This is a translation of a famed Kabbalistic letter attributed to Nachmanides (Moses ben Nachman) including a lengthy introduction describing the history of the work (1/3 of book) & an English translation side-by-side with Hebrew. The translator, former President of the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, argues that its author was Joseph Gikatilla (vs. Avraham Feuer's translation, "A Letter for the Ages"). The Letter draws from Biblical/Talmudic sources & employs Kabbalistic ideas & terms. It addresses the purpose, nature, time, diet, intention, & quality of the sex act. It rejects Maimonides & p. 74: "the accursed Greek" Aristotle's contention that touch is shameful. Rather, p. 72: "The sexual intercourse of man with his wife is holy & pure when done properly, in the proper time & with the proper intention" & p. 92: "The sages said when a man unites with his wife in holiness, the Shekhinah is between them in the mystery of man & woman." However, p. 94: "the divine presence leaves them when the act is for sexual pleasure alone." It also says that too much sex weakens a man, late Sabbath evening is the best time, to not have sex after eating, to not overeat, & to have the bed north-south.
It has some gems of wisdom-- pp. 108-110: "The master of true wisdom knows that extremes are not prudent & the qualities of moderation are most desirable" & p. 110: "Solomon said, `be not righteous overmuch; neither make yourself otherwise" (Ecclesiastes 7:16) & Kabbalistic metaphysics-- p. 122: "When an animal is slaughtered for human consumption, it is for the animal's good, for it rises from the level of the body of an animal to the level of the body of a man." On the other hand it argues enigmatically that p. 136: "The thought of sin is more grievous than the sin itself (Yoma 29a)," & shows primitive understanding of human physiology & genetics (it WAS written in the Middle Ages) such as techniques for conceiving male children & attributing birth of a black child to white parents because the curtains in the room were black--so they thought of black during conception! Thus, it juxtaposes profound insight with superstition, & fantasy. Its anachronisms shed light on the development of knowledge & understanding, though they may seem rather quaint today.