Boteach, an American Orthodox rabbi and author of 30 books, including the best-seller Kosher Sex: A recipe for Passion and Intimacy.

Johannesburg - What’s sex got to do with marriage? “Everything,” is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s short answer.

“It’s indescribably important… A couple who don’t have a passionate sex life have lost the very soul of their relationship. Period,” he told The Star on Sunday.

Boteach, an American Orthodox rabbi and author of 30 books, including the best-seller Kosher Sex: A recipe for Passion and Intimacy and the upcoming Kosher Lust, was in Joburg at the weekend to speak about “Sex, Sin and Seduction” in conjunction with Chevrah Kadisha Social Services during Jewish Marriage Week.

His outspokenness on sex in Judaism and on adultery and relationships has earned him much praise as well as criticism.

But the rabbi remains resolute in his convictions.

“I really believe that, without even knowing it, we are all becoming very ‘ghost-like’ men and women… who go through the motions of our lives without any deep passion,” Boteach said.

“Take a relationship. It can start off very sexual and thrilling, but as time goes on, it’s transformed from a soul connection to what we call a ‘partnership’, which has a very business-like connotation.”

Boteach said studies showed that the US was experiencing a “sexual famine”, with two out of three young couples having sex once a week, for an average of seven minutes at a time.

“The question is why. The sociological explanations given to us today are that we’re so busy in our careers, we’re not prioritising our relationships.

“That we’re tired when we come home; there are televisions in the bedrooms that have become a massive distraction.

But Boteach – who has written two books on adultery – said that what he had found was that explanations were “silly” because when affairs happened, the person would suddenly sideline their career and also risk public ridicule.

“What it really comes down to is a loss of desire. Why is passion being lost in our lives in general, and in our relationships? Particularly desire… well, desire has rules,” he continued.

Boteach – a great believer that lust is more important than love in relationships – said people would laugh at this view, perceiving lust to be ephemeral and sleazy while love was more profound.

“I personally maintain that because marriages are based on love and not lust, that is why divorce is so high. Lust is much stronger than love.

“What does a man say when he’s been caught cheating on his wife? ‘I didn’t love her!’, and he probably didn’t, but he lusted after her and love didn’t have a chance,” he said.

So how do you sustain lust and desire in your relationship?

Well, says Boteach, all will be revealed in his new book, which will be out on May 1.

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The Star