Thursday, December 29, 2005
Ushpizin: A Review
I recently saw Ushpizin, a movie about a Hasidic couple in Jerusalem. I thought it was outstanding. The actors who play the couple are married in real life, and their on-screen relationship has a sense of reality to it that you rarely see in movies. (It's also refreshing to see a movie with an overweight, female romantic lead.) Ushpizin gives you a feeling of what it must be like to really believe in the Breslov tradition of Judaism. The protagonists see God's hand in every event in their lives and, since it's a fictional world, even us atheists can perhaps see God's hand in their lives. (Indeed works of fiction often take place in worlds with much more evidence for Divine Intervention than I believe we see in our own -- fiction wouldn't be compelling without some order and meaning to things, while reality simply is what it is. However, that's a topic for another post.)
Watching the movie, I got to experience a different kind of Judaism from the modern Orthodoxy in which I was raised. Even when I was religious, I would never have thought that eating fish would make one likely to have a son, that God was purposely testing me with a difficult situation, or that if I prayed hard enough, God would intervene directly in my life. Mine was a more abstract monotheism, more suited to my world than to this movie's. I can barely imagine what it would be like to be constantly looking for signs from God. If I get in a car accident, should I worry that God's warning me? If I'm narrowly missed by a car, was it God looking out for me? When an escaped prisoner shows up at my door, has God sent him to me?
Such a life would be very interesting, and it has a kind of beauty. It also seems like it would be pretty exhausting, emotionally.
Posted by Jewish Atheist at 1:29 PM