Mitzvos on Melchett, shocking on Sheinkin

There is something vaguely disconcerting, disturbing even, about one’s first encounter with gay men having sex.

This I discovered as I walked up Sheinkin, early on Saturday evening, blissfully lost in a sense of well-being from Leeds United having just defeated Championship leaders, Queens Park Rangers, and occupying an automatic promotion spot for the first time this season.

I was shaken out of my reverie, however, by violent grunts and repeated exclamations of the “f” word (my mother insists on vetting these posts) from a first floor apartment on the other side of the street.

I looked up – a knee jerk, you understand – to see . . . well, never mind. But I could see: two males, through the only half-closed double doors from the bedroom to the balcony. And I recoiled, just like I do when witnessing a stray run under the wheels of an oncoming car.

As described in a recent post, living in the centre of Tel Aviv makes any kind of privacy nigh on impossible, with all of us learning far too much about the habits and proclivities of our neighbours . . .

An unknown (I live in hope) female inhabitant of the building opposite ours makes such a racket in the act of copulation – usually on Shabbos “mitzvah” afternoons (cf. our aforementioned friends, on motzei Shabbos, “lehavdil bein kodesh . . . ,” some may suggest)  – that I almost feel that I should applaud from my window at the climax of each gusty performance (which can run to over two hours) or, at least, hold up one of those figure skating marking boards: “9.9, 9.9, . . .” Anyhow, eat yer heart out, Sally Albright!

I do tend to think of myself as reasonably broad-minded, these days, especially in view of a somewhat sheltered childhood and youth in the ‘ghettos’ of Chendon and Golders Green (including sharing the classrooms of my primary and secondary ‘educational’ establishments with melchett mike’s resident gay basher).

But I could not help but wonder, on Saturday evening, whether my instinctive distaste for the scene I had just witnessed – as opposed to my fascination with the ever-titillating and mysterious Melchett “Mitzvah Girl” – makes me, even in some small way, a homophobe (only in relation to gay males, that is . . . indeed, had I chanced upon two women doing whatever they do – and there is no shortage of that, either, in Tel Aviv – my pace would, no doubt, have slowed rather than quickened, facilitating careful assessment of my optimum vantage point).


33 responses to “Mitzvos on Melchett, shocking on Sheinkin

  1. As a QPR supporter, I do not share your elation at Leeds United’s victory. As for the rest of the blog – I hope to get to meet the lady opposite. She could be worth a lot of future Melchett stories.

  2. Not Beis Hillel, then, I presume?!

    The voracious ‘lady’ in question has received brief prior mention on melchett mike – see the penultimate paragraph here – though, from now on, I shall endeavour to keep you more regularly and fully informed of her sabbatical activities.

  3. Thanks Mike, to live vicariously is one of the pleasures available to senior citizens.

  4. Always knew you were one of us!!!

  5. A Leeds fan, you mean?

  6. too funny… usual…..we miss you….T & D

  7. Had what initially looked like a similar experience.

    Our old offices used to overlook the Sheraton City Tower (now the Leonardo), and one day my attention was drawn to the sight of two naked men – clearly in a state of arousal – approaching the window.

    Well naturally I made the same assumptions that you did.

    However it turned out that further in the room, out of sight of the window, there were quite a number of other people, the ladies I believe were being paid for their services, and a certain government minister had to resign after her driver spilled the beans.

  8. Daniel J Marks

    Wow, all my favorites. First Hasmonean then homosexuality.

    Dedicate your next posting to the Hebraist E Feigenbaum that might rename this excellent blog: Hasmos, Homos and Hoboes!

    Incidentally, how comes that a posting on gays has been up for 24 hours and Mark still hasn’t posted? Lost ye voice chazzan?

  9. Were they listening to Say Hello Wave Goodbye?

  10. Why do you talk about “one’s first encounter…”; how many are you anticipating?

  11. @Jewmoderator:

    Somewhat knowing the area where Mike lives, I would say all bets are on.

  12. How “somewhat” do you “know” it, Geoffers?!

    And, Daniel, what about First Formers, Feigeles and Feigenbaums?

  13. Will BH be there tomorrow at 10AM demonstrating against this monstrous idea of the refugee detention centre.

    That “somewhat”.

  14. Thoughts of sadness were evoked after reading one of the previous articles. A Yarzheit and a daily prayer service were disturbed by the music of a dangerous driving criminal and a perverted junky.

    About the same time I was reading a book, Return by Herman Branover, a Soviet Refusenik who made Aliyah in the early 1970s. After living in a dream, ‘drunk with happiness’ for his first year in Israel, the reality of the State’s moral and spiritual degradation began to sink in.

    Please read the extracts below. Mindful of the apparently increasing promiscuity of Tel Aviv’s citizens I believe these are highly applicable to the subject of discussion.

    “It is hard to imagine anything stranger than seeing the heirs of the chosen people – who for more than three thousand years were the bearers and guardians of holiness, justice and human wisdom- turned into such a philistine race, whose heathen cult of the body, pleasure and success is not very modestly covered by the fig leaf of “progress” and “service to the ideals of all mankind.”

    Unbearable pain is evoked in me when I think of the crowds on Allenby or Dizengoff streets in Tel Aviv, were among the half naked girls, daubed up old women and long haired males it is hard to detect a Jewish face or Jewish expression in the eyes….It is terrifying to see newspaper kiosks and movie billboards in the Holy Land promoting blown up pictures of the female body distorted, despiritualized and degraded to arouse carnal appetites. It is unbearable to realize that all this is going on in Eretz Hakodesh. It is even more unbearable to realize that assimilation here is much more dangerous than in other countries where Jews live. In the Diaspora, assimilation ultimately causes the complete separation of an individual Jew or a Jewish family from the body of the Jewish people. Here in Israel however, a spiritually degraded Jew is still considered a Jew for the simple reason that he lives in a “Jewish state.” Thus assimilation here becomes not only a personal tragedy. It is devaluing the basic concept of a “Jew” and the “Jewish people.”

    The most valuable Jewish quality which is decreasing in Israel is the sense of the limits of what is allowed, the feeling of the borders of sin. Traditionally, a Jew always strived to stay away from the forbidden, the immoral and the shameful…It is agonizing to see how this priceless inheritance is vanishing. Although, to be fair, I must note that often I do have the occasion to see the strength of the Mitzvoth continuing to live in the souls of many whose intellects have tried to disavow them.

    How agonizing it is to hear and read in the papers about murder committed by Jews, about Jewish prostitutes, about rape, about cases of robbery and theft and about strikes sabotaging a war-time economy.

    ..When a cinema shows a film consisting of two entire hours of detailed depiction of nude bodies indulging in sexual acts and refined perversions, the seats are filled up. But when a film about Yanush Korchak comes, then the maximum number of tickets sold for a show is twenty.

    It makes you suffocate from helplessness and despair to hear that, upon the advice of foreign didactic-schizophrenics, a course on sex education is being introduced into the schools, where the technique of the sex act is explained to boys and girls through films which demonstrate accordingly. And what can be said about seeing a fourteen-year-old girl taking a contraceptive pill, preparing to go out on a date, while her parents look on with condescension. And it never even occurs to them that there is anything reprehensible in this! What can we expect from our enemies when we ourselves- in the name of alien and depraved theories and in order to gratify our own dissoluteness-mutilate the purity and holiness of our children’s souls, uprooting them from Jewish spirituality, modesty and self-restraint which our forefathers struggled to preserve for centuries? This, O God, is probably the lowest level to which Your will sentenced us to fall for our sins.”

    That was written almost 30 years ago and, if this week’s article is anything to go by, things seem to have descended lots further since then.

  15. Mike, you wonder if your feelings of revulsion mean you are a homophobe. Frankly I find watching anal sex revolting, irrespective of the gender of the participants, but that is just me. Or maybe it is the extreme closeups 😉

    We went to a school that explicitly taught us intolerance. And if the ultra-conservative views expressed in the previous post are anything to go by, the 1970s (our formative years) were not terribly progressive either. Is it any wonder that we experience visceral reactions that contradict the values we now know to be good and right? If you did not experience this dissonance I would worry.

    Maybe you are a homophobe and it is as well for you to know it. But that is much less important than knowing when to ignore what is essentially your yeitzer harah.

    That is called tolerance.

    Judge yourself on your behaviour, not on your gut reactions.

