“The Lost Key”
Sex Advice from the Torah and the Kabbalah
“The Lost Key” a new documentary about sex advice gleaned from the Torah and Kabbalah, is not only anti-gay and anti-women but also contradictory throughout. The focus begins on Venezuelan
Ricardo Adler whose divorce was very difficult for him and he decided to try to discover how to achieve a fulfilling and lasting marriage. His search took him to Rabbi Manis Friedman, who introduced him to Kabbalah’s ancient secrets to attain the highest form of intimacy. The film than concentrates on his transformation in a new marriage and also looks at how other couples have responded to what the rabbi and the film consider to be a revolutionary way to sexual connection. I ask how revolutionary it can be when it comes from texts written hundreds of years ago. The film claims it is about forgotten wisdom and that it can “inspire society to rediscover intimacy, one bedroom at a time”. I say, “Give me a break, sex has not changed since the beginning of time and while methods vary, sex has remained the same”.
“The Lost Key” has absolutely nothing new to say and it is reminiscent of the religion classes of the 1950s. Ricardo Adler gives Rabbi Manis Friedman, credit for saving his love life and course for happiness by teaching him the Kabbalah’s ancient secrets for achieving intimacy and that is what this film is; a tribute to the rabbi and not much more than that. What is said and seen here is completely outdated both in regards to sex, but also regarding gender equality and to the rights of people of diverse sexual orientations. It is ultra-conservative and it seems to me that it attempts to teach that intimacy is the best when it involves giving and receiving (duh!!!) but I do need a rabbi or anyone else to tell me that. But that is not all— Rabbi Friedman maintains and insists that only a man can do the giving and that the woman is the one who gets the receiving. (Does his wife dare to tell him that she is in the mood for receiving or does only he get to say when he feels like giving?). What this means according to the rabbi is that the penis is the only giver and the uterus is the only receiver. Therefore penetration of the vagina is the only acceptable way for couples to achieve intimacy. After all, the rabbi says, “The harmony of giving and receiving is something that exists only between a man and a woman”. Does this mean that there is no intimacy in this world outside of sexual intimacy and that those who practice it differently are therefore, by biblical definition, abominations?
The film has been winning prizes at festivals but that is because of the make up of the audiences where the majority consider themselves to be heteronormative. It will be even more interesting to hear the reactions when it is screened in liberal cities like Boston where there is a huge Jewish population that is made up of all the colors of the rainbow. I do not think that the rabbi’s definition of intimacy will float there.
The film puts women in a passive role by frequently saying that females are categorically incapable of any performing any role in intimate relationships other than being a receptacle. Further, Rabbi Friedman states that the missionary position is the one and only route for achieving intimacy (since the man does what he does while the woman waits to receive him.
There is a sequence in which the Rabbi shares this with a couple being counseled and the wife suggests to the Rabbi that she finds diversity in their sex life a wonderful way for partners to explore and learn about intimacy between them. The Rabbi interrupts her and says that women should not be so active in intimacy. When the husband defends his wife, he tells the rabbi that he is narrow minded in his view on intimacy and the rabbi agrees. The very fact that he does agree tells us where this is all going. I realize that all of this is just foolish out-of-date jabberwocky but I keep watching and hoping that something will change.
The husband then defends his wife and suggests that the Rabbi has a “narrow” view on intimacy to which the Rabbi smiles and agrees. The lessons of The Lost Key are so out of whack with 2014 that it’s hard to appreciate a word of the film. The Lost Key is honestly one of the most inaccessible documentaries I’ve ever seen because it leaves no room for interpretation or conversation. The film probably succeeds in preaching to the converted, but there is little opportunity for anyone else to accept its lesson.
There are other that scenes both support the rabbi’s views so I am not quite sure what kind of audience will watch this dreadful documentary just as I am sure that not many people will go home and practice what the rabbi has to say. Listening to the rabbi here supports the present day state of America in terms of organized religion—why bother? But he is not alone as we see other talking heads/sex experts who look like fools as they speak. Is there no wonder why there is such a small percentage of people who ascribe to organized religion in the LGBT community? What about the straight community? When a religion dictates what intimacy is, we need to ask ourselves several questions and then hit the door. I am an observant ands active Jewish gay male and have always been. I love my religion because it is sane. Yet every group has its kooks and this rabbi undoubtedly was standing next to Moses when he etched the Ten Commandments into stone.
Aside from the film’s content, it is a very amateur attempt at a documentary. The camera even shakes—perhaps the cameraman was trying to be intimate with it. Those who do see this film and pay to do so would be better off spending their money on corned beef on rye or falafel on pita. Those who do opt to see will not likely be surprised to see a bearded, traditional Orthodox rabbi telling them that missionary-style with a man on top, a woman on the bottom in near total darkness within the confines of marriage is the “right” way to have sex. But then comes the surprise— the same rabbi tells then that it is this position that will lead to a heightened, perhaps even holy, intimacy and that this and other lessons from the Torah can “usher in a new era of sexual relations,” and I quote from the film’s press release.
The documentary is headed to American US theaters on August 12. We are told that it promises to reveal to audiences “how a sexual relationship can go beyond mere physical pleasure and become a spiritual experience where two become One.”
It sets out to prove that the lessons of traditional, Orthodox Judaism can lead to better sex by showing couples how to create a heightened sense of intimacy. Director Ricardo Adler says that the oneness with God is the singular and “highest form of physical intimacy.” Now I have to wonder how many people stop to think of God while having sex?
I should have suspected something the moment I saw Rabbi Friedman in his black suit and long grey beard—I know these kinds of rabbis. We now see that it is not beyond them to take the life of a teenage girl at a gay pride parade. (I know, that is not a fair statement but then neither is murder a fair way to deal with that you do not like).
The rabbi is flanked by a press representative wearing in a yarmulke and a larger man who is also dressed in traditional clothing. Was he afraid to address us alone? I wonder if he has read either “Kosher Sex” or “The Kosher Sutra” by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach or if he knows that there is a kosher sex toy industry. I do not see how this film can possibly offer a “revolutionary way” for couples to improve their sense of connection without knowing this. We have already heard about intercourse with the lights off and the man on top of the woman and that this is considered the best ways to achieve the highest level of intimacy. But guess what—there is more. There are other limits for intimacy that restrict other sexual activities in order to allows this intimacy to be exclusive to heterosexual, married couples. Does the rabbi not think that unmarried people do not have sex or is that the sex they have is not intimate? Now Friedman says that this kind of sex has to be fine because it has been going on for 5000 years. Does that mean that oral sex is too new to be considered intimate because people have only been having it for say 4000 years? I would like to see where it is written down that these people who have been intimate share that with us.
Why Friedman doesn’t think about those 5,000 years that have been also filled with “not only unhappy marriages, but physical and sexually abused women, a subjugated LGBT population, and a sexual culture of restriction and shame”. I am stunned that this film ever got made and I am even more stunned that people will pay to see it. Which is the bigger shonda? I have no idea but I do know crap when I see and hear it.
Not only is this film factually not true, it implies homosexual couples cannot achieve this highest intimacy. I understand that Adler reacted to that statement with “You’re talking to a guy who has been heterosexual since day one, whose family is heterosexual”. Is that a valid excuse for leaving something out of the film? It would like making a movie about vegetables and because I do not like green peas, I ignore the fact that they exist. I also do not like people who think that are making the definitive version of something when they have no idea of what they are talking about. Is it no wonder that Adler’s marriage fell apart? He probably sexually bored the hell out of his wife.