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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
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Oscar Who?

My friends, if you want to save your souls, don’t watch the Oscars. If you want to be a holy Jew, you have to work on it.
Oscar

I noticed on the internet that the Oscar Awards ceremony is coming up in another few weeks in L.A., and my heart did not jump a bit. I felt no excitement whatever. Not even a small palpitation, or a droplet of sweat on my palm. I couldn’t care in the least. I have no idea what movies have been nominated, or what actors, and I couldn’t care less.

That’s the incredible power of t’shuva, of repentance, of giving up the lie of foreign cultures and returning to our roots. Every cell in my body has changed since becoming religious and moving to Israel. A spiritual overhaul of prayer, Torah study, tears of atonement, and thousands of dunks in the mikvah, has transformed me into a different person, with totally different thoughts, dreams, and aspirations than I had when I was trying to be an American success story in L.A., trying to be as rich, and handsome, and famous, and gentile as all of the Hollywood stars who will flock to the Oscars to be seen on television by the millions.

Thank God, thank God, thank God. Halleluyah that I left Hollywood for Israel. “He has raised me out of the dunghill to sit me with the princes of His people.”

My friends, if you want to save your souls, don’t watch the Oscars. If you want to be a holy Jew, you have to work on it. You can’t have the best of both worlds, as the Modern Orthodox like to believe. Holiness and impurity don’t go together. All of those actresses may look lovely in their sparkling, low-cut gowns, but do you really want to frizzle your brain? When you pollute your eyes with things you shouldn’t see, the soul which is housed in your brain gets polluted as well. When that happens, your spiritual radar gets covered with mud, and, for example, the Land of Israel, becomes just a nice place to visit, like a Disneyland for Jews, and you think you can be just as serious a Jew in Beverly Hills, or Monsey, as you can be in Jerusalem or Hevron.

The eyes are the windows to the soul, and forbidden images, whether we want to face up to it or not, pollute a Jew’s soul with a terrible impurity.

In his book, “Kuntres HaAvodah,” Rebbe Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch, one of the early great rabbis of the Chabad Hassidic movement, writes the following:

“Everyone who is concerned about his soul, not to pollute it, God forbid, should guard over his eyes. And if this is difficult for him, he should endeavor to restrain himself with all of his strength and might. He must take to heart that this matter is instrumental to the well-being of his soul. If he does not guard himself in this matter, then all of his Divine service is accounted as nothing, and all of his achievements are as naught, and his service of God will fall lower and lower….

“Behold, there are people who are far from actually committing evil deeds, God forbid, but their hearts pull them to look and stare at women. They gaze with a seemingly cold detachment, and they do not feel any immediate excitement when they look, but the reason for their being attracted is because they experience an inner pleasure…. This gazing, even with seeming detachment, creates an impression and a great stain on the soul, which will not go away without arousing some actual evil in its wake, God forbid….

“Thus, it is every man’s duty to control himself and to guard over the things he sees. In so doing, he will save himself from evil, and his service of God will find favor. He will bring salvation to his soul, and he will rise higher and higher.” (“Kuntres HaAvodah,” Ch. 2. For an English translation and commentary, see the book, “Love Like Fire and Water,” Moznaim Publishing Corp)

The Nation of Israel is called upon to be a holy Nation. Just as we have to be careful what we eat, we have to be careful what we see. A Jew who prides himself on enjoying the best of both worlds is fooling himself. He may have a good time at the movies, but in doing so, he darkens the light of his soul, whether he feels it or not. So take it from someone who’s been there. When Oscar night arrives, don’t bother to watch. Do your brain a favor and study Torah instead.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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6 Responses to “Oscar Who?”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    העבר עיני מראות שוא בדרכך חיני.
    “Turn away my eyes from seeing futility, and give me life in Your way.” (Tehillim 119:37) The eye and heart are the twin procurers of transgression. If I shall not see it, then I will not stray after my heart and after my eyes, as You commanded (Numbers 15:39) “The Singer did not actually ask for evil to be turned away from him, for the world runs its usual course and there are many different sights. Rather, the principal effort in serving G-d consists in the person turning away his eyes from evil.” (Me’Am Lo’Ez book of Tehillim V pg 40) IMO, should men or women find themselves gazing at the opposite sex, it would be well for them to say the verse above so as to help save their soul.

  2. Liad Bar-el says:

    The Os-kar is the idol of Hollywood from the country of idols. People sacrifice their lives/souls so as to obtain one of these idols. We are not to even mention the names of idols upon our lips. There is a Talmudic reference (help pls from someone who may know it) which states that if we are to come across an idol, we are to deface it and to deface it means to cut off its nose. IMO, putting on sunglasses and a mustache embellishes the image of the idol. Anybody have a photo-shop magic wand to delete noses? All of this was done before breakfast of Israeli salad, hard boiled eggs from Israeli chickens, Israeli whole wheat crackers covered with zarter, Israeli goats milk whipped/heated for coffee afuke while sitting next to my computer reading Torah/Tehillim/Felafel On Rye while occasionally looking out of my mountain top view of Jerusalem as the sun rises over the mountains surrounding it. Opened up the window to breathe and smell the fresh clean air after the rain and hear the birds singing. You all have a good day!

  3. Liad Bar-el says:

    Now, after breakfast I would like to thank HaShem for His sustenance from the bountiful good land that He gave us and our forefathers to eat of its fruit, to have mercy on Israel, on us His people, on Jerusalem His city, on Zion and on His majestic Temple to be rebuilt soon. I want to also thank Tzvi and the JPress for publishing his blogs as well as other many good articles from other good writers. Now I have to close and do “spoungah” before Shabbat. :-)

  4. Oscar who? Ah doesn’t git it. Is this hyar a knock knock joke?

  5. Oscar who? Ah doesn’t git it. Is this hyar a knock knock joke?

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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