Latest update: December 12th, 2012
For the record, I’m a huge fan of Sarah Silverman and have been following her career forever, watched her Jesus movie on Netflix, followed two seasons of her sitcom on Comedy Central, absolutely loved her bit on the Aristocrats movie, and caught her act whenever possible. Unlike, say, Jon Stewart, or Adam Sandler, whose entire Jewish thing is about making funny cheh sounds, and Jerry Seinfeld, whose Jewish thing is, basically, Presbyterian, I believe Silverman is on a par with the serious Jewish-American comics of the day, Larry David and Richard Lewis.
This is because all three comics have pain in their comedy, and they use it to make us laugh so hard, our kishkes get shpilkes in our shkolniks.
Jewish Author Shalom Aleichem was funny because he took the repression and poverty of life in the pale of settlement in Czarist Russia and turned them into hilarious scenes. We laugh because it’s so sad. That’s Jewish comedy.
When Larry David’s dad doesn’t invite him to his mom’s funeral because he didn’t want to bother him, he’s so busy – that’s Jewish pain. When Richard Lewis, clad in black, is fearful of life itself for the mean things it has in store for him – that’s Jewish pain. When Sarah Silverman depicts herself as a mega-narcissistic LA girl, bereft of empathy or even an awareness of others – that’s Jewish pain.
And so, to start, I believe Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt missed the point when he was attempting to counsel Sarah Silverman on how to become happy and fulfilled as a woman. Because if our comics had any idea at all, or the inclination, really, to be happy and fulfilled, they wouldn’t be exposing themselves on a bare stage with nothing but a mike and a cutting tongue to protect them from drunken hecklers at two in the morning.
I tried it one summer in New York, I have no idea if the good rabbi ever did. Believe me, I have good reasons to admire Sarah Silverman, but to expect her to be a happy mother is like expecting (insert funny noun) to be happy (insert inappropriate verb).
And although I agree that the You Tube clip attempting to seduce Billionaire Sheldon Adelson was offensive, it was also funny and angry and a legitimate political attack. What folks on the right should do is come up with equally funny and effective clips — may I suggest a certain aging Hollywood star who enjoys talking to empty chairs.
Having said that, let’s talk about motherhood and babies, because, soon enough, the 170 comments on Rabbi Rosenblatt’s article veered away from dealing with the gifted comic and settled on the idea of compulsory child bearing for modern American women.
Or at least that’s what you’d think Rosenblatt was advocating, to judge by those comments. Which, of course, he didn’t. He only suggested (I’m paraphrasing because it’s more fun that way) that women by nature are hard-wired to be married and bear children, which is why some young girls start planning their weddings at age 7 and have the albums to show for it.
Put aside sentiment and politics, let’s talk economics. Here are a few of the leading countries in the world in terms of real Gross Domestic Product growth annually.
There’s Argentina, with 8.8 real GDP growth rate, and 17.34 births per 1000, as opposed to 7.36 deaths per 1000.
I propose that Argentina’s astonishing growth economically has everything to do with the fact that it has three times more people being born than dying.
In Turkey, there’s 8.5 real GDP growth rate, with 17.58 births per 1000, with only 6.1 Deaths per 1000.
India is another great example: 7.8 real GDP growth rate, births per 1000: 20.6 Deaths: 7.43
Even Israel, with a very good 4.8 real GDP growth rate, shows the same healthy trend: with 18.97 births per 1000 and only 5.5 deaths. In fact, Israel’s situation is even better than most because of its excellent medical services. Also, Israel isn’t showing the same stunning growth rate as, say, India, because our economy here has been pretty fabulous for some time, and so we are higher up the bell curve.
Now check out some liberal Western democracies, with self-fulfilled, emancipated women who have better things to do than get married and pregnant:
France, with a miserable 1.7 real GDP growth rate, is actually the most fertile in Wesdtern Europe, with 12.72 births per 1000 and 8.85 deaths.
Check out the figures for the entire European Union: it posts a measly 1.6 real GDP growth rate, and has 10.27 births per 1000, compared to 10.05 Deaths for the same 1000.
Yes, our enlightened European brothers and sisters are dying out, soon to hit a negative birth rate, meaning that more people will die than be born there every year. At that point we won’t be talking about GDP, we’ll be talking about Sharia Law and specials on prayer rugs at Galeries Lafayette.
Now take a look at the 2012 figures for the United States: we only have a 1.7 real GDP growth rate—number 149 in the world, and we have only 13.68 births per 1000, fighting off 8.39 deaths per 1000.
We’re only a little bit better off than France, not by much, really.
Babies are a blessing not only to their parents and grandparents, but to the economy. The IAF once published a picture of an F-16 fighter plane, and in front of it stood all the men and women responsible for making it function. It took a huge group of grunts of all manner of collar color to make that monster soar through the air.
A newborn baby generates a bigger team by far than an F-16: doctors, nurses, catering hall employees (for the bris or the naming), shop keepers, diaper makers, writers and publishers, TV producers (Barney – if I have to watch that purple beast with my grandchildren…), nursery school teachers, bus drivers, school teachers, gym teachers, therapists, career counselors, summer camp canoe operators, piano tuners, bell-bottom seamstresses, the list is absolutely endless, all the way to the grim gentleman in the muddy overalls who digs up our final resting place.
No babies – no economic growth. You can talk all you want about Wall Street and stupid Stimulus packages and Detroit and Congress – but real, long lasting prosperity still comes from babies.
Which is why, if Sarah Silverman decides to have a baby but will be looking for someone to raise him or her, in a traditional religious Jewish home, but quite moderate, with unlimited access to the Internet – one phone call and we’ll come pick them up.
Seriously, folks, it’s OK to pursue a career in whatever you want to do – but first make a few babies, while your bodies are still pink and juicy and robust, and babies can happen to you without fertility doctors and crazy-making hormonal treatments that will turn sweet, loving wives into homicidal maniacs. Trust me, I could tell you stories.
So what I would say to Sarah Silverman for real, is: it’s OK, in your case you’re probably better off just doing what you’re doing. But those of you who aren’t biting, cutting edge, shockingly vulgar, hilarious, sophisticated comics – go be someone’s mommy ASAP.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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