  16. Dovid, why are you hiding behind one of those names out of Artscroll Central Casting? Are you worried that if you reveal your true identity your family might be attacked by a rabid pillow-biter prowling the promiscuous pavements of Tel Aviv?

    As to your contribution, there is nothing wrong with quoting great people such as Professor Brannover, but it helps to pick the bits they got right. The suggestion that none of this ever happened before in the Holy Land/among the Jewish People makes me wonder which Testament you were both reading. The one I have a passing acquaintance with is pretty full of the stuff – unless, of course, one is relying on the Definitive Artscroll Translation, the motto of which is “This is what G-d meant to say”.

    And, if you want to get them whooping in the aisles, try making a siyum with the last few lines of Avoda Zara (I have no idea what Schottenstein managed to do with them but Rashi doesn’t mince his words on the nocturnal exploits of one of the characters).

    Dovid, just knocking the Tel Aviv scene is not going to achieve anything. Reveal yourself (not literally, please) and tell Mike’s readers what you intend to do about the situation. But remember – if you want to spread the truth, you must speak the truth.

  17. What is non progressive or intolerant about the previous but one post?

  18. “What is non progressive or intolerant about the previous but one post?”

    Dear Dovid no-surname, get it right. I said the views expressed (by the author you quoted) were “ultra-conservative”. I said that Hasmonean taught intolerance and I branded the 1970s “not terribly progressive”.

    It doesn’t matter though. As it turns out he (the author) demonstrates a monumentally intolerant and non-progressive attitude. Here are some examples:

    He thinks that growing one’s hair or walking about half-naked makes one appear not to be Jewish.

    He displays a prudish attitude to billboards displaying provocatively-dressed women. It was the early 1970s so really, how bad could these billboards have been?

    Finally, he tries to promote the idea that sex-education and contraception for teenagers is schizophrenic, reprehensible and depraved.

    Even in the 70s, these attitudes were far from progressive. Today, they sound positively Victorian.

  19. “Rashi doesn’t mince his words . . .” Like it, John, like it!

    In the words (alleged, at least) of a well-known Hasmo rabbi . . .

    “We are only eight miles from Soho . . . and I know, because I have measured it with my own car.”

    On this subject, and at this time of year, I also draw readers’ attention to one of my first posts to this blog, melchett mike’s Loss of Innocence: Blighty’s New Years Past.

  20. An earlier poster here used the term “homophobe”. That is a great spin created by homosexuals in order to make themselves more acceptable. The suffix “phobe” means “fear”, and so the “problem” created by homosexuality is transfered to the observer: “it’s the observer’s problem, not the homosexual’s, and he must overcome it”.

    That’s a load of crap. The normal person’s reaction to homosexality is revulsion. I don’t know what the suffix for that should be, but it is not “phobia”. That guy having a perverted nature is not MY problem.

  21. A phobia is an irrational fear. So calling homosexual-haters “phobic” implies that they irrationally fear homosexuals. You evidently think that a negative reaction to homosexuals and homosexuality is entirely rational.

    My point is that no reaction is entirely rational. Reactions (of the type Mike experienced) are mostly reflexive and not considered. I don’t know if there is a word for irrational revulsion to homosexuals but if there is I agree that it should be used in place of “homophobic”.

    “The normal person’s reaction to homosexuality is revulsion”

    So what? The normal person’s reaction to seeing thalidomide babies or horrendous road accident injuries is probably also revulsion (to illustrate a point, not draw a comparison!) The crux of my point was that reactions are visceral and not cerebral. Therefore nothing of importance should be inferred from reactions. What matters is how you decide to treat people.

    “…the “problem” created by homosexuality…”

    What “problem” is created by homosexuality? Even if you think it is perverted, what problem is created by consenting adults indulging in perversions?

  22. Jeremy Cohen, as an ex-hasmo, where did you pick up such balanced, well thought-out and articulately conveyed views?

  23. “You evidently think that a negative reaction to homosexuals and homosexuality is entirely rational.”
    Right on, Mate! In full accordance with the most basic laws of nature!
    “Even if you think it is perverted, what problem is created by consenting adults indulging in perversions?”

