As I was leaving LimmudLA last month, I was given three boxes of food to take to SOVA to feed the homeless.
Figuring that I was only a canceled credit card away from being homeless, I appropriated the food and put it to a holy purpose — me.
After all, as Rodney Dangerfield pointed out, what have the homeless ever done for Israel?
I’ve eaten most of those three boxes. I gave away a half box of food I didn’t want to SOVA. Now all I’ve got left from my haul are five packages (four cups per) of Cocoa Krispies.
I’ll sell them to you cheap.
Maybe I’ll give them away for Shaloch Manoat (gifts) on Purim.
JConnectLA (they have the best and holiest Jewish singles events in town) hosts Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for a Shabbaton but it cost $100.
I tried to figure out how to do the thing on the cheap. I could host another fundraiser on my site or I could strip down to my tzitzit on my webcam in exchange for paypal donations or I could rob the homeless bums on Pico or I could hold up a shul at shacharit and raid the pushker (charity box)…
I decide to do nothing.
Then two hours before the Sabbath Friday, I email JConnectLA to see if I could get a press pass to their distinguished event.
I leave my request to the last minute knowing they won’t have time to answer it and turn me down.
I tire of rejection.
I find a shul. I welcome in Shabbat. I pray. I read. I look around. There’s about 200 people and nobody I want to talk to who would also want to talk to me right now.
I walk home. I try to swagger. I try to flex and unflex my muscles. I try not to cough too hard or spit too much. I tell myself that the day of redemption is nigh and I will soon be a prophet with honor in my own ‘hood.
My glorious Shabbat dinner? Quaker Granola Oats & Honey for the third time today.
I promise a friend I’ll show up at 9 p.m. for Rabbi Boteach’s lecture but as that time approaches, I languish in my hovel. I’m still getting over my cold. I don’t feel like walking a long way alone in the dark. Maybe the gangbangers won’t fear my blog like they used to and hold me up on the mistaken notion that I have the big bucks rather than the big influence.
I know if I go I’ll get all over-stimulated and see all my friends and I’ll get giddy and say something stupid and will forever close off another avenue for my Jewish expression.
I stay home and have a good wallow before stumbling into a troubled sleep.
I hear later that Rabbi Boteach spoke three times Friday night. He challenged the audience. He said that if God is running the world, that seems like bad news because the world is filled with lawless bloodshed, such as the attack on the yeshiva Thursday that murdered eight.
Saturday morning it’s back to shul. Every time I shake hands, my right elbow stings.
Carpal tunnel. Tennis elbow. Moral degeneration.
The ol’ HIV acting up again.
I get a quick nap and then make the long march to the Crowne Plaza to catch Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in full cry.
He’s brilliant. He’s mesmerizing. He’s hysterical.
He talks about married couples getting too comfortable with the each other to the point they even use the same bathroom at the same time.
"Can you imagine people dating using the bathroom at the same time? ‘Here, come in, and we’ll get the started while I finish off.’"
Rabbi Boteach says Judaism is dead in Pico/Robertson. We’re an overly-regulated Baal Teshuva (penitents rather than those Orthodox from birth) community too afraid of breaking petty rules to serve God with joy. "We haven’t sung one song this Shabbat. Not one song from the heart."
It’s the most religious shuls that talk the most during prayer, he says. The Baal Teshuva shuls are the quietest. Penitents fear being caught outside the rules.
A woman asks the rabbi, "How does the rav feel about pre-marital sex?"
"Rav?" Shmuley wondered. "Who’s the rav? I’m Shmuley."
The woman said she became religious so she could get married and yet she’s still unmarried and it’s hard to be chaste.
Rabbi Boteach that most people come to Orthodox Judaism because they’re lonely. Their lives are broken. They are promised that Orthodox Judaism can fix what is wrong with them, make them happier, get them married, and give them a good family life.
Then much of the time that doesn’t happen and people get angry and frustrated.
Rabbi Shumley says to live Judaism with joy. Be honest when dating. It’s our flaws that open up room for us to love each other.
He reads the questions that were emailed for him. "Why are Jewish women such ballbusters?"
"Why are Jewish men such wimps?"
"I’m dating a stripper. She’s kind and she loves Israel. Please know that if you’re judging her, you’re judging me too."
Rabbi Boteach talks about the importance of dignity. He doesn’t advise the guy to dump the stripper, just to encourage her into a different profession.
