As music icon Michael Jackson was planning his return to the stage, basketball icon Michael Jordan was appearing in a less familiar arena. At the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge, Mr. Jordan shot an 86 — not bad, but a little off his game.
His foursome included Justin Timberlake, Ben Roethlisberger, and Larry Giebelhausen, a Phoenix police lieutenant who had won the privilege of playing in such celebrated company with a six-word contest entry: “I’m a Cop; I’ll Shoot Low.”
It’s hard to imagine Michael Jackson having participated in a similar venue. Whatever common touch the pop star might have once had, it disappeared decades ago, along with his original nose, cheekbones, and coloring, under the searing lights of fame and fortune. It’s to Michael Jordan’s credit that he has retained a bit of humility, to allow “one of the folks” to hobnob with him over 18 holes (not to mention remaining gracious while performing below his usual standard).
No one really doubts whether Mr. Jackson’s meteoric success from such a young age contributed to his tragic decline into scandal, freakishness, and premature death. The kind of humility displayed by Mr. Jordan could never have survived the early adulation accorded Mr. Jackson, no matter how humble his beginnings.
Perhaps the difference can be summed up by what Michael Jordan once said about himself: “I’ve failed over and over and over in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
The sages teach that a tzaddik falls seven times. By grappling with obstacles, by failing and learning from their mistakes, those with the potential to achieve spiritual greatness succeed in achieving it. So too in almost every form of endeavor.
Michael Jordan may not be what we think of as a tzaddik, a truly righteous man. But it is reassuring to see someone who occupies the highest strata of celebrity status showing us that wealth and notoriety do not have to produce the kind of self-absorption, self-indulgence, or ghoulishness that we have come to expect. It is equally reassuring to contemplate how there may be no more reliable strategy for climbing the ladder of success than by persisting in the upward ascent from one rung of failure to another.
Rabbi Goldson writes regularly at Torah Ideals
Hi David and Bob,
David, yes this is getting quite belabored and redundant. I do appreciate your concerns though, and your intuition that sometimes I write too “strongly” -that is, I may be guilty of the same syndrome as yourself, the two rabbis, and many writers suffer.
In response to your points in your last letter-your first of which was that I hadn‘t been respectful to Rabbi Shafran: Immediately -within minutes, actually, after writing my first letter, I wrote, “After firing that off, I feel I may myself been too hasty and harsh on Rabbi Goldson’s piece. I’m sure he had no malevolent intent in writing it.” and at the end of the paragraph I wrote “I apologize though for the harsh tone of my last post. -Another sad thing about modern times is that the anonymity of the internet has made discourse less civil, and we (myself included) need to watch out for that -even on beyondbt. I would have never spoken to someone face-to-face like that.” I was also thinking of Rabbi Shafran when I apologized for the harsh tone.
Then in comment 28 I wrote, “Again, my object wasn’t to embarrass or malign the motives of either of these particular rabbis, and nor was it specifically to defend Michael Jackson, and I would have preferred that the topic of the inappropriateness of such articles arise without reference to these specific examples (although as I said before, I do believe public pronouncements are fair game), and I have no reason to suspect either rabbi as being less than sincere essentially good people, and I am sorry for any pain I have caused either rabbi through my comments.”
Because I wrote the first comments cited here immediately -before you or anyone had even commented, I really continue to be surprised at your insistence on repeatedly rebuking me. And once again – when I criticized the article saying that it was wrongheaded, insensitive, superficial and pointless” I was talking about the article, not the human being -a crucial distinction you seem to be missing, and yet I had already agreed that the tone could have been more respectful even given that the article was fair game for criticism.
