Suicide is Painless: Dating Etiquette in the Holy Land

Whenever I am asked how Israelis compare to the British, there is one single reoccurring experience that always springs to mind as best illustrating  the cultural, social and psychological differences between my two sets of compatriots.

“Do you have brothers and sisters?”

This is a compulsory first date question. Indeed, it is on that mental ‘note’ that we serial first-daters keep in our mental ‘pocket’ just in case our mind is blanked out by the devastating appeal of the stranger sitting opposite us or, as is more common, by the thought “What the f* ck am I doing here?!”

“I had a brother, but he died.”

In England, this was invariably the cue for a swift glance floorward or (for the more self-assured woman) a courteous extension of sympathy, and – in both cases – the immediate changing of the subject.

The odd bold bird would go a bit further.

“How did he die?”

 “Suicide.”

She looked sorry she asked.

But not here. Israeli girls go further in every sense.

“How did he do it?”

The first time I was asked this question, I thought I was on some cruel Israeli dating version of Candid Camera. But judging by the frequency with which I had to field it thereafter – on about two out of every three first dates – it soon became obvious that I was the one who would have to be making the psychosocial readjustment.

I don’t know why it should matter to a potential second date how Jonny took his life, but it would certainly appear to.

One could argue that the army and the “matzav” (political and security situation in Israel) desensitize Israelis to death . . . or, not giving the natives the benefit of the doubt, that they are just remarkably tactless. And it does sometimes feel as if that part of the cognitive process that inhibits other nationalities from asking grossly insensitive questions is just missing from the mental makeup of most Israelis.

New olim (immigrants to Israel) – especially those from the UK, where the natives tend to be rather less frank – often cite Israeli openness and directness as one of the main reasons they prefer it here.

Indeed, in Israel, it is better to be asked such questions than not to be asked at all.

Last Saturday evening, I went on a blind date arranged by Sidney, my real estate agent.

Eylat was refreshingly normal for a Tel Aviv woman, reasonably attractive, and studying for a Ph.D. (and not in Retail Therapy). I hadn’t been blown away, but Eylat was a considerably better proposition than any of the apartments Sidney had shown me.

And, on my stroll home from the Dizengoff café where Eylat and I had shared a two-seater, I resolved that I would look kindly on the fact that Eylat could not have been far off 40, was in possession of a rather oddly shaped mouth, and larger thighed than I tend to like. In fact, I would reward Eylat with a second date.

I was now feeling distinctly regal. In fact, if I had been double-jointed, I would have patted myself on the back for my generosity of spirit.

So, on Sunday morning, I sent Eylat an sms, notifying her of her good fortune. And, a few hours later, I received the following reply:

“Mitz’ta’eret, aval zeh loh ma’tim – be’hatz’lacha.” (I am sorry, but it is not suitable – good luck.)

I was flabbergasted. Where was the appreciation for my selfless grant of a second audience?! Anyway, our conversation had been pleasant and had flowed, and was totally devoid of that bane of the first date: the awkward silence.

But then it occurred to me . . . after enquiring about my sibling situation, Eylat had not followed up on the news of Jonny’s death in any way. She simply didn’t care. The warning sign had been there, but I had been too preoccupied with the concessions I would be granting Eylat to notice it.

Suddenly, the memory of all those tactless women seemed a whole lot better . . . and, from now on, I will no longer wish for what in Israel is considered cold indifference.

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188 responses to “Suicide is Painless: Dating Etiquette in the Holy Land

  1. Hmmm, weird post Mike, but I feel compelled to comment anyway.

    Is Eylat this girl’s real name? And what’s with the public unflattering description of her physical features? Are you so perfect?? We all have our faults and I think your point for this post could have been made without the unflattering physical description. I would have thought an English gentleman would do better than to kiss & tell (or even just tell), even if in the end it was “lo mat’im”.

    In any case, I don’t think that a woman’s silence on the suicide issue should be universally interpreted as disinterest and the date deemed a flop.

    Has it occurred to you that not prying further into the suicide issue might actually be a mark of sensitivity and tact? Perhaps some women would feel it is more appropriate to delve deeper into such subjects on future dates (presuming you’d get to that stage) rather than on the first date?

    Of course the decision is yours, but I thought I’d share my female perspective anyway. Not all Israeli women are crude, tactless and nosey, so it would be a shame for you to discount a woman just because she chooses not to give you the third degree on certain aspects of your personal life on the first date. In fact, it may even be a sign that she’s MORE worthy of pursuit, rather than the opposite.

    Anyway, as “Eylat” said – good luck! 🙂

  2. I fear you may have missed the point somewat, Noya.

    As a seasoned reader of melchett mike – which I hope you will continue to be, even if I am not the Hugh Grant you may have imagined (I don’t have a penchant for black mammas either) – I would have thought you would have picked up on the tongue-in-cheek, sometimes twisted, sense of humour and writing style by now.

    Though, it is true, I do say things as I see/feel them.

    And she did have whopping thighs.

  3. For the record, I never pictured you as a Hugh Grant type. I have no idea what you look like, but even if you are phenomenally good looking, NO ONE is perfect so it’s not gentlemanly to point out a date’s imperfections publicly (call it “tongue-in-cheek” if that’s how you see it).

    You’re absolutely right, being your blog, it’s completely your prerogative to say whatever you like, however you want to.

    But as the blog owner, by default this means that you’re also open to feedback, or else you wouldn’t share your thoughts publicly. Surely you don’t expect all comments to fall in line with all of your thoughts all of the time?

    I didn’t miss your point, I got it. I’m just not sure I share your view on this one because I see it from a different point of view.

    I have to say that your response to my comment kind of takes away the “cheshek” to comment again.

    Shame.

  4. I welcome your feedback, Noya. What makes you think otherwise? And what so upset you about my response? Talk about spitting out the dummy!

    But I’ll forgive you. Even for unsubscribing. Must be that time of the month. When in a few days, doll, you’re feeling better, you’ll be welcome back on melchett mike.

    Now, don’t say I am not a gentleman!

  5. Michael Goldman

    Mike
    I’m beginning to understand your success rate with the fairer sex.

  6. Don’t forget, Michael, the successes make less entertaining reading!

    But how dare that woman imply that I am a chauvinist . . . I love birds.

  7. Noya sounds like an interesting lady, on the one hand rebuking you for kissing and telling while on the other hand seeking to clarify as to whether Ayelet is the “girl’s” real name. Just in case she knows her.

    The last time I went out on a date, Ronald Reagan was still president of the US, so I’m really not au fait with all the latest nuances. I do, however, have both students and children who court and I do try to keep abreast with developments in this area albeit second hand.

    Firstly, I agree with you that different subjects are considered to be taboo in different cultures. While an Englishman/woman will happily discuss his sex life in detail, if you ask him how much he earns he’ll look at you in shock. Israeli women/men will happily relate the details of her bank account but will consider it quite inappropriate to talk about her sex-life with a stranger. I don’t think one culture is better or worse, they’re just different.

    Secondly, why on earth were you contemplating giving a second date to a woman you found “reasonably attractive”? If she doesn’t do it for you, you’re wasting your time. And that’s before we get into the size of her thighs. I would suggest that it’s more a question of your ego being hurt than your heart being broken. Wow, this is really beginning to sound like Claire Rayner!

    Thirdly, I suspect that your whole attitude to the blind date needs rethinking. On this matter I have some advice, but as certain things are taboo, even to me, I’d rather send it off-blog.

    Finally, unlike Noya, I have met you and can testify that you don’t have the looks of Hugh Grant, neither did anybody else sitting at that table and we all found spouses. You may note that the best looking aren’t always the first to get married. The cases of Ellis who married extremely young and Nick Kopaloff who married very late illustrate this point well. Goldman married both early and late.

    I have no doubt that after reading the brilliant advice that I shall send you it will only be a matter of time till we hear good news on Melchett Mike. Goldman, Nick and I do not expect invitations but we’ll happily make you a 7-brachot all the same. There will be sushi (that’s me), steaks (that’s Goldman), whisky (Koplaloff) and witty speeches spiced with readings from this excellent blog.

  8. Daniel, with readers your age, Noya needn’t have worried about me naming names . . . it was Eylat, not Ayelet!

    Reasonably attractive, normal, and a Ph.D. on its way, is good going these days!

    Of course, you will all be invited, though without spouses to cramp your styles. I have already made the table plan (circular) in my head – in order of seating:
    Gcantory
    You
    Grant Morgan
    Nick
    Shuli
    Mark Goldman
    Mark’s bloke
    Michael Goldman

    Daniel, I have received your advice (by e-mail). Thank you. I don’t see any reason for you not to publish it here. Go onnn . . .

  9. Why does Mark get to bring his bloke?

    I suggest before publishing the advice:

    1. It will be much more impressive when you can attest to its brilliance.

    2. If everyone knows the secrets, you’ll lose your edge.

  10. Tel Aviv veteran

    Dating in Israel is kind of like going to the dentist: it sometimes hurts and always costs a lot. And on those occasions that it doesn’t hurt, one is happy to the pay the price. Until the next round, that is.

  11. Welcome to melchett mike, TA Vet.

    I am glad that you didn’t continue the analogy with tasteless reference to cavities, injections, drillings and fillings . . . not to mention opening wide and spitting.

    In spite of the best efforts of a certain Nick Kopaloff, melchett mike is not a blog for cheap, lewd sexual innuendo.

  12. Michael Goldman

    Mike,
    My only advice to you is to ignore the advice of anybody who uses the term “court”. My Nana my G-d rest her soul, whenever she would come to visit from Liverpool would ask me: “Are you courting pet?”
    Mark’s fella is called Aaron.
    I want to sit next to Gcantory.

  13. You are sitting next to Gcantory (the table is round).

  14. Actually, no kidding, it was that story of Goldman’s Nana that has inspired me to often use the term. I enjoy saying “Are you courting?” especially to Americans who henceforth believe that this is how all Brits talk.

    I think it was about the same time that MG became peeved about Nana always giving him a oner and telling you to buy himself something with it. He swore that he’d send her one for her birthday.

    For those who were not acquainted with Goldman’s grandmother she was a Liverpublian who, like his mother, pronounced the yo of yoghurt as if it rhymed with bow or grow – Yow-Gert if you like.

    Goldman was able to hush up this fact and when I confronted his mother with the question (Auntie Rosalie TLA) and asked her to name the aforementioned dairy item, she denied it and showed clear signs of having been coached by M Goldman to pronounce it correctly.

  15. Michael Goldman

    Dan,
    You have touched many lows in your life, however calling Mrs Goldman a liar, after having many times been a welcome guest in her home is about as low as it gets.
    My mum wouldn’t know how to lie and I think an apology is in order.

  16. Ditto.

    Goldmans Unite.

    Next you’ll be insulting ‘lucky’.

  17. Actually, I’ve always tried to avoid touching lows, a quality you might think of adopting.

    Nobody loves Auntie Rosalie more than I, however, that does not mean that she was not, perhaps unwittingly, involved in the aforementioned dastardly plot to rewrite history and rename the yoghurt. A plot that I squarely accuse you of masterminding!

    You once challenged me to prove that A Hitler did not have chicken legs and I believe I rose to that challenge.

    Now it is your turn to prove that no yoghurts were never mispronounced at 39 Franklyn Gardens. Do so and I shall apologize to your Mum, your dearly departed Nana and to the three other women that you’ve kissed during your miserable existence.

    Dan

  18. Michael Goldman

    So my mum is not only a liar, but now she unwittingly gets involved in dastardly plots!
    Yet again you prove that there is no end to your coarseness and vulgarity and all aimed at a lady who has shown you nothing but kindness.
    I hope and pray that mum is never subjected to the humility which reading your cruel accusations would no doubt cause her.

  19. The subject matter at hand here is dating etiquette in Israel, the amply-thighed Eylat, and the dummy-spitting Noya . . . so, having championed the page, kindly get Twattered!

  20. Michael Goldman

    Wow Mike!
    You’re really anti-women today.
    Maybe you should consider batting for the other side!

  21. Who knows, Michael . . . if I had considered that at Hasmo or Uni, we may have been brothers-in-law!

    Mark has permitted me to bring up the subject of his Temple’s Havdala Goes To The Dogs program . . . or, as Mark describes it, “a short outside havdala, followed by treats for the dogs and their owners”.

    Who says Reform Judaism is all about gimmicks?!

  22. I read this wonderful piece, and was so proud of myself. As a melchettmike former datee, I’m glad to say that in comparison to the lovely ladies our author has described so graciously, I actually kept my manners AND my thigh master, though born & raised a Tzabara!!! :-). On a more serious note: I’m a proud Israeli, but could never get used to nosie impolite remarks, that “good souls” around here often bare, mostly in regard of your most private issues (i.e. why are u single? don’t you wish to be married? OMG how could one ever answer that???).
    Good manners are something Israelis need to work on.

  23. Nothing peeves off Mike more than seeing the fruits of his arduous literary labours, not only just ignored, but becoming completely diluted by non-related piddle-twiddle that has no bearing whatsoever to his chosen subject posting, this time the much-debated question of painless suicides vis-à-vis dating in Israel.

    How unbalanced to see the taking of one’s own life and a rejection to intimate advances by a fat-bottomed girl, be explained in terms of how “yoghurt” is mispronounced in the north of England.

    I was totally aghast and am still in a state of disbelief that Mike would have the nerve to actually publically name the girl he dated and then go on to denigrate the generous circumference of her thighs. A well-spoken reader called Noya politely questioned the strange piece and she got her comeuppance when Mike invoked her menstrual cycle as cause for her displeasure. We won’t be hearing from her again.

    How shocked would I be, were I to discover that an ex-date had gone on blog to share with the world how amazingly well hung I was, which is the God’s honest truth, but come on, please respect my privacy.

    Mike has surpassed any insensitivity that Daniel Marks may have ever shown on the pages of this fine blog, and that has him up against some very stiff opposition as Daniel is rumoured to have insulted at least half the contributors.

    To his credit, I believe Mike was deliberately trying to write in a self-deprecating tongue-in cheek style, but it did not really read well, it was really rude, and if that is your idea of tongue in cheek then you are licking the wrong arsehole.

    I fear that as Goldman suggested, with this level of effrontery, Mike will sadly always have the gall but never the gal.

  24. “I am not schizophrenic. And nor am I.”

