Monday, December 11, 2006

Gedolim v. Celebrities (LEHAVDIL!!!)

I wrote this draft almost two years ago, (Jan 16, 2005)and was afraid to post it. But today, I decided to read if over, and I find it funny how my opinions have changed since then. Because of that, I chose to keep the original draft and fill in my updates in red. Interesting what a year without Seminary can do for you.

A few years ago, I visited another school with my friend. The lights were off throughout the building. They were there for play rehearsals or something. As we arrived at the 3rd floor, we were greeted by a group of Gedolim pictures. She decided to test herself, identifying them in the dark. I respected her, and was kinda jealous, too. Heck, I wish I could identify them in the light.

On the flip side, every week, when my Us Weekly arrives, I test my knowledge on the pages where the names are in small letters on the bottom. I usually do pretty well. Fortunately, I can say I have never seen a TV show or movie with most of these people, but I know them just from being around. I have never seen Scarlett Johanssen in a movie, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Russel Crowe, Colin Farrell...yet I can pick them out in a crowd in a second. Although when Sarah Jessica Parker was filming at Brooklyn College, I walked right past her and had no idea it was her.

In high school, a teacher once told us something that stuck with me, "With a celebrity, the more you get to know them, the less you like them, and the less greatness you see in them. Lehavdil, with a Gadol, the more you see of them, the more greatness you see, and the more you admire them. Not like I believe all the terrible things circulating about various Gedolim now, but I do feel slighted by the education I received designed to convince me that anyone meant to become someone knows Shas by heart at the age of 4, and all that. Hence the banning of "Making of a Gadol," which could have taught and encouraged many. But our society is afraid of us knowing reality.

Put it this way. After watching a few hours of Newlyweds, how many people can actually respect Jessica Simpson? Lehavdil, after reading a biography of a Gadol, you are more in awe of this superhuman being. He possesses a greatness that is above our concept of reality! Because these biograpies portray them as perfect. Which they are not (and I feel tremendous guilt typing that) but, nobody, but Hashem is perfect.

For example. I love Will & Grace. My favorite character is Karen, who is played by Megan Mullally. When I heard she was going to be on some late night show, I don't even remember which one, I struggled to stay awake to see her in action. When her segment finally arrived, I was bored. Then I was disappointed. Then I remembered. Most of these people are empty. They have nothing to them, except for the character that's written to them. Now she has her own talk show, and has proven to have some personality.

When it comes down to it, celebrities' lives are glamorized, and the more Us Weekly I read, the more I realize that they're just a bunch of rich, bored, miserable people for the most part.

Gedolim, on the other hand, are called so for a reason, but perhaps have nisyonot that we can learn from, if only we'd know about them. It's important for people to be portrayed in somewhat of a normal light.


At 12/11/2006 7:15 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Hey Michelle - Every one of is inspired by different things. For whatever reason, the "normal" struggles of the gedolim has been overlooked for years. My guess, is that it is exactly what you related in your posts. Most publications focus on defining what differentiates our role models from the role models on the streets. That involves focusing on what they find important. To admit that Gedolim have tayvos might be important, but it also needs a lot of accompanying discussion. Most authors might be afraid that they aren't up to that task, and don't want their portrayals of the Torah giants to sound like the splashy covers of the trashy journals. Although US Weekly is edited by a frum guy...

At 12/12/2006 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kool-Aid tasted good, didn't it?

At 12/12/2006 6:35 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

anon--it's gone now :-)

At 12/14/2006 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I read about the gedolim I shake my head and think, "But he could have been a doctor. Even a specialist."

At 12/14/2006 10:34 PM, Anonymous tzipporah said...

thats the problem with society-everyones so quik to judge that they even say bad things about gedolim. its pure chutzpah.

At 12/30/2006 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great music from our celebrity


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