Again, the passage you quote from me and accuse me of being “categorical” on saying, “It is why the Agudah’s position on the abuse bill in NYC is the wrong one.” was followed in the same posting shortly there after by an explanation/clarification of why I believed that which included the passage I’ve already re-cited to you, “I’m not saying that the Agudah takes its position with malice towards or unconcern for the victims of abuse, but I am saying I think its the wrong position, and we who disagree have a duty to speak (respectfully) against it, especially since these organizations are perceived as being “for us” and “on our side.” The sentence was in context with the whole comment -you can’t take it out of context as you have. You wrote (referring just to the first fragment of my piece, “Unless my glasses are foggy, I’m pretty sure this statement says that they’re wrong without leaving much room for nuance.” Context, man, context -i gave nuance in abundance. Yes, I could have prefaced it by saying “I believe” or “I think” -but instead I amplified the statement afterwards.
I don’t feel have have anything further to explain, apologize for, or clarify: I’ve done it all repeatedly and at tedious (for everyone, I’m sure) length. You’re welcome to go on misunderstanding and not acknowledging the contrition that I already expressed before anyone even criticized me, but I won’t say anything more.
And Bob, in answer to your questions: I believe in the principles and procedures of the American justice system, and cannot offer you anything better than that, and i would not go any further than they allow for. It is under those laws that yeshivas already have, certain liabilities and protections, and the only thing the Markey bill does differently is extend the range of the statute of limitations for a limited time, and as I said before I think that this is reasonable to allow the opportunity for victims who have been parayzed by fear and shame for years to come forward and press charges in a community where coming forth has been discouraged for so long. I don’t ‘owe’ you anything, but my explanation last round was detailed and sufficient and this one makes it complete. If you want more detail, please refer to your local law library or criminal justice professional.
Gentlemen, thank you for your spirited discourse. I am announcing my retirement form this thread, and I wish you both only good things always, and of course a good Shabbos.
At the risk of belaboring this already belabored point, I’ll merely quote you twice and hopefully you’ll see where I’m coming from. Note: I am not responding to your latest post only. I’m referring here to your general approach when I suggest that you not be too quick to fire off your criticism.
1- “This is almost as wrongheaded, insensitive, superficial and pointless an article as Avi Safran’s recent and instantly infamous favorable and admiring comparison of Bernie Madoff to Captain Sully.”
My dear friend, I imagine that respect and appreciation for Rabbi Shafran would have dictated phrasing this a bit more delicately. If Rabbi Shafran was your father, I’m sure you’d have written this differently [no – I’m not related to him and never met him and don’t belong to Agudah either.]
“It is why the Agudah’s position on the abuse bill in NYC is the wrong one.”
Unless my glasses are foggy, I’m pretty sure this statement says that they’re wrong without leaving much room for nuance.
I have a tendency to speak or write stronger than I need to without even realizing it. I suspect you may sometimes fall prey to that tendency as well due to an articulate and passionate mode of expression. Have a good Shabbos.
…that is, a more detailed answer as to how far you personally would go in exposing institutions to prosecution.
The question I asked you was not directly related to the language of the Markey bill, which I have not studied. You owe me an answer anyhow.
I didn’t say the Agudah was “catgorically wrong” or that it (or those who agree with its postion) are uncaring for victimized children -and i would never say such a thing. -all I said was that I disagreed with its position. I wrote -and I quote, “I’m not saying that the Agudah takes its position with malice towards or unconcern for the victims of abuse, but I am saying I think its the wrong position, and we who disagree have a duty to speak (respectfully) against it,” You’ve found things that weren’t there. And once again, I did not attack any indivduals, but only public pronouncements by public indivduals who are paid to do what they do.
It does take courage to speak and write publicly, and you’re right to take people with names and faces more seriously than anonymous bloggers -I do too. There are things that people who are not public figures can do and be involved in though, and can even do, if need be, anonymously. There is a noble American tradition dating back to the Federalist and anti-federalist letters of anonymity, though of course most modern anonymous blog commenters, myself included, are light years away from that standard of discourse and high moral purpose.
There are good, intelligent, sincere people on various sides in various issues -including the Markey bill. I never said otherwise. But they can’t all be right -and thus we’re free to disagree and loudly, if need be. Again, if you’ll reread what i wrote, I did not malign anyone personally.
