"If my spirit was stormy within me, I said: I shall tell it
and I will be eased."
On my way to shul in Bnei Brak one morning, I noticed
an ad on a billboard. I am quoting it verbatim:
"You've been waiting, you've been waiting . . . And now you
can run to the best shops. Hatzaleket Films—Sparks of
Kedusha presents a breathtaking suspense drama: the story of
Yehuda, who dreams of redeeming his ancestral land and
becomes entangled with the underworld. The drama spans dozens
of action-packed years. The audience that viewed the first
showing declares that this is the best film to have yet been
This ad is accompanied by many pictures, the first depicting
a man holding a drawn gun, another of a sweet boy with a cap
on his head, a Shabbos candle and so on.
My initial reaction was that I had made a wrong turn
somewhere and unwittingly reached Dizengoff Square in Tel
Aviv. But I have a tradition from HaRav Mordechai Pogramonsky
that, "A Jew never gets lost," which is corroborated by Hagar
of whom the Torah writes, "And she wandered [lost] in the
Beer Sheva desert." Rashi there states that "she returned to
her father's idol worship." In other words, had she not
reverted to idolatry, she would never have gotten lost.
Based on this, I concluded that I had not lost my way and,
since I did come upon that advertisement, I was obligated to
share my thoughts about it with others.
We are accustomed to saying about secular Jews that when they
fall, they fall to the bottom of the chasm. I think that we
can apply this observation to ourselves as well, that we are
the cause of the `big storm' . . .
I would like to explain this. The movies produced by the
secular film industry are comprised of two basic elements:
murder and sin. This particular movie was composed of murder
and "holiness." Let us see which is worse.
In Parshas Shemini it says, "And this is the beast
which you shall eat . . . whichever has a split and cloven
hoof and chews its cud." The Torah then goes on to enumerate
four species which are impure: the camel, hare, rabbit and
This is puzzling since there are thousands of impure species;
Why then, were just these singled out? The Ramban and R'
Bechaye answer that these are the only exceptions in the
world that possess exactly one of the two signs of purity.
Had the Torah written generally that one could only eat
animals which possessed both signs and not only one, we might
still err with these four examples since they do have one out
of the two. It was, therefore, necessary to explicitly
mention these four by name.
Further on it says: "But these you shall not eat . . . the
camel, because it chews its cud but does not have a split
hoof. And the pig, which has a split and cloven hoof." The
wording, it seems, should have been different. It should have
said: The camel, because it does not have a split
hoof, and the pig because it does not chew its cud.
Why did it say not to eat camel because it chews its cud if
this is, indeed, a sign of purity? Furthermore, it even
preceded this kosher sign before mentioning its impure
The Kli Yokor explains that the sign of purity by all these
animals only compounds their impurity, in the same manner
that Eisov is likened to a pig. Why? Because it thrusts its
hooves forward as if to show that it is kosher, while its
essence is pure evil and deceit.
Thus is it with hypocrites who attempt to deceive others into
thinking they are kosher, which is far worse than the
consummate sinners who make no pretense and are evil through
Rashi also explains why Yosef's brothers were unable to speak
to him in peace — that would have belied their inner
feelings of animosity towards him. And this is why the cloven
hoof is truly a sign of impurity by the pig, since it can
mislead people into thinking it might be kosher after all.
Similarly with the rumination of the cud by the camel, hare
It is stated that one should not house lambs and camels in
one pen since it causes a great mix-up, a shatnez and
kilayim hybrid. The crux of the danger lies in the
very sign that the kosher and non-kosher animals share, which
When I told someone how terribly shocked I was by the ad, he
replied that if one did not permit movies like these, the
public would go to the treif movies. I was suddenly
reminded of how HaGaon R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld
ztvk'l interpreted the verse, "And then a man from the
Children of Israel came and brought forth the Midianite woman
. . . " He asked: What did this man want to show? Hadn't all
the people left the same camp as he?
