This Week’s Torah Portion Is Parashat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33)

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I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube.

This week’s we study Parashat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33).

* Mind your own business has never been a Jewish phrase. Clearly the community has an interest in many parts of the individual’s private life.

* I was watching a movie about good and evil called For Your Eyes Only. My friend Sean said: “Carole Bouquet is lovely in this one. Overall quite underrated.”

I wouldn’t rule her out or any young lady so long as she is still in her twenties, fertile, and willing to convert to Orthodox Judaism.

I bring this up because a lot of blokes say to me things like, “Hey, check out that bird. She looks quite fit.” Or, “the midot on that girl would stop a bus.” Or, “What I wouldn’t give to study Pirkei Arvot with that sheila.”

* Artscroll Stone chumash says that though the metzora manifested on the sinner’s body, it was “caused by his degraded spiritual condition. Being alone outside the camp gives him the opportunity to reflect on his deficiencies and to repent so that he can once more become worthy of becoming part of his nation.”

* Rabbi Aron Tendler teaches us: “Tzaraas was intended to bring the individual and the nation back to G-d. It was intended to motivate Teshuva (repentance). According to the Gemara, Tzaraas was a punishment for Lashon Harrah. Slander is an anti-social and destructive act. It insidiously harms its victim as well as all those involved in the sharing of the slander. However, the aim of all punishments is to rehabilitate. It is not to exact vengeance.”

* After how many blowjobs from his students (not married to him) should a rabbi stop teaching Torah? I remember a rabbi who was busted for having child **** on his computer. He just couldn’t stop giving over divrei Torah.

* “The metzora is permitted to enter the Israelite camp [in the first stage] and he no longer contaminates an entire building merely by being under its roof.” Sounds like something I need. I’ve often felt I contaminated a whole building by my mere presence.

* Holiness protects ethics. Disciplining people to constantly go against their desires is good training for making righteous people. Most of what you want is bad for you. Language pollution leads to bad behavior. It breaks down moral standards. We need a dimension of the transcendent in our lives or we become shallow.

* Tame means death oriented, and tahor means life oriented.

* Think about all the rituals at the Oscars. People dress up. They kiss the little golden idols.

* You don’t bring a sin offering because you’ve necessarily sinned. Women who’ve given birth bring a sin offering. Sin offerings are to cleanse the community of impurity.

* Impurity and inadvertent sins by themselves do not make God cry. What royally ticks Him off is when humans fail to rectify the situation.

* The concept of an alive or dead house is a real one, particularly when there are people living on your street who don’t take care of their house.

* Houses getting infected, inspected and cleaned up reminds me of the underpinnings broken-windows policing.

* Classical music is a crime deterrent. This is very Jewish. We are influenced by the music, mores, clothing and behaviors of those around us. As Plato said: “Any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole state, and ought to be prohibited. When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them.”

* The Torah never refers to Israel as the Holy Land. It is only holy if people in it act holy. Sins defile the land. Obedience to God sanctifies the land.

* No act is always wrong. Context determines the moral absolute. Morality is absolute, but the morality is determined by the context.

* Illness and impurity are virtually interchangeable in Leviticus. The regaining of health leads to the regaining of purity.

* Spittle is considered in Torah to carry infection and disease. (Lev. 15:8) Spitting is not an honored practice among Jews.

* What goes on with the sexual organs is of great concern to the religion of Israel.

* I enjoy engaging in jocular humor with the ladies, saying things like, “I can’t touch you. You might be unclean.” But this isn’t what the word “tame” means.

* Have you ever had an unusual discharge from your penis? Perhaps a clear liquid or pus or was it a dense substance that caused a blockage? Was it gonorrhea or the syph or garden variety HIV?

* In the 1982 movie My Favorite Year, Peter O’Toole is found in the women’s room. Some matron tells him, “This is for ladies only.”

Shaking his little fella, Peter says, “So is this, mam. I just have to run a little water through it once in a while.”

* Lev. 15:18 And if a man has carnal relations with a woman, they shall bathe in water and remain impure until evening.

This does not sound like such a harsh penalty. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind paying it for the right girl. There’s nothing here about his soul being in peril or his sin making Jesus cry.

The woman does not become impure from semen entering her body. In fact, regular helpings of said substance help many women feel happy.

The BBC reports:

Women exposed to their partner’s semen during sex may find themselves feeling happier than those who use a condom, say scientists.

Scientists in the US believe the mood-altering hormones in semen absorbed through the vagina help to boost women’s mood.

Semen contains a range of hormones, including testosterone and oestrogen, both of which have been shown to improve mood.

…Mr Gallup said the findings may also apply to women who engage in unprotected oral sex and people who engage in anal sex. But he said further research was needed in these areas.