    Will the real Nick Kopaloff please stand up . . . or, rather, sit down.

    Is the above Nick Kopaloff the same one who, inter alia, challenged another reader of melchett mike to a fight, and who has made numerous obscene allegations about my relationship with my little hairy friends (my dogs, I mean)?

    I admit that my reaction to the – no doubt perfectly thighed, but also clearly premenstrual – Noya was calculated to provoke, and in questionable taste. I was merely attempting to match her in the absurdity stakes.

    But quite how Kfar Yona’s most literary – but, sometimes, also most self-righteous – Englishman goes from Bernard Manning to Mary Whitehouse in the few clicks of a keyboard is quite beyond me.

  25. It is true that many have been offended by my postings but you’ll note that they are usually intelligent articulate people who have the tools to reply. It is for precisely this reason that Kopaloff has rarely been a victim of my attacks.

    I actually enjoyed Mike’s piece very much and even read it to my poor, sick spouse to raise her spirits. I was quite sure that the name given was a pseudonym, and had it been I would see no problem.

    Since these postings shall stay on cyberspace for posterity I would urge Mike, even now, to just changed the lady’s name to Sarah or Vanessa or something of the like, and leave it at that.

    There is a precedent for such action; after the sexual exploits of another lady of yesteryear were wrongly mentioned and her name was belatedly removed.

    It would be a pity on the one hand to lose such an excellent posting, and I believe that removing the name would in no way detract from its literary merits or our mental picture of her splendidly voluptuous thighs.

    By the way some women like men with fat bums. I refer you in this matter to Mrs. Iris Goldman.

  26. Can’t I sit between Mark Goldman and his bloke?????

    C u Sunday.

    Shuli

  27. Michael Goldman

    Not only do you insult my mum but now my wife has become a target of your razor sharp wit.

  28. “…between Mark Goldman and his bloke”

    Watch out Shuli your true self is coming out again.

  29. So i will be able to give both of you medicine for your illness.

  30. riiight!

  31. Shuli, if that is all that you can take from Orthodox Judaism, it is a great shame . . . for you.

    If you had been born a Muslim, you would no doubt be advocating the chopping-off of thieves’ hands and the killing of Jews.

    I would like to think that those who truly understand the meaning and purpose of our great religion can arrive at a more humane, less knuckle-dragging, conclusion.

  32. Michael Goldman

    Mike,

    It seems obvious to me that Shulis real problem is a lack of belief in the Torah.

    He tries to use it simply to insult but in doing so transgresses more commandments than a couple of gays on a Saturday night.

  33. Mike,

    It seems obvious to me that Michaels real problem is a lack of understanding the Torah.

    Shuli

  34. Hang on a second!

    I don’t know Shuli as a person and I completely disagree with his contention that homosexuality is a sickness.

    However, is that view illegitimate?

    Up until 1973 homosexuality was listed in the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This changed and today very few psychologists see it as a sickness, while among religious leaders of all major religions there are those as see it as such.

    I have no idea what most people believe but would guess that some think homosexuality is an illness while others don’t.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Kopaloff kick the crap out of Shuli as much as any other man but on this matter I think his view is legitimate though wrong.

    Or are we so PC that even asking whether Shuli’s view is legitimate is in itself an illegitimate question?

  35. Michael Goldman

    Shuli
    Your comment was hurtful and insulting.
    It was not intended to have any useful purpose but simply to cause pain.
    It is however interesting that you don’t seem to have the same need to insult Jews who transgress shabbat or any other mitzva, but save all your scorn for homsexuals. This proves that you have absolutely no real interest in the Mitzvot in the Torah, but rather are trying to use it as your personal hate weapon.
    This is not the behaviour of somebody who believes in the truth of the Torah.

  36. typical gay/gay supporter answer – “lets kick the crap out of him ”

    always resorting to violence

  37. Michael

    I’m not insuulting – just saying that it is an illness and that like other illnesses whether physical or mental needs “medicine”

  38. Excuse me but it was I who raised the possibility of the crap being kicked out of you, not Goldman.

    I am neither a supporter of gays, nor the opposite, but I think it somewhat shallow to characterize calls to violence as within the exclusive domain of “gay supporters”.

    Funnily enough if you reread my posting I was actually defending you and your right to your view. By the way, you’re extremely ignorant because even those who talk of homosexuality as an illness don’t claim that there is a medicine for it.

    Could it be that by calling someone who was defending you a “gay supporter” you have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag in the best tradition of Freudian slips?

    Oh sorry, in Golders Green English, “Is Shuli gay?”

  39. Michael Goldman

    No you’re not.
    You’re saying that you have a medicine to give them.
    As you obviously don’t you were just looking for an excuse to be insulting.
    Your attempt to use the Torah for this is sickening and shows you have no respect for the Torah.

  40. He wouldn’t no the difference between an alef and a Swastika.

  41. Marks & Goldman

    Get a life…..

    …Goodbye

  42. “A coward, a most devout coward; religious in it.” – William Shakespeare

  43. Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 105., No. 3

    “The results of this study indicate that individuals who score in the homophobic range and admit negative affect toward homosexuality demonstrate significant sexual arousal to male homosexual erotic stimuli”

  44. Michael Goldman

    The little rabbit has once again scurried off, taking his hatred with him.

  45. . . . or between a “no” and a “know”, Daniel!

    Anyway, we are having a primary school reunion in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening, and I am trying to arrange some “botty action” for Shuli for dessert (as it is probably harder to come by in Golders Green).

  46. Michael Goldman

    I see no reason to believe that Shuli is gay.
    He is actually very similar to Greg (who may or may not be gay).
    They both take their own personal beliefs and then accredit them to the Torah.
    They also both seem to be ignorant of basic Jewish concepts.

    Shabat Shalom.

  47. What is interesting, however, Michael is that you have some level of tolerance for gays but seemingly none for Reform Jews.

    Aren’t you, therefore, picking and choosing too (if in accordance with your “own personal” situation [i.e., having a gay brother] rather than “beliefs”)?

    If he can be given any credit at all, at least Shuli is consistent.

  48. To Michael Goldman. How can an unashamed publicly practicing homosexual who actually believes his way of life is right and those who criticise him are bigotted homophobes resolve his lifestyle with the divine origins of the Torah?

    The Torah states that homosexuality is a Toeva – an abomination. Religious Jews belive in the eternal and immutable truth of the Torah. A ‘proud’ gay – ie not one who admits that he is a sinner but can’t control his urges – seems to me a denier of the very essence of Torah min hashamyim. He therfore places himself beyond the brothehood of the Jewish nation as defined by halacha.

    Someone who breaks shabbos, though erring severely, doesn’t intrinsicaly deny the Torah by his actions.

    This may explain Shuli’s (and other frum peoples’) angst over your brother’s behaviour. Articulation of this viewpoint is at least as valid as the gay pride lobby and shouldn’t be villified in the way that it has on this blog . Free speech and all that.

    By the by, according to Jewish tradition all sexual sins and the eating of forbidden foods create a timtum halev, literally a blockage of the heart – a spiritual desensitization – which distances ourselves from G-d and alienates us from appreciating the holiness which is our birthright.

    A Jew can always do teshuvah and fix up what he has done as long as he still breathes; it’s just a lot harder when it comes to the above sins.

    We are all tested in our lifetimes and we all have particular proclivities to various sins. It is specifically where we have particular weaknesses that G-d wants us to make our Tikkun. It’s our human frailties that provide our very reason for existence.

    Apologies for getting heavy on this lighthearted blog but felt the urge to present a ‘deviant ‘ viewpoint to the ones usually expressed here.

  49. Michael Goldman

    Good to have you aboard Choirboy.
    No apologies needed.
    We’ve had much more aggressive discussions.
    Would be even better if we knew who you were.
    Why not use your name?

    A practicing homosexual can obviously not resolve his lifestyle with the divine origins of the Torah.
    Neither can one who transgresses Shabbat.
    In fact keeping the Shabbat is our way of telling G-d that we believe he created the world in six days and “rested” on the seventh.
    Shabat is “zecher lema’aseh bereishit”.

    I agree totally with the Tikkun paragraph, but Shuli doesn’t seem in the slightest interested in Tikkun, but rather just tries to insult people who as of yet have not managed to complete their Tikkun.

  50. Should he choose not to come out on this blog, I can at least attest that “Choirboy” was his nickname at Hasmo . . . and is not a yet further, tasteless, Kopalesque reference to the limp-wristed.

  51. FYI “Choirboy” is the nomme de guerre (we are all here to fight the good fight) of Jonathan Levene. Hasmo 1978-1985. In the same year as Mark. Started out in Hotel Kotel together. Happy memories of climbing Har Bar Yochai (next to Meron) with him and Daniel Frohwein. Carried him back to Hakotel from Leilos on ocassion. In fact for many years after I was married we used the whiskey decanter and glasses which Mark gave me as a ‘Zecher to Leilos Bar’ (now sadly resting in pieces).

    Hence I was particularly saddened that a good friend could so utterly ruin his life by his ‘lifestyle’ choice. Aval ain hadavar omed bifnei hateshuva.

  52. The Choirboy –

    Could you explain again why practising homosexuality denies “the very essence of Torah min hashamyim” more than other sins?

    Incidentally, I’m not sure that Reform Judaism believes in the very essence of Torah min hashamyim in the first place. Greg is a Jewish leader, so he’ll be able to help us out on that one.

  53. Daniel the Torah declares homosexuality an abomination punishable by death (profaning the shabbos is similarly proscribed).

    However, when a person declares himself an open and proud homosexual he is in effect stating that he believes the Torah edict concerning this matter to be outdated/incorrect. This is an implict denial of Torah min Hashamyim.

    Truth is if a person is a mechalel shabbos befarhesia – he publicly and unashamedly desecrates shabbos, he is also considered a non jew in halocho. The wine he touches is forbidden and his shechita is forbidden.

    However, most non observant jews today may be considered as tinokos shenishba – children who are captives among the Gentiles, brought up without knowledge of their Jewish heritage, and are to a great extent blameless. Even if today most jews know about shabbos, they don’t appreciate the stricture of the matter due to lack of education.

    Homosexuality, however, is rather different. The severity of the prohibition is stated black and white in the Torah. Moreover up to 30 years ago even the non jewish world delegitimised the practice. The severity of the matter is more or less intuitive to anyone of Jewish background. As for someone who has had a Jewish education, the problem is magnified.

    We all have various desires and tests. Sometimes we overcome them, sometimes we fail. If when we fail we feel guilty and resolve to battle on to overcome such tests in the future, we are fulfilling our life’s purpose. ‘A righteous man falls seven times and rises again.’

    If however we turn our failings in to a valid lifestyle choice, we are denying the foundations of our Jewish faith – ie G-d’s Torah.

    All this IMHO. But I’m definitely not alone.

  54. Jonny, you should have stuck with Bob and Lenny! Both far more healthy. And rational too.

    I mean none of what you write surprises me. But it is just such bollocks. And none of it is “intuitive” to me.

    You might not be “alone”. But then nor was Mohamed Atta. 😉

  55. Michael Goldman

    Sorry to nitpick Choirboy.
    But you have in no way answered Daniel’s question.
    The bare head of a married woman is also described as an abomination.
    Anyone declaring that any Torah edict is outdated/incorrect is also implictly denying Torah min hashmayim.
    The severity of the prohibition of malacha on Shabbat is also stated in black and white in the Torah.
    Sorry, our Torah is not based on your intuition.
    You go on to say: “If however we turn our failings in to a valid lifestyle choice, we are denying the foundations of our Jewish faith – ie G-ds Torah.”
    This could obviously refer to many commandments.
    In fact all that’s left from your argument is “Moreover up to 30 years ago even the non jewish world deligitimised the practice”.
    Hardly a halachic argument.

    I have yet to be given a good explanation of why practicing homosexuality is worse than not keeping Shabat, both of which are terrible sins.
    Could it be that one is an abomination to you?

  56. Michael, I hope that neither you nor Mark will mind me asking this (and I am not trying to wind you up – I just think it goes to the very heart of many of these discussions) . . .

    If Mark was not your brother, would you have wasted even a second defending homosexuality (or at least in arguing that it is no worse than other sins)?

  57. Jonathan “Choirboy” (a name given to you in consideration of your beautiful boy soprano voice, and angelic looks?),

    As I’ve said directly in numerous places on this blog, I don’t believe that the Torah was written by God. My beliefs as well as those of Orthodox Jews and other progressive Jews are all over the blog. I really don’t want to get into all of that again. Just take a look, if you’re open minded enough to consider another viewpoint.

    “I was particularly saddened that a good friend could so utterly ruin his life by his ‘lifestyle’ choice”.

    I guess this remark more than anything else characterizes the complete and utter lack of understanding you and others like you have about gay people as well as other Jews who don’t believe that Torah was min hashamayim.

    Allow me to assure you that my life is far from a ruination. Indeed, I’m thankful and appreciative of what I consider to be a wonderful and near perfect life.

    I hope that doesn’t come off as defensive, it’s just the way I feel, at least 99% of the time. I wanted you to know.

  58. Michael Goldman

    Mike,
    I don’t believe I have in any way defended homosexuality.
    To be honest I’m really not sure how much I would have paticipated in the discussions, but I think I probably would have been as involved, because I get annoyed that so many of us use the Torah to justify our own prejudices.
    But yes it is close to my heart.

    Mark,
    I don’t think that Choirboy’s comment shows a lack of understanding.
    He isn’t denying that you enjoy life but rather saying that a life which ignores so much of what G-d has told us to do is very sad.
    I know you don’t agree with Choirboy about how G-d wants us to behave, but that is a difference of opinion and not a lack of understanding.

  59. If this isn’t a Hasmo discussion I don’t know what is: “Choirboy” preaching to Shul Chazan of 20 years why not to be a preverbial choirboy…
    My only thought is – how many hearts has cantor MG raised up to our G-d in heaven while how many heads have nodded in dismay to hear the preaching of the choirboy?

  60. Don’t get the chance to preach much Stefan. My customers aren’t that interested in my views on homosexuals. Not exactly the thing you talk about when selling diamonds. Saying that a lot of gentiles are very interested in what we believe and it pays to have a cogent answer to give them.

