SPIDER-MAN

By RABBI SHLOMO PRICE

"Spider-Man leaps onto the hood of your car as you ride down a dark street. The car rocks as the three-dimensional (3-D) image of the cartoon superhero lands. With a prerecorded voice he warns you of danger. An enemy hurls a fireball. You feel the blast of heat.

It all seems so real! The adventure is the result of new technology at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, a new theme park that opened in Orlando, Florida, in May. Spiderman and other high-technology attractions provide visitors with 'total immersion entertainment,' says Tom Schroder, a park spokesman. 'We make our guests part of the ride,' he explains. 'They don't just watch it-they live it.'" [my stress]

Till here is an article I saw in a Junior National Geographic from a few years ago.

What really got me was the irony that people spend so much money, time and effort to try to make fantasy real and alive as if they're "living" it. Yet "real life" people try to escape. They certainly don't do what is necessary to "live" it properly.

Consider the following. The article explains that the main trick is the special 3-D glasses.

"Visitors to the Spider-Man see 3-D animation as they move. Wearing special glasses, riders look at two slightly different images projected from a series of projectors onto several screens. They see one image with the left eye and the other with the right. The brain automatically combines the two images into one 3-D image, Controlled by computer, the ride the provides constant in-your-face animation."

Imagine someone comes to the Spider-Man and doesn't put on the special glasses or he puts them on wrong. Consequently, he's disappointed with his "way" of seeing the adventure. Furthermore, he can't understand how anybody else can enjoy it. After all, he thinks everyone sees it the way he does.

When someone tries to show him his error, if he's smart enough to admit that he was wrong, then he can finally enjoy the adventure to its fullest.

But if he's stubborn and refuses to admit that he could possibly be mistaken [as I once saw a saying from someone who felt he was infallible, "I'm never wrong, the only time I was wrong was when I thought I was wrong but it turned out I was right."] then he will never really enjoy what a lot of other people are enjoying immensely. And it's all because he doesn't have enough guts and intelligence to admit when he's wrong.

The same thing applies to LIFE.

Many people really enjoy life, because they look at life through the special "glasses of reality" called the Torah. They understand that everything in life comes from Hashem and he runs the show. He always means for our benefit even if we can't always understand it.

I saw an interesting story from Rabbi Twersky. I think it was in his book, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff."

He tells about a meeting he was at of recovering addicts where a young woman was describing her downhill course from adolescence through early adult life. She eventually joined a recovery group, which enabled her to emerge from the torment of her addiction. At the end she stated that she wanted to add one more thing.

"I am a rabid football fan, and my team is the New York Jets. I will never skip watching a game. One time I had to leave town for the weekend, and I asked a friend of mine to record the football game on her video. When I returned, my friend gave me the videocassette, and said, 'Oh, by the way, the Jets won.'

I began watching the game, and the Jets were falling far behind. By half time they were trailing by 20 points. At other times, I would have been pacing the floor, wringing my hands, and possibly raiding the refrigerator. However, I was perfectly calm, because I knew that my team was going to win, hence there was no need for me to worry.

Ever since I turned my life over to Hashem, I know that it is going to turn out good. There may be some hitches on the way, but I know that Hashem will not fail me.

Sometimes I feel like I am trailing by 20 points at half time, but since I know that the end will be good and that I will overcome and succeed, nothing ever upsets me as it did before." Rabbi Twersky concludes, "If our faith is strong enough, we can be winners, and even if we might be trailing at some point, we should approach the future with confidence."

People who look at life through the Torah also understand what real happiness and accomplishment are and they don't have unrealistic expectations of life and marriage in particular.

Recently, at an Aufruff [the Shabbos before one gets married] of one of the alumni, I said over a beautiful and important point about marriage from Rabbi Noach Orloweck.

