He has never dealt with a woman before who had never even been kissed. He kept asking me if I am OK with that and I told him no, I hate it, it is very hard, I have the same hormones as everyone else. But also I know that I have made my decisions and that I cannot change the past and that Hashem has reasons for making my life turn out the way it has. I have to believe it is for the best. I accept it because I have no choice. But why I am writing about it is that he keeps saying that the next time he sees me he is going to kiss me, that it is about time I had my first kiss. I am excited but confused. First of all I do not know exactly what he means, you know? He said “oh, what you mean is that you have never gotten the kind of kiss that lasts for 15 minutes.” But he did not then say “well I will have to correct that.” I think he means to kiss me on the cheek or something.That would be nice but it is not really what I am aiming for. What I want is the 15 minute kiss! I want a kiss that makes me have to come up for air!Of course, since it's a matter of the intersection of human sexuality (and its pervasiveness in contemporary Western culture) with halakhah, there's still considerable guilt, especially before the High Holidays.
I wish I could say that the thought of doing this possibly on my very next date makes me feel guilty about breaking halacha. Especially because it is almost Rosh Hashanah and we are supposed to be atoning for our sins not planning to do new ones. But honestly I do not feel so guilty. I cannot explain why. I know I should say that no matter how old I am I should at least feel guilty about breaking halacha especially at this time of year.I spend every year parsing the Al Het prayer, in which we enumerate a list of sins so long that we can't possibly have committed all of them (but we can't possibly emerge from reading the litany feeling completely pure and innocent). I don't think kissing itself--or brushing up against someone--is a sin ("v'iadat znut" or "giluy arayot"). But I do recognize the concept of siyag laTorah, the rabbinic practice of "placing a fence" around the rules of the Torah; in other words, forbidding certain activities not because they themselves are morally wrong, but because they lead to other actions or behaviors which halakhah condemns. (See here for a technical halakhic discussion of what Judaism has to say about pre-marital sex--hat tip to Drew for the reference.) Anecdotally, it seems (at least in New York City) that pre-marital sex is Modern Orthodoxy's dirty little secret, in that many people are having it, but no one is talking about it; many people who are unflinchingly careful when it comes to kashrut or Shabbat observance are more cavalier when it comes to physical relationships. Unsurprisingly, there also seems to be a gender imbalance: men are freer to talk about it than women are. I know, I know. The evidence is anecdotal, at best. I don't have names and sources for you to support this claim. And last time I made a comment like this, I got reamed by a few blogs, but I'm still convinced it's true. And if it is, I don't necessarily think it needs to be eradicated, and the sinners expelled to "outside the camp," as it were, but there needs to be an acknowledgment that--for whatever reason, be it an increased influence from outside culture, or the increase in people who have already been in marriages that failed, or the delay in single people finding soul mates--there's been a shift in how today's "traditional" single Jews view issues of dating and sexuality. I'm not advocating rampant casual sex for Orthodox singles, but I don't think it's acceptable for someone like NJG to reach the age of 34 without having experienced some basic human tenderness, and I don't think it's acceptable that her Jewish life and observance has created in her this package of fear, guilt and longing that consumes her, even in anticipation of one long-overdue kiss.