In response to Bob Miller, who wrote, “Do you believe that institutions should be held legally responsible today for all abuses by former employees regardless of subsequent corrective changes in procedures and personnel, and regardless of subsequent changes in ownership?” I say that as I understand the bill, this is a straw-man argument which does not represent the bill accurately: the bill has a limited time window (one year)of extending the statute of limitations for those for whom the statute has already expired to press charges, and to the best of my knowledge it isn’t about “all abuses” by former employees, regardless of any conditions, changes etc., where schools may have liability, but only applies to those situations where it can be legally established that the administration knew they has a molester and did nothing, or protected the abuser or shunted him off to some other yeshiva. The bill isn’t perfect, but no bill gets passed perfectly. The purpose of the bill is to give justice a chance to operate for victims, and although the purpose is not specifically to penalize institutions, the little bit of bite (restricted in time and degree -and by standard legal process/rules of proof -which can often work against the victim and in favor of the accused)that it really does have is crucial to let schools and communities know that they really have to shape up. I do think that that is reasonable. I don’t think that the unlimited/unrestricted situation you posited would be reasonable though.
A number of points:
Rabbi Shafran, although he works for a large organization, is just a person with a writing style. A private email to him is more than likely to effect change if he agrees with your point. There is no comparison to trying to effect sea-changes that sometimes needs loud voices.
Claiming that the Agudah opposition to the Markey Bill is categorically wrong is only an opinion, not a fact. It may be a very valid opinion, but reasonable minds agree that it’s not an open and shut case. [Before accusing me of not caring about abuse and its victim, please consider that I myself am a victim of abuse and care deeply about it.] Disagreeing with it doesn’t provide a hetter to loudly decry everything you personally find offensive about Judaism – especially individuals.
Refusing to place your name on your critiques because someone may google it at some later date is a reasonable point. Yet, Rabbi Shafran and Rabbi Goldson don’t have that option. To be effective, they’re forced to expose themselves and that, my friend, requires far more courage than most of us have. It also means, to my way of seeing it, that we must be extra appreciative of the work they, rather than jump to criticize them. [Note, Rabbi Shafran retracted his ill-advised article immediately, yet that didn’t stop you from denouncing him for it because it’s in the public record.] Truly brave people take public stands and know that they will take heaps of abuse if they’re wrong so they do their best to ascertain the facts as best as they are able. That’s why I respect their opinion far more than I respect that of an anonymous blogger no matter how much he claims to care about the kids. The Agudah is an organization made up of people with real names. They took a stand on a bill that you don’t like. If you’re so convinced that it’s terrible, isn’t it worth a little mesiras nefesh to put your name to your opposition? Would you stand by and do nothing while kids are getting hurt just because someone may Google you one day?
The unwillingness to expose yourself to criticism along with an eagerness to snipe at others behind an anonymous name does little to inspire confidence in your position.
“And it is only if some yeshivot may have to feel the pain, cost, and embarrassment of prosecution that all other yeshivot and the larger community are ever going to implement real and substantial change.”
Do you believe that institutions should be held legally responsible today for all abuses by former employees regardless of subsequent corrective changes in procedures and personnel, and regardless of subsequent changes in ownership?
David, we agree on all but one point:
when a public, professional Jew -e.g. a rabbi or leader of a Jewish organization makes pronouncements or takes positions that are tantamount to a chilul Hashem, regardless of his or her good/naive/misguided intentions, I believe it is crucial for other Jews to publicly disavow it -without of course demonizing the speaker or maligning his motives. Without public outrage, there would be no retractions and apologies -if Jews only timidly address supposed spokespeople behind the scenes, they’ll usually keep on saying stupid things. Your approach is fine and admirable, but it doesn’t do much to make changes.
The inadequacy of the “I’ll privately write an e-mail” approach, incidentally, can be seen on a greater scale. It is why the Agudah’s position on the abuse bill in NYC is the wrong one.