    Mike Isaacson, what an earth is healthy about two ancient has beens one of whom became a tibetan monk for a while (Lenny) the other sold out to become a born again christian (Captain Bob). Now that’s got to be weirder than me – they couldn’t even blame their deviance on attending Hasmo. They’re not heroes. Just writers of some memorable and not so memorable songs. In the not so distant future the majority of Jews around will be frummies. As the bard said ‘the times they are a changin’.

  61. “Choirboy” Jonathan Levene,

    Abomination – “a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.”

    Your selective finger-pointing “abomination” was as heartfelt as it was sad. While I am sure you were not trying “lehachis” like your fellow abomination-condemner Shuli and your rebuke was authentic, it was sadly just as pathetic.

    I have been abominating most of my life in ways you could not imagine. Abominate here, abominate there, abominate almost everywhere!

    My unashamed Shabbat adherence (and maybe that of the editor of this excellent blog) would probably fall well short of the minimum recommended dose and would have me condemned to DEATH. I can feel the noose tightening already. And as for my seed-spilling, I’ll take the fifth on that one.

    And a fare amount of abomination goes down six nights a week at Tel Baruch by Charedi curb-crawlers. They are prohibited from driving down on Shabbat for a shag so in between Mussaf and Mincha they abominate by throwing stones and setting fire to garbage bins.

    But perhaps you and Shuli would know nothing about that. Possibly preferring to live in the Galut you are well distanced from such shameful abominations. But is not your choice of domicile itself an abomination or are our Rabbis just lying or getting it wrong?

    Hishtamtut has been described as an abomination – would you concur? In which army units did your holier-than-thou preachers serve in defence of our country?

    I saw a number of black hatters abominating at Holocaust Denial week in Iran. I regard most Kollel parasites as an abomination, but that is just my own personal prejudice.

    And if we were all stoned or had hot lead poured down our gullets or whatever non-biday shamayim death penalty was on special that week for our own particular abomination, we would all be dead dead dead, apart from righteous Ellis who would have to eulogize the lot of us and singlehandedly run the blog by himself.

  62. Very well said, Nick. I never cease to be amazed by the nonsense that otherwise rational, intelligent individuals – many of whom I grew up with – not only believe, but also preach to others.

    Whilst those same individuals might mock the views of, for example, Osher Y. Baddiel when it comes to an issue such as Israel and Zionism – after all, who would be prepared to give up his holidays in Herzliya Pituach and Eilat?! – their own views on all kinds of other issues are no less blinkered and extreme than OYB’s.

    PS I am glad that you don’t implicate me in the “seed-spilling”. I am always most watchful in that department.

  63. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Nick called me righteous, I object.
    We are all dead in any case, life is just a chimera as we await the glories of the kingdom to be, or get eaten by worms, whichever comes first.

  64. Mike, consider this. If you know the people who express this ‘nonsense’ are rational and intelligent, moreover nothing more than traditional jewish ideas and values have been stated which have been with us for millenia, what’s your problem then? Why do you get so hot under the collar?

    I know what it is. These are inconvenient truths. To confront them with cool dispassionate intellectual argument rather than sarcasm may just get your Jewish guilt complexes going (hope you still got them).

    Anyway I know this is not the forum for my rants but it gave me a buzz and that’s all that counts, doesn’t it?

  65. Choirboy,
    Beneath my sarcasm were many inconvenient truths of our faith.
    Why do you choose to focus on one “abomination” and ignore all the others?

  66. Gmorning Nick,

    I’m not really hung up especially on this homo business. Happens to be that the Torah describes it thus (uniquely – other sins, eating treif breaking shabbos are not described as Toeva).

    I really wanted to clarify that someone who is actively homosexual (rather than just having thoughts/tendencies) and lives openly like this as a lifestyle choice of which he is proud, also by neccessity denies the divinity of our Torah. This is in contrast to other sins which we may do in a moment of human frailty.

    I got confirmation of this idea from one of the contributors to this blog who is an active and proud gay. This position with regards the divinity of the Torah is rarely an intellectually arrived at conclusion. It’s simply that a person can’t live with cognitive dissonance ie where his actions contradict a received belief system its easier to reject the belief system rather than to work on fixing ones actions.

    (An additional factor in not accepting the divine truth of the Torah is that certain sins – specifically those of a sexual nature and eating forbidden foods block ones innate spiritual sensitivity. Thus the Torah may not be intuitive to us. To our forefathers Abraham etc who kept the whole Torah even before it was given at Sinai, the Torah was completely intuitive because they purified their physical being completely.)

    Not making a judgement. Just making observations from personal experience. If we made the decision to follow the Torah then we would understand the truth of the Torah.

    You got me going again, Nick but you did ask for clarification. Happen to have some time on my hands – my youngest is in hospital for last few days so I’ve had time to contribute to Mike’s very entertaining blog.

  67. Good morning Choirboy,

    Thank you for elucidating and for giving such a reasoned answer.

    My best friends are devout orthodox Jews whose commitment to the fundamental tenets of our faith is perhaps not less than yours.

    They do not berate me for the lesser religious lifestyle I lead, rather accept me and show me the beauty of their beliefs by example, some of which has rubbed off on me to an extent.

    Your arbitrary and hurtful criticisms will do little to bring our stray back to your fold and will only increase sinas chinam.

    And whether or not the other sins we both noted are technically “abominations,” why is the “abomination” your cut off point beyond which you choose to throw scorn at the transgressors. Are not the other sins I cited worthy of some of your vitriol?

    Wishing a refua shlema and hachlama mehira for your son in hospital.

  68. Nick. Vitriol? Did a double take. Had to go over my ramblings looking for the hurtful arbritrary criticism you speak of. If you’re referring to Mike’s idols Lenny and Bob, I stand by what I say.

    If it’s my judgement as to the direction of MG’s life, I see nothing wrong in stating an opinion that it’s a ruinous path he has taken. Would you want your children to turn out like that? It’s a bit worse than not being strictly observant because it leads ultimately to the complete denial of the Torah.

    Thanks for your good wishes – it’s my little daughter actually. Don’t think it’s anything serious PG.

  69. Another thing nick, what’s ‘hishtamtut’?

    Also talking of vitriol to quote you ‘kollel parasites are an abomination’ and other such swipes at the orthodox community, does resonate as anti semitism (yes one can be Jewish and an antisemite) . The loonies at the Tehran conference were definitely NOT representative of frummers. If you put your prejudices to one side you would know that 99% of frummers are against them and it’s quite disgraceful that you equate frum people with such negative stereotypes.

    I suppose that’s the result of the polarised and fractious society in the ‘Jewish’ state. As Mike said in another feature on his blog, there is more community cohesion and less ‘vitriol’ and friction in the Jewish enclaves of England.

  70. “Would you want your children to turn out like that?”

    I’d like to answer that one. I want my children to be good, decent, G-d fearing Jews.

    The Ethics of our Fathers teach us to be as careful “light” commandment as with a “serious” one because we don’t know their rewards or punishments. If I had to choose between a child who eats pig, breaks shabbat or is gay I’d have no preference.

    On the other hand if my child was a gay shabbat-breaking pig eater and living in Israel I’d prefer him stay here rather than moving to Golders Green to be a straight and kosher. That is because, as we all know, the commandment of living here is balanced against all the mitzvot of the Torah. While other commandments enjoy a similar status none of the aforementioned do.

    I join Nick in wishing your daughter a refuah shlema.

  71. Daniel, you’re not serious. A gay pig eating shabbos breaker living in Israel is preferable to a Shomer mizvot in GG?

    A sin committed in Israel is much worse than one commited in Chul. Israel is a holy land – ‘the palace of the King’. The land itself spits out its inhabitants who so indulge (see Vayikra 20 possuk 22 at the end of laws of forbidden marriages).

  72. Exactly, Choirboy! Not spits out but vomits!

    That’s my point, also my parsha, incidentally. If you want to know who the sinners are, look at who’s been vomited out and who’s still here.

    I say this having no idea where you live but hoping profusely it’s not Golders Green.

    The midrash asks why Moses argued and begged so much with G-d to be allowed to enter Israel:

    And was it to to eat from its fruits or be satisfied by its good. Moses said, “There are many mitzvot I can only keep in Israel….”

    Consider that the whole question of the need to keep most mitzvot outside Israel was debated and one conclusion was that Israel (the people) needed to keep in practice while in Exile.

    Yup, my friend. My children, so far, are straight, G-d fearing and love Israel much more than I do, but if I had to choose, it wouldn’t even be a question.

  73. “If it’s my judgement as to the direction of MG’s life, I see nothing wrong in stating an opinion that it’s a ruinous path he has taken”.

    Interesting question: When does stating an opinion or personal judgement become offensive? Is it always acceptable to state something under the guise of ‘an opinon’, no matter how shameful and abhorrent it appears to others?

    “The severity of the matter is more or less intuitive to anyone of Jewish background”

    Another opinion or is this a verifiable fact?

    “The loonies at the Tehran conference were definitely NOT representative of frummers”

    And you are?

    “I got confirmation of this idea from one of the contributors to this blog who is an active and proud gay. This position with regards the divinity of the Torah is rarely an intellectually arrived at conclusion”

    We haven’t spoken in 20+ years, you know nothing about my life other than that I’m gay. No more ‘proud of it’ btw than I presume you are proud of being straight. Yet, you’re so able to arrive at this “conclusion”.

    “This may explain Shuli’s (and other frum peoples’) angst over your brother’s behaviour.”

    Angst? Shuli threatened to kill me, and has sent me numerous hate email. Be careful who you’re getting in bed with.

    “I know what it is. These are inconvenient truths. To confront them with cool dispassionate intellectual argument…”

    Dispassionate for sure but not intellectual.

    What happened to that smart, bright, and always ready to question friend? (the latter of which got you kicked out of Yeshiva) From what you write, it seems you became so small.

  74. “I got confirmation of this idea from one of the contributors to this blog who is an active and proud gay…….”

    What exactly is an “active and proud gay”?

    Does it mean that he’s active in the being gay, i.e. having sex with men or does it mean that he’s a gay activist?

    In the former case, that an active gay is someone who has sex with men, how do we distinguish an active gay from an inactive gay?

    Is an inactive gay someone who doesn’t have sex? In which case how can we call him a gay? Or is he someone who has sex but in an inactive, sluggish or passive kind of way?

    If the latter is the case and an “active gay” is in essence “a gay activist” – demonstrations, parades etc, then can a man who prefers to have sex with women (and does so on occasions) be an active gay by means of his taking part in parades etc?

    And how does the “proud” bit figure into it? Is he proud of having sex with men in general or is he proud because of the particular man he’s having sex with at the moment?

    Could the pride be linked to the “active”, that he might be proud at being such an active gay? Perhaps he’s proud to have so much sex with men or proud to have sex in such a active, vigorous and non-passive way.

    If on the other hand he’s proud to be such an active gay – demonstrations, parades etc, Does he demonstrate because he’s proud or is he proud because he demonstrates? Or maybe both.

    As you might have guessed I’ve just finished my gemara shiur.

  75. From your profile on friends reunited when we first became aware of your lifestyle , it is clear that you are proud of your homosexuality . You would not have otherwise advertised it to the world.

    In terms of your disbelief in Torah min Hashamayim , that is a statement which you yourself made on this blog. And like it or not there is a substantial group of Jews who view Apikorsim who reject the fundementals of our faith (wilfully and not thru lack of education) with extreme disdain. Rights to brotherly love are forfeit as long as you hold this position.

    However should you change your mind you will be welcomed back to the fold with open arms.

    There’s no point walking around in complacent bliss thinking that everyone approves of you. By going to the conservatives you have have simply taken the easy way out – you’re surrounding yourself with unprincipled validation of your behaviour.

    Accept it . Get over it . There are many around who disapprove of such behaviour not thru biggotry and misunderstanding but because it contrevenes the Divine Mesorah of millenia.

  76. Choirboy, you write:

    “Rights to brotherly love are forfeit as long as you hold this position.”

    However, my understanding is that Mark is getting a lot more “brotherly love” than you are and that is in fact the basis of your criticism.

    As far as Mark “holding his position” I contend that you may have studied Friends Reunited, but you have no idea which positions Mark holds and I suspect that you don’t want to know.

    Finally, as he who holds copyrights on the phrase, “an active and proud gay” could you please answer my questions?

  77. Daniel Marks, I’m intrigued. Are you retired already?

    Who has the time at 9am Israel time (and my understanding is u live in Israel) to write such a lucid analytical polemic as the one just penned by yourself.

    Are you a speed typist by profession or do you take extremely long toilet brakes with your laptop/blackberry for company?

  78. Is that your answer?

  79. No time to give reasoned answers to your questions of great import. Juggling nappy changes, feeding time etc . Waiting for wife to come to relieve me from hospital baby sit so I can get on with life.

    Incidentally, is that your answer? Retiree, speed typist or internet junky? Will the real Daniel Marks please stand up.

  80. Teacher, lecturer, writer, that’s career-wise.

    Chef, chess player, student of Talmud, weekday gabay, that’s free time wise

    Married + 4, straight.

    Still awaiting your answers.

  81. I’m no scholar like you mate and couldn’t hope to do justice to your questions.

    Where do you live and teach?

  82. Michael Goldman

    Just a couple of things Choirboy.

    Mark get lots of brotherly love.

    Into which fold will Mark be welcomed back?
    As far as I can tell, the only fold in which he is not welcome is the Choirboy/Shuli (the psychopath) fold.
    If your real reason for not accepting Mark was a Torah reason, then you would also have to exclude from your “Fold” the rest of the irreligious Jews.

    Choirboy, there’s no point walking around in complacent bliss thinking that everyone approves of you and your bigotry which you excuse by using the Torah…. but only when convenient.

  83. Live: Maale Adumim

    Teach: Yeshivat Netivot Yosef and Machon Lander.

    I write for Burlington books hence the Virginia Dixon thing. I also occasionally work with the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung

    I don’t think Mike will want us turning his blog into a chat page. However, what is “an active and proud gay”?

    The evergreen Nick Kopaloff has suggested in an off-blog conversation that an active gay might be the “giver” as opposed to the “receiver”, while the receiver would be the passive gay. Is that what you had in mind?

  84. Don’t really want to get into sordid details a la nick kopaloff. But active as opposed to just tendencies – everybody has personal tests which they have to grapple with. Proud as opposed to embarrased – not shy to advertise ones sexual preference – which I suppose makes one a mumar lhachiss l’echad min hamizvot rather than a mumar l’te’avon and all that implies.

