A GOOFY WORLD
Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
Its magic, truly magic. A place to live that has been created just for you to “live your story”. All those around you will seem like characters from a story book, some wearing funny costumes with names like Mickey Mouse and Goofy. I’m not talking about Washington DC where some of the most famous figures in America seem to have just stepped out of a make-believe children’s book, no I’m talking about a new community, to be built in California that is being planned and created in every detail by Walt Disney Products. Let me share some of the published plans of said new community.
‘The theme park giant is creating its own town where residents can “live the next chapter of their lives” amid the spirit that infuses “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Disney “imagineers”, who create the magical effects at its parks, have designed a community that will be staffed by cast members and centered around a 24-acre turquoise lagoon. It will have 1,900 homes on 618 acres, and feature a neighbourhood for senior Disney fans aged over 55. The executive producer with ‘Walt Disney Imagineering’ said, “An imaginer’s story is at the heart of everything we do, and we love bringing authentic places to life to immerse you in those stories.” For the curious, the word “imagineer” is a new one understandingly created by the friendly folk at Disney, which means to ‘devise and implement a new imaginative concept.’ In other terms, to create a whimsical world that purports to create a fictional realm of happiness and joy. Now I know this is the month of Adar and Purim is around the corner, but really, sometimes you have to wonder how far the ridiculous will prosper. The news release speaks about many of the wonderful joys being built into this new town. Theatres, cookery schools, a sports arena, everything the American dream can serve up, and all by characters from a cartoon. According to these masters of make believe, this will enable all its citizens to live in a world of “wonder” and “fun”.
och and vey! This is what the American dream has come to, created towns where everyone can live in their story, whatever that may be. Reality will take a back row whilst the world will spin along according to your childhood dreams. If one looks a bit further than the headlines, he will notice that there is no mention of a House of Prayer, the dreamer need not be bothered by anything spiritual, Mickey will take care of that with your next delivery of Disney groceries.
We have an old expression, “Azoy vi se goyishsuch, azoy yiddishzoch” roughly translated it means that the way the non-Jewish world acts has some impact on how we the Torah Nation think and behave. This is the problem of Golus, and although we do our utmost to veer away from any outside influences, there is almost always some incipient outgrowths that seep into our life styles. Witness the almost intoxicating excesses we spend on celebrations, or the lengths our holy mosdos have to go to attract desperately needed donations for their organisations. Purim is almost here, and already the fancy mishloach monos are being advertised in the hiemisha media. Let me share a secret, what you see advertised is only the tip of the iceberg. There are those squandering enormous amounts of money for what used to be just some cake and a bottle of grape juice, so as to impress others who have to reciprocate in kind, and all for what? The five-hundred-pound bottle of whisky is a prop for the fairytale of being Baale’battish in a superficially created world that can be traced to the emptiness of a world taking its cue from Goofy and all.
The caricatures from the fevered brow of some ‘imagineer’ can have their town, and we can be amused. However, be honest with yourself, what do our young aspire to in the world of “Living the Dream” and what are we showing in terms of our meaningful mesorah? We need to see things for what they are and try to right the course in which we sail. Purim, Adar, all this glory in the simcha of being a Yied must not become grist for a new variant of ‘fruma lite’. Our ancestors, those heroes that created spiritual genius out of the ashes of the Churban gave us so much light, let us not debase it in the darkness of Golus’s silver screen fantasyland.