    Nothing wrong if they do it privately. But are you seriously suggesting that the publicity afforded to the subject does not represent a problem? When words such as “phobia” become involved, there is very obviously some kind of a problem.
    If you were correct that there is “no problem”, then you should explain why the subject is such a “hot” matter from the public point of view.

    I have no interest in conversing on this subject any further. I have expressed my opinion, but am not obsessed with the subject.

  24. Nothing of importance should be inferred from reactions?? What kind of nonsense is that? Sometimes lifesaving events are decided by people’s reactions. How people react to things is very important.

    Also, I disagree with your use of the word visceral. Emotions are a vital part of cognition. They play a big part in memory and in communication.

  25. What Dovid and Herman Branover need to remember, is that the greater majority of the Jews that labored, fought and/or died creating and defending the State of Israel, did not care a toss about assimilation, modesty issues et al. What they strived for was a homeland for the Jewish people, where they could be free from the persecution they suffered in Europe and the Middle East. The term, “Jewish State,” to them, said more about their heritage and ancestry, and less about their religious values. Until the “Messiah” comes, it would be easier for those on the religious right to accept Israel as simply a (Jewish) secular state, with all the problems that can be expected when you are a country of a few million individuals, which will inevitably include law-abiding citizens and criminals, heterosexuals and homosexuals, religious and secular, and so on. Those looking to live in a country with strict standards of modesty can immigrate to Iran.

  26. As a lifelong Tottenham fan I get great pleasure listening to manager Harry Redknapp. He speaks my kind of language. Short words. Sentences that are not inhibited by the constraints of English grammar. And, most of all, he makes sense. So I hope the recent contributors to this correspondence will forgive me for saying that I am having difficulty with a few of their long words which seem to have something to do with heads as opposed to Harry’s which have something to do with feet. Visceral, cerebral, cognitive – blimey – where’s the Anaddin ?

    With a prayer for Spurs 33 to 1 odds of winning the league this season I trust all you clever people will not mind if I throw in a little wobbler myself in this far too intelligent dialogue.

    It has been suggested that it all comes down to the systematic desensitization of western society in the 65 years since the horrors of World War II. Most enlightened people no longer suffer from phobias regarding homosexuals, blacks, physically or mentally challenged individuals or, even, Arsenal supporters. That is one hell of a step forward for society.

    In fact, the only phobia that doesn’t seem to have gone away is the one that really should have been swept aside with the end of World War II but, put in words of one syllable, Es iz shver tzu zein a Yid.

  27. “If you were correct that there is “no problem”, then you should explain why the subject is such a “hot” matter from the public point of view.”

    I didn’t say that there is no problem. I said no problem is created by homosexuality. The problem you refer to is caused by bigotry.

    And yes, I am seriously suggesting that publicity afforded to the subject of homosexuality is not a problem. I feel that most intolerance is a result of ignorance, and publicity helps to reduce that. Truthfully, I am having some difficulty figuring out why you think it is a problem. I have debated gay rights with all kinds of bigots and I’ve never heard that one before. Very peculiar.

    “When words such as “phobia” become involved, there is very obviously some kind of a problem.”

    Really? Very obviously? Let’s take some other phobias, shall we?
    Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth. OK, fair enough, that one is a bit weird. What about amaxophobia, the fear of riding in cars? Even the bog standard (by contrast) agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces. Am I to infer that there is “very obviously” a problem with open spaces? I think not, and neither is there a problem with homosexuality.

    The problem is bigotry and sinat chinam (causeless hatred).

    “I have no interest in conversing on this subject any further. I have expressed my opinion, but am not obsessed with the subject.”

    Are you taking your ball and going home? Or does this mean that no matter what I say in this post, you’ll remain silent? Or will you only answer under a pseudonym?

    Btw, thanks MM for outing him – but wasn’t he banned less than a year ago?

    @Dovid still-no-surname: obviously I realize that quick reactions can save lives, but these are physical reactions and not the kind being discussed.

    I actually agree with you that the way people react (mentally) is of some importance, but I believe their behaviour is much more important. My original point was that Mike didn’t need to worry that he might be a homophobe just because he had had a visceral (sorry John Fisher) reaction to seeing men having sex. As long as he doesn’t treat homosexuals unfairly, it doesn’t much matter to me how he felt at the time.