  85. Choirboy,
    I question how “lishma” is your lambasting of homosexuality and homosexuals. Does the thought of one man touching another disgust you? Excite you? You see where I am going. Because you appear to be so emotive about this subject “… Don’t really want to get into sordid details…” you preach loudly and highly.
    Go on, show the same passion for bashing scientists who believe in the big bang (no, not that kind…) they appear to fulfill all your criteria for denying Torah miShamayim Befahesia (and lots of other places too).

  86. Stefan . Not lambasting anyone. Just been answering Daniel Marks repeated requests for clarification . And the same halachic principles apply to whatever avieroh you may care to think of . If a jew states that any one of the mizvot are outdated or the Torah is not min hashamayim , he has the status of a mumar lehachiss .

    For the basic tenets of Judaism please refer to Maimonedes 13 principles of faith (found in many siddurim after shacharit).

    A jew who continually eats pork because he likes the taste but not because he rejects the notion of Divine mitzvot is a mumar Le teavon and is still counted among the Jewish nation.

    This whole discussion has centerd around the gay issue once the Shuli/ MG thing kicked off but we could have easily talked about any other aspect of judaisim.

    I’m no Rabbi so what I say is not necessarily the last word on the subject.

  87. Mark, excellent reply to Jonny Levene (“Choirboy”).

    I am not easily shocked, but have been by the attitude of Jonny and Shuli – two people I consider good friends – to the homosexuality issue. Most worryingly, I think both of them genuinely believe the poisonous nonsense they spout (even if Jonny’s approach is rather more highbrow).

    I think we have to distinguish between “that smart, bright, and always ready to question friend”, the Jonny Levene we all knew (and who I know is still in there somewhere), and Jonny Levene the frummer, who – like many of his “small” ilk – has given up thinking for himself . . . when it is so much simpler to rely on backward, anachronistic and, in my “opinion”, most un-“Divine” sources.

    Notwithstanding all of that, I still find your brother’s labelling of Jonny and Shuli as “psychopaths” and “bigots” most ironic in view of his own attitude towards Reform and treatment of Greg, which he has similarly “excuse[d] by using the Torah”.

  88. In the interests of pluralism and the free exchange of ideas I think both Michaels Goldman and Isaacson should moderate their condemnation.

    Those of liberal views are often extremely bigoted in their crusade against perceived right wing bigotry – seeking to silence honestly held views with the weight of history and tradition behind them. A political correctness bordering on the fascistic, if you ask me. Oh I forgot Michael I you were once a reporter for the BBC. I guess bad habits are hard to break.

  89. Noone has ever called me “PC”! I think I prefer “fascistic”!

    “. . . the weight of history and tradition behind them”? You mean idolatry? Or witchcraft?

  90. I categorically disagree with Choirboy’s artificial distinction between his attitude towards the sin of homosexuality and other Torah sins. He has brought some evidence to support his point of view but we know of no authentic Jewish sources that single out homosexuality for condemnation over and above all other sins. Most of our readers already know that the first temple was destroyed because of idolatry, murder and immorality, but the second was destroyed because of senseless hatred.

    Senseless hatred is the sin of our generation not homosexuality and only when we learn to love each other unconditionally will the ruins of Jerusalem be rebuilt. Every generation that does not rebuild destroys the house of G-d afresh. I’m aware that this consideration may seem less important if you live in Golders Green

    That having been said it is my opinion that in stark contrast to Shuli, The Choirboy has generally conducted the discussion in an intelligent and thoughtful manner and does not, to my mind, deserve to be labeled a “psychopath or a bigot”.

    I would also suggest to the author of this excellent blog that one measure of intellectual honesty, to which I know he aspires, is to be prepared to acknowledge the legitimacy and potential validity of views, even those that you don’t agree with.

  91. Do you really think that you are wiser than the great luminaries like Maimonides Ramban Vilna Gaon that you presume to call our great faith witchcraft and idolatry.
    Have you no shame?

    Mike you haven’t changed in the last 20 years. Still a complete wind-up! Lol

  92. Michael Goldman

    Daniel,
    I have little doubt that Shuli (not Choirboy) is a psychopath even if only for sending my brother hate mail.
    I consider Choirboy’s opinions bigoted as they are prejudiced against homosexuals.

    Mike,
    My attitude to Reform as I have stated many times is that whatever it is, it is not a part of the Jewish religion.
    I have not “treated” Greg in any way, but have disagreed with his views.
    What this has to do with Shuli being a psychopath or my refering to Choirboy as a bigot is totally beyond me.

    Choirboy,
    Never have I been accused of being politically correct.
    Please explain why you feel that Maimonides, Ramban or the Vilna Gaon believed that homosexuality is a greater sin than the trangression of shabbat or many others.
    Similar questions have been directed at you many times but you seem unable to provide a convincing answer.

  93. Michael G, I refer you to my post to Stefan (No. 86). In essence you are right. If a Jew says that it’s alright not to keep shabbos and publicly desecrates it (rather than succumbing to a nisayon or if he is ignorant of the severity of the inyan), then he is no different from a Jew who is openly gay. He is a mumar ldavar echad min hatorah.

    This is not my judgment . Just giving a halachic perspective. If your frames of reference are different so be it.

    I was sort of curious how being in a gay relationship, one could still believe in Torah min Hashomyim, but your brother has already stated that he doesn’t so that’s that.

    You sound religious so I was a little taken aback by the tone of your address. Family dynamics aside, I don’t think one is obliged to love your neighbour as yourself vis a vis a Jew who denies the very fundamentals of faith (witchcraft and idolatory in Isaacson’s parlance – shame on him) which our people have thru the ages been willing to give up their lives for.

    Daniel, thank you for your charitable words. However, in raising the banner of Ahvat Yisrael you malign the good Jews of Golders Green of which there are more than a few. There are a number of Batei Midrashim which pulse to the sounds of Torah learning nightly after the day’s work is done, where Acheinu Yoshvei Eretz Yisroel are graciously received nightly and fortunes of cash are dispensed by those that still have it.

    The same is the reality where I live in manchester. So while I don’t wrap myself in the blue and white flag our heart still beats in unison with its inhabitants. That’s why I wanted to know where you lived and what you did. To maybe get a vicarious breath of Avir Eretz Yisrael. Is that weird?

    Lastly, not to labour a point I think that homosexuality comes under the category of Aryot which together with murder and idolatory a jew is obliged to give up his life rather than transgress.

  94. Jonny, I didn’t “call our great faith witchcraft and idolatry”. I was merely attempting (and obviously failing!) to make the point that “weight of history and tradition” are not necessarily synonymous with truth and morality.

    Michael, you write: “I have little doubt that Shuli (not Choirboy) is a psychopath even if only for sending my brother hate mail.” I believe I still have that lovely email that you sent me. What would you call that exactly?

    You continue: “I have not “treated” Greg in any way, but have disagreed with his views.” No you haven’t! You have hounded the poor guy, merely because he dares to practice a different form of Judaism to you. Do you have any recollection of posting the following?:

    “I think we should all agree not to call Greg a c*nt anymore. Calling him a c*nt or indeed a cretin is both insulting and hurtful. I for one promise that I will try very hard not call him a c*nt either off blog or on, no matter how c*ntlike he is.”

    Michael, your illogic and double standards are exceeded only by your amnesia.

  95. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Question?
    Has anyone, regardless of side in this debate, done a comprehensive study of “Hochech Tochiach et amitecha”?
    It seems to me that no one here has done enough studying on this particular concept to be able to actually rebuke anyone else for their lifestyle changes or choices.
    I freely admit to not being gay, not understanding it on a personal level, but i cant justify that as a reason to berate anyone for that lifestyle choice.
    I can and have argued the invalidity of conservatism and reform judaism as movements within the jewish umbrella of movements, but I dont think any of us has the right to rebuke anyone else for the mitzvot he or she keeps or refuses to keep.
    Male homosexuality is a specific negative commandment,even if I felt I was on the correct spiritual madrega to berate or rebuke anyone for this particular offence a public forum cannot possibly be the right place to do it. That in itself would be an avera of such magnitude that it could bring the world to an end (Malbin pnei chavero berabim).
    Just my 2 cents on this particular argument, and empirical proof that my parents spent a lot of money on my education.

  96. Ellis, it may sound cruel but it’s true, but all those laws unique to fellow jews, like lashon hara , malbin pnei chaveiro, vehavta lreacha, do not apply to one who denies the fundamentals of our faith like the concept of Torah min hashamyim. (It is different if this is because of lack of education or jewish upbringing.)

    However, to an occasional sinner rather than someone who has made sinning a lifestyle choice is applied the dictum af al pi shechoto yisroel hu ‘even though he sins he is still a jew’.

  97. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Mr Choirboy,
    I humbly opine that you are spouting excrement. The point of studying exactly what these laws mean is so that we do not stumble into making rash decisions about who is and who is not included, and we make doubly sure we are qualified to make any public statements about individuals.
    To claim we do not owe the same respect to all people regardless of how they view Torah is to deny the very basic tenets of that same torah.
    Kavod Hbriyos covers even muslim terrorists.
    They may well deserve the death penalty but that does not men we have the right to abuse them in custody.
    So even though someone has sinned in your eyes I would suggest relying heavily on hevei dan kol adam lekaf zchut (always judge people leniently) before I would rely upon af al pi shechoto (even though they have sinned).
    And to put it more legalistically, al pi shnaim edim yokum davar (according to 2 witnesses a thing shall be regarded as truth) until you can find 2 witnessess regardless of the defendants statement of guilt or innocents you are commanded to find not guilty.

  98. Cor you don’t mince your words, do you. Hope you’re nowhere near Manchester, otherwise would be bolting doors and windows, laying the booby traps etc in anticipation of violent confrontation.

    I solemnly promise you that I’ve never abused an arab terrorist in custody.

    PS please tell me your parents phone number so I can respectfully ask them to spare you a little more money so you can further your Jewish education. Then you will not only say those hebrew words but apply them in the right context. (Only joking- you raise good points. Just too tired to think about them.)

  99. Ellis Feigenbaum

    At this moment I am in Elk Point, south dakota.
    about as close to the middle of nowhere that you are ever likely to find and certainly nowhere near manchester, which is just galus.

  100. What are you ? A gold prospector or cowboy or something?

    Just keep your six shooter holstered. YEE HA

  101. Ellis Feigenbaum

    semi proffesional bridge player, full time layabout

  102. Jonny (choirboy). You’ve gone to great pains to point out that your animosity towards me is grounded in my belief that the “Torah is not the word of God”, epitomized by my lifestyle choice. Indeed you wrote:

    “This whole discussion has centerd around the gay issue,,,but we could have easily talked about any other aspect of judaisim”

    “In terms of your disbelief in Torah min Hashamayim ,,,there is a substantial group of Jews who view Apikorsim who reject the fundementals of our faith with extreme disdain. Rights to brotherly love are forfeit as long as you hold this position”

    And indeed your many postings have shown a lack of brotherly love, extreme disdain, and I would go so far as to say hatred.

    “,,,that a good friend could so utterly ruin his life by his ‘lifestyle’ choice”

    “that it’s a ruinous path he has taken. Would you want your children to turn out like that? It’s a bit worse than not being strictly observant because it leads ultimately to the complete denial of the Torah”

    Also, interesting to note that in all of your postings (most of which have been directed towards me), you’ve never addressed me directly, but always in the third person. Almost as if you can’t stand to state my name, or have a conversation with me personally.

    So, I’m curious as to why you don’t show the same hostility towards Mike,

    ”Mike you haven’t changed in the last 20 years. Still a complete wind-up! Lol”

    Don’t you realize that Mike and I hold exactly the same position with regards to Torah Min Hashamayim’?

    As Mike wrote:

    “I have zero belief that the Bible is the literal word of G-d – I believe it was written and compiled by humans – so I believe that my old school friend, Daniel Marks, and all people who lead their lives in accordance with the Bible are doing so based on a massive “whopper”

    No double standard there ‘old friend’?

  103. Fascinating. You can make a living playing bridge?

    Just be careful not to cheat. They shoot card cheats over there. Seen that numerous times in the westerns. John wayne clint eastwood gary cooper charlie bronson et al.

  104. Michael Goldman

    Sorry Choirboy you once again confuse me.
    If in essence I am right, then where am I wrong?
    Mark in effect (family aside) has just asked you the same question.
    I challenge you to either give a convincing Jewish (halachic) explanation or be the first on melchette mike (as far as I recall) to change your opinion publicly on blog.

    Mike,
    Yes a good point about the double standards.
    I have however apologised on numerous occasions for my mail to you and I hereby do so again.
    Concerning my hounding of Greg.
    The number of times he has insulted me, is far in excess of the few time I have succummed to rudeness, for which I also apologise.

  105. Michael, apologies accepted a long time ago and no hard feelings. All I am trying to point out is that for you to talk about “psychopaths” and “bigots” – not that I would label you as either . . . . well not as a “psychopath” at any rate 😉 – is a little ironic. Let’s move on . . .

  106. Choirboy, I’m genuinely shocked. You’ve taken the abomination of the galut in which you live in and turned it into an ideal:

    “There are a number of Batei Midrashim which pulse to the sounds of Torah learning nightly after the day’s work is done, ..”

    You cling to the fleshpots of exile in order to host us!?

    “…where Acheinu Yoshvei Eretz Yisroel are graciously received nightly and fortunes of cash are dispensed by those that still have it.”

    If you want to stay there out of greed of fear or lack of belief in G-d, I can’t stop you, but if out of some perverted cognitive dissonance you endeavor to validate your choice, what chance do your children have? How will they learn from your mistake if you tell them that they are living in the galut in order to host Israeli tourists. That free B&B is the reason that seven million Jews must profane G-d’s name daily.

    Next time your “Batei Midrashim which pulse to the sounds of Torah learning” read the book of Ezekiel, they may want to ponder over chapter 36:

    “..then I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries;…… And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land…..I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes……” ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.”

  107. Not just golus, but Manchester . . . a city which prompted the great Morrissey to pen lyrics such as “Heaven knows I’m miserable now”!

    I wouldn’t mind if Jonny was using the place’s misery to inspire his creativity . . . but he’s selling diamonds!

    Not only that, but I am now having to edit the comments of the former English talent of our year . . . a boy whom Ivan Marks held in no less esteem for his English ability than his longtime “star pupil” Simon Harris.