* It is forbidden according to Torah to have sex within sacred precincts. Is a Conservative shul a sacred precinct? I was with a woman and we got bored during Conservative services and so we started making out in the hallway and we were about to go into the rabbi’s office to really rev up but the Mexican help stopped us.

Another time, motzi Shabbos, we started making out on the bima next to the Aron HaKodesh (Ark containing Torah scrolls).

Another time, after a dinner with a shiksa, I walked up to my Modern Orthodox shul and right in front of the security cameras in the doorway, we started making out.

* What would the rabbi say from a Torah perspective to people today suffering from a gross skin disease? Sometimes I wish we could put them outside the camp.

* The Torah does not require bleeding women to be put outside the camp.

* I remember once this shiksa attacked me. We were lying on the couch watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. She was lying on top of me but I knew she had a boyfriend.

And my conscience says to me, You are in great peril.

And I say to myself, I don’t think I am.

My conscience says back, Yes, you are. You are in terrible peril.

And I say, let’s face the peril together.

And my conscience says, No, it’s too perilous.

And I say, Look, it’s my duty as a knight to sample as much peril as I can.

And my conscience says, No, we’ve got to find the Holy Grail. Come on.

And I say, Oh, let me have just a little bit of peril?

And my conscience says, No. It’s unhealthy.

And I say, I bet you’re gay.

And my conscience says, Am not.

And all of a sudden, this comely shiksa attacks me and pulls down my pants and before I knew it, we were engaged in behavior contrary to both the spirit and the letter of the Torah, written and oral.

And when it was all over, we found out that she was menstruating and I never did get the stain out of my trousers.

Sin is like that. It leaves a mark.

So it turns out that I really was in great peril and that I was not up to combating the peril as the Torah would prescribe.

So it is very important that our viewers don’t get stuck behind closed doors watching movies with comely shiksas lying on top of them, liable to spring at any moment.

I’ve been listening to Jonathan Franzen‘s new novel Freedom on CD.

There’s a scene in there where a married shiksa climbs into bed with her husband’s best friend while said hubby is away.

The friend says he’s not going to destroy his best friend’s wedding.

The shiksa says, I’m asleep. I don’t know what I’m doing. Perhaps I was sleep walking. Why don’t you sleep too and we won’t know anything, we might just have some nice dreams.

And she spreads herself on top of him while making this argument and pulls down his shorts and he was in great great peril.

* The biggest consequence of Lev. 15 in the Jewish religion is the ongoing prohibition of the husband having sex with his wife while she’s menstruating (and seven days afterwards until she has immersed in a mikveh). Judaism places limitations on people in every area of life — money, sex, food, time, work, etc.

* I feel like I’m knock, knock, knocking on Heaven’s door.

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Greg Leake emails: Hi Luke,
ching-chong, ling-long!

Rabbs apparently did not understand one of my questions. I thought I remembered him talking about a period when he was diagnosed with OCD, and they wanted him to follow some treatment. And I remembered him telling us that the treatment, which may have been medication, caused him to have to choose between Judaism and the treatment that would relieve the OCD.

And I was wondering what if he had chosen the treatment. Naturally, another Jew would probably assume that he had done the right thing in choosing Judaism. As a non-Jew, of course, I wonder…

The reason I asked the question was because several years ago, the most popular Catholic site on the web was called “No more cafeteria Catholics” or something of the sort. The site frequently had comments burgeoning over a hundred for many threads. It was enormously popular. As I remember, it was started by some European guy who immigrated to the US and converted to Catholicism. He was tremendously bright, very skillful with language, with a great knowledge of Catholicism and its various practices.

After he got married (if I have the story straight) his wife insisted that he get treatment for his OCD. Well sir, after being on the medication a short time suddenly all of his rigidly held, dogmatic beliefs faded away like tears in the rain. And I gather that he discovered that much of his insistence on certain intractable positions were an outgrowth of the OCD and not actually a position he would hold without the symptoms of the disorder. Eventually he dropped the web site altogether, and I do not even know if he is still a Catholic.

And Rabbs, if you read this, on another occasion I remember you writing, “Jews don’t make good goys.” Or something to that effect. I hope what I am saying will be seen as a compliment. I am in no way suggesting that you change your relationship with Judaism. You are a great spokeman for Judaism. However, in my opinion, you would make an extremely good goy.

Your deep interest in sports would ingratiate you immediately into the goy world. You have a lot of insight into football and other sports, and from what I can tell you are a devil on the surfboard. Furthermore you have your famous extraverted sense of humor. In my opinion, after many decades in the goy universe, I think your qualities shine in goy society, socially and professionally. You are a very dynamic personality. And with all of the qualities I’ve mentioned you have what it takes to make it quite far in the goy social and professional worlds. I would put money on it.

