Vampires, Superman and Modern Day Paganism

This week's Dvar Torah is by Rabbi Yair Spitz, Menahel Yeshivat "Or Chaim" in Toronto.

Torah Mitzion Torani Tzioni Movement

Judaism Torah Mitzion
Torah Mitzion
“You shall not have other gods before me”

Spiderman, Dracula, Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Avengers, Avengers 2, Transformers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and X-men are only a few of the many movies and programs that have – or will shortly - come across our “cultural” dashboard. There have been and will be many, many more of their type

All of them depict characters who are stronger, faster and smarter than us. They come from above, below and beyond. They battle among themselves for dominance over us mortals and our mortal world and we are powerless before them, at their complete mercy.
They are immortal, or close to it.

Think of how much time and resources we spend on them. Books, magazines, movies, reviews, shows, merchandise, costumes and debates (Remember the “Stand By Me” debate? “Who would win in a fight – Mighty Mouse, or, Superman?” with the answer – “Of course Superman! Mighty Mouse is a cartoon! he isn’t even real”!)

Is this really so different from the ancient polytheistic world?

Do we not “serve” these fictitious super-humans with our money, time and creativity? Do we not go visit them in their theaters-temples or at our home screen-alters? Do we not shower the priests who bring us their words- writers, actors and producers – with adoration, prestige and even gold statues? Are we not rewarded for our service with entertainment, inspiration and even hope?

One could argue – with some degree of truth – that Torah’s issue with polytheism was as much a moral one as a theological one. Are the stories of these modern man-made, false gods, not filled with violence, sexual impropriety and immorality? Does this not – on some level – legitimize these behaviors for us mortals – and our children – as well?

I can’t help but think that Western Civilization has not come as far as it thinks in abolishing idol worship and may have just substituted one form for another, more subtle, one.

Judaism’s call to attribute divinity, “other-worldliness” and – as a consequence – the origin of morality, to Hashem alone is as necessary as it ever was.

Pay close attention to what you – and your children – are watching and being influenced by.  

)Torah MiTzion (see their dynamic website) was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with the love for Torah, the Jewish People and for the State of Israel. Over the past eighteen years Torah MiTzion has recruited, trained and dispatched more than one thousand 'shlichim' (emissaries) to Jewish communities in countries spanning five continents and impacted Jewish communities with an inspiring model of commitment to both Judaism and Zionism.