Hollywoodism Vs Judaism

There’s a disturbing documentary on the Jewish role in Hollywood called “Hollywoodism.”

The documentary Hollywoodism concludes with a rant by Douglas Rushkoff, author of Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism: “The thing that makes Judaism dangerous to everybody, to every race, to every nation, to every idea, is that we smash things that aren’t true. We don’t believe in the boundaries of nation states, we don’t believe in these ideas of individual gods that protect individual people, these are all artificial constructions and Judaism really teaches us how to see that. In a sense, our detractors have us right in that we are a corrosive force, we’re breaking down the false gods of all nations and all people because they’re not real and that’s very upsetting to people.”

Orthodox Jews don’t tend to have these attitudes as much as secular left-wing Jews.

Orthodox Jew Robert J. Avrech, a Hollywood screenwriter with many credits, writes for Jewish Action magazine:

Hollywood movies are the most powerful tools of social and political propaganda the world has ever known. Think about it: America wins wars only when Hollywood believes in them and puts itself squarely behind America’s war effort. During World War II, every studio in Hollywood backed the Allied effort against the Axis. Hollywood stars raised money for war bonds, and studios produced films that went all out for freedom and liberty against the tyranny of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Hollywood played a huge role in America’s victory.

In another essay for Jewish Action, Robert J. Avrech recalls doing battle for his script with a feminist Hollywood executive.

I think Douglas Rushkoff’s sentiments are more about leftism than Judaism. Here is an excellent essay (by Nochum Mangel and Shmuel Klatzkin) on Judaism’s attitude towards national borders and it is almost opposite what Rushkoff espouses.

For example, there are these classic Jewish teachings presented in the essay:

* In Deut. 32:8, Moses says: “When the Most High gave nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.”

* “Every nation differs from every other nation absolutely in several aspects: its land, its language, its clans and its peoples.” (Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe), Likkutei Sichot, vol. 8, p. 45. See also Genesis 10:20, 31.)

* “The mighty men of Israel would dwell in the border towns and lock the frontier so no enemies could enter; it was as if it were closed with locks and bars of iron and brass.” (Rashi)

* “In a border city, even if the non-Jews approach you [ostensibly] regarding straw and hay, one must violate the Shabbat to repel them, lest they take over the city and proceed from there to conquer the land.” (R. Joseph Caro, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 229:6.)

* “When Israel [meets the conditions for observing the Jubilee], it is forbidden for us to allow an idolater among us. Even a temporary resident or a merchant who travels from place to place should not be allowed to pass through our land until he accepts the seven universal laws commanded to Noah and his descendants, as the verse states: “They shall not dwell in your land”9—i.e., even temporarily. A person who accepts these seven mitzvot is a ger toshav, “resident alien.”” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws Regarding Idol Worship 10:6. Some, however, (see for example R. Joshua Falk, Pnei Yehoshua to Talmud, Gittin 45a) disagree, and deny that the acceptance of the seven mitzvot is a requirement. All agree, however, that renouncing of idolatry is essential.)

* “Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua said: It is quite clear to me that the residents of one town can prevent the resident of another town [from setting up in competition in this town], but not, however, if he pays taxes to that town; and that the resident of an alley cannot prevent another resident of the same alley [from setting up in competition in his alley].” (Talmud, Bava Batra 21b.)

* “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to G‑d for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

* “Since the prophet commanded us to pray to G‑d for the place to which we were exiled, how could we ordain something the opposite of that, G‑d forbid, thereby transgressing the prophet’s words? To the contrary: the sages warned us to accept the sovereignty and the rule of the nations. After G‑d decreed that we should be under their authority, it is proper for us to accept their rule, and not to act as if the decree were void.” (R. Judah Loew, Be’er Hagolah 7:6.)

About Luke Ford

I’ve written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).

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