I feel like I know who wrote that stripper email.
I go up to a friend and ask him. He says yes.
He says he was inspired by my interview with the deaf porn star (Savannah Jane, raised an Orthodox Jew, educated as a social worker) to look her up and take her out.
Rabbi Boteach says that the central teaching of Judaism is that you matter. Even if you are not young or beautiful or rich.
After Boteach’s talk, I chat with Larry Greenfield, the executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
I freeload off the third meal. I wasn’t going to eat anything but there’s chocolate and strawberries and mango. I must make a donation Monday.
Better yet, I’ll guilt-trip my friend who encouraged me to go to make a donation for me.
I love to be righteous on other people’s dimes.
Friend says March 10: "I made a $100 donation to jconnect…and u didn’t even have to guilt-trip me."
Why is it that whenever I start talking to a girl at some Jewish singles event, somebody comes up to her and warns her about me. That I’m a predator. A shark. A pick-up artist.
One Friday night at Stephen S. Wise temple ten years ago, I left this girl for five minutes to go to the bathroom and when I came back, she said half a dozen people had come up to her to warn her against me.
"What did they say?" I asked.
"That you’re the male version of a whore."
I don’t know why my love for Torah gets misinterpreted this way. Yeah, I’ve played around, but that was a long time ago. I’m a different man now. I’m older, fatter and greyer. Men and women no longer find me so ravishing.
I volunteer to take JConnect’s leftover food to SOVA but my reputation has proceeded me.
I’m no longer trusted with women or food!
I should talk to the rabbi and ask him why do I talk to women more before I have sex with them?
I want to think of sex as opening up intimacy.
I first lived with a woman in Orlando, FL, in 1993.
I told Orthodox Rabbi Y. A. that we might marry.
"You’re going about things the wrong way," he said.
A few months in to our relationship, I came back from the library with a book on birth order and I was telling her all about it with great excitement. She was the oldest. I was the youngest. It was a great combination for a relationship because eldests tend to competitive and organized and responsible while youngests are playfull and rebellious.
"I tried to talk to you about that when we first met," she said, "but all you wanted to do was screw."
I run into a kid who gave me such a stern presumptuous and unsolicited dressing down via email shortly after we met a few months ago that I banished him forever from my life.
It’s Shabbat. He meant well.
We shake hands.
Why the heck am I kicking people out of my life? I don’t have enough friends. He’s a good bloke. We share common values. He’s funny. We know people in common.
But who the heck is this punk to give me some mussar lecture?
Maybe I’m mad because he was right. Too painful. Must reject him. Don’t want to look at self straight in the mirror. Want to keep looking in fun-house mirror, all distorted through my cam narcissism.
I must stop discussing these private matters on my blog. Must act like a mature adult. Must let people feel safe around me. Must stop acting like a creep. Must be dignified.
Mustn’t talk so much about self.
Show how much I’m suffering because of Thursday’s attack on the yeshiva.
OK. Done. Let’s talk about me.
I don’t want to pretend I’m only a holy man. I am also a man of flesh and blood.
I was finishing off the shemoneh esreh (Judaism’s central prayer). My friend finished.
"What’s new?" I ask.
"I was in the Philippines for a week."
"Business or pleasure?"
"Business. I got three massages. No happy endings."
"Have you read The Game by Neil Strauss?"
"That might help someone who’s 20. I’ve got 25 years of patterns. I’m not going to change. You have to treat women like s— on your first dates or they put you in the friend category. I always treat women nicely and they always treat me like a friend. Nice guys are only good for friends."
There’s a 90-minute wait until mincha and the third meal.
I get so bored I pick up a prayer book and study it closely. I sit in the corner like a loser while all around me people have good conversations.
I talk to an old lady. "I bet I know someone in Australia who you know," she says.
"I left there over 30 years ago."
"Andrew Peacock (former leader of Australia’s conservative party)."
"Andrew Peacock? I know him. How do you know Andrew Peacock?"
"He used to date my friend Shirley McLaine. He wanted to marry her but she didn’t want to move to Australia and he didn’t want to leave Australia. He’s a lovely man."
At the third meal, Rabbi Boteach recognizes me. "We met at a strange place," he says.
Yep. It was Dr. Susan Block’s Speakeasy in 2000. She dressed all conservative for him but her place was still covered with pictures of naked people.