    But no one can say that Mr. Marks didn’t warn us all of the dangers of unbridled frumkeit: “It’s always the frum ones.”

    As for the Israel question, I don’t need to refer to any book to know that, by living in the Jewish State, I am leading an intrinsically more Jewish life than I could be in North Manchester . . . however much I violate the laws of “botul b’shishim” (though I have not as of yet – never say never – violated “botty b’sheinkin”).

  108. My understanding is that Choirboy is not staying in (North) Manchester to sell diamonds, far from it. No mention of diamonds was made in his posting.

    He is there for the “Torah learning ,” and also to “graciously receive Yoshvei Eretz Yisroel nightly nightly after the day’s work is done..”

    When confronted by such hypocrisy, my father (Z”L) used to say, “Give me a good goy any day!”

  109. Edgar Leibovici

    As for the Israel question, I don’t need to refer to any book to know that, by living in the Jewish State, I am leading an intrinsically more Jewish life than I could be in North Manchester . . . however much I violate the laws of “botul b’shishim” (though I have not as of yet – never say never – violated “botty b’sheinkin”).

    I think this is the funniest sentence I have read so far on this blog. Genius.

  110. Before any more disparaging remarks about Galut life are made, I would urge contributors to bare in mind the following:

    There are numerous instances in Jewish history when Galut Jews have restored the Torah to Israel and/or re-educated its population. Examples include and correct me if I’m wrong, Ezra, Hillel and Rabbi Chiya.

    Arguably, Israeli society owes a fair portion of its existence in both human and financial terms to the Diaspora. The Diaspora communities are a key part of Israeli survival. In the book of Genesis Jacob split his camp into 2 so that if one was smitten the other would escape. This idea still applies as regards Israel and the Diaspora.

    Am Yisrael Chai!

  111. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Daniel really is there such a thing?

  112. Michael Goldman

    Mike
    What about the laws of bachura be’sherutim?

  113. Edgar Leibovici

    How is it that after 100+ posts on Mike’s excellent piece about dating etiquette in Israel we have completely digressed and are focusing the same two subjects.
    Homosexuality and who is a better Jew/more frum (as though they were the same thing).

    Choirboy – with all due respect (= none) please permit me to quote you in context.

    You state:

    “Anyway I know this is not the forum for my rants but it gave me a buzz and that’s all that counts, doesn’t it?”
    “My customers aren’t that interested in my views on homosexuals. ”

    I think most of us are tired of your repetitive and stubborn rants and just like your clients are no longer interested. It seems apparent that you are posting here for your self gratification.

    You then continue:

    “…homosexuality is a Toeva – an abomination”

    “From your profile on friends reunited when we first became aware of your lifestyle , it is clear that you are proud of your homosexuality .”

    “This whole discussion has centerd around the gay issue once the Shuli/ MG thing kicked off but we could have easily talked about any other aspect of judaisim. ”

    “Lastly, not to labour a point I think that homosexuality …..”

    I think the Lady doth protest too much.

  114. Dovid Maslin,

    When you talk about “disparaging remarks about Galut life” you should make it clear whether you are addressing the prophet Ezekiel, or the Holy One Blessed Be He on whose behalf he was talking:

    “And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land…”

    You make several points:

    “There are numerous instances in Jewish history when Galut Jews have restored the Torah to Israel and/or re-educated its population.
    Examples include and correct me if I’m wrong, Ezra…. ”

    Hysterical! Ezra was the one who came back when all the fat cat’s of Babylon stayed behind. To him you compare Golders Green greed, to Ezra the Scribe?!

    “Arguably, Israeli society owes a fair portion of its existence in both human and financial terms to the Diaspora.”

    Yes, like that’s the reason they’re staying there.
    The truth is that funds raised for Israel by all Jewish organizations (including Bonds) represent about 1% of Israel’s current GDP and 2% of Israel’s budget.

    So more than 50% of am yisrael are providing 1% of our GDP. That’s really a good reason to profane G-d’s name and stay there.

    Finally:

    “Jacob split his camp into 2 so that if one was smitten the other would escape.”

    Oh so that’s why you’re there. To take over leadership of am yisrael in case we lose the next war. It’s strange that after meeting Esau Jacob didn’t keep the camps split and send half off to Golders Green for the next 60 years.

    Why is so hard for a galut Jew (I have no idea where you live) to just come clean and admit that like some people have trouble keeping Shabbat and others like pig, they’ve just gotten used to the galut?

    Do you honestly know any Jew who is staying in Golders Green for any of the absurd reasons you’ve mentioned?

    Ellis,

    What was your question?

  115. Dear Dovid,
    as a resident of Eretz Yisroel I hereby request you take whatever help from Golus Green you are offering the Jewish people Hayoshev Bezion and shove it. period.

  116. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Dovid,
    Trying to justify your existence in the galut based on what you percieve that does for Israel, is self serving claptrap.
    In human terms if it were not for the nation of Israel the galut would not exist, and in financial terms, please keep your money, you obviously need it more than we do. As israel has fared better than most countries in the current reccession

  117. Mike,

    From what you write things have sure changed here in the last 30 years!

    I got divorced in 1979, and almost immediately placed an ad in Maariv that said (as best as I can remember) “lecturer, kipa sruga (knitted kipa), 33, serious + humorous”.

    I was at the time a computer-programmer, and also lectured on computers in a Technical College and at a university night-school. I did not mention that I was divorced in the ad, but always stated this immediately when making phone contact with replyees.

    I got 105 replies within 3 weeks.

    I discovered that below the age of 28 almost no girl would meet with a divorcee, and that from the age of 28 and up, almost no girl would refuse to meet a divorcee. I attributed this to the fact that for chiefly social reasons (plus a touch of biological clock) girls are afraid of reaching 30 single, and at 28 begin lowering their standards.

    One interesting exception was a girl aged 24 who agreed to meet me. I suggested a meeting-point to which she agreed. She asked me: “how will we recognize each other?” I replied somewhat callously “Oh, don’t worry, I can always recognize a girl waiting for a date.” She didn’t like this, and decided to “fix” me: next to the arranged meeting-point was a bus-stop. She turned up with a large suite-case and sat on the bus-shelter’s bench, to all intents and purposes a girl waiting for a bus. I looked at her for a minute and asked her: “Excuse me, but are you xxxxxx, whom I’m supposed to meet?”. She looked surprised, and replied “Yes, but how could you tell?”

    “I told you on the phone, I can always recognize a girl waiting for a date.”

    I could usually tell within the 1st ten minutes if there was enough chemistry present to justify inviting a datee to a second date.

    Another interesting experience was my being contacted by a man who was trying to shiduch off his cousin without her knowledge. To this end he told me something about himself, and said to call his cousin and say that I got her number from him. I did, we met, she was a beautiful girl, and we were together for quite a few months. Every so often during this time, she would ask me: “how exactly do you know my cousin – where did you meet him?”. It was at this time that I learned one of the more important secrets of life: you can easily move a woman from subject to subject! So to this day the young lady never knew exactly how I got to meet her.

    I also remember taking five different girls to the same coffee-house within a ten-day period, and seeing the “how does he do it?” glances on the faces of a few waiters and waitresses.

    Another girl was one who was full of her own importance. I decided to play one-upmanship: I was driving with said young lady inside the city during day-time, and I turned on the car’s head-lights. Every so often a good citizen driving towards me would flash his lights at me, thinking I was unaware of my own being on. I would wave at each one, and tell the young lady: “an old friend of mine”.

    The most interesting of all meetings, was at my grocer’s. One day he said to me “I have all kinds of nice girls buying in my shop, maybe I can introduce you to one?” The thought of my grocer finding me a wife seemed so ridiculous, that I replied without thinking “O.K., see if you have a nice blond”.

    He did, and we’ve now been married 28 years!

  118. Daniel Marks

    “When you talk about “disparaging remarks about Galut life” you should make it clear whether you are addressing the prophet Ezekiel, or the Holy One Blessed Be He on whose behalf he was talking:

    “And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land…””

    Who are you G-d’s policeman?

    “Hysterical! Ezra was the one who came back when all the fat cat’s of Babylon stayed behind. To him you compare Golders Green greed, to Ezra the Scribe?!”

    Who are you calling Babylon fat cats? The Talmud you study was put together by people in Babylon some of whom endured extreme conditions of poverty in the process of achieving this.

    ““Arguably, Israeli society owes a fair portion of its existence in both human and financial terms to the Diaspora.”

    Yes, like that’s the reason they’re staying there.”

    I didn’t say it was the reason for staying there only a reason not to disrespect it. If you’d like to presume that then suit yourself.

    “The truth is that funds raised for Israel by all Jewish organizations (including Bonds) represent about 1% of Israel’s current GDP and 2% of Israel’s budget.”

    Do these figures include the financial support that Diaspora families provide for their offspring in the process of making Aliyah?

    “So more than 50% of am yisrael are providing 1% of our GDP. That’s really a good reason to profane G-d’s name and stay there.”

    You think that staying outside of Israel is a profanity. The Almighty gave the Torah to Moses as you know on Mt Sinai outside of Israel. The Artscroll Jewish history argues that this is evidence that the Torah may exist independently of Israel and does so at the Almighty’s will.

    “Oh so that’s why you’re there. To take over leadership of am yisrael in case we lose the next war. It’s strange that after meeting Esau Jacob didn’t keep the camps split and send half off to Golders Green for the next 60 years.”

    Patronizing talk like this is a subtle form of contempt. There must be a fair difference between subtle contempt and senseless hatred although in some cases it’s a slippery slope. Hope that’s not the case here.

    “Why is so hard for a galut Jew (I have no idea where you live) to just come clean and admit that like some people have trouble keeping Shabbat and others like pig, they’ve just gotten used to the galut?”

    Bit of a sick comparison to compare living in Galut to liking pig although you’re right, people have gotten used to living in the Diaspora. What about the Israeli’s who have left the land after experiencing trauma during their national service. Have they profaned the Almighty’s name too and been made to leave?

    “Do you honestly know any Jew who is staying in Golders Green for any of the absurd reasons you’ve mentioned?”

    Again, I didn’t say it was a reason for staying in the Diaspora only a reason not to disrespect it.

  119. I can write these lines confident in the knowledge that I will not incur the wrath of Daniel Marks who has noted that he never criticizes me because I lack the basic intellectual tools to deal with such criticism. He is one of my best friends!

    I should also like to add the weight of my voice to the wise words of Rabbi Ellis “virtue is my middle name” Feigenbaum, especially the last ones where he describes himself as “a layabout.”

    Jeremy Cohen’s post on Osher ticked all the boxes for literacy and sensitivity. A must read. (Are you R.D. Cohen’s brother?)

    I should also like to join Edgar in applauding Mike’s unusual coinage “botty b’sheinkin”. But I would be quick to dispel any insinuated homosexual undertones, what with Mike’s mention of bottoms, by assuring readers that at our long-awaited luncheon in which Mike ordered his usual Haloumi Salad, his straightness was never in question as confirmed by his non-stop head swiveling admiration at the beckoning contours of Or Akiva’s most glamorous.

    And Choirboy, what with your backlog of responses I am not expecting an answer, so I will take your silence as a full endorsement of my words. As for your ominous choice of phrase “active gay,” eyebrows were raised and questions were asked as to how the Choirboy would be familiar with all the juicy terminology that only seasoned cottagers would know.
    And just to put the cap on this most hackneyed of subjects, an informed and reliable source has told me that apart from Mr. Active and Mr. Passive there is also Mr. Vers (atile) who in true brotherly-love fashion, likes it both ways.

    And Choirboy – “Hishtamtut” refers to the institutionalized and systemic way that some (mainly Charedim) avoid army service. This in my mind is the single-most identifiable cause to what you have correctly described as the “polarized and fractious society in the ‘Jewish’ state.” But you seem so far removed from that dilemma that it does not really concern you.

  120. Dovid Maslin,

    You’ve chosen your life, and I’ve chosen mine. I never condemned you personally as I don’t know you. I condemn Jews who continue to disgrace G-d’s name by staying in the galut and the fact that they’re frum makes it much, much worse in my eyes because they should know better.

    You’ve chosen your life and I’ve chosen mine but let’s at least be honest. Look yourself long and hard in the mirror and then sit down and calmly right down the real reason why you choose to desecrate G-d’s name and stay there. No, I’m not His policeman but we both read his books.

    I won’t insult you by explaining that the possibility of Judaism existing outside Israel is when you are in a state of expulsion and are unable to return, not when we have a Jewish state and you just have to get on a plane. You know all those things already.

    I have no hatred in my heart for you I love you because you’re my brother. Nor do I have contempt for you, but I do have contempt for hypocrisy. Be honest and don’t write about the hospitality you extend to shell shocked Israeli soldiers. Tell the truth.

    I’ll still call you a galut Jew but I promise I won’t call you a hypocrite.

    Daniel

  121. Thank you Nick for your kind words. In reply, I was at Hasmo 1983-1987 (4th to U6th inc. – Carmel College before that) – I have two younger brothers, Simon and James, both of whom also attended Hasmo.

    Daniel Marks, do you honestly believe that frum people living in golus “disgrace God’s name” or is that rhetoric meant for Dovid Maslin?

    Jeremy

  122. Daniel Marks . Where do you get this idea that Jews living outside the State of Israel are profaning G-ds name ?

    You’re quoting Ezekiel out of context – the Chilul Hashem is the fact that the Jews are oppressed by the nations and G-d is seemingly oblivious to that . And the nations mock G-d , that He is powerless to stop it . That’s the chilul hashem of the galut.

    You , living in Israel are also in Golus . The arabs render swathes of our ancestral land unsafe for you to step into.Our Holiest place is controlled by the wakf.

    South of Beer Sheva , the arab sheep rustlers have made the lives of the Moshavniks there unpleaseant. After dark cars travel in convoys between Yishuvim (and this is within the Green Line ). You’re not in Golus?

    Israel is under existential threat from Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the North . A nuclear Iran. You’re not in Golus?

    Israel a pariah state amongst the nations – where its Generals are scared to get off planes for fear of arrest in Europe . Pathetic. You’re also in Golus . Don’t you forget it .

