web analytics
January 28, 2015 / 8 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Why Batman Matters

Front-Page-082412

In this climate, when that’s the image of heroism (read: non-heroism) we’re offered, it’s not that surprising to watch a young man walk into a theater with all his gadgets and glory in the violence. After all, he’s just venting his rage issues as well. The news commentators asked, “Who is he imitating?” The symbolism of his dress, gadgetry, and methodology is confusing – there are elements of both the movie version of Batman and his foes in this kind of behavior.

If everyone is venting his rage, there really isn’t all that much difference.

* * * * *

The Batman I know, the Batman who has appeared in my Torah teaching for the last twenty years, the Batman who inspired me to enter the rabbinate, the Batman who challenged me to exceed my own limitations in the pursuit of every goal I‘ve ever had, the Batman of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the Batman who inspires millions of people around the world – that Batman isn’t the broken, dysfunctional man of those dark cynics of the human condition.

The Batman I know is profoundly sad, having experienced loss so early in life. But somewhere along the line, early in his youth, he made a decision – a decision born of a powerful soul and great strength of character – that he would respond to the lousy hand he’d been dealt by becoming something bigger than the sum of his pain and rage, that his suffering would have meaning to the countless people who would never know suffering because of him, that he would memorialize his parents by continuing their legacy of public service and philanthropy, that he would champion justice for all those who are too weak to uphold it themselves, as he had once been weak.

I once spoke with comic book pioneer Jerry Robinson, who along with Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger participated in and contributed to the creation of many of the essential elements of the Batman mythology we know and love, including the characters of Robin, Alfred and the Joker. After reading the manuscript that would become my book Wisdom from the Batcave, Robinson commented that “they [Kane and Finger] would have liked the book” because “they spoke in those kinds of terms” in their ambition to create a hero who possessed all the classically noble qualities.

Some years ago I heard a story, which I verified with one of the people involved, about an unlikely encounter between Batman and Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l. One of Rav Miller’s students had been asked to make up peckalach to be given out to the kids in his shul on Simchas Torah, and he had included a comic book in each peckaleh. Another congregant objected to this, questioning the propriety of giving out comic books. He suggested inserting copies of Tehillim in the little gift bags instead. The two went to Rav Miller and asked for his opinion. Rav Miller asked them to leave the comic books with him so that he could examine them.

Sometime later Rav Miller told his student, “Tell the person who said it’s a sin to give these books out that he’s wrong, and that it’s even a mitzvah. The books teach law and order to the kids by making sure the hero always overcomes the villain, no matter what obstacles he encounters. The heroes even teach humility since they disguise their true identities and keep their good deeds confidential.”

One need not wonder which version of Batman earned Rav Miller’s approval.

That version of Batman – whether in costume or in his guise as Bruce Wayne – would feel very comfortable sitting at my parents’ Thanksgiving or Yom Tov table, listening to the Holocaust survivors share their stories of incomparable heartbreak and incredible successes. He’d recognize their strength of spirit, their resilience, their decision to embrace life and its complexities, challenges, and responsibilities.

Our society could stand to hear more about that Batman.

Rabbi Cary A. 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 was 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. Wisdom from the Batcave is available at www.batwisdom.com.

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
IDF soldiers evacuating wounded near northern border town of Ghajar.
Northern Golan Heights Declared Closed Military Zone
Latest Indepth Stories
Prophet Mohammed on Jan. 14, 2015 edition cover of  Charles Hebdo..

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

New York Times

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

syria_iran_map

To defeat parasites-the hosts of terrorists-we need to deny them new people, potential terrorists

game-figure-598036_1280-810x540

Combating Amalek doesn’t mean all who disagree with you is evil-rather whom to follow and to oppose

Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t

There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.

Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.

Since the passing of the Governance bill legislation on March 11, 2014, new alignments have become to appear in Israeli politics.

Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves

The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.

Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.

Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.

Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians

Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists

In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site

Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”

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.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: