Rev. Chani Getter, LCSW
January 14, 2022
“What if it were ok to feel your desire? To allow yourself to experience the intensity of sexual craving and pleasure?” The fear that came across my client’s eyes (her face was covered with a mask) was palpable.
“What are you so afraid of?”
“I am afraid that I would get lost in it.”
“What if you gave yourself permission to fully feel your longing and still say no to sex, to the actual act of doing anything with another.”
My client is in her early 60’s. Someone who has been taught her entire life that sexual desire is immoral. As a woman she was conditioned to believe she should not be feeling this way. At the same time, she was taught through the actions of the women around her, the media and society in general, that she had no right to say no to sex. That if a man wanted her, it was her obligation to please. In the past, she had shared that she felt that she had sex too early, that she didn’t realize that she could have said no. She felt that she was dating him for a long time, and so she did it. We had discussed numerous times that her sexual craving was something she was ashamed of.
Somehow knowing that she had a right to say no to sex while still feeling desire opened and moved something in her, and her entire body relaxed. Something inside was being transformed.
Many of us in the helping professions are aware that the individuals, couples, families who come seeking help from us, are often our greatest teachers. I sit in session and experience myself being transformed by those who share and allow me to witness them.
One such awareness is happening for me in real time as I have been studying with Yael Kanarek and Tamar Biala, over the past few months. These two women are in the process of re-gendering the Tanach (Old Testament). Wherever there are men, women appear and vice versa. You can see more of this project here.
My local spiritual community has invited Yael to come and do a Toratah (feminine version of Torah – five books of Moses) study tomorrow with our community via zoom. I will be chanting verses from the regendered Torah portion this week, both in Hebrew and in English as we begin to study the text together.
I will be chanting how Moshah (regendered Moses) stretched out her hand over the sea, and Tehovah (Goddess) moved the sea by a strong east wind… how the daughters of Tisraela (regendered Israelites) walked on dry land, and as the Metzerot (regendered Egyptians) chased after them into the midst of the sea with all of Par’ah’s (regendered Pharoah) mares, her chariots and her marewomen.
As I practice chanting the re-gendered version of this sacred and problematic text, I find myself at a loss for words to explain the way that these new pronunciations are impacting my body and feeding something inside me that I didn’t even know I was hungry for. I desperately want to explain to you all what it means for someone like me who was assigned female at birth, sat behind a mechitzah (physical divider between men and women) for the formative years of my life, to hear this story- this ancient narrative in this new construct- and yet I find myself without words. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with this incredible reality of listening to the story in this new way, seeing problems in the text that were there before, now looking and sounding very different, but still so challenging, and yet so healing. Sitting with all of it. The discomfort of not having words yet feeling deeply, makes me feel lost in the experience.
I am gifting myself permission to feel my yearning, my desire, my absolute overwhelm with the text and not have to DO anything to fix or change it, or to fix or change me.
My question to you dear ones, is this: What is the desire that you are afraid to feel because you think you might need to do something about it? What would it take for you to fully be with your desire and gift yourselves permission to just sit with it and FEEL?
Shabbat Shalom (masculine usually used – translation: Have a Peaceful Shabbat)
Shabbat Shlayma (feminine meaning the same)
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