Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pinteleh Pearl

In memory of my father, Dovid ben Eliezer, whose yartzeit is next week.

Some people tell that they remember my father as a "Champion of Justice". He fought the proverbial good fight, always taking a stand on principle and never compromising on integrity. As a trial attorney, he could see both sides of an issue, yet he also believed in the concept of right and wrong.

Try this at your table: Who believes in the concept of right and wrong? Is there anything that can be called "absolutely right" or "absolutely wrong"?

What about saving a life - is that absolutely right? What if it's Hitler's life?

What about taking a life - is that absolutely wrong? Again, what if it's Hitler?

I haven't seen the film A Mighty Heart, and after reading the critiques by Danny Pearl's father and Rabbi Benjamin Blech, I have no desire to (by the way, the reader comments over there are quite interesting).

The substance of their critiques is that the film projects a moral equivalence between the men who butchered Pearl and the military and law-enforcement men and women who are trying to stop people like those killers.

If two people perpetuate violence, are they morally equivalent?

If so, then what is the meaning of justice?

If not, then how do you determine who is right? By whoever wins?

Finally, is the "bad guy" also a victim? Or is he simply a bad guy?

Youssef Ibrahim, writing in the New York Post, did not love the film. He comments:

My strongest reservation in "A Mighty Heart" is the absurd political correctness that permeates the film; its writers, producers, and directors do not even mention fanatical Islam to avoid offering offense.

The real story of Daniel Pearl offered a sinister, flavorful, meaty set of scenarios — and core values — that ought to be examined by the mightiest, most skilled, and best movie industry on Earth. Instead, they fashioned it into an exercise in sterility.

Compare and contrast Pearl's final words with those of his executioner.

D. Pearl
: "I am a Jew. My father is a Jew, my mother is a Jew."
K. S. Mohammed: "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan."

Morally equivalent?

One last question:

Who was Danny Pearl?

Evidently, not the character in the movie.

When we heard those words, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish" I wonder what you were thinking. Was this one of those meaningless scripted statements, read under duress? Or was Daniel fully in control at that last moment of who he was, fully in touch with his own pinteleh yid?

Shabbat Shalom.

Yiddish of the week:
Pinteleh Yid — the Jewish feeling in the heart of every Jew

Yiddish review - how many do you know?
anee — poor person
koptsen — panhandler
ballaboss — homeowner; layman
nu — various meanings (see archives)
mishpocha — family
mameh — mother
tateh — father
mazal – (MAH-z’l) luck or fortune, as in, “It was good mazal that....”
beshert – (b’shairt) - meant to be, as in “It was beshert that...”
mine eltern – my parents
mine lair-er – my teacher
hamantashen – Haman-pockets
zeigezunt – all the best (said upon parting)
kesher - connection
Ikh volt veln a kave, zayt azoy gut. - I'd like a coffee, please.
...kave mit shmant. – ...a coffee with cream.
...kave mit milkh. – ...a coffee with milk.
...kave mit tsuker. - ...a coffee with sugar.
Di Fir Kashes - The Four Questions
Oy vey! - Good grief!
mensch — a decent person
rachmanos — mercy
neshoma (neh-SHOH-ma) — soul
minig — custom, as in, "Why do you do that?" "It's my minig!"
Gavaltig — wonderful
Oy gavalt — how wonderful (sarcastic)
Azoy gait es! — That’s how it goes!
Shabbos — Cessation; stopping; day of stopping; weekly sabbatical experience
"Gut Shabbos" — "Enjoy your weekly sabbatical experience"
Neshoma — Soul
meshugass — insanity
meshuganeh — insane
kyna hara — no evil eye
shvitz — sweat
shanda — shame
Lechayim! — Cheers!

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1 comment:

Jewish Atheist said...

The substance of their critiques is that the film projects a moral equivalence between the men who butchered Pearl and the military and law-enforcement men and women who are trying to stop people like those killers.

I just wanted to say that I saw the film and didn't get this at all. The law-enforcement men and women in the movie worked tirelessly to save Pearl. I honestly don't understand where that critique is coming from.

It's true that radical islam is not discussed much, but the film is really about Pearl's wife and the desperate search to find him -- it's not a morality tale or a study of terrorism. The lead law-enforcement guy is a Muslim who thinks that the kidnapping is an embarrassment to his country and religion, but that's the closest the film comes to religious stuff.