The answer is that he came to Moshe Rabbenu with a self
righteous plea. When one leaves the camp of the Israelites,
he said, it is the beginning of sin, which eventually ends in
idolatry. But if we bring this Midianite into our camp, he
argued, we will at least be protecting our people from
The very idea is shocking and abhorrent that in our times,
people are so sunken into the morass of heresy that all of
their actions are tainted with it and they trample the most
stringent mitzvos of the Torah without a twinge of
We bemoan the fact that many of those faithful to the Torah
in our midst are sunken in this very sorry state. My heart
weeps and breaks at the thought of how we can protect our
tender sheep, how we can disseminate Torah, how we can create
a strong barrier to guard them from the abominations
How terrible is the pain to see our pure, modest sons and
daughters, products of such a noble heritage, being subverted
and enticed to leave our holy compounds and gaze upon
forbidden sights, to smell forbidden incense. Shall not every
eye tear, every ear ring in horror, every heart break?
In the previous generation, when the Maskilim arose and
preached their bitter heresy, striking at the very
foundations of our Torah, our Torah leadership declared a
full-fledged battle against them. How much more so must we
declare war in this generation, as Chazal said, "The evil
inclination dominates where the eye sees [forbidden things]"
Our own latter sages, the Avi Ezri and the Kehillos Yaakov,
wrote that one who accustoms himself to look there, becomes
drained of every spark of emunoh and yiras
Shomayim. Every good portion already acquired, especially
by children, is destroyed, for the desire to imitate and to
be part of the crowd, is very powerful with them.
Every scene of crime or violence becomes something to copy,
all the more so since it is designed to make a deep
impression on them. It becomes a model for their behavior,
deeply engraved in their memories, imaginations and
And even if he is privileged to study intensively in a good
Torah institution, nevertheless, his mind is already tainted,
his soul is blemished and his Yiddishkeit cannot help
but suffer from the abominations embedded in his imagination,
which it can reconstruct in his mind very vividly. Forbidden
sights can only confuse a child and cause him to vacillate in
his emunoh, G-d forbid.
Try to imagine the tremendous impact that sight has. It is
written in Ponim Yofos that Moshe Rabbenu said: " . .
. and you saw their abominations . . . Lest there is one in
your midst . . ." The fact that they merely gazed upon the
abominations of the nations, even while convinced that they
were disgusting and worthless, led them to doubt, G-d forbid,
or lean towards idolatry.
We find a similar situation by Amatzya, who conquered Edom.
At first, he seized their idols and brought them to him in
order to abuse them and ridicule them for not having come to
the rescue of Edom. But eventually, he came to worship them
We can verily understand that it is inadvisable to take a
book written by a gentile, throw out what seems to us invalid
and evil, and keep what remains — for whatever is
impure, remains impure. This can be compared to a punctured
lung where the shochet neatly cuts all around the hole
so that it cannot be detected. And even if he were to put
meat from kodshim, it would not change the status of
the treif lung and he would be merely attempting to
deceive the public.
The very idea of a suspense story is counter-educational, for
we aim at serenity and peace of mind, as is written in
Chovos Halevovos Chapter III, "Those who omit the
accounting one makes with one's soul are heir to scattered,
The opposite of this is Shabbos: comes Shabbos, comes rest.
Surcease of driving thoughts. One must enter Shabbos feeling
at peace, as if all his work is completed. There is much more
to say on the subject but I will do as Boaz said to the
I would like to conclude with a story I heard: at one time
Hebrew University decided to become eclectic and it erected
three statues on its campus: one depicting Yoshke, another
Mohammed, and a third depicting — lehavdil
— Moshe Rabbenu. When one of the roshei yeshiva of the
time heard about this, he went to President Zalman Shazar and
said, "Zalman, do us a favor and remove Moshe's statue . .
On the following morning, all three had disappeared.
It is in this vein that I beseech you: Do a good turn to
Jewry and remove those sparks of holiness and leave only the
man with the gun, and all will be well.