Without the bloggers, activists, and media (including the much maligned (on beyondbt) Jewish Week) publicizing the abuse, the long-time cover-up, and criticizing the official pronouncements, the issue would never have been dealt with -the behind the scenes approach just doesn’t work.
And it is only if some yeshivot may have to feel the pain, cost, and embarrassment of prosecution that all other yeshivot and the larger community are ever going to implement real and substantial change, and that justice for the abusee has a chance of being done. I’m not saying that the Agudah takes its position with malice towards or unconcern for the victims of abuse, but I am saying I think its the wrong position, and we who disagree have a duty to speak (respectfully) against it, especially since these organizations are perceived as being “for us” and “on our side.”
The chilul Hashem really isn’t so much that we have terrible issues with abuse in our community, or public Jews who say offensive things, or that we rally around frum Jewish businessmen who exploit underage illegal aliens, pollute the environment, and torture animals and cry that their exposure and prosecution is based in anti-semitism, or that we have fraudster frummies who have lavish parties under the auspices of real rabbis while in jail, or that our institutions take poor and patently self-interested public positions -this is to be expected in any sizable group (even one with ethical ideals as lofty as ours -and i believe we should praise the good as well as condemn the bad), the chilul Hashem is that we prefer not to deal with it publicly, and are urged to keep quiet and not make waves -and thus no progress is made. Rallying around the flag stifles justice.
I would speak publicly with my name on such things, but I really don’t want everyone for the next 1000 years to be able to google me and see what I wrote on a blog in 2009, depending on the subject. If this were a newspaper, prior to the age of the internet, I would likely sign my name on a letter to the editor.
I am in full agreement with you about the need or lack thereof to use examples from pop culture and the like. I think it’s beneath us and serves little useful purpose aside from the fact that we know little about the personalities. Yet, my rule is that although I may not agree with someone, I bend over backwards not to criticize him because at least he’s trying to make a difference, while in this regard I’m doing very little. If my criticism is really warranted, I’ll write an email to the person [as I’ve done with Rabbi Shafran who graciously responded to my concerns in the past] rather than publicly criticize.
Keep in mind as well, agree with everything they say or not, they’re on what you refer to as “our side” and their overriding interest is in promoting Kiddush Hashem, not Chillul Hashem. They don’t write anonymously and open themselves to criticism. You’re not willing to go that far. That fact alone should give one pause before launching into blatant criticism.
All the best,
Hopefully, some other things were gained as well from this thread.
As explained before about my first comment I did not rail at or defame Rabbi Shafran or Rabbi Goldson, but criticized their comments, and for my third comment, which was a follow-up to yours, I did not rail against other perceived offenses or flaws of Rabbi Shafran specifically, but against other perceived deficits in the way the various pundits, writers, spokespeople, and politicians from the frum world tackle or don’t tackle problems within or without the frum world.
I have no personal animus towards the rabbi and I am sure he is a sincere, dedicated man who is generally on “our” side, as is Rabbi Goldson -which is why immediately after my first comment, I clarified that I believed R. Goldson had no ill intent in writing it, and tried to speak generally about the issue rather than specifically. Of course, it is because to a significant degree such public rabbis are representing the Orthodox Jewish community, that I am particularly upset when they write/speak in ways I feel are undignified and offensive, in contrast with non-rabbi columnists, whom I just shrug off, because they’re just representing themselves.
Your initial comment (David) dragged me back from my retreat into the general into specifically talking about these particular examples of what I feel are classic, insensitive misguided Orthodox attempts to publicly moralize through diminishing the character of another (gentile) famous person.
I also accept R. Goldson’s explanation of what he meant to convey at face value -it was obvious that that was his point, and it was clear that he wasn’t calling Jackson a deviant, and that he didn’t say anything untrue. The passage I found most off-putting was this one, “Whatever common touch the pop star might have once had, it disappeared decades ago, along with his original nose, cheekbones, and coloring . . .” Maybe not untrue, but certainly unnecessarily (though inadvently, I’m sure, unkind and lacking in sympathy.