"So what’s the deal with Luke Ford?" Rabbi Boteach asks.
Ahh, my name. He remembers my name! It’s the sweetest sound in the world to me.
I want to bond with Rabbi Boteach like I’ve wanted to bond with Dennis Prager and Rabbi Elazar Muskin and Rabbi Steven Weil and all the other father figures who’ve rejected me.
Who will be my daddy? God, Torah and Orthodox Judaism are wonderful but they’re a little too abstract to be effective father figures for me.
I look around the Shabbaton and see married people who are younger than me and they have kids and mortgages and all I have is my pathetic blog/cam & pony show.
At least I’m in touch with my emotions and I’ve had enough therapy to articulate them even if I’m too lazy to shape them for constructive purposes.
"I believe in the same things you believe," I tell the rabbi. "I just try to write as honestly as I can every day. I don’t try to push values."
Thank God! Who’d want Luke Ford pushing values? Maybe your enemy’s values. Best way to discredit someone.
In his final lecture, Rabbi Boteach tells us not to live in fear and to run towards the light.
I charge out of the Shabbaton all fired up. I got a lot of good stuff and it didn’t cost me anything!
At the corner of Pico/Robertson, I see a white walk sign. I forget my fears and charge across the street at the same time as a crazy woman driver turns into me.
I scream sh’ma yisrael (in my head).
I think I might be writing this blog entry from the next world. Things are much much better here.
Here’s a video from the Jewish Journal: "Consul General Yaakov Dayan of Israel in Los Angeles responds to the shooting at a Jerusalem yeshiva and a Palestinian protest taking place on Wilshire Blvd. in front of its office. Also speaking: Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss, Rev. Billy Ingram, Rabbi Daniel Bouskila. Video by Jay Firestone."
The theme from the movie "Rocky" blasted through the main sanctuary at the Nessah Synagogue on Thursday March 6th with nearly 600 local Iranian Jews who came to witness a heated debate between author and television personality Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and syndicated Jewish radio talk show host Dennis Prager. Their debate focused on Boteach’s newest book "The Broken American Male". Boteach’s argument was that American men nowadays don’t pay as much attention to the emotional needs of their wives and children. Instead he argued American men spend too much time watching sports on TV and porn on the Internet. He also said American men are often too caught up with making money and less focused on making the family work– a reason why some marriages fail and some children may not want to be at home. Prager argued that the problem may not lie with American men but perhaps with American society where the roles of men and women have been blurred since the feminist movement of the 1960s’ and 1970s’.
While I personally did not favor the arguments of either side, I was impressed with the large turnout of mostly younger Iranian Jewish professionals. You could even say Prager and Boteach were treated like celebrities by those in attendance as small groups huddled around them before and after the debate. Boteach had previously spoken at Nessah and has many fans in the community considering the fact that his father is an Iranian Jew. Prior to the debate, some in attendance enjoyed Sushi and Saki while mingling– after all, this was yet another opportunity for young Jewish singles to meet one another!
To listen to our podcast featuring Boteach and Prager’s views of young Iranian American Jews here.
From my March 14, 2000 Lukeford.com archives:
I got to meet one of my heroes, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, this evening. He wrote the bestseller "Kosher Sex" along with about ten other books. He was on a special Sunday night edition of the Dr. Susan Block show.
Last year when Rabbi Boteach visited Dr. Block’s show, he was accompanied by many esteemed members of the Orthodox community, including the rabbi of Young Israel of Beverly Hills who about fainted when he saw the sexually explicit art work at Suzy’s Speakeasy.
This year Rabbi Boteach was disappointed that Dr. Block had not replaced the sexy art with Jewish art. The rabbi received an angry letter from a Los Angeles religious Jew who wrote, in effect, that the rabbi could be forgiven for going once by mistake to Dr. Block’s show, but to go a second time was to sin.
Rabbi Boteach said that all of America’s orthodox rabbis had taken up a collection to send him on a book tour to Baghdad. He’s highly controversial among religious Jews for his frank talk about sex, for watering down Judaism, and for promoting himself. Humility is a big deal among the very religious.
An excerpt of Rabbi Boteach’s book "Kosher Sex’ was published in the English edition of Playboy magazine, to the great consternation of religious Jews around the world who view Playboy as sinful.