In the book, "Marriage" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin there is a letter from Rabbi Noach Orloweck. He says that differences between husband and wife are often the focal point for problems in marital harmony. But the reality is that every home is a blend of differences. The [Hebrew] letter beis when spelled out, reads Bayis which means home. The letter beis consists of parallel lines that are connected by a third line. Parallel lines are lines that will never intersect, even if they were extended to Pluto. It is the third line, the connector, that causes the home to be complete. As Rav Shlomo Wolbe, shlita, says, peace is the connecting of opposites (Alei Shur,vol 1, p. 257).

Rav Orloweck also brings a story that shows us how much has to be invested in understanding each other's nature and background. He heard this story from the husband himself.

A couple married several months was doing well. The wife was always home to greet the husband. One day the husband arrived and his wife wasn't home. She didn't leave a message and the husband was very worried and concerned. After an hour and a half the wife finally arrived. The husband blew up at her. "Where were you!? Couldn't you let me know where you were and why you were going to be late!? He then stalked out of the room.

A little while later when he came back to apologize he found her crying-tears of joy. She had grown up in a home where she felt that no one really cared about her. She even ran away and when she came back she realized that she wasn't even missed. Now that she saw that her husband really cared about her, she knew that she truly loved her and that they would share a wonderful, happy life together. What for another woman would have been a traumatic experience, was for this woman, because of her upbringing, an affirmation of love.

Rabbi Orloweck does not need proof, but I also saw in the Readers' Digest, "A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences."

This is just some of the innumerable Torah concepts that we need to incorporate in our "glasses of reality" to really enjoy life.

Unfortunately, there are many of us who refuse to wear the "glasses" or, even worse, we think we have them on, but they're not on right. Consequently, we have a distorted view of life and cannot enjoy it to its fullest.

Ponder the following point that Rabbi Avraham Twersky brings in his book, "Getting Up When You're Down," p. 115-116.

He says that there is a certain problem that exists that medication and psychotherapy cannot help. He explains that this problem is when people don't approve of reality. They have unrealistic expectations. For example, they expect to start the car every morning without a problem, have their employers appreciate them, and their children to be promptly obedient when they are told to do something. When things don't happen the way they expect then they are depressed and dissatisfied and are looking for some therapy or magic pill that will alleviate their situation.

The trouble is, there is none (except in escaping reality which is not a remedy but a temporary copping out which doesn't last. I explained this point in "How to Face Reality"). Rabbi Twersky compares this to a story told about the great escape artist "Harry Houdini" (I remember reading that he was a Jew by the name of Eric Weiss). He had the ability to escape from the most confining locks and cells. Once a prison warden boasted that he had a cell that even the great "Houdini" couldn't unlock. Houdini promptly accepted the challenge.

Once left in the cell, Houdini began working on opening the lock. To his astonishment, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't throw open the bolt. He worked more carefully, but still without success. Finally, in his exhaustion, he leaned against the door, which swung right open. It was never locked. Even the great "Houdini" cannot open a lock that wasn't locked.

Rabbi Twersky points out that we can learn from this story that treatment can be effective only when there is an abnormality that needs to be fixed. If a person just has an unrealistic expectation of the world and expects it to always conform to his wishes, then he is beyond the ken of any psychiatrist or psychologist to treat.

Perhaps a rabbi whose authority the person respects can spell reality out to him, so that he can make the necessary, if sometimes inconvenient adjustments to the real world.

In fact, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his book "Gateway to Happiness" says that one of the biggest problems in marriage is the unrealistic expectations that each partner has when they come into the marriage.Rabbi Yisochor Frand has a beautiful sicha on shalom bayis-marital harmony which stresses this point. It is in his book, "Rabbi Frand in Print."

Then there are those that say they know what a real Torah life is. They've experienced it, or were brought up that way and it's not for them.

The problem is that maybe it was not as real as they think. Sometimes people live a "mechanical" Jewish life of going through the motions because we have to, without feelings and emotions of love. What we need is to experience being "emotional" Jews.

We must also realize that to really "experience" something, it can't just be a short duration. We must make a proper investment of our time to get the real taste of a Torah life.

I usually tell guys some interesting parables to get across these points.