    Stop your condemnation of a sizeable portion of the Jewish people and go learn Nach with meforshim. Go pray that the chilul hashem should and the Moshiach should rather than condemning the Jews of GG

  123. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Hm Jews living in Israel are in galut because mashiach didnt come?
    Is that a reason to live outside israel? Both the Rmbam and Ramban give multiple reasons for living outside and for leaving Israel, the Moshiach not having come yet doesnt get coverage,
    I wonder why all the chabadnikim still live outside Israel if moshiach has already come:-)
    Be honest with yourself and say you dont live in Israel because you dont want to, some invented claptrap about moshiach is nonesensical, even the most anti zionist chasdim still live in Israel even if they do not accept its government.
    But jews living in manchester , wow they are the real jews and a shining light unto the nations.
    they fight for there people ( possibly on shabbes afternoon at he stretford end)
    when mancunian jews praise the lord and sing esah einei el heharim. they dont get to see the gleaming spires of jerusalem they get to see strangeways overseeing them from the hill tops.
    trying to justify living in galus because because Israeli generals suffer anti semtism is so far removed from sensible discussion as to deserve moving to twatter.

  124. Michael Goldman

    Choirboy
    For 2000 years we prayed to be able to return to Eretz Yisrael.
    Today that is not only possible but relatively easy.
    Millions of “frum” Jews ignoring this commandment, is a an enormous Chilul Hashem.
    Imagine if you will, that the frummers of Golders Green all went to work on Shabbas, would you consider this a Chilul Hashem?
    Not only that, but they are ignoring all the commandments that can only be done in Eretz Yisrael.
    Choirboy
    Are you really so sure that G-d judges more leniently one who ignores his most basic of commandments (which can so easily be observed and has been described by the Rabbis as equal to all the rest put together) than one who follows his most basic urges?
    The Rabanim tell us that the only reason we keep mitzvot outside of Eretz Yisrael is so that we don’t forget them (Sifri parsht Ekev)
    Imagine that Choirboy, all your mitzvot (excepting those done when visiting our wonderful country) have no intrinsic value and are only observed so as not to forget.
    All this when it is so easy to “really” observe the commandments here.
    If you wish to put material comfort before Mitzvot, fair enough, but at least admit it to yourself and be a little more careful before negating someone elses lifestyle and claiming that they are “out of the fold”

    Well ….at least you’re not gay!

  125. Jonny (“Choirboy”), you have hit a new low with your latest comment, in which you sound horribly like the complacent pre-Holocaust secular German Jew. It smacks of nothing less than cowardice and spinelessness. I would never have expected it from you. Perhaps, though, I should have done . . . seeing as your blind, even callous, extremism would appear to align you more with the fundamentalist Muslim – whom you appear to be toasting in your comment – than the humane Jew.

    Edgar and Nick, I must modestly concur that my “botul b’shishim”/“botty b’sheinkin” juxtaposition was indeed inspired (and Edgar, feel free to use the word “genius” in relation to my writing as liberally as you wish!) Unlike Bob after Blood on the Tracks, Woody after Annie Hall, Quentin after Pulp Fiction, and Joel & Ethan after The Big Lebowski (not to mention Leeds United after 2001!), perhaps I should quit while I am at my peak and hand over the melchett mike reins to another man capable of making people laugh . . . Choirboy?!

    ASR, thank you for sharing your dating memories (and it is nice to have a comment related to my post). The Reiss wackiness shines through your recollections!

    PS As of today, I will no longer be editing commenters’ spelling, punctuation, spacing, etc . . . so, if you don’t want all readers to see how badly brung up you are, please have a re-read before hitting “Submit”.

  126. Michael Goldman

    Mike
    Your PS has sent shivers down my spine.
    May I suggest that for a monthly payment, you offer your sevices as editor extraordinaire.

  127. Hi Michael,
    we still do daven to return to Eretz Yisroel, with the Torah and speedily the comingof Moshaich.

    But a Mitzva to settle Midinat Yisrael, exactly which sefroim or Rabbunim say this.

  128. Michael Goldman

    Are you serious EH?
    Start with the Ramban who included it in his Taryag Mitzvot.
    Rambam : Misneh Tora Hilchot Melachim ה ‘ ט-יב
    And don’t use the existence of a State to justify not living here.
    I won’t go on but the list is endless.
    As you know, there are many Jews living here who do not except the State but are still observe the Mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael.

  129. Choirboy wrote:
    “South of Beer Sheva , the arab sheep rustlers have made the lives of the Moshavniks there unpleaseant. After dark cars travel in convoys between Yishuvim (and this is within the Green Line ). You’re not in Golus?”

    I called an old friend who lives in one of these Moshavim to check it out – respect.

    “Hi Chaim, its Nick how are you?”
    “Great – good to hear from you – are you still unbelievably good looking?”
    “Yes, but what’s going on with the arab sheep rustlers?”
    “Everything is fine!”
    “Is life pleasant or unpleasant?”
    “Its pleasant.”
    “But do you have to travel in convoys after dark between yishuvim?”
    “No – never”
    “OK thanks”
    “Bye”
    “Bye.”

  130. Choirboy,

    This is a hard post to write. I love both you and Dovi, because you’re Jews and because you’re my brothers but with more pain than you can imagine I tell you that the things you have written are an abomination.

    The midrash tells us that G-d says, “Over the Golden Calf I could pardon the fact that you disgraced me, but (over the sin of the spies) I cannot forgive you’re disgracing the land of Israel.

    Yes, just like you the spies loved Israel (a land flowing with milk and honey) and unlike yours some, perhaps most, of their criticism was factually correct but they were still punished and sent back to wander in the Golders Greens of the dessert for another forty years.

    Say what you will about me, I have thick skin, but how dare you criticize eretz yisrael!
    You know nothing of agricultural moshavim north of Beer Sheva where my sister and her six children live. Shame on you for slandering the Israeli army – the first Jewish army in 2,000 years.

    You know nothing about “Our Holiest Place”.
    Strangely my opinion on this issue may even be similar to yours , but I know that if we take it away from the Wakif my two elder children will have to fight a terrible war. Will your children be there with them? Where will you be on that day that we all fight the Arab hoards? Will you fight alongside us or will you sell raffle tickets and recite psalms. Tell me now Choirboy can we depend on you or not?

    Maybe we should go back to Lebanon. Maybe we should nuke Iran. Are you part of us or are you going to read about it in the Jewish Chronicle and hold demonstrations in support of Israel in Hyde Park? Answer me now Choirboy. Can will you be with us?

    So I answer you as Calev and Yehoshua answered the evil spies – that the land is very, very good.

    Thank G-d we are a strong, self confident proud country and a light unto nations. More Torah is studied here than ever, more mitzvoth are kept here than ever and we don’t have to hide our kippot under our hats. I won’t listen to goyim slandering Israel, I attacked Left wingers abroad when they did it and now I say, “Shame on you”.

    A final thought before Shabbat. As you come out of your shower take five minutes and like Dovi Maslin look yourself in the mirror. Cut the crap about Southern moshavnikim or the Temple Mount. What is your real reason? Why do you choose to profane G-d’s name. Why do you choose to be “as if you had no G-d?”

    With immeasurable love , Shabbat shalom

    Daniel

  131. Daniel you don’t really undestand what I mean to say.

    I’m not criticising Eretz Yisroel . I’m pointing out to you that the hester panim with exists there from all the threats that I mentioned (in addition to the threat from a sizeable proportion of anti semitic russians of dubious origins daubing sysnagogues etc) is tantamount to being in golus . Will continue after shabbat.

    Gut Shabbos

  132. I’ve been following this “Israel v. Diaspora” discussion with great distaste. I don’t want to get involved in the nitty-gritty, but I do have a few comments to contribute.

    BTW, I emigrated from London to Israel in 1964, and I’ve been in Israel ever since. I served in the IDF for two decades in a reserve unit of combat engineers, and have pleasant memories of Lebanon …

    IMHO, the most relevant in this topic point was made by Michael Goldman, who wrote:
    “Not only that, but they are ignoring all the commandments that can only be done in Eretz Yisrael. ” [unquote].

    The Chafetz Chayim wrote a book named “Sefer HaMitzvot HaKatzar” (The Short Book of Mitzvot), in which he lists the mitzvot that can be performed outside of Israel. He lists 192 such mitzvot, in other words 421 mitzvot can’t be performed in exile. (To be fair, quite a few mitzvot can’t be performed until the 3rd Temple is built, or at least until “the majority of the Jewish Nation is living in Eretz Yisrael” – Sefer HaChinuch).

    The Maharal of Prague (Chidushei Agadot Chelek Rishon amud 163 – re: ketubot 111) says that the existance of the Jewish Nation outside of Eretz Yisrael negates the laws of nature, wherein the Land of Israel is the Jew’s natural habitat, and so for the Diaspora to exist at all there must be a special Divine Decree (Gzerah), which was actually decreed. For those aware of the Charedi opposition to Aliyah (The 3 Vows – Ketubot 111.), it is on this subject that the Maharal is making his comments.

    Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk declared that once the Balfour Declaration had been ratified by the international San Remo conference in the 1920’s, the 3 vows were no longer valid. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner once published a pamphlet giving 120 different reasons why the vows were no longer valid.

    So we have two types of Jews in Diaspora: the “ideological” ultra-orthodox (sic) who maintain that the vows are still valid, and thus
    one must not “make” Aliyah (The Satmer Rebbe claimed that the 6-Day War victory was assisted by the Devil; interesting to note that the name “Satmer” was originally “Santa Maria”), and the other type, those who don’t have the ideological motivation for Aliyah.

    Lack of ideological motivation stems – at least in part – from lack of education. Here I would bear witness, as one educated (I use the term losely) in Jewish schools in England from the age of 10 until I left school, that Anglo-Jewish Judaism is extremely, extremely, superficial. Anglo-Jewry has not produced one great Jewish figure in a thousand years, or for however long Jews have lived in England.

    When I arrived in Israel at the age of 18, I could not read Rashi script. All 3 of my sons today can open – and learn – a Daf Gemara.

    At the time of Shivat Tzion – return from exile towards building the second Temple – it is recorded that mostly the weak and poor
    returned, the rich remaining in exile – at least at first. Modern Israel’s first populations were comprised chiefly of escapees from anti
    -semitism or similar negative situations.

    Sometimes, you have to read things backwards – from end to start – in order to understand them. I see what is happening today as a process of Divine Selection: a selected relatively few are ordained to make Aliyah. Life isn’t that easy here, a certain type of inner strength is required. Some fall by the way and become New York Taxi drivers. We don’t laugh enough here – it just isn’t on the agenda. Bolsheviks, devoid of all religion, have total control of the Radio/TV/Press and legal systems, and their actions regarding policies towards our Arab neighbours have caused hundreds of deaths since Rabin and Peres’s crazy Oslo “agreement”.

    (I once sat down and counted: I know personally at least 10 families who have had a family member murdered by terrorists.)

    So let’s not try and encourage the weak to come and join us – we have enough problems as it is.

  133. Shavua Tov,

    I should be a better Jew, but I’m not. I should learn more Torah but often I’ll choose to waste my time on lesser things. I acknowledge my shortcoming and I’m trying to work on it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll learn more, maybe I’ll grow.

    I should be a better Jew, but I’m not. I should be more patient with my students and with my children. I don’t deny it and maybe tomorrow I’ll be a better Jew. I have many sins and many faults, many too shameful to write about on this excellent blog. I’ll try to recognize them, otherwise how will I return?

    There are others ways to cope with sin. Some do so by claiming that their transgressions were permissible to begin with. Reform Jews may eat pig saying that the laws of kashrut don’t apply anymore; Conservatives may drive to their temple on Shabbat claiming they’ve evolved halachah and found a way to sanction it. That is not our way. We all sin and when we do, we struggle to return.

    But how can I return if I don’t recognize my sin. How can I return if I continue to maintain that my sin is a mitzvah? How can I do teshuvah if I can’t tell the truth even to my Maker, even to myself, even in the dark of night, when all are asleep and no one else is listening?

    I asked both Dovi and The Choirboy a simple question. “Why have you chosen to remain in the galut?” They’ve blown smoke in my face about everything from agriculture in the Negev to hospitality for Israelis in Manchester, from learning Torah in Golders Green to sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Now The Choirboy is badmouthing the miracle of the wonderful Soviet aliya to Israel. Incidentally, every morning of the first ten men who complete my minyan at least five are of those, whom in his ignorance he slanders.

    However, neither of them has answered my question and, tragically, I now doubt that they will. They seem to find it easier to judge gays than to judge themselves. They’ve discovered that it’s easier to slander eretz yisrael and large parts of am yisrael than to ask themselves the most basic and most simple of all questions, perhaps the first question that G-d ever asked man, “Where are you?”

    Postscript:
    After writing I read what Adrian Reiss wrote and while agreeing with much of what he says find his final comment highly problematic:

    “So let’s not try and encourage the weak to come and join us – we have enough problems as it is.”

    I would ask him whether he feels that other mitzvoth, such as Shabbat, family purity and kashrut, are also only suitable for some or for the strong.

  134. Daniel Marks,

    you wrote:
    [quote]
    I would ask him whether he feels that other mitzvoth, such as Shabbat, family purity and
    kashrut, are also only suitable for some or for the strong.
    [unquote]

    – I expected that last line to raise some comment.

    Observance of the mitzvot you quote are all personal decisions that do not involve others.
    I wouldn’t tell anyone what to do about these mitzvot. I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from performing them, each according to his strength.

    I didn’t – and wouldn’t – tell the weak not to join us, I just said “don’t encourage them”. It’s those who live here without ideology – or, worse, with twisted ideology- that cause the problems. I certainly wouldn’t advocate preventing any Jew from making Aliyah, but since a selection process is anyway currently active, I would try to influence its content as far as I am allowed to.

  135. Adrian Reiss,

    Fundamentally, I agree with you. If you scroll back, this discussion began when I questioned Choirboy’s contention that homosexuality is some kind of super-sin, much worse and less forgivable than others such as breaking Shabbat, eating pig etc. I wrote:

    “Senseless hatred is the sin of our generation not homosexuality and only when we learn to love each other unconditionally will the ruins of Jerusalem be rebuilt. Every generation that does not rebuild destroys the house of G-d afresh. I’m aware that this consideration may seem less important if you live in Golders Green.”

    From that point the discussion got sidetracked with him and later Dovi Maslin singing the praises of the Golders Green greedy galut and eventually slandering Eretz Yisrael.

