The story is called “Sheelot U-teshuvot” or questions and answers, the traditional form by which all Talmudic and Kabbalistic study takes place. Like Socratic logic, the question is posed by students, examined by them and then an attempt to answer it is made. Students earn kudos not only for coming up with good answers, but for posing good questions as well.
The Zohar is one set of religious texts that make up a large library of writings called the Kabbalah – mystical Judaism. A mikvah is a bath used for ritual cleansing. Commonly used by women following menstruation, Hassidic men also use it as a way to spiritually prepare themselves for the Sabbath.
All western prohibitions against homosexuality stem from a single line in Leviticus. This has always disturbed me greatly. It basically prohibits men from lying together “as with a woman”. The study of the Kabbalah is, in essence, a deep improvisational journey into both the literal and the metaphorical meanings of the Old testament. So, I’ve had a little respectful fun with it.
“My head hurts,” whined Aryeh miserably, tugging his carefully ringletted side locks straight and furrowing his pale brow. Gold candlelight turned his clear, bright face into metallic planes and shadows.
“Stop pulling your peyahs! We’ve almost finished Noach. Anyway, it was your decision for us to read it in the original Aramaic. Now you’re paying for it,” whispered Jacob. They were almost at the end of the second volume of the sefer-ha-Zohar, the Book of Splendour.
“Look, it’s too late anyway. Someone’s going to notice the light. Let’s just go to sleep and start again in the morning.” Aryeh’s voice sounded like a snake in the tree of life, all hisses and esses. It sent little conspiratorial chills up Jacob’s spine.
“Tomorrow’s Friday, you idiot. We have to go to the mikvah before Shabbat, and then there’ll no light to read by after dark. Hey, you were the one who wanted to read the Zohar to begin with. Rabbi Stern warned us not to. Didn’t you hear what he said about all those guys who studied Kabbalah dying so young?”
“Yes, and he said we’d go mad. He didn’t say anything about headaches,” said Aryeh illogically. “Just blow out the candle before my uncle comes in and catches us.”
Jacob closed the leather-bound volume carefully, marking their place with a length of red string. Then, he reached over and cupped his hand behind the candle and blew it out. He pulled his outer clothes off and crawled under the covers of the large feather bed next to Aryeh.
“Anyway,” murmured Aryeh, nestling down into the warmth. “I don’t really understand what the problem is in this chapter with wasting a bit of seed. I waste it all the time; I can’t help it.”
“Me neither. I waste lots. You think the guys that wrote the Torah never had a wank? Hah, I don’t believe it. Anyway, why would ha-Shem give us the equipment, not let us use it for years and years, and then expect us not to waste any?” Jacob huddled closer to his friend. The little house was well built but nothing kept out the chill of the icy winds that blew through the center of Minsk in mid-winter. The warmth of Aryeh’s body made him think about what they had just been reading.
“And it’s not fair for them to be going on and on about ‘rivers of pleasure’. It gives me a hard-on just thinking about it,” complained Aryeh bitterly.
Jacob lay there, delighted to hear his friend in agreement with him on this issue. His own groin was tingling unmercifully. He turned over and, beneath the warm eiderdown, reached out in the general direction of his friend’s crotch. His aim was perfect and he pressed down on it, feeling the hard cock pulse and jump beneath his palm.
“Hey!” exclaimed Aryeh, shocked at the contact.
“You’re right. It *is* hard,” said Jacob, encircling the living column of his study companion’s flesh with his long, delicate fingers. He gave it a friendly squeeze.
“I…I wish you wouldn’t do that, Jacob.” Aryeh’s voice was breathy and broken.
Jacob slid his hand slowly up and down along the hot shaft. “Mine’s the same. You can feel it if you want,” he said cautiously.
For months he had wanted to be like this with Aryeh. Day after day they had sat in the cold wooden studyhouse in the shtetl, huddled together reading Talmud. At first he’d just thought it was comfort – that cozy, contented feeling he got – as he sat listening to his friend’s chanting. But the feelings grew stronger each day until he was itchy and breathless, racing to the studyhouse in the icy grey morning gloom, anxious to arrive before his friend, so he could heat the stove, make tea, and be ready to study when Aryeh arrived.
Then, when Aryeh’s uncle in Minsk had heard what promising scholars the two young men were and had invited them to come and live at his house in the city and study at a *real* bes midrash, Jacob begged his parents to allow him to go. Studies aside, the idea of spending even a single day without Aryeh was too horrible to contemplate. Not only had his parents agreed, but they had sent money for books and food, to repay Aryeh’s uncle for his kindness.
