Warning: This posting contains sexually explicit content relating to the mitvah of marital relations 

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the obligation for a husband (and wife — see Ritva) to not hold back from skin to skin direct contact during marital relations out of a sense of false modesty.  The psychological benefits of skin to skin contact on mood regulation and the release of the oxytocin binding hormone has been scientifically proven. Below is a relevant quote from Psych Central ( https://psychcentral.com/lib/about-oxytocin#1 ):

In humans, oxytocin is thought to be released during hugging, touching, and orgasm in both genders. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity. ((Kosfeld M et al. 2005. Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature 435:673-676. PDF PMID 15931222)) ((Zak, P.J. Stanton, A.A., Ahmadi, A. 2007. Oxytocin increases generosity in humans. PLoS ONE 2(11): e1128.)) ((Angela A. Stanton 2007. Neural Substrates of Decision-Making in Economic Games. Scientific Journals International 1(1):1-64. )) Oxytocin first became of interest to researchers when they discovered that breastfeeding women are calmer when exercising and experiencing stress than moms who were bottle-feeding. It is just one part of the important, complex neurochemical system in our bodies that helps us adapt to emotional situations.

While we are on the topic, I also will share a unique intimacy technique having to do with slow, mindful touch, called “Karezza”:

Karezza is a form of sexual practice that focuses on mindfulness and slow sensual touch instead of passion and orgasm and was discussed by J. William Lloyd. In his 1931 book, “The Karezza Method”.  According to writer Erica Cirino ( https://www.healthline.com/health/karezza ) the Karezza technique involves:

Karezza (pronounced ka-RET-za) is a type of gentle, affectionate sexual intercourse. The word “Karezza” comes from the Italian word “carezza,” meaning “caress.” The goal of Karezza, unlike most kinds of sexual intercourse, is not orgasm but reaching a relaxed state of union with your sexual partner.

Karezza encourages sexual partners to be as relaxed as possible, and to take deep breaths to relax when feelings of intense energy surge.

The emphasis of Karezza is not on sexual passion but spiritual love for another person. Practitioners of Karezza engage in sensual bonding activities such as smiling and skin-to-skin contact rather than typical foreplay activities. When practitioners reach sexual intercourse, it’s much slower and more relaxed than typical intercourse.

According to Lloyd, a major goal of Karezza is to maintain a strong sexual energy and stave off sexual tension or diminishing sexual desires. 

Karezza is capable of boosting feel-good feelings in the brain. That’s because the sensual activities that are a part of Karezza — such as cuddling, smiling, and kissing — boost levels of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin, also called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, is released when people snuggle together or socially bond with one another.

There is no one set method to perform Karezza. However, in his book, Lloyd emphasizes the need for quiet, warmth, relaxation, and love instead of passion.

Lloyd includes sample Karezza instructions in his book. It begins with caressing and verbal communication of the words “I love you” as well as affirmations of beauty and goodness. Touching moves into intercourse, which should be slow and, again, focused on love rather than passion. There should also be a focus on unity and becoming one with your sexual partner in feeling, energy, and thought.

According to Lloyd, you’ve done Karezza successfully if you feel you’ve experienced a direct unifying connection to your lover.

Common Karezza positions are very relaxed, such as lying side by side or on top of one another. Penetration should be slow and deliberate to avoid orgasm. According to Karezza practitioners like Lloyd, doing so will prolong your sexual experience and increase your connection or magnetism (closeness) with your sexual partner.

Unlike traditional sexual intercourse, the end goal of Karezza is not orgasm but increased closeness…The emphasis of Karezza is not passion but love.

Karezza can be difficult for those who have never tried it. That’s not because Karezza is difficult but because it’s so simple it can easily be overthought. Biologically driven sex, where orgasm is the end goal, is often stressful and far from relaxing. Relaxing, bonding behaviors used in Karezza signal safety and closeness.

While the author of this technique had certain Christian ascetic principles that may not correspond with Jewish thought, consider what we studied in Psychology of the Daf, Kesuvos 6, where it seems that the Chasam Sofer understood the Yerushalmi Jews as engaging in a practice that might be similar to this.


Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, (except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation cool.)