    I didn’t really imagine that my posting would persuade them to make aliyah anymore than what I wrote to Greg would make him abandon Reform Judaism. I think it was the Koske Rebbe who said that there are no reasons for not keeping mitzvot, just excuses.

    I do not agree that some mitzvoth are too hard to keep or that G-d would give us a Torah that was only meant for the strong. The verses “not in heaven” are so often quoted in the context of Rabbi Yehoshua and hilchot teshuvah that we sometimes lose sight of their simple meaning. That the Torah is for everyone:

    “It [is] not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    Neither [is] it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    But the word [is] very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”

    My biography is not unlike yours. I made aliya in 1980 by myself, served 20 years in the IDF and reserves and have been blessed with four children. Two have served in the IDF and the third will soon.

    I am not particularly strong nor are any of my offspring supermen. I believe that there is a place here for every Jew, strong and weak alike and the Israeli taxi drivers you describe are like other galut Jews, driven by greed and lack of values, not weakness.

    The sad thing is that in the end they all come strong and weak alike, one way or another. So tragic that some have to wait for the goyim to do the Lord’s work for him.

    I wish you well.

  136. Daniel,
    you wrote:
    “Senseless hatred is the sin of our generation not homosexuality and only when we learn to love each other unconditionally will the ruins of Jerusalem be rebuilt.”

    You must be aware that the punishment in the Torah for commiting a homosexual act is death.
    The Torah has made a specific judgement here: this person is not worthy of life, no repentance is possible. No future mitzva that he may or may not perform, can save his life or mitigate his action.

    In fact I could argue this way as a non-Jew, saying that the act threatens the species.

    But that in no way negates the severity of senseless hatred – it’s not an either/or situation; both sins can be condemned in parallel.

    As for being or feeling strong – the very fact that you are living here bears witness to your inner strength. Visiting England, one hears on TV/Radio that the main problems are Traffic, Football and Weather. Here in Israel I don’t remember one week in the last 45 years, when there wasn’t some parasha (affair) or other that had everyone taking one side or another. Living here for 50 years is like living in England for about 250 years.

    Of course, I’ve never regretted Aliyah, never had thoughts about leaving, and when a few years ago I spent 10 days in London visiting my sick mother (since then she’s made Aliyah) I was climbing up walls with the urge to get back here after just a few days.

    Stay well,

    Adrian (Avraham) Reiss

  137. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Whereas the punishment may well be death, not one of us is able to impose that penalty , nor factually prove any event of homosexuality. the truth be told if you could find 2 witnesses they would probably be posul le`edut.
    Therefore not only is it incumbent on us not to judge, but it is more than likely a positive commandment to show extra love and compassion.

  138. “You must be aware that the punishment in the Torah for commiting a homosexual act is death.”

    Yup, like breaking shabbat, eating on yom kippur, eating bread on pessach etc etc.

    Let’s hope that future Sanhedrins will be as merciful as early ones.

  139. ELLIS,
    I agree with everything you said except for your conclusion. The only thing left is for us to judge, chiefly so that others will watch and learn.

    Here in Israel, the corrupt press/tv/radio condone the activity because they have no choice: a religious Jew can be judged on his actions against the written law, as laid down in the Shulchan Aruch and subsequent responsae. Since there is no such gauge by which the irreligious can be judged, they had – out of neccessity – to invent the idea of “pluralism”, of accepting everything, because they have no common grounds for rejection apart from activities equally unacceptable to non-Jews, such as theft, murder etc. Even the attitude to adultery is not universal.

    As far as “love and compassion” is concerned, please quote an acceptable source for this claim. Revulsion is the more natural feeling on this subject.

    DANIEL,
    “Yup, like breaking shabbat, eating on yom kippur, eating bread on pessach etc etc. ”
    No similarity whatsoever; none of what you have quoted are “natural” laws, that any non-Jew has ever adopted. Sodomy is despised by most of mankind.

  140. No similarity whatsoever; none of what you have quoted are “natural” laws, that any non-Jew has ever adopted.

    That’s an (interesting) philosophical, not halachic distinction. Thankfully, Jewish jurisprudence was is not based on such abstract concepts as “natural laws” which would change in line with different generations differing understandings of what nature is.

    One man commits has homosexual relations and another breaks the Shabbat.

    If there is a Sanhedrin and they are is brought to trial, the concerns of the judges are mainly whether they were warned correctly and whether there are valid witnesses. Nothing very philosophical about that.

    The guy who broke shabbat could be killed and the gay guy could go home, natural law or no natural law.

    “…that any non-Jew has ever adopted.” – I think you’ll find that many societies have sabbaths and see them as a “natural” need. Many have laws too.

    “Sodomy is despised by most of mankind.”-

    I have no idea what most of mankind despises. The dictionary defines sodomy as: “intercourse via the anus, committed by a man with a man or woman”

    However, I guess we’re defining Sodomy as exclusively homosexual for the sake of discussion. I agree that most of mankind don’t do it but have no reason to imagine that they despise it.

  141. Gut Voch Daniel

    Slandering Jews was not my goal. On the contrary I’ve taken issue with you specifically on this point . You are prepared to dismiss the majority of Jews because the have not made aliya. The fact that there are sincere practicing Torah Jews in the diaspora means nothing to you – in your view they are deserving nothing but your contempt .

    This is because in your view all mizvot and all ways in serving G-d are susidiary to the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael.

    What about the Torah centers of Gateshead , Lakewood etc and all the Zkeinim and Talmidei Chachomim in Chutz Learetz . Is your understanding of Judaism greater than theirs. Are they all Mechalelei Hashem . Have they all got it completely wrong and only your way is the right path? I think ,Daniel , a little humility on your behalf is called for.( Once again your interpretation of Yechezcel is false . See Rahshi ,Redak etc.)

    With regards the Russian aliya , my intention is not to slander Jews but you know and I know that the Jewish agency in all its wisdom accepted people with no or tenuous Jewish antecedents. This has created a dangerous fifth column in the Jewish state .( Think intermarriage and antisemitism)

    To recognise that there are major problems in EY and that we need a lot of Rachmei Shamayim, is not to criticise G-d’s gift of the Land to us . So to compare me to the meraglim is intellectually dishonest ( I expect better from an academic as youself )

    Nick , I picked up the story of the Moshavim and Arab sheep rustlers south of Beer Sheva a few months ago from a news report . This was in the wake of a criminal prosecution of a Jew who killed an Arab stealling his sheep at night – some new law came out of the case . You may remember.

    Anyway, my point was there is no place for complacency .You are still oppressed by the goyim like it or not. The US still dictates to its leaders. The political and media elite still pour shocking vitriol on the relgious – in any other country this would be called anti semitism – and this no doubt colours your view of religious Jews. The final redemption is not yet with us and even with a Jewish state we have to pray for its arrival.

    Ellis , your universalism and humanism is misguided. Judging Arab terrorists favourably indeed! There are certain rights and priveleges which attach to G-d fearing Jews – dan lcaf zechut , hashavat aveida , hilchot lashan hara ( I’m not talking about our bretheren who are Tinokos shenisba) and not to gentiles and Kofrim. If one does not make this favoured distinction , you will end up mistreating your brothers who deserve favoured treatment.

    Like King Saul who was kind to Agag the Amelkite , but ended up killing Nov , the city of Cohanim. If you are kind to the cruel , you will end up being cruel to the kind.

    I’m not advocating mistreatment of people but laws like Dan lecaf zechut have very defined applications ( ie they do not apply to Reshaim .

    Micahel G you don’t like me because I’m prejudiced against Gays . I ve got news for you – the Torah is prejudiced against Gays . ( As I said earlier this sin comes under the heading of Arayot – forbidden marriages – one of the 3 cardinal sins which a Jew is meant to give up his life rather than transgress. )

    I think what disturbs you is the fact that this issue has been the main point of discussion . But do I feel the same opprobrium about Mechalelei Shabbos? The short answer is with regards those who are knowledgable but nevertheless flout Shabbos, yes I believe they are doing themselves and the Jewish nation no favours.(Exactly the same as Gays)

  142. Any chance of you answering my question choirboy?

  143. Adrian,

    Your ignorance of contemporary societal views is staggering. Listening to you (and choirboy ) rant and rave leaves me wide mouthed.

    “In fact I could argue this way as a non-Jew, saying that the act threatens the species.”

    What are you on? Ever heard of world overpopulation? Homosexuality accounts for at most 6% of the population. It isn’t learnt behavior. You can’t catch it. No threat to the entire species.

    “Sodomy is despised by most of mankind”

    A simple Wikipedia search would have garnered the following. Perhaps, you should check your ‘data’ before posting.

    “Sodomy laws can be found around the world. Today, consensual homosexual acts between adults are illegal in about 70 out of the 195 countries of the world;[3] in 40 of these, only male-male sex is outlawed.[4] This number has been declining since the second half of the 20th century”.

  144. Hi Mark,

    As you can see I also disagree with Adrian. However, where was the “ranting and raving”. He just seemed to me to be expressing his opinion.

    Incidentally, while finding Choirboy’s unwillingness to answer my question to be, frankly, quite cowardly I didn’t think he ranted or raved either.

    ST

    Daniel

  145. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Choirboy? sounds pretty gay to me.
    I wonder if they teach hebrew in Manchester,
    Hevei dan Kol adam lekaf zechut.
    that would mean judge all men leniently, and is all inclusive.
    Religion doesn`t get a mention.
    There is difference between acts of terrorism and gay rights, but the last time I heard no one had been commanded by god to kill every last terrorist including the king and all the livestock.
    When god gives that order to our prime minister I am sure it will fulfilled.

  146. Daniel

    What was you’re question again? If its the issue of mizvas yishuv EY , please allow me time to weigh up the matter . A scholar such as yourself deserves a cosidered reply.

    By the way I also asked YOU a question – how can you hold world Jewry in such contempt at the same preaching Ahvat Yisrael?

  147. My question is what is the REAL reason why you choose to stay in the galut?

    In answer to your question I do not hold world Jewry in contempt. I love every Jew and I despise hypocrisy in all its forms.

  148. Mark,
    like Daniel said, I really don’t see where I “ranted and raved” … and what is the difference bewteen ranting and raving? Where exactly did I rant, and where did I rave?

    Anyway, I bow to your superior knowledge on the subjects of homosexuality and Sodomy; you’ve obviously devoted a lot of time to the subject, whereas I have not, and have nothing further to contribute on the subject, so the floor is yours.

  149. Wow, what a shame Adrian.

    You seem to be pulling out before getting to the bottom of the matter.

  150. Ellis . Concerning Dan kol adam etc see rambam’s explanation. Avot perek 1 mishna 5 . Clearly doesn’t apply to reshaim . Also sifsei chachamim on Rashi parshat Kedoshim chap 19 possuk 15

    To make a living from playing bridge you must be blessed with a good brain and lots of spare time . Go become a Talmid Chacham rather than being (to quote yourself in an earlier post) a professional layabout

  151. Daniel – very droll … 🙂

  152. I’m going to bed. Will Choirboy have given me an answer by tomorrow morning? Who knows.

  153. Daniel whatever I say I think in your zeal , you will look upon as an excuse but (gulp) here goes.

    When I got married 18 years ago I could have gone to Israel.I was learning in Yeshiva so to continue in Israel would have been ideal However being an only child with a Father(OH) getting on , it was not in my view correct for me to upsticks and deny him the opportunity of seeing Yiddeshe Nachas. (He hated flying as do I so I know he wouldn’t have visited much )

    Once the children came and they were established in a school system , the practicalities of moving became more remote.(Even though my father passed away about 3+ years ago) . In short ,if the move is not made from the start of ones married life it is subsequently not easy to make.

    Issues of livelihood and community also come into the equation but not majorly . I wouldn’t say that greed is a major factor as you in your offensive view of Chul jews have intimated. I think that yes people do have on the most part reasons of family and children which stop them from making the move.

    To be continued

  154. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Dear Mr Choirboy,
    First of all, not being a judge I would have no idea how to define a Rosha in this context.
    Thank you for your carreer advice, next time I think about changing my life course I shall be sure to give that particular career plan a wide berth.
    and lastly if you are going to quote me please do so correctly. I am a semi proffesional bridge player and a full time layabout. Oddly enough that seems quite similar to most of the Charedi kids i see roaming the streets in Bnei Brak.

  155. Rant:To utter or express with violence or extravagance
    Rave:To speak wildly, irrationally, or incoherently or with wild enthusiasm

    Adrian’s statements:

    “You must be aware that the punishment ,,,is death,,,this person is not worthy of life,,” (expression of violence)

    ” Revulsion is the more natural feeling on this subject” (irrational)

    Choirboy’s Statements:

    You , living in Israel are also in Golus . The arabs render swathes of our ancestral land unsafe for you to step into.Our Holiest place is controlled by the wakf.South of Beer Sheva , the arab sheep rustlers have made the lives of the Moshavniks there unpleaseant. After dark cars travel in convoys between Yishuvim (and this is within the Green Line ). You’re not in Golus? Israel is under existential threat from Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the North . A nuclear Iran. You’re not in Golus? Israel a pariah state amongst the nations – where its Generals are scared to get off planes for fear of arrest in Europe . Pathetic. You’re also in Golus . Don’t you forget it . (wild enthusiasm)

    A stretch? Perhaps. Less of a stretch than Adrian’s assertion that the act of homosexuality threatens the species or Choirboy’s reasoning (apologetics) for not living in Israel and thereby fulfilling a host of mitzvot that so define him.

    Perhaps Choirboy would do well to harken to his own words with regards to ‘taking the easy way out’, or perhaps his following statements ring true with regards to his own life.

    “I know what it is. These are inconvenient truths”

    “We all have various desires and tests”

  156. Ellis,

    “I am a semi proffesional bridge player and a full time layabout. Oddly enough that seems quite similar to most of the Charedi kids i see roaming the streets in Bnei Brak.”

    – can you supply me with names/phone nos. of a few charedi kids who are professional bridge players? I’ve always wanted to learn the game …

  157. Who would have thought that melchett mike would turn into Parshat Ha’shavua?! And it all started from a pair of plumpish thighs!

    I have heard it said – usually by someone attempting to deny me my craved-for status of “apikores” – that every arba amos walked in Eretz Yisroel is a mitzva. Is that true? And does it apply to Tel Aviv?

  158. Adrian Reiss
    I think when Ellis said, “..similar to most haredi kids..” he was referring to the sefa (the laying about bit) as opposed to the resha (playing bridge bit).

