Luke and Rabbs: Fun with gynecology

Greg Leake emails about our latest Torah talk: Hi Luke,

Let me send you my very best hopes for a completely uneventful surgery and the quickest possible recovery. I’m assuming with the volume of nose jobs in California your surgical team will be so practiced that you’ll be a better man than when you went in.

I’m also pleased to understand that Rabbs can now look forward to ending his life of tragic celibacy legitimately by following the Torah’s illuminating law. Rabbs explained that if for some reason some member of his family is not up to the job of helping his wife conceive, then it follows that Rabbs is the perfect man to stand in and do the job properly. I only hope that his brothers, uncles, cousins, and so forth, choose attractive young ladies so that Rabbs will be eager for the assignment. Thank G-d the Torah encourages this blessed incest on the basis that Rabbs’s family owes a relative a baby if the husband dies for for some other reason does not follow through with procreation.

And this reminds me of Rabbs’s denunciation of romance last week. I happened to mull this over while watching Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in one of my most favorite and light-hearted suspense/mystery movies, Charade.

These were two actors famous for their style and grace. Cary Grant was in his seasoned age, even after It Takes a Thief. Well turned out and with a craggy face, he was paired off with Audrey Hepburn, who was universally admired for her fashion sense. Cary Grant’s craggy charm and good looks and Audry Hepburn’s sprightly and delicate beauty.

In the movie they are on a dinner barge floating down the Seine. The boat beams it spotlight on young lovers standing on the bank as the barge gracefully floats by. Cary and Audrey gaze into each other’s eyes with a spark of sensuality while the incomparable musical score of Henry Mancini swells in the background with his sophisticated, yet accessible mood creating a backdrop to the romantic occasion. The scene speaks of sensuality, but also of romance and beauty and a luminosity with hidden assertions of things difficult to put into words.

After Rabbs’s denunciation of romance I couldn’t avoid wondering about a Jewish version of this scene.

Gary Grant: Don’t worry Audrey. I’m not going to pull out until I have violated you properly.

Audrey Hepburn: Look, if you don’t finish the job, I’m going to need you brother or somebody to make sure I get the goo.

GC: You’re not gonna have to worry about that. Just worry about buying the groceries and make sure I’m coming home to a hot meal.

AH: Fine. I don’t need this. In two years i could be pushing a baby stroller with 4 compartments down the aisle at Ralph’s.

GC: Now you’re talking. Let’s blow this goy place — I know a kosher cafe on the left bank of the Seine.

AH: Yeah, let’s get away from these meshugana Parisian goyim. I wanna ditch this Chanel outfit and go frummie.

GC: And listen, we wanna avoid the birth control. We can use any aperture, and I’m gonna take it all the way.

Somehow as I visualize the scene, I have trouble seeing Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn eliminating all their famous charm and tossing away the possibility of a numinous relationship, but then I don’t have a position enlightened by a Jewish perspective.

By the way, the idea of religious bliss is something we know a lot more about than we used to. The word ecstasy comes from Old French and means ‘to stand outside of’, generally understood in the religious context to mean one who has been delivered outside his own ego and personality, caught up in a dimension that sometimes is imposed on by the physical body and brain. Teachers of the Kaballah know a lot about this kind of bliss, and so it’s worth knowing that one does not have to step outside of Jewish tradition to find teaching on this subject.


Great to hear from you again, and thank you for your continued enthusiasm for our shows. Your satire of that old movie script is hilarious.

Just to clarify, the Torah rules of Yevamos, levirate marriages, are different than what was the law prior to the Torah being given. Whereas before the Torah was given, the obligation included the father and the brothers, the Torah changed that by only obligating the brothers. The Torah strictly forbids any type of incest. Yevamos doesn’t involve incest.

In addition, the custom nowadays is to instead of marrying the brothers, just perform what is called “chalitzah”, which is a procedure that releases the woman from the family, and removes any obligation from the brothers.

For the record, I don’t even have any brothers, so that whole section of law has nothing to do with me. Sorry, you’ll need another method to end my celibacy.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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