I agree with DK that we tread into dangerous territory by diving down into pop culture for our parables. There really isn’t a need for it, except perhaps in kiruv.
Again, my object wasn’t to embarrass or malign the motives of either of these particular rabbis, and nor was it specifically to defend Michael Jackson, and I would have preferred that the topic of the inappropriateness of such articles arise without reference to these specific examples (although as I said before, I do believe public pronouncements are fair game), and I have no reason to suspect either rabbi as being less than sincere essentially good people, and I am sorry for any pain I have caused either rabbi through my comments.
I do wish that Rabbi Goldson had been able to acknowledge that perhaps he was a tad unkind in his article, but understandably he has felt on the defensive and taken aback by the reaction to his article.
I am cognizant too that Rabbi Shafran apologized for his article, and appreciate that he did so. I imagine that those who have witnessed this exchange will likely be more inclined to be sensitive to criticism of gentile celebrities in the future, and if so, this exchange will have been worthwhile.
“Maybe you should hang out with a different crowd.”
I did, I became frum. :)
Whatever point you were initially making about this article could have been made without invoking Rabbi Shafran’s name just as effectively. Your fierce rhetoric went beyond merely criticizing his work but betrayed a personal animus as well. If that wasn’t 100% clear initially, it certainly was in your follow-up comment in which you railed against other perceived offenses of Rabbi Shafran, notably that he hasn’t condemned issues that are dear to your heart.
Surely somewhere in your heart you can find a bit more tolerance for a person who has devoted his life to standing up for truth even if you feel his message isn’t always delivered with perfect clarity or tone. Or is your tolerance reserved for Michael Jackson only?
“I believe these observations are fact, not opinion: Jackson did have to endure scandals, he was perceived by most of the world as bizarre (to put it mildly), and he did die prematurely.”
Please don’t confuse me with the facts :).
They have also missed the larger point, which is this: too much success and adulation too early in life is no blessing.
Yeah, that was all over the net, as I am sure you are aware. I try to avoid that stuff.
Rabbi Goldson, why are you spending time on Michael Jackson and that basketball player guy? What exactly is the point? How is this stuff really relevant to this community? Can’t a person go anywhere without being exposed to this pop culture nonsense? You know, Rabbi Goldson, I may be a bitter apikorus, but I have enough of a Jewish paradigm not to waste my readers and friends time with this nonsense.
Does Ron Coleman waste his readers time on this stuff? Does Steve Brizel? No, they do not. And neither, by the way, does the Forward. Maybe you should learn from other Jews–religious and secular–who know better than to invest in pop culture nonsense.
Yaakov, you are 100% correct that Jews are the core of all this nonsense. But they do so for business purposes. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. Not at all. But it’s often for business.
Albany Jew wrote,
But I, unfortunately have seen many of our brethren absorbed in today’s Roman Coliseum of pop-garbage-culture.
Maybe you should hang out with a different crowd.
Bob Miller wrote,
In addition, we have seen the phenomenon of intelligent Jews caught up in the adulation of a politician
I can’t defend the specific adulation, but I think it comes from relief after having eight very long years of a different politician at the helm. I think the subject matter is much more interesting, except when it turns to, “He’s the first African American president to call Estonia from the Oval Office phone…” I feared it would never end.
I generally don’t invest the time to explain points I have already explained clearly, but after re-reading my post several times I have to wonder whether my most vehement critics actually read what I wrote and, if they did, whether they processed it before they launched into their respective tirades.
I did not (gratuitously or otherwise) condemn Michael Jackson as a deviant, nor did I question his philanthropic achievements. My reason for commenting on his life at all was summed up in this sentence:
“No one really doubts whether Mr. Jackson’s meteoric success from such a young age contributed to his tragic decline into scandal, freakishness, and premature death.”
I believe these observations are fact, not opinion: Jackson did have to endure scandals, he was perceived by most of the world as bizarre (to put it mildly), and he did die prematurely. Virtually everyone would agree that by the end of his life he had become a truly tragic figure, and that the extraordinary fame he achieved before age 10 was largely responsible.
