So last night (Christmas Eve), I went down to the university campus, to watch Ushpizin. We were in a tiny theater that seats fewer people than my Dad's old Buick and, needless to say, the audience was listening and the audience was Jewish. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.
It's a beautiful movie, infused with spirit, and wonderfully acted. And I, personally, think it has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism.
Sorry, folks. Not my Judaism.
In my Judaism, if you are poor, unemployed, and living in squalor, when $1,000 drops "min hashamayim" into your lap, you go enroll in technical school and get yourself some skills so you can get a J-O-B.
That's right. It isn't about relying on G-O-D. Because G-O-D gave us brains that can calculate Pi, arms to lift things, legs to move around, and the heart to go out into the world and get things done. So move it! Get a job!
I'm sorry. I should be more accepting. They are Breslau. They live by faith. Someone has to.
Someone has to?
No. Our avot and amahot did not live by faith. Avraham and Yaakov built wells, herded sheep, built communities. They were active forces in the world. They were not secluded in a slum, impoverished, desperate. Is that what God wants? For us to do nothing, to cry like babies to Him for every little thing?
The world is a growing environment. We have everything we need right here. Everything to make our lives worthwhile. It's crazy to think our role is just to sit and say Tehilim, that that is what our Creator wants from us. No. I don't believe that for a second.
When my stepkids ask me questions, I often say: "Look it up. You can find the answer." When they ask me for things, I say: "Get it yourself." Am I a mean stepmother? Maybe so, but I don't see any point in raising lazy kids. Why would God want anything different from his own children? You need money? Figure out how to get it. (It's no big secret.) You want to have a baby with your wife? Quit smoking, your sperm count will go up.
All right. It's their life and they are free to live it as they choose. It is moving and makes a beautiful fable of faith and hope, but it's not real to me. And the deeper question is -- Is it real Judaism?
ADDENDUM: The question was raised in a comment at my blog whether it is necessary or appropriate to discuss the vision of Judaism in the movie. It's a good movie, so why not leave it at that? Well, I don't know. Probably seeing it here in Texas affects me as well. So few Jews here, and so few Jewish movies shown, that there is a sense that each one may be seen as standing for the whole. That probably is an unfair burden to place on any movie. On the other hand, this particular movie seems designed to engender discussion on matters of faith and belief. Or am I just reading that into it?