Chaos, indifference, irresponsibility, selfishness, fear and evil all threaten our society; ________ imposes order, demonstrates concern, assumes responsibility, practices selflessness and self-sacrifice, shows resolve and confidence to battle, and champions justice.”
Take a moment and fill in that blank. Whose name do you think of? My first instinct is God! God has been bringing order into a world of chaos since the beginning of time! God’s very acts of creation in the book of Genesis were separating the waters of chaos with land for living, the darkness of the fear with the heavenly lights of the sun, moon, and stars, and the indifference of a timeless void with day, night, week, and Sabbath. Later on in the Torah, we’ll encounter God standing up for the victim (the Israelites) in his subjugation and redeem him, with force, from his captors. Our Jewish story of freedom is one of order overcoming chaos, and many of the Torah’s mitzvot are designed to have us do just that— continue God’s work of fighting all that threatens to bring unwind Creation, and instead, bring it close to perfect.
Alas, the above quote is not actually referring to God; it’s referring to Batman. Batman, one of the greatest superheroes of all time, is a human being with no superpowers but simply a human will to do whatever it takes to overcome the darkness of his world and bring light to humanity. Rabbi Cary A. Friedman, in his book Wisdom from the Batcave, continues, “The Batman represents the best of human resolve, will, sacrifice, strength, justice and courage – all that is most nobly human, most genuinely spiritual.” Batman, like so many comic book heroes, is an idea of someone who from the midst of human pain, frailty, and suffering, rises above to serve others, to work to bring justice to the world and inspire hope in the weak and lowly.
In such chaotic times, where quiet news days are most rare, where forces that seek to bring disorder and chaos into our world abound, where the self-interested fight for the like-minded, and those in need are cast aside to the gutters, we are most in need of these heroes, who will fight for the interests of others and give everything they can to better the world beyond their doorsteps. These heroes need not be billionaires in Gotham City, they need not even have sophisticated gadgets and awe-inspiring strength. They simply need a vision of a better world and a will to work towards it. Guess what? Torah provides this vision, and the mitzvot give us the means to achieve it. Batman, though missing his kippah, is the ultimate Jew— the one who gives so much of himself, and his resources, to leave a better world for those to come.
May we all follow Batman’s example. Take a risk, do a mitzvah, and fight for a better world.
[Quotes from Cary A. Friedman’s Wisdom from the Batcave (Kindle Locations 641-642). Compass Books. Kindle Edition.]
Originally printed in Temple Emanu-El’s June 2017 edition of Kolaynu.