At 6:50PM, I walked upHope Street in downtown Los Angeles to find Rabbi Boteach and his coterie (including his Los Angeles host Alon Carmel, president of matchnet.com) standing outside. Rabbi Boteach smoked a cigar. He was very friendly, interested in my book and in my conversion to Judaism.
I told him that the nationally syndicated talkshow host Dennis Prager had a great influence on me. Prager also had a profound affect on Rabbi Boteach. They have been friends for a long time. I believe that Boteach brought Prager to Oxford University in 1990 to debate an atheist on the God question for Boteach’s L’Chaim [To Life] Society.
Dr. Suzy’s hubby Max brings us inside. Dr. Block said she had just talked to Prager on the phone. He’s researching his next book on male sexuality. Suzy knows of Dennis, but she does not know Dennis. She has never been on his show or he on hers.
Rabbi Boteach was watching Dennis Prager Thursday night on Larry King Live debate in favor of California’s Proposition 22, which defines marriage as taking place between a man and a woman. Watching the debate with Rabbi Boteach was his homosexual brother.
After his last appearance on Dr. Block’s show, Rabbi Boteach published an article on the experience.
Rabbi Boteach recently debated Larry Flynt on TV. Though they competely disagreed, they got along personally. Rabbi Boteach was touched by Flynt’s affection for his wife, his former nurse. The rabbi challenged Flynt to a public debate in Los Angeles which will take place March 24 at a yet to be decided location.
Seeing firsthand Larry’s affection for his wife, Rabbi Boteach realized that Larry was just in porno "to make an honest buck." Rabbi Boteach thought Larry would be hanging out with one of his models.
Rabbi Boteach’s wife Debbie, hails from Sydney, Australia. I grew up in Cooranbong, two hours drive outside of Sydney.
Dr. Block told the rabbi about her feud with radio talkshow host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Dr. Laura called Block a "psuedo-professional porn queen."
Unfortunately the batteries on my tape recorder had run low, so I missed ten minutes of the banter between Suzy and Shmuley before the show.
Right after Dr. Block started the show, Rabbi Boteach took control.
From his ten years hosting the radio show "Religion on the Line," Dennis Prager remembers how it was alway the rabbis who talked the most.
Shmuley asked Suzy, a Jew, what she had done to commemorate her mother’s passing. Suzy’s dad died years ago. At the time of the death of her mother, Dr. Block sent a note to Shmuley who replied in part by listing the different Jewish rituals she should perform, including having someone say kaddish for her mom.
Suzy talked about inheriting much of her mom’s furniture.
Suzy: "I feel that her spirit is more here than ever… She was an artist. She never got to see this place, but I think she would’ve really liked it. I built this place to impress her while she was alive, and now to honor her [that she is dead]."
Rabbi: "Was this your first experience of loss?"
Suzy: "No, no, but it might be the biggest loss… My husband Max is now my mommy and daddy."
Rabbi: "My brother is one of the biggest suppliers of guns and uzis… If you want to blow up your neighbor."
This brother was in the audience tonight with his wife. Along with a few other members of the audience, he wore a yarmulka (skull cap).
Max: "My father was one of the great gun dealers."
Suzy: "The Christian Right wants to hang the Ten Commandments up in every school. Rabbi Boteach wants to hang them up in every single bar."
Rabbi: "And in every bedroom."
They’re referring to Rabbi Boteach’s new book "The Ten Commandments of Dating."
Rabbi: "This is the only interview with a rabbi where the interviewer is wearing a rabbi’s hat. You’re wearing a streimel."
That’s a hat made of fur.
Suzy: "I have four of these. Last time I wore my blue one… I’ll just curl my little payos [sidelocks worn by religious Jewish men] down my side."
Rabbi: "Back in your Speakeasy, I see that since last time I’ve had absolutely no influence on you whatever."
Suzy: "Oh no, there is more Judaica."
Rabbi: "But the [pornographic] pictures are all still here."
Suzy: "Oh yeah, I like to mix it up. This exhibit is called "Erotic Art of the Apocalypse," so you’ll notice quite a few religious themes."
Rabbi: "Well, luckily, we Jews don’t have an Apocalypse. That means there can’t be an erotic art of the Apocalypse. We don’t believe the world is going to end in a big boom."
Suzy: "Apocalypse can also mean revelation."
Rabbi: "Looking at the word revelation, it takes concealment for there also to be revelation. You first need something covered."
Suzy: "I covered up for you rabbi."