Together, two strangers in this large town, Jacob and Aryeh were inseparable; having no friends but each other, they spent every hour of the day together. When Aryeh had suggested they read the Zohar together in secret, Jacob had eagerly assented enthusiastically. This would be just one more way in which their bonds of friendship would be cemented. For Jacob still thought of it as friendship.
Night after night, Jacob had climbed into the large soft bed beside Aryeh and reveled in the companionship; his love for his friend filled every crevice of his heart. But when they had gone to the Mikvah, to immerse before the Sabbath and Jacob had watched the warm water swirl around and stroke his friend’s lithe body, leaving it slick and gleaming in the lantern-light, he knew the feelings were more than friendship. Jacob had turned his own body to the tiles to hide his reaction. He had muddled through the blessing prayer and ducked beneath the surface quickly so the Rabbi could pronounce him clean. Only his clever use of the shadows and a towel had saved him from ridicule. Still, the other students had laughed and teased him for being shy.
Now, in the darkness, he felt Aryeh’s hand reach out for him beneath the covers. He groaned a sigh of both pleasure and relief as he felt his friend’s warm fingers gingerly trace their way around his throbbing cock and then grasp it firmly.
“Yours is a lot bigger than mine,” Aryeh said, half surprised, half embarrassed.
Jacob wriggled closer and slipped his free arm under Aryeh’s neck, cradling him. He pressed his lips to his friend’s ear.
“Not for long,” Jacob whispered and began to stroke Aryeh’s cock slowly and rhythmically.
“What about Leviticus?” murmured Aryeh, turning on his side to face Jacob in the darkness and stroking him in return.
Pleasure forked like lightening up Jacob’s spine. His voice was raw as he answered: “I’ve been thinking about that. And I figure it doesn’t apply to this situation. The prohibition is against a man lying with another man as with a woman. I would never lie with a. a woman .like.. like this. would you?”
Aryeh’s hips started to move and Jacob had to wait several seconds for his friend’s response. It came fractured with heaving breathing.
“True, very.very true. Um. but we are back. back to the problem of wasted seed,” panted Aryeh.
“Oh-h, I’ve thought about that too. But I have a solution,” groaned Jacob. He planted a kiss on Aryeh’s bare chest and grazed his lips down the expanse of skin, shifting his body until the other had no choice but to release Jacob’s cock from his grasp or squirm around too.
Beneath the heavy eiderdown, in the humid warmth of the bed, Jacob pulled Aryeh’s hips toward his face and slid the now fully-erect cock between his lips. He felt a shudder rack his friend’s body and heard his gasp in delight. Jacob held the boy’s hips steady as he sucked and lapped at the steadily engorging prick in his mouth. He gasped and twitched in response as he felt his own throbbing member eagerly enrobed in warm wet heaven. They lay like that, side by side, pleasuring each other like blind, hungry pups feeding on their mother.
Suddenly, Aryeh stopped and whispered jaggedly. “How.how does this. solve the wasted seed problem?”
Jacob pulled away a little to respond. “It’s not wasted if we swallow it,” he said urgently, breathlessly. Then, he dove back to the business of pleasure, holding the base of Aryeh’s shaft tight in his hand as he sucked noisily.
“Oh, Jacob. such a scholar,” said Aryeh and slid an arm over his friend’s ass to pull him closer.
Moments later, Aryeh’s hips began to buck and Jacob held on tight, riding out the final thrusts before feeling the first hot spurt of semen flood his mouth. His friend came hard, moaning around the other’s cock. Sealing his lips tight around the pulsing cockhead, Jacob sucked, swallowing the waves of thick, sticky fluid as they came.
The taste, the heat and the force of it drove Jacob to the edge of oblivion and it wasn’t more than a minute later that he felt his balls seize and force burning seed up into his own buried prick. He thrust and groaned, his body arching back as he emptied himself down Aryeh’s throat. Jacob felt his companion suck at him eagerly as he shot stream after stream. In the midst of his pleasure, Jacob could taste the last of Aryeh’s seed still burning and prickling the back of his palate.
This was the river of pleasure, Jacob thought as his caught his breath, wriggled around and enfolded Jacob in his arms. This is the river with no origin and no delta, the river that never runs dry. He kissed Jacob’s lips and, tasting himself there, pressed his tongue deep into that beautiful mouth that had so recently been the source of such ecstasy.
Aryeh kissed him back and then withdrew, smiling and looking at Jacob in the cold blue starlight that filtered through the grimy window.
“You are going to make a great Rabbi one day, Jacob. You have so many good answers.”
“You too, Aryeh. You have so many good questions.”