One of most famous images of the Shechina in exile laced throughout the Zohar is the prostitute.
The problem with prostitution is not primarily an ethical problem. Ethical prostitutes can have far more moral decency then the ostensible pillars of the community.
Images of the wise and good harlots abound in literature. From Rahab the harlot who marries Joshua in the bible, to Mary Magdalene, to the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
The problem with prostitution is the depersonalizing of sex. Eros is about the inside and face.
The prostitute is faceless and nameless. Emotionally the client is always on the outside. There is no intimacy. Ultimately this erotic failure becomes an ethical failure. You see the person goes to the prostitute because he is lonely. He is Eros starved and not sex starved. The only place he knows he can get an erotic fix is in sex. The Shechina, the erotic is exiled in the sexual. All too often – through no fault of the prostitute, he feels more empty after sex then he did before. He will usually ejaculate but he will rarely achieve fulfillment.
The highest paid courtesan of course is the one who heals the split between sex and Eros; for at least that evening she is not only sexual available but also fully engaged, present and loving. Generally however the Eros is not real, as it is simply impossible to be truly available and present to so many people- day after day. So the best-case scenario is an unspoken agreement. She will pretend and he will pretend, and the pretense will be sufficient for that is all there is. Sex and Eros are split. The Shechina is in exile.
posted by Jack S. from material of Marc Gafni
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