very, very nice!

Theres usually no sex in the yichud room another urban myth busted. Instead, the teacher instructed his pupil to slow down and talk to his bride.

Libby, how was your day? the teacher told the groom to ask. When did you come to the wedding hall? When did you say the afternoon prayers? Were you able to sleep last night? But you wont ask everything because she is going to be asking you back: Yossi, How was your day? Youll say how your day went, and so itll go one after the other.

After the festive meal, the teacher said, Yossi is to escort Libby through the womens side of the celebration to the mens side, where she stops.

When you get to the mens side, tell your bride, Libby, be well! Enjoy the wedding, I will see you later!

The lesson picked up in the apartment after the wedding.

Say to her, Libby, please come. Let me help you take off your gown because I want you to be more comfortable. Then you go into the kitchen, eat a little, chat a little. Then you go get ready to go to sleep. Youll recite the Shema and take a shower.

After the shower, more talking.

Libby, do you want me to be comfortable? the teacher instructed his student to say. When you are comfortable, I am comfortable. Please, make yourself comfortable, the wig, whatever, but just be comfortable.

The rebbe continued with advice for conversation: What do you think of the wedding music? What do you think of the pianist? What do you think of the singer? You talk about the wedding.

After a minute, youll take your hand and put it on her shoulder, wrap it around her. And you tell her: You know Libby, I was in here in the apartment today, and you did such a beautiful job. And as you say the word such you embrace her with both arms. And you are going to give her a few deep kisses on her cheek; here two-three, there two-three. But now, FOR SURE, she returns the embrace.

There was, in this instruction, a lot of what a therapist would call checking in. The grooms teacher knew his pupil would be nervous. As Vizel pointed out to me, while Hasidic men may get pointers from their siblings or peers, its not like they have any hands-on experience. And the point the teacher kept pressing was: Speak with her. Listen to her. Take your time.

It was all very un-Unorthodox, where the man swung himself on top of the shaking bride without a how-do-you-do.

And you talk to her very sweetly, the teacher continued. Tell her how much you love her, and how beautiful she is, and how beautiful she looked at the wedding, you can talk to her! Tell her how beautifully she set up the apartment, and how beautiful it is set up inside, in the cabinets. Youll take your arm off her, youll give her a piece of cake, give her something to drink, give her a chocolate. You eat, you schmooze. What do you talk about? You talk more about the wedding.

Up to this point, it was all, How to be with a partner, and not, What to do in bed and is that such terrible relationship advice for any two people?

Eventually, after kissing the mezuzah and undressing without looking the two are to lie down in bed. The teachers description of what to do there started out, again, very un-Unorthodox, a kind of choreography. One step leads to another and before you know it, youre dancing.

So what youll do is, youll touch only her face, he said. Stroke her face. Her face, her forehead. You can give her a kiss on her forehead. And you kiss her, and you stroke her face, and tell her how delicious it is, tell her how much you waited for her, tell her how much you love her, tell her how beautiful she is.

Tell her how much you enjoy her. Tell her how delicious it is to be lying next to her.

And tell her that you only want one thing: that she should be happy. That this is your single mission in life.

How long will you lie with her? However long you want! A half-hour, an hour, an hour and a half. I dont care. However long you want. Okay?

Now. When you feel ready, you want to go, you want to do it, what do you do?

At this point in the transcript, theres an ellipsis.

Vizel herself was married at 18 years old in the Hasidic tradition, and, like all brides, first met with a bride teacher. The sex descriptions in the recording brought back traumatic memories, she said, without going into detail.

It was, she said, a very intense emotional experience.

So Vizel couldnt bring herself to include the actual sex instructions which, she said, was like a medical guide. You spread her legs and you lift this and Vizel added some far more graphic terminology Youre done. Thats all.

She did pick up the translation immediately after.

The moment you feel that it is finished, the teacher said, you must jump out of bed. Jump out of bed. OK.

This is because the Jewish laws of family purity dictate that any physical touch between husband and wife is forbidden after their first sexual encounter until 12 days later. Vizel explained that the groom must check the sheets for her blood, the presence of which requires a 12-day separation.

If the sex and its immediate aftermath described by the groom teacher are far from what we think of as romantic or satisfying, Vizel said the entire translation offers some sort of corrective.

The groom teacher, she said, has the challenge of making sure that a couple gets off on the right start. You know, they can figure out sex, they can figure out whats allowed later. It will be fine as long as they dont have this terrible wedding night where theyre traumatized by not knowing if they did it right.

She said many husbands will continue to consult with the groom teacher after the first night, and the brides with their teacher, a kallah teacher.

Vizel translated the instructions because, judging by the questions her tour participants ask, people are fascinated by the sex lives of Hasids. I read it intently, because, well, so am I. Its a culture at once so close and so foreign, us but not us.

Its also a culture, judging by this transcript, that popular culture tends to caricature. The grooms teacher transcript shows another side, bound, maybe warped, by an antique and male-centric set of rules, but still far more nuanced than I was led to expect.

Its an effort to try to get people to really give each other a real chance. That was my experience. Its awkward and painful and beautiful, Vizel said. And its much more complicated.

Rob Eshman is Senior Contributing Editor of the Forward. Follow him on Instagram @foodaism and Twitter @foodaism or email eshman@forward.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward. Discover more perspective in Opinion.

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I read a secret transcript of Hasidic sex advice. Ive read worse. - Forward

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