    In general, I’d say you’re probably better learning from a professional, like Ellis, than from random haredi kids.

    Chorboy,

    You do me an injustice:

    “I think in your zeal , you will look upon as an excuse but (gulp) here goes.”

    I have a profound understanding of others sinners (other than myself that is) that is why I do not condemn you for staying in the galut, any more than I condemn Mark for being a homosexual, my neighbors for breaking Shabbat etc etc.

    My only point was that a man should be honest about his sins and not seek to blame others for their shortcomings. You have shown a profound intellectual honesty in acknowledging that your life decision to not live in eretz yisrael was not in order to help Israel or because of her perceived faults, but because of your own personal reasons.

    I still hope one day you’ll come home, if not you then your children as I hope that all Jews will keep mitzvot etc etc.

    I wish you and your family a long and prosperous life in galut Manchester.

  159. Daniel Marks,

    When contemplating a better life for their children, had our dear parents encountered the same effusive Galut-negating criticism we are dishing out to Choirboy and to Dovid “all gone quiet over there” Maslin, is it not conceivable that their Aliya might have been deferred rather that hastened, or chalila even abandoned?

    We all accept that Jonathan and Dovid have chosen to live dishonorable lifestyles, as have the heads of their pulsating Yeshivot. On that, there can be no doubt. Furthermore, Jonathan has been shown to be disingenuous in his lame defense of his domicile choice. Unbelievably, he resolves his frailties by slagging off Eretz Yisroel, MG’s alternative lifestyle abomination, and by besmirching the blessed Aliya of our fellow Yiddin from the Soviet Union.

    But, rather than to relentlessly hammer away at why they choose to live in the Galut, we should perhaps be reminded that Galut is a condition and a frame of mind, not only a geographical location. Any god-fearing man, who prefers self-imposed spiritual servitude over freedom and emancipation should receive no more than our pity, and an open door should they ever have the guts to come in. I was moved by your recollections of how your father z”l had the zechut to make Aliya in his later years, against the backdrop of regret that he had been unable to do so earlier in his life. Let us hope that many of Jonathan’s and Dovid’s ilk will live to have the same zechut.

    Tony Martin gained notoriety for shooting a teenage burglar who broke into his Norfolk home. Martin was found guilty of murder in 2,000, but his conviction was reduced on appeal to manslaughter.
    Negev sheep farmer Shai Dromi was Israel’s Tony Martin, he was eventually acquitted for manslaughter, and was never portrayed at the center of an anti-aliya hate campaign until now.

    Choirboy alluded to Shai Dromi’s ordeal, as one of many compelling reasons to illustrate why living in Israel is like living in the Galut. Not one of the most popular theories around but it makes for interesting reading if not for anything else.

    And on the flip side of the unpleasant life-style in these Moshavim in the Negev, next time Moss side gang warfare claims another innocent life, perhaps when Choirboy is davening just down the road “Vetechezirenu aleynu beshuvcha lezion berachamim” he can throw in an extra “shockel” of “kavana” and “tshuva.”

  160. If anybody in the gutters of Golders Greeen’s greedy galut has taken offense at anything that I’ve said, let them be assured that this was not my intent as I wish all readers of this excellent blog a good and healthy week!

    I have much to say on other matters, but I shall redirect to Twatter.

  161. With one fell swoop, Daniel not only calls when a discussion is to begin, but also when it must end.

    This was a favored method, employed with varying degrees of success, by no other than Mr. Rosten of Hasmo fame. At the sound of the bell, we would all stand up and make our way to the door.

    Mr Rosten felt this was unacceptable as only he, and not the school bell, was to be the official harbinger of the recess break. And so were borne his immortal words:
    “Only when I say go you go, now go!”

  162. I am glad that you wrote that, Nick . . . I thought it was just me!

    I have already deleted the opening paragraph of Daniel’s last comment:

    “I think that we’ve all reached a broad degree of agreement and even consensus, so the time has come to move on.”

    I think it will be a matter of perpetual irritation and regret to Daniel that he didn’t think of starting a blog and writing about Hasmonean.

    Hehe! 😉

  163. That point Mike, in the name of intellectual honesty, I shall freely concede.

    Now let’s move on.

  164. My next post should get you all commenting . . . but no toilet humour, please!

  165. Daniel,
    you wrote:
    “I think when Ellis said, “..similar to most haredi kids..” he was referring to the sefa (the laying about bit) as opposed to the resha (playing bridge bit).

    In general, I’d say you’re probably better learning from a professional, like Ellis, than from random haredi kids.
    [end quote]

    1. I’ll burn that Bridge when I get to it …

    2. Reminds me of the time I served in miluim (military reserve duty) and was attached to another company. I was bunked in a hut with one professional cardsharp and a number of sycophants who played with him every evening. At the end of the tour of duty they were standing in line to write him cheques.
    One evening I entered the hut while a game was in progress, and the card-sharp offered me some salted-almonds. I thanked him, and wished him that he’d win the entire bank. He was flabbergasted! “Nobody’s ever wished me that before! Here, have some whisky!”, which he then poured for me. Then, noting my kipa, he suggested that I should say Tehilim (Psalms) while he was playing, to increase his chances of success.

    I managed to avoid Tehilim-duty, and that is the full extent of my experience with cards.”

  166. Ellis Feigenbaum

    I find that mumbling tehilim under my breath tends to get complaints from opponnents. Fortunately duplicate is not played for money .so I dont have much need for heavenly protection in the normal course of events.

  167. Ellis,
    when playing cards Tehilim are said very loudly, like in a Mea Shearim funeral. They do wonders for your opponent’s concentration …

  168. David Kornbluth

    Wow……

    This blog or more accurately comments thereto has certainly generated a lot of response and not all of it necessarily from a good place. So without having read everything i would only encourage all to try and understand their own motivations, and recognize that change will rarely come from darkness…

    I like all thighs and find them all a thing of beauty.

    Mah Rabu Maasecha Hashem!

  169. “change will rarely come from darkness…”?!

    Is that the same “David Kornbluth” who – as well as defending his views on the basis that he was “a volunteer to the IDF and PROUD” – once, on this very blog (see under my post on Judge Goldstone), commented as follows:

    “those who claim . . . to pursue a “liberal” agenda baffle me, and make me very sad/mad”

    Surely not?!

    Oh, it’s great having a “Search Comments” function . . .

  170. “recognize that change will rarely come from darkness…”

    – have to disagree on a number of levels:

    1. “And there was evening, and there was morning ..” – what preceeded the morning?

    2. The very presence of darkness creates a desire for light, in the vein of “neccessity is the mother of invention”.

    3. America was founded by Englishmen who were escaping the darkness of the Puritan era.

    “nafshi lashem mishomrim laboker …”

  171. I’m not sure that I agree asI think that darkness is alien to Judaism. It also seems that the sources you site all show that good things only happen after darkness has gone.

    There are times in Jewish law and customs when almost every basic human need is denied to us, sex (Yom Kippur and 9th Av), food (all fasts), our house (succot), sleep (Shavuot eve), shoes (Yom Kippur), bread (pessach) and the list goes on, but we never deny ourselves light.

    On the contrary, there are various interpretations for the law of “not lighting a light in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath” but not all are legitimate. Any Jew who takes this verse literally and sits in darkness on Shabbat is suspected of being a Karaite.

    Light is associated with holiness, while darkness with its absence. For that reason we separate after Shabbat between light and darkness, the people of Israel and other nations etc. There is also a custom not to blow out the light but use wine to do so, lest we be “creating darkness”.

    We are told that if a family has enough money (oil) to either light Shabbat candles or their Hanukia, they light the Hanukia because of “shlom bayit” peace of the house. A dark house where everyone is falling over each other cannot have peace.

    Finally, Rabbi Riskin tell the story of a small Jewish boy who was able to collect bits of cloth and fat in Auschwitz and when Hanukah time came around he, together with other inmates, lit and homemade Hanukiah in in their hut. A German guard entered, saw it and ordered the Jews to “Put out the light.” The boy, in a moment of supreme bravery answered the Nazi:

    “We are Jews. We light lights, we don’t put them out.” Miraculously the guard silently left the hut.

  172. Another basic human need is sleep and normal people like to do this after darkening the room a tad.

  173. An excellent point Dovid. (??)

  174. A bit of darkness for sleeping is perhaps a good thing. The subconscious goes to work during the dark hours, consolidating information in the mind’s eye with great visual effect.

  175. Yes, but don’t forget what Felix Adler said:

    “The hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.”

  176. de-light-ful.

  177. I received a nice surprise phone call last night, from an “old flame” who wanted to see if I was “still around”.

    We chatted for about an hour, and I couldn’t believe it when she asked me if I would be interested in meeting up to rekindle a bit of “what we had”.

    “I don’t know if I could keep pace with you these days,” I told her.

    She just giggled and said she was sure I would “rise to the challenge”!

    “Yes,” I said, “just so long as you don’t mind greying hair, a bit of a beer belly, and a total lack of muscle tone.”

    She laughed and told me to stop being so silly, teasing me that tubby, grey-haired, older men were cute, and that she was sure I would still be a great lover.

    “Anyway,” she giggled, “I’ve put on a few pounds myself!”

    I told her to fuck off.

  178. All jokes aside, Israeli lassies are just not available to us foreign gents, big fat thighs ‘n all.

  179. Interesting point, Brian. And one I haven’t quite made my mind up on yet (in spite of having lived here for ten years).

    I often receive reactions of real surprise when I inform other Olim – especially Anglos – that I am dating local totty.

    But, after another failed attempt to get to know an Israeli woman – the half-demure, half-savage heroine of No Escape: Going to the Flicks, Israeli-style (and after an eight hour first date) – I am starting to wonder whether there might have to be something in what you write.

  180. “big fat thighs ‘n all”
    – growing-up (I use the term loosely) in England at the height of the Cold War, remembering for example Kennedy and the Cuba Crisis, and being subjected to what I now see as Western propaganda, I always thought that the above quote described all Russian women, who were all named Olga and all smelled of cabbage.

    Many years here in the computer industry showed me otherwise. The field contains many Russian women, whose gentleness, charm, fashion-sense, dry humour, good looks and European mentality, make them a pleasant alternative to the Israeli woman.

    I’m married, and thus not in the market, but the Mikes amongst us would be well-advised to consider meeting one or two.

    Just make sure they’re Jewish …

  181. You forgot to mention their work ethic, willingness to experiment sexually and of course their tendency to generalize.

    If they’re athletic, just make sure they’re women.

  182. I was unaware of their “willing to experiment …”
    – again, I bow my head before superior knowledge and experience.

    How did you come out in the experiments?

  183. Oh sorry, guess I misunderstood you Adrian. When you said:

    “….would be well-advised to consider meeting one or two”

    I was under the impression that you referring to kinky threesomes with “gentle, charming, fashionable, humorous (dry), good looking, European minded Russian women”.

    I had a mental picture of the esteemed Adrian Reiss with Svetlana and Natasha, two wonderfully bucksome, blond ladies all frolicking around playfully without the least smell of cabbage.

    I stand corrected.

  184. Daniel,
    “I had a mental picture ” – your picture was certainly mental – a mental case …

    I’ve passed your name on to people who investigate the thin line between such imaginations and their subsequent implementations.

    These people are not “gentle, charming, fashionable, humorous (dry), good looking, or European minded”, so for the next few years, either be careful – or take care to cover your tracks.

  185. Adrian,

    Thank you for your kindly words of counsel. Fear not, I’m always careful and I always cover my tracks.

    I didn’t know anyone still uses expressions like “mental case” but then I recalled you saying that you left England as a wee nipper in the 60s. I recall it was quite fashionable in those days to point at a your head with your fist and index finger, to then rotate your fist first anticlockwise, then clockwise, to contort your face slightly and say, “Your mental!” I haven’t been called “mental” since primary school so I thank you for the charming memory.

    Regarding your friends “who investigate the thin line between such imaginations and their subsequent implementations”, ironically, I believe them to be a figment of your imagination. I doubt you’ve really informed anyone about anything, though I don’t disacknowledge the possibility that you genuinely believe these people to exist and that you may be quite certain that you’ve spoken to them.

    To be sure, conversations with imaginary friends as well as visions of “meeting one or two” of the aforementioned ladies are all quite usual for chaps of your age and certainly no cause for alarm – you are most certainly not “mental”.

    That having been said, cold showers are always a good idea.

    Have a lovely Hanukah

  186. “Mental case” and cuz,

    I suggest you both take warm baths (preferably separately . . . though I do know a lovely girl named Sveta).

    Obviously the Settlement freeze is getting to both of you.

  187. On a serious note, I’ve taught several students called Svetlana and at least one called Natasha. While never generalizing, a good deal of what Adrian said does indeed hold water.

    However Mike, and contrary to what your dear cousin seems to be recommending:

    “the Mikes amongst us would be well-advised to consider meeting one or two.”

    I’d unquestionably be opting for one rather than the two. I, for my part, have never been involved in a threesome, nor am I acquainted with many who have – one of the downsides of being a “settler” and teaching in a yeshiva, no doubt.

    Moreover, as far as Mike is concerned, I’m certain that both the physiological and more importantly the logistic challenges would be much more than those old muscles and bones could handle. In short either Svety or Natasha, never both.

    Kopaloff is reputed to have been involved in an experiment along these lines back in his formative years. He found the experience somewhat disappointing not least when it subsequently transpired that the third man had been none other than his old mate Ellis Feigenbaum.

    As a footnote I should mention that I have just cleared this posting with Nick Kopaloff himself who asked me in all innocence:

    “Is there any truth in any of that? I might have been drunk.”

  188. Never underestimate “the author of this excellent blog”. If he can churn out over a dozen Hasmo Legends – and put up with the endless nonsense of Marks, Kopaloff and Goldman (RIP) – a Sveta and a Natasha (and even, perhaps, an Olga too) should present no problem!

    I think I may have related this before, but it is deserving of repetition: every time a Russian sort used to walk into MASH (the footie pub on Dizengoff), the cry from the bar would go up in unison (though not from me of course):

    “Oh look . . . it’s Mrs. Nickersonanov!”

    Anyway, thank you for taking my mind off the contracts.

    PS Nick, did not the sight of EF’s hairy bobbing botty impede your ability to “stand and deliver”?!

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