Luke, the only things I was surprised about with your answers was that you would like to have been president of the United States. (It’s a good idea. I just never had such a thought in my entire life.) And that Hemingway would be one of the non-Jewish people you would enjoy having as a friend. I get the Tom Wolfe association easily enough. It’s pretty obvious, but I have never really thought of you in the big game hunting, deep sea fishing milieu. However, it might be a pretty good fit as I think about it. Beyond the computer screen I do realize that you engage a lot of physical stuff and you just came out with this interesting interview on running. Maybe being a matador from the point of view of the Alexander technique? Ole!

You know, if you had the dough, one of the enterprises I think would look good for you is the publishing business. Perhaps a little bit like Black Sparrow Press, but updated with your own stamp. I know you would be good at it. I realize that being good at something does not automatically define what would work. But I can definintely see you as a publisher.


Good to hear from you, and thanks for your dedication towards our show, and of course, thank you so much for the wonderful compliments regarding being a great goy.

As for the question you asked, it sounds like you got a few things confused. Let me clarify:

I was diagnosed with OCD, and the treatment was medications, and I took those meds until I could not longer afford them. Nothing about those meds represented a problem according to Judaism, though. The only downside of them was that they made it impossible for me to have an erection, so if I were married during that time that I was taking them, I would also need viagra or cialis.

However, if I were married, then I wouldn’t be depressed, and hence, I wouldn’t be taking those pills to begin with.

What you confused that episode with was what happened to me back in 1983 when I chose between Alcoholics Anonymous versus Judaism, and I chose Judaism. The reason the two conflict is because AA is a religion unto itself as I explained at length in a broadcast. Basically, AA believes in staying sober above all else while Judaism believes in fulfilling Torah above all else. The two are mutually exclusive, and diametrically opposed when presented with a question of what to do with an hour of free time, go to a meeting or put on Tefillin.

The reason I believe you confused the two events is because you were projecting that story of the Catholic onto me, and in your wishful thinking, you were hoping I’d drop Judaism for the treatment, as you believe the reason I keep Torah so strictly is simply because of a mental disorder. I believe we’ve had a similar conversation before. Greg, you need to do a better job of not revealing your negative thoughts.

Rabbs, thanks for clearing up the difference between the OCD treatment and your conflicts with AA. You guys have covered a lot of territory about yourselves, and sometimes so details escape me. I can certainly see how the AA point of view would have conflicted with Judaism. Furthermore, it doesn’t appear to me that you are drinking these days, and so I guess ultimately you did not need AA in the end.

Rabbs, to some extent you have me wrong. I live smack dab in the middle of Orthodox Judaism. There are 9 synagogues on my side of town. I have a few friends from this milieu. Most of the people around here are about what you would expect with your in-depth knowledge of Jewish communities. Mine is a mixed community of goys and Jews. Most of the people around here get along fine with Orthodox Judaism and modern Orthodox. Occasionally, someone will be a little disgruntled, and I’ll hear a few complaints about the rigors involved with having to keep up with such a prodigious execution of dinners and observances and what-not. But mostly it’s cool. I see frummies every day, and I see the kind of situation that you point out about frummies and kids all the time.

What bugs, me, Rabbs, to just simply state it, is that I am annoyed by the fact that you appear to be a righteous dude, and you’re having to sit up in that little apartment on multiple occasions eating tuna fish. It bugs me that the marriage pressures of your community have made you decide to stop going to weddings; to stop dancing at other people’s weddings. In your fix, I would be doing exactly the same as you. But frankly it bothers me because basically you’re a good guy, and the dictates of religion insist you have to live this truncated form of existence. You haven’t done anything to deserve having to live a life of semi-confinement. You have huge, pent-up demand in terms of sexual desire, and you have a bunch of women apparently eager to go to bed with you, but because of your religious orientation, you have to constantly choose celibacy and chastity over opportunities laid out there for you that take advantage of. it bugs me that as intelligent and smart a guy as you are, with good will, is forced to choose a marriage partner only from this class of eligible women when there are jillions of great, good-looking girls in LA who might be good match-ups for you.

So when I see Orthodox Jews getting along fine with their religion, then I am completely OK with it. But when I see someone that I like having to live under the burden of all these enforced regulations, laws, and rules, I get a little bit peeved. I want this guy that I like to be able to get out from under some of this stuff when it doesn’t work for him. I realize that I am looking at this entirely through the eyes of a goy, and therefore do not have the in-depth appreciation that another Jew would have. And I’ve often said that I admire the stoic resolution and integrity that you bring to hanging tough on these observances whether they are painful or not. At the same time, as a non-Jew I hope you can appreciate that one does not enjoy watching someone they like having to live life up against the wall 24 hours a day. You know, if it’s gotta be, then I know you are going to do what you gotta do. But it would be impossible for me to like it. If I were in LA, I would drive over and bring you some kosher dishes or just sit around and talk to help break the monotony for a few hours. I wish there were a better way for you to live iup to your obligations and at the same time to live a little.

About Luke Ford

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