Indeed she did. Suzy is dressed far more conservatively than normal. The first time he arrived, Rabbi Boteach asked Dr. Block, all concerned, that she was going to stay modest.
Normally Suzy dresses seductively for her shows, and does them from a bed. That is where Suzy interviewed me.
Rabbi: "God bless you. I argued with you last time that in order for there to be real revelation in sex, you first need concealment. Modesty leads to intimacy. That curtain which covers the body and says, ‘I have a secret to tell you, and I am only going to tell you.’"
Suzy: "Absolutey. And the secret is the word little. A little curtain. I believe in concealment. I call it teasing. Women need to be teased because it makes us come around and men need to be teased because it makes you slow down. But I think you make people wait too long, rabbi."
Rabbi: "They always say rabbis are too quick.
"Look, the biggest thing missing from modern relationships is curiosity. We know so much about each other. This is the age of the spotlight. Our relationships are being drowned in the din of light. We are suffering from too much light… The idea of incremental revelation so people are teased.
"We’re living in an age where men watch tampon commercials on TV and women know that their men have been test subjects for Viagra… What is their left to discover?"
Suzy: "The American people know that Bob Dole has been a test subject for Viagra."
Rabbi: "I have no problem with that because he is a devoted husband. And Viagra between married couples is a wonderful thing. But I see a loss of curiosity. The old joke – how do you know who’s married at a restaurant – it’s the couple who aren’t even talking to each other. Because they think they know everything about each other already. There is no arc of renewal and part of modesty is to allow renewal."
Suzy: "I believe in marriage. I’m married and monogamous. I think that people who are not monogamous can love each other. I have great respect for swingers. Marriages that have stayed together for decades… Many of them are ethical good people."
Rabbi: "Let me ask you a question. You’re married to your husband. Do you belong to your husband?"
Suzy: "Yes and he belongs to me."
Rabbi: "Well, if marriage is about belonging… Interdependency. The secret of a great marriage is two becoming one flesh while remaining two. Because when you morph into each other too quickly, there is no curiosity left. You’re a puzzle that’s been solved. You’re a mountain that’s been climbed. There’s nothing left to discover. How can someone be a swinger and say ‘I still belong to someone?’
"I make the argument in my new book that every marriage has two fundamental components – primacy and exclusivity. "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt." God says, if you want to be in a relationship with Me, then I have to come first.’ If a man comes to a woman and says, ‘I love you but my mother will always have to come before you.’ Or ‘I love you but my job will always precede you.’ I don’t think a lot of women will feel flattered.
"Americans think that what they want most is freedom… Not true. We will give up our freedom for a noble cause. We all want to be unique. If you’re not the one and the only to someone you are not unique.
"Throughout history people have wanted to be famous. As long as you have a camera on me, Susan, I’ll keep on talking… Alexander the Great brought chroniclers along with him on his campaigns. People wanted to be famous for their achievements. This is the first generation in history that wants to be famous for their character flaws. So you have 50 women going on national TV who want to become famous as golddiggers…
"People today are so desperate for attention that they are willing to lose their dignity for attention.
Rabbi: "Who enjoys sex today? The average length of sex between married couples is seven and a half minutes. It takes longer to smoke the cigarette after… When I tell men about the seven and a half minutes, they look at me and say ‘Who are those supermen?’
"Why do people enjoy pornography? Because they are sensually challenged. They can’t enjoy the feel and the aroma and the sound of sex. They only enjoy the site. Most men are more interested in watching two strangers do it on a big screen than doing it with their wives.
"In Talmudic times, women were not allowed to sing for me because the female voice was so seductive and erotic. That’s been lost to us today. Most men complain their wives talk to much. The only time they enjoy the feminine voice is when they pay for it as part of a sleazy industry called phone sex.
"In sex, two strangers are trying to connect. Two people that don’t have any blood ties… So God gave five sticky points called the five senses. Five points of connection. Sex is a celebration of the senses. Now, when Jews make love as part of Kosher Sex, they use visual attraction to create the first connecting point but then they turn the lights off. And as the eyes close and the clothes peel away, what’s left is a sensate experience. Now that the lights are off, we’re alive to the sounds and scents of lovemaking.
