Entry #1: Introduction

The purpose of this ongoing column will be to, eventually, examine various films in light of Jewish thought and a Halachic/Hashkafic framework. It is not my intent to respond to this modern cultural artform simply to legitimize the motion picture in the Jewish world. I am fully aware of the complex network of questions surrounding the Halachic permissability and role of movies in a Jew's life. In actuality, this column will first tackle these questions before I even begin to write about specific movies. Nevertheless, I do believe that a synthesis between this prominent philosophical, political and artisitic medium and the world of Jewish philosophy must be attempted so that we, as a nation, may continue successfully along our post-Sinaitic quest. It is the challenge of each Jewish soul to infuse his/her life with the divine, to lead a consistent and thorough Halachic life. Although one method of accomplishing this goal can involve a complete rejection of any and all temptations in the outside world, I think that there is a spark in every intellectual and artistic discipline in the ouside world which can be harvested and melded with a Torah lifestyle. This leads to my understanding of a second, co-requisite quest; I believe that, in our attempt to fulfill our first responsibility to God, we have a duty to find truth and wisdom wherever it may lurk. If this includes Hollywood, however antithetical as that may seem, then I do not think we have the luxury to dismiss it.

So, I am prepared to embark on my personal version of this dual quest and I intend to document it as I proceed. My first step, as I previously mentioned, will be to examine the specific Halachic issues involved in the act of watching movies. In order to do this, I must first verbalize the questions. That will be my next entry.

Although I have fashioned for myself a personal role in our nation's quest, I consider myself one part of a great whole and I welcome any and all feedback. Please e-mail comments to dhecht@nishma.org. Until next time, thank you.

Dodi-Lee Hecht