  28. “I have debated gay rights with all kinds of bigots and I’ve never heard that one before. Very peculiar.”

    Jeremy, you very obviously get a great deal of pleasure involving yourself with homosexuality. That’s your privilege.

    “Are you taking your ball and going home? Or does this mean that no matter what I say in this post, you’ll remain silent? Or will you only answer under a pseudonym?”

    I’m not writing under a pseudonym – the original signature was appended automatically because I was logged in to another blog that uses the same software as MM. I’ve promised MM that in future I will logoff if I post here. There was no devious intent involved; personally I don’t like seeing people hiding behind pseudonyms.

    I’m taking my ball and going home, because frankly, like any normal human being – this is NOT a Jewish thing – the subject disgusts me. Interesting to note that homosexuality appears nowhere in the animal kingdom – so its obviously a mental abberation. But if you want to reply to that, please know that you have the last word. I’m out of this discussion.

  29. Me thinks, Avraham Reiss protests far too loudly. It seems to me he is trying to convince himself that he is “disgusted” by the subject.
    As regards his assertion that it does not appear in the Animal Kingdom; that is purely false. Certainly dogs and some species of monkey have been known to go at it in such a manner.

  30. “Jeremy, you very obviously get a great deal of pleasure involving yourself with homosexuality. That’s your privilege”

    Actually Avraham, it’s not my privilege; it’s my right.

    “…the subject disgusts me.”

    I have been saying for several days that if something disgusts you, that’s not really very important; whether or not you allow that disgust to influence your behaviour and your intellect is far more significant.

    “Interesting to note that homosexuality appears nowhere in the animal kingdom – so its obviously a mental abberation.”

    A strange conclusion to draw; since sentience appears nowhere in the animal kingdom, is that a mental abberation? How about studying Torah? You don’t see much of that in the animal kindom either. Furthermore, your claim is plain wrong. There is an abundance of homosexuality in the animal kingdom – of course animals aren’t as advanced as man so they don’t wait in alleys with baseball bats to beat up their homosexuals. Here’s a quotation from Wikipedia. If you need more substantial evidence, feel free to Google.

    Homosexual behavior in animals refers to the documented evidence of homosexual, bisexual and transgender behavior in animals. Such behaviors include sex, courtship, affection, pair bonding, and parenting among same sex animals. A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, and is well documented for 500 of them.

    “But if you want to reply to that, please know that you have the last word. I’m out of this discussion.”

    I hope I have not had the last word. Others with more gumption than you will continue the debate and eventually the world will move away from theocratic compulsion, to liberalism and tolerance and respect. Just as the race laws in America went away and apartheid in SA went away, people who discriminate negatively against homosexuals will die out. Eventually.

    But I am glad to see the back of you. I was not sad to see you go last time, when you were ejected against your will, and I am not sad now. Don’t disappoint me now 😉

  31. The English language fails in a number of ways.

    There is no way to describe dislike for something as easily as there is a way to describe fear of something by merely adding the suffix “phobe” to the subject matter and therefore the two states of dissatisfaction are intermingled.

    Another failure of the English language is a “blowjob”. Even Eliezer Ben Yehuda knew someone was literally going to have to “suck it”.


    BTW there is no English word for that either…

  32. Jeremy Cohen


    Usually the prefix “mis” is employed to imply dislike or hate, e.g. misogynist, misanthrope etc. Perhaps we should have mispoof or missfaigele? 😉

    If you had never seen “homophobe” you might think it meant fear of other humans, or maybe fear of similar things. Of course, we’ve all seen it before so we know that the colloquial meaning is a person who is bigoted or prejudiced against homosexuals. The literal meaning of the suffix (or prefix) is more or less irrelevant.

    So although these linguistic pontifications are interesting, they shouldn’t distract us from the real issue – the abuse and negative discrimination homosexuals must endure in most countries on earth.

  33. JC – not being a homosexual nor a homophobe (a homosexualphobe, the colloquial type not the literal one) and therefore almost totally disenfranchised from the real issue, I would prefer the new real issue to be language.

    I thought we had a perfect segueway from the issue of sociology to the issue of simplicity of language.

    So, with no disrespect to our fagnostic brothers and sisters can the real issue of the day be: is segueway actually a word?

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