Nor were my words lacking in sympathy. Those who have rushed to defend Jackson against imagined insults seem to have an agend all their own.
They have also missed the larger point, which is this: too much success and adulation too early in life is no blessing.
Unfortunately, DK and Bob, in fact, the anti-semites have a point when they note that Jews (highly intelligent, secular, Ashkenazi) have disproportionately dominated the entertainment industry (music and movies) in America for close to a century and thus have been amongst the primary sources and promoters of music and film that have degraded American culture. And most intelligent secular Jews and gentiles, while not idolizing performers, consume the same swill as the supposedly less bright. Intelligence isn’t an inoculation against idiocy or immorality. My point wasn’t that the MJ’s were irrelevant to Jews, it was that the piece was needlessly mean-spirited to Jackson.
“To pretend that highly intelligent people–Jewish or gentile–are invested in the same entertainment, culture, and role models to the same degree as say, people and groups whose IQ is significantly lower, is risible and dishonest”.
That has been my impression, too, but some comments here gave me pause. In addition, we have seen the phenomenon of intelligent Jews caught up in the adulation of a politician.
It is a credit to you that you fraternize with highly educated and cultured people. But I, unfortunately have seen many of our brethren absorbed in today’s Roman Coliseum of pop-garbage-culture. Just because you have a high IQ doesn’t mean that you use it.
We do not have to judge but we certainly do not need to idolize him. He said that he did not mean his lyrics to be anti-semitic just like he claimed only to have had 1 or 2 plastic surgeries (his surgeon has disputed that) See below:
We have plenty of tzaddikim to aspire to.
Yaakov, thank you for your note condemning R. Goldson’s selective retrieval of cultural icons that are really not respected or looked to in a serious way by the vast majority of traditional secular Jews. To give the benefit of the doubt, R. Goldson himself has noted that he comes from a highly assimilated family, and he may simply not understand that the core of traditional-secular American Jewry is taught in strong terms not to idolize this nonsense for the masses, but to hit the books, and practice the violin/piano/something comparable.
The average American Ashkenazi IQ is 110, the highest in the nation. To pretend that highly intelligent people–Jewish or gentile–are invested in the same entertainment, culture, and role models to the same degree as say, people and groups whose IQ is significantly lower, is risible and dishonest.
Unfortunately, such attempts are unremitting from certain ultra-Orthodox spokesmen.
In case someone didn’t notice, Rabbi Goldson had good things to say about Michael Jordan. Rabbi Goldson and we have reason from time to time to make distinctions among people in the news, to draw moral lessons.
Glorification of entertainers and athletes, including even the most immoral, is a major problem in general American society. Jews ought to stay far away from it.
I thank Hashem for giving us such a gift that Michael Jackson was. Yes, he did some horrible things in life. So have I. So has everyone. It is no one’s place to weigh in on the deeds of others and pass judgements on them. Michael Jackson did not write or sing any of my favorite music, but he was a great philantropist and united people across races, countries, and classes more than any other popular entertainer ever did; including Elvis Presley. Also this circus surrounding his death is a wake-up call to show us just how insensitive today’s society really is.
Pundits and politicians who willfully step out to write and speak critically of other people and of society invite criticism of their criticism. I wasn’t criticizing anyone’s private lives or character, only their voluntary public pronouncements.
And let’s just say it: who in the Orthodox Jewish community would have written an article comparing Madoff, a convicted criminal on the most massive scale in history, unfavorably with Michael Jordan or with Michael Jackson or with any gentile? Where are the scores of articles by rabbis denouncing and naming the serially child-molesting rabbis who have been protected by the Jewish community for so many years while their victims have been shushed and stigmatized -and some of whom (the rabbis), unlike Jackson, have actually been convicted?