"Today women feel inhibited in bed because they feel evaluated and judged. Falling in love connotes an experience whereby I am washed away by a tidal wave of emotion. At one time, a woman would take off her clothes and you couldn’t help but be aroused. Today men are all Supreme Court justices in bed. They judge whether their wives curves are sufficiently round, if their weight is sufficiently low, their hair sufficiently bouncy. And the women know they are in the presence of a judge, so they freeze up. 72% of American housewives undress with the lights off or in the bathroom because they are ashamed of their bodies."
Suzy: "Speaking of sensual experiences, have some whisky. I hear that you never turn down a whisky."
Rabbi: "I never turn down a free whisky."
They say Hebrew blessings over the drink. The first one in memory of Dr. Block’s mom Rachel.
They sip their whisky.
Rabbi: "January 2000, that was a good month."
Suzy: "We’re coming up on Purim which celebrates Esther, a great Jewish heroine. And very sexual. She participated in a beauty contest… She won."
Rabbi: "Today, in the Miss America pageants, they all go to gyms. It’s visual. They’re trying to look great. These women were probably plump. All the women immersed themselves in oils so they would be soft. Men today want thin women because to the eyes, thin is in. But to the sense of touch, meat is neat.
"When the lights go off, what is more pleasurable? To make love to a ribcage and a bag of bones, or to someone who has a bit of flesh. Women should eat more.
"Long ago, men used to make love with their hands. They used to feel their wives. They didn’t need directions in the bedroom. Today women have become traffic cops in bed. They give directions. They’re like air traffic controllers. Turn left!
"Today, in the bedroom, communication is verbal rather than experiential. That’s why Bill Clinton’s such a sexy guy. People wonder why the most powerful man in the world didn’t choose more beautiful women? Because he’s a sensual guy. He looks at the total woman. He likes them zaftig.
"With Monica, they were having phone sex. Can you imagine how flattering it is to a woman when a man loves your voice and your feel? What do women want? They want to feel good about themselves."
Suzy: "I fell in love with my husband through phone sex. We had phone sex before we had real sex."
Rabbi: "Before you guys studied Jewish texts?"
Max, Suzy’s hubby: "I had the same rabbi who did Sammy Davis Jr."
Rabbi: "This is the celebrity rabbi?
"Saint Augustine called the Jews ‘carnal Israel.’"
Suzy: "Yeah, he had plenty of sex before his conversion."
Monday night, I watched Rabbi Boteach speak at Cafe Olam, held at the Sephardic synagogue on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. The rabbi asked all the women if they needed a man? About four raised their hands. Then he asked the women if they needed a phone, and most of them agreed.
Rabbi: "They’re prepared to acknowledge dependency on a piece of plastic but not on a human person. And why? Because AT&T is always there. Reliable. Men are not."
Lynne writes: When a man lowers the lights to keep a woman from seeing his diseased genitalia, it is easily confused with a gentlemanly gesture to preserve our modesty and ease our anxiety over feeling "evaluated and judged." No non-whore in the real world says, "Yo, baby, turn the light back on, I need to have a look at your dick first." We’re just grateful not to have our flaws on display, because we’re convinced that, any second, the guy is going to say, "Your labia are asymmetrical," laugh and leave. (Or. worse, call us up in a day or two and say they’re no longer interested because our thighs are too heavy or that horrid bump on our nose really turns them off…) Anyone who knows he or she is infected with an incurable disease owes it to their partner to disclose it, bring a condom and offer to wear it, porn star or not. Anyone who doesn’t is a common boor but for a porn star to behave this way is unprofessional. With all the guys that want the job, can’t we work with male performers who pay attention to their health? When I direct a porn movie, I can tell who to do what with whom in bed. When I’m having private sex with a man, I don’t want to be calling the shots (what a great video metaphor), I want a man to make love to me.
I didn’t realize there were Jewish nunneries (since when were YOU Catholic?). I am so flattered, you wanting me kept safe from wolves and temptation. If only I could make the choice of exclusivity in that Catholic sense — married to God, celibate to man, belonging to Luke. How about two of three? I belong to you, Luke. One reason I was so surprised that XXX would put himself in the position he did was that surely he couldn’t have failed to notice that I belong to you.
Lukey, what would be the problem if we saw movies we both liked with no arguments afterwards? That it might lead to sex for hours on end? Why does that horrify you so? It sounds like it would make the real Rabbi very happy. Surely you, the ultimate enigma, could keep me from getting bored. Why do I want to touch you so badly I want to cry? Why do I try so hard to avoid disturbing you with "issues" that I forget other men might actually feign the passion I remind myself you cannot show?
