Flatbush: Chapter 4 – The Rabbi’s Strategies

It was now 1975.  The boys had started college, Robert had met Kathy, and it was  15 years since Rabbi Roth had sex with Maureen O’Connor.  The rabbi had been very busy in those 15 years. In addition to his duties at the synagogue and in the community, the rabbi added to his hobbies. Soon after the sexual encounter with Maureen the Rabbi decided to pursue sex as an extracurricular hobby.  He spent six months contemplating  it and trying to come up with a foolproof  scheme without danger of getting caught at it.   He would not proceed until he was satisfied that he could have his cake and eat it.  He set the following parameters for himself to accomplish this endeavor.

  1. He would not pursue sex. Sex would be the byproduct of some other activity that had a positive culture.
  2. He had to eliminate guilt as a by-product of his sexual activities. He knew if he felt guilty it would eventually  be reflected in his demeanor and he would certainly be found out.
  3. His partners physical appearance could not play a part in this endeavor. The range of his partners looks had to reflect the range of the looks of the women in the community.
  4. He needed to avoid ongoing lust for his sexual partners and the behaviors associated with lust.
  5. He had to remain true to his religious calling

After much contemplation the rabbi came up with the following strategies:

To accomplish 1, not pursuing sex,  he would use education, both secular and religious.  He referred back to his experience with Maureen and the circumcised penis.  He did not see any reason why this strategy could not work over and over.  He would never bring the subject matter up in a sexual manner.  Sometimes he would put the subject matter in his sermons, thus giving them a religious context.

2, the elimination of guilt, was more difficult to accomplish. After several months he realized he had to re-educate himself so as not to feel guilty. He decided to perform common tasks that normally elicit guilt. He shoplifted at Macy’s department store.  He jumped the turnstile in the subway, thus avoiding paying the fare.  He snuck into movie theaters.  He stole the tips left for the serving staff in neighborhood restaurants.  Through sheer force of willpower and by fooling his brain, he learned how not to feel guilty.  That is how he mastered not feeling guilty over his sexual encounters. He recognized that this was not a good trait for a religious leader so he stopped  these activities once he had mastered control over his guilt feelings.  Once again,  he could feel guilty, except over sexual encounters.

3, not considering the physical appearance of his partner, was accomplished by accepting the advances of any sexual partner who offered regardless of their looks. He particularly liked this parameter because he felt it was true to his calling as a religious leader.

4, To avoid ongoing lust Rabbi Roth created  a hard and fast rule not to repeat a sexual encounter with a partner for at least a year.  Once the deed was done there was no need to lust for the partner because he could not and would not break his rules.  He and the partner would have to wait at least a year.  There were several partners that were repeated from year to year.  He had a ten year stretch with Mona Rabinowitz that lasted until Mona divorced her husband, married the president of Chase Manhattan Bank, moved to Manhattan and became an Episcopalian.

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  1. Terri Linarelli says:

    I like the last paragraph. I found it particularly funny!

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