web analytics
July 10, 2014 / 12 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim's Restaurant in Tiberias Restaurant in Tiberias Enriches Holocaust Survivors’ Wellbeing

The generosity of Mrs. Lee Steinberg of New York helped establish the Meir Panim Free Restaurant in Tiberias.



Why Batman Matters

Front-Page-082412

It’s important to acknowledge this right from the beginning: I love Batman. In fact, no one loves him more than I do. He and I have a history that goes back over four decades.

Since receiving semicha from Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan twenty years ago, I have been involved in various aspects of education – everything from teaching in yeshivot and seminaries in Israel to doing outreach work on college campuses to teaching police officers (Jews and non-Jews alike) about stress management using techniques ultimately derived from the Torah literature.

Different contexts, different audiences, different levels of Torah observance, different ages and backgrounds.

But there’s been one constant throughout (besides my wife’s support and patience) in my teaching style: my love for Batman and my use of the Batman mythology to illustrate and motivate many – perhaps most – of the Torah Truths I teach.

Increasingly, however, I barely recognize the character in the comics and movies they keep calling “Batman.” The Batman I know and love, the Batman who inspires me, represents steadfast commitment to principle, nobility of character, and altruistic benevolence. Long before the tragic shootings at the premiere of the newest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colorado, I had experienced discomfort with the depiction of Batman in various media because it represents a falsification of his character.

That shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who knows anything about Batman and his portrayal over the past couple of decades or if you know anything about human nature and the culture in which we live – a culture whose values and mindset are reflected in and expressed through its pop culture.

Since the mid-1980s there’s been a tug of war between two groups of comic book creators – a struggle for the very soul of the Batman character. Consider it a battle between the traditionalists and the reformers.

A brief introduction to the character for those not familiar with Batman:

Born to a life of wealth and leisure, eight-year-old Bruce Wayne was walking home from an evening at the movies with his wealthy philanthropist parents, Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne, when the three were confronted by a gun-wielding hoodlum who stepped out of the shadows and demanded Martha’s jewelry. A brief struggle ensued, after which the criminal shot and killed both Thomas and Martha right before young Bruce’s eyes.

In an instant, the world the little boy had known was gone forever. Traumatized by his parents’ deaths, Bruce swore at their graveside to avenge their murders by dedicating the rest of his life to fighting crime. Propelled by his oath, Bruce devoted every waking moment of his formative years to developing his mind and body to unparalleled perfection. Reasoning that criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, Bruce used the fear-inspiring image of a bat to design a costume that would strike fear into the hearts of evildoers.

By day, Bruce Wayne maintains an image of a bored, idle man of leisure. But that persona is little more than a mask for Bruce’s alter ego – Batman.

One of the comic book writers of the new school of thought describes the character thus:

“Batman…was the externalization of a psychologically dysfunctional man who worked out his rage and abandonment issues by becoming scary, in the process avenging his parents and bringing criminals to justice.”

That’s dark stuff. And definitely not the Batman I fell in love with as a child.

I don’t mean to suggest that the Batman I love is the campy hero of the 1960s TV show (though that was my first introduction to the character). In fact, there is a serious alternative to the “psychologically dysfunctional man” that writer described.

No, the Batman I love isn’t the dark, dysfunctional, broken, angry, principle-less character many comic book creators like to portray in these dark, dysfunctional, broken, angry, principle-less times in which we live. Their Batman vents “his rage and abandonment issues by becoming scary” and beating people up; fortunately, his actions are socially acceptable because the people he beats up are criminals.

The Batman I love – and whose example I invoke in my teaching – is the hero who responded to and triumphed over an experience of unspeakable tragedy and loss in childhood by creating a life of meaning and heroism through his relentless efforts to spare others the pain and loss he had experienced firsthand and knows so well. As a child of a Holocaust survivor who spent her childhood years fighting for survival and went on to create a family and life filled with meaning, compassion for others, and dedication to justice, it is a model with which I am very familiar.

About the Author: Rabbi Cary Friedman is the associate editor of OU Press and a consultant to the law enforcement community on matters of police stress. The author of five books, including “Wisdom from the Batcave: How to Live a Super Heroic Life,” and a popular scholar in residence, he formerly served as executive director of the Duke University Jewish Learning Experience; a chaplain at the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina (where he studied Torah with Jonathan Pollard weekly for four years); and a congregational rabbi. He can be reached at ravcary@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Batman Matters”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Illustration: A helicopter lands at Be'er Sheva's Soroka hospital
Missile Fire Heats Up, IDF Warns Gazans to Move
Latest Indepth Stories
Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Gilad Shaar (L), Naftali Frenkel (C) and Eyal Yifrach (R) are the three Israeli teenagers whom Arab terrorists kidnapped on June 12, 2014.

There is a major moral distinction that needs to be taken into account when one considers the murders of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frankel and the murder of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir. The difference is that the Palestinian Authority has embraced such mass murderers as heroes and Israel punishes all […]

Yachad-Logo

“a groundbreaking shift toward equitable and efficient treatment of our most vulnerable children”

Mother of Naftali Frankel, Rachel Frankel, seen crying over the body of her son, during the joint funeral for the three murdered Jewish teens, in the Modiin cemetery, on July 1, 2014.

“After all, we must remember that God isn’t our ‘employee.’ He doesn’t always do as we wish.”

Israelis dodge bullets to become leaders in nearly all fields. Palestinians use aid money to build rocket launchers.

Water: a fluid with life-giving force, a thin liquid even a trickle of which can assure survival. Crops, fields, land, people – we all need water. We need water for growth, for purity, for beauty, for subsistence. What do we do when water sources are depleted? We have learned not to behave like the young […]

Jerusalem: The historic and spiritual capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

Immediately end the occupation and declare Israeli sovereignty over the entire Jewish Homeland.

On which planet is Obama living on when making ridiculous pronouncements on the Middle East?

This Is for the Zionists. for a people exiled from their land Time after time after time their crime was their ethnicity and so their history as a people has been filled with blood   With blood and with tyranny, as nations and invading armies uprooted them, looted their homes, took away the songs of […]

Like all patriotic Americans, I cheered implementation of the Bush Doctrine to preemptively protect American lives from the perceived threat of WMD.

In fact, the two suspects were arrested by Israeli authorities – not, as the Times tried artfully to suggest, by Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Formerly an attorney at the prestigious law firm Proskauer Rose for 40 years – six of those years as its chairman – Fagin holds degrees from both Columbia and Harvard Universities. He retired in 2013 to devote more time to the Jewish community.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

Common denominator across all Israel’s wars is failure to believe in the historic and moral justice of Zionism.

More Articles from Rabbi Cary Friedman
Front-Page-082412

It’s important to acknowledge this right from the beginning: I love Batman. In fact, no one loves him more than I do. He and I have a history that goes back over four decades.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/why-batman-matters/2012/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: