The Kabbala is a mystical teaching which tradition says goes back to the Biblical Abraham. It predates Judaism yet was kept alive within the Judaic religion. There is a range of disagreement about the place of continence by those involved in Kabbala. There is no disagreement about the nature of sex.
The Kabbalist Gershom Scholem suggests that the goal of kabbalistic sexual mysticism would be the timeless Platonic one of fusion in coitus with a pre-Creation God as a bisexual being, called the androgyne, wherein male and female unite as equals, and halves become whole. Accordingly, for the kabbalist as for every other sexual mystic the goal of all heterosexual intercourse, is to become a form of prayer.
The following excerpts are from Kabbalist Karen Berg.
According to Kabbalah, desire is the core essence of a human being. Desire is the stuff from which we are made. Desire is what fuels the entire human experience: art, literature, music, scientific discovery, and political revolution. They all begin with the ignition of a desire and longing that yearns to be fulfilled. And there is no more profound, potent, or potentially spiritual conduit for the expression of our desire than sex.
This essential Kabbalistic truth is so important, it bears repeating: There is no more profound, potent, or potentially spiritual conduit for the expression of our desire than sex. Whether we repress that energy, compartmentalize it as somehow "separate from sex," or recognize it and eventually cultivate it, it's there. It pulsates and permeates our entire being as a profound desire to connect with someone... with something outside of ourselves.
According to the Kabbalist, eroticism and arousal begin in the mystical intersection of our heads, hearts and souls. When we are willing to expose the totality of ourselves, and to focus on the emotional and spiritual aspects of our partners as well as their physical charms, then sex can be deeply intimate. When we become aware of the spiritual purpose and cosmic role that sex plays in the grand scheme of things, it becomes charged with discovery and spiritual energy.
According to Kabbalah, sex has the power to crackle electrically with intense energy and to provoke a heightened consciousness. It's not enough merely to turn on. Animals are capable of physical arousal without any forethought. One must have the courage and focus to tune in as well.
Disconnected, tuned-out sex between self-absorbed partners is incomplete sex. It feels small. It shrinks physical intimacy to its most limited possibilities, rendering it hollow; and quite often, predictable or even boring. Like a bad reproduction of a masterpiece painting, it replicates the moves but lacks the vision and inspiration that elevates the original to greatness. Sex that's divorced from our inner selves and from our partners prevents us from experiencing the kind of connections that evoke a sense of Heaven here on Earth.
Sensational sex occurs when one begins to grasp the purpose of creation, the origins of our soul, the meaning of our lives, and the "erogenous zones" of our cosmos. The underlying problem behind a lousy sex life and dysfunctional relationships, according to Kabbalah, is that we do not know:
Who we really are
Where we came from
Why a man and woman exist
The structure of the Cosmos
The meaning and purpose of our lives
The role of sex in the physical and metaphysical scheme of things
The tools necessary to arouse sexual energy in our lives.
In Kabbalah, spiritual awareness and sex, Heaven, and Earth are in an ongoing interaction with one another. The Upper and Lower worlds are intimately connected just as two lovers locked in embrace. This direct and constant relationship between the sacred "Upper World" and the everyday here on Earth is central to this body of ancient mysticism. According to Kabbalah, our lovemaking has an infinite potential. It has the power to be deeply meaningful. Kabbalah does not associate human sexuality with shame. A lover's kiss or sensual caress contain Divine sparks of energy.
Consider the vivid and frankly erotic Song of Songs. Mystics taught that there were cosmic truths to be found embedded in the sensual imagery of the poem, in lines that lushly describe lips that taste like wine and lovemaking that flows like myrrh. In fact, many medieval Kabbalists agreed that this rich, lyrical text contained more secrets to the Universe than any other scriptural work!
For example, the verse, "I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me" (Song of Songs, 7:11) is addressed memorably in The Zohar, which finds both "micro" and "macro" worlds to contemplate in a single line of poetry: "The inner meaning of this verse is that the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is not stirring above until there is a stirring below."
There's great beauty and power in the way Kabbalistic thinking fuses the cosmic and the carnal, the world of two lovers with the entire Cosmos. Our hearts and souls are stirred along with our bodies. On a macrocosmic level, Kabbalah tells us that the elevated region of the Divine is stirred when our own physical world stirs. The "above" and "below" in this passage refer both to the spiritual and physical aspects of human beings, and to the "upper" and "lower" stirrings of the Heavenly Cosmos and of the physical Earth.
Thus, we discover that sex has a power that extends far, far beyond the door of the bedroom. This wisdom reveals to us how our most intense moments of eroticism and intimacy reverberate throughout the Cosmos-the way a small stone tossed into still, deep water causes ripples that radiate far outward from the original point of impact.
The ancient sages tell us something rather extraordinary about Kabbalistic wisdom itself. That is, the spiritual Kabbalistic knowledge is also the sum and substance of passion. In other words, the Kabbalistic wisdom that pertains to sex and the wisdom that pertains to the meaning of life are both, in fact, the actual material and stuff of sexual energy!
Note: Who was Abraham?