The only conclusion that I can come to, my friend, and I’m sure the Rabbi would agree, is that you are Looney Tunes. "I will never make love in the flesh again, I will only worship Luke from afar" may not be a workable position for me to take, but "I won’t have sex with someone unless I know them and love them as I do Luke" may be tenable. That maintains the primacy, exclusivity and belonging with very little effort on your part. I will also try hard not to bore you. YYY says it is good for you to go out with women who have nothing to do with porno just for you to keep your perspective on the world. Still I am happy that you will not be getting together with any Jewish childhood sweethearts while you are in Australia. I entertained the thought of NJG doing ballet in the nude. It was delightful.
No, my final lesson is not to "trust no one." This isn’t the "X-Files" or even the "XXX-Files." I know that as a Jew you need never forgive me for making a mistake (nor never let me forget I made it). My lesson is that, if Luke will let me, to love and trust him more than ever, because he has taken such special care of my heart for so long.
HERE’S SOME STUFF FROM RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH THAT WAS EMAILED ME:
Dear Rabbi Shmuley,
I am 30 years old, and would love to meet someone, fall in love, and get married. My problem is that I’m too picky–or at least my friends tell me I am. I have first and sometimes second dates fairly often, but there’s always something that makes me end it before it gets too much more involved than that. He took a cell phone call during our date. Or he works late every night. Or he has no relationship with his family. To me, these are major red flags that he is not a man who can be devoted to a relationship without baggage or distraction. I know my standards are unreasonably high, but can you advise me on how to tell the difference between a minor human quirk and a relationship deal-breaker?
In the back of my book "Kosher Sex," I give a checklist for marriage. But before I highlight some of those qualifications, let’s identify a visible truth. You are more than likely a commitment-phobe. Now, there are two kinds: the passive commitment-phobe, who sabotages the relationship before it even begins by dating inappropriate people, and the active commitment-phobe, who looks for all kinds of outs as the relationship grows more serious.
It seems clear to me that you’re the latter, an active commitment-phobe. The men you are dating are not bad. If they’re imperfect, then so are you. Indeed, if they were perfect, why would they need you? It is through our failings, shortcomings, and deficiencies that we come to appreciate what our partners add to our lives. Just think about it. Were you to devote yourself to one of these imperfect men, you could probably teach them how to honor a woman by, say, not answering the phone during a date, honor himself by not becoming a workaholic, and honor his family by being closer to them.
I am a great believer that a woman inspires a man to be better. The notion of romantic love is that a man strives to be a knight, a gentleman, battling dragons, or in this case his own inner demons, in order to win the fair maiden.
The reasons you’re so dismissive of these men can feel like many different particulars. But put together, they all come down to this: fear. You’re afraid that something is going to go wrong. But love and fear are diametrical opposites. Love is the extension of the self, through trust, to connect with another. Fear is the recoiling of the self to shy away from the other. So stop being so afraid. Nothing terrible is going to happen if you fall in love, as long as you fall in love with the right person. And all you need to determine who that will be is to focus on the essentials of character rather than nit-pick the peripherals.
Here are some highlights, from the checklist I mentioned earlier:
- Is he humble, or does he brag shamelessly or talk about himself constantly?
- Is he courteous and respectful, or does he repeatedly cut you off in mid-sentence?
- Does he apologize if he hurts you or has made a mistake?
- Does he focus on you, or does he seem distracted by other women?
- Is he patient with children?
- Does he treat waiters and service people with respect?
- Does he carry himself in a dignified manner, or does he curse, get drunk, or yell?
- Does he give to charity?
- Even if he is not close to his parents or family, does he listen to you when you tell him why he should reconsider?
- Is he generous, or does he insist you pay half the bill?
If you’re dating men who score 7 out of ten on this list, you’re doing OK.
One more thing. The other reason you’re not getting married is that you’re not feeling lonely enough. Love is the solution to humankind’s first malady–aloneness. That’s what Adam first experienced in the Book of Genesis. I suggest that for two weeks you go cold turkey on going out to movies, hanging out with friends, and especially dating. Once you start experiencing the loneliness that comes from a dearth of human company, you will long to be with a man who assuages your loneliness. And chances are, your expectations will be much more realistic.
G-d bless you,