Imagine a guy who doesn't want to go swimming with his friends in a beautiful giant swimming pool. When his friends ask him why, he explains that he's already tried "swimming" and he doesn't like it. One of his friends ask him how long ago did he try out swimming and in which pool. The guy answered that when he was a little kid his mother made a little pool 1 foot high in his back yard . I really didn't enjoy "swimming." Of course, his friends explain to him that this wasn't swimming, that was just getting your feet wet.

Then there is the guy who did jump into a real pool, but he has a different complaint. "The water was freezing, so I jumped out right away." So his friends explain that that's only how it seems in the beginning, but if you would have stayed a little while longer, you would have gotten used to it.

So too, by Torah we have to make a proper investment of our time and make sure that we are experiencing "the real thing" [not "Coca Cola"].

I'm going to end off with an observation that I made from a movie, which I saw many years ago. I think it was called "36 Hours." [No, it didn't last that long]. If some of my description of the movie is wrong, you will have to excuse me. I'm relying on my recollections of about 30 years ago.

I remember sitting with my brothers around the "Idiot Box" [TV], when this movie was being shown. In the first few minutes you see a top-secret meeting of generals and secret agents about an upcoming invasion in W.W. II. The agent, who was going to infiltrate enemy territory, was pointing to a place on the map on the wall and explaining his mission. As happens many a time, this person's finger by accident brushes against one of the sharp edges of the map and he gets a small paper cut.

At this point, one of my brothers, who had apparently seen the movie before, told me that this cut was the most important part of the movie. Of course, I didn't know what he meant, and I was also angry with him for ruining the plot. But he was right, as you will soon see.

The next scene shows the agent in enemy territory. He's in a German bar taking a drink [I'm sorry, I don't remember what it was].

Then the scene changes drastically and it's hard to understand what is going on, unless you know the plot.

Our hero is waking up in an American Army Hospital. It is 10 years after World War II. The Doctors explain that he has suffered amnesia for the last 10 years. They tell him that his mission was successful, the Americans scored a tremendous victory, but he was critically injured and suffered amnesia. The last thing he remembers was taking a drink in a German bar. They say that to recover he should try to think about and recount all of the steps that led up to the secret mission.

He gets out of bed and looks at the mirror. His hair, which was a youthful black, is now sprinkled with gray as is befitting for a man 10 years older. It is hard for him to decide what's going on. On one hand it all seems so realistic. Everyone here spoke perfect English and it looked like an authentic American Army Hospital. On the other hand, maybe the Germans devised some ingenious plot to get the secret information about the invasion from him.

Then he went to eat and that's when he found out the truth. As he was eating, he felt a sharp sting in his finger. He looked at his finger and saw that some salt had gotten into the cut that was in his finger. "That's it!" he cried. He remembered the cut that he got from the map. He realized that surely after 10 years it would have been healed. So he knew the truth that the enemy was trying to fool him.

So what saved this agent from falling into the hands of the enemy, a tiny cut. But what would have happened if he chose to ignore what the cut was trying to tell him? He would have fallen into the enemy's trap.

Well, we are in the same situation. The Gemoro in Kidushin 30b says that Hashem says to the Jews, "My children, I have created the Yetzer Horo-Evil Inclination, and I have created the Torah as the antidote. If you will learn the Torah you will not fall into his [the yetzer horo's] hand....and if you do not learn Torah then you will fall into his handů."

We are in the enemy's [yetzer horo's] territory and the choice is ours. We can ignore the "cut" [the Torah] and be fooled by the enemy. Or we can learn from the "cut" not to be fooled and live a better life in this world and the next.

List of Rabbi Price's sichot
Back to Neveh Homepage

The webspace for the Neveh Zion site
has been generously donated by

Website hosting and design, 56K and ISDN dialup service,
family filtering and fixed IP addresses available,
reasonable rates. Email Sruli Shaffren for a quote.

Please daven for a Refuah Shelaymah for:



send your comments to webmaster@neveh.org