These type of articles by Rabbis Goldson and Shafron are so off-putting in part because they reveal the ugly double-standard much of the Jewish community has to the rest of the world, where apparently it is okay for religious Jews to publicly insult, diminish, and speak ill of gentiles, but not Jews. Lashon H’ara is an admirable Halachic imperative, but it is ugly when it means we’ll speak ill of those who are not of us. Halachic permission to do something doesn’t mean that it is right to do. The world is watching you.
The phrase “l’sakein olam” appears not in the first but in the second paragraph of Aleinu, which is attributed to Achan, not Yehoshua.
Despicable parents sent their kids to stay overnight with Jackson, and collected nice payoffs.
In the Michael Jackson song “They Don’t Care About Us” the topic is racism. I believe he is comparing Blacks to Jews and how they have both been oppressed.
Michael Jackson is in the Guinness Book Of Records as the star who supports the most charity organizations.
The first boy whom he supposedly molested has now come out and admitted that he and his family lied and that Michael never touched him, they only wanted his money.
He was taken advantage of because of his generosity and as a result of the public humiliation he suffered any issues he had in the past became only worse.
To call him a freak show is heartless. To call him a child molester is just not true.
How do you square these words,
“I don’t believe though that public figures are fair game, and do believe they should be entitled to privacy, and that people are innocent until proven guilty, and I further believe that decent, kind human beings need to avoid the urge to use famous people as props to moralize with.”
“This is almost as wrongheaded, insensitive, superficial and pointless an article as Avi Safran’s recent and instantly infamous favorable and admiring comparison of Bernie Madoff to Captain Sully.”
Is everyone but Rabbi Shafran deserving of the standards you set forth?
I wonder if Michael Jackson’s lyrics, “Kick me, kike me,” which he excised only after they focused enormous criticism upon him, were what Yehoshua bin Nun had in mind when he coined the breathtakingly misinterpreted term “Tikkun Olam.”
“PL’s, Goldman’s, and your small-mindedness are the only things “artificial and grotesque” here.”
That was a quick assessment! :) I wonder, dya think R’ Goldson knows more about Jackson than you do about me?
Tikun Olam at its best… :)
Bob, there was never a verdict. PL’s, Goldman’s, and your small-mindedness are the only things “artificial and grotesque” here. Michael Jackson did more for tikkun olam than you may ever dream of doing ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heal_the_World_Foundation.) He overcame tremendously difficult childhood and setbacks in his life with determination and incredibly hard work and dedication — and touched millions of people with messages of healing, tolerance, and love. Granted that these messages were sometimes couched in the imagery and language of popular culture some of which may not be appropriate for frum people, but I am shocked that you can’t figure out anything of value to learn from his life.
R’ Safran retracted his comments. Here, there is no reason for retraction. The degeneration of Jackson’s appearance over time, at the hands of plastic surgeons or whatever, was artificial and grotesque, a testimony to Jackson’s twisted thinking. I never thought we’d be asked in a comment to go easy on a child molester.
After firing that off, I feel I may myself been too hasty and harsh on Rabbi Goldson’s piece. I’m sure he had no malevolent intent in writing it.
Many of us have a tendency to seize on contemporary figures and events as a vehicle for giving over a message, and unfortunately we know too much (and yet not enough) about celebrities. And since their lives have become public domain, we feel it okay to criticize them in ways we wouldn’t for people we know.
I don’t believe though that public figures are fair game, and do believe they should be entitled to privacy, and that people are innocent until proven guilty, and I further believe that decent, kind human beings need to avoid the urge to use famous people as props to moralize with.
I apologize though for the harsh tone of my last post. -Another sad thing about modern times is that the anonymity of the internet has made discourse less civil, and we (myself included) need to watch out for that -even on beyondbt. I would have never spoken to someone face-to-face like that.
This is almost as wrongheaded, insensitive, superficial and pointless an article as Avi Safran’s recent and instantly infamous favorable and admiring comparison of Bernie Madoff to Captain Sully. I don’t think Rabbi Goldson knows enough about either Michael to condemn, dismiss, and/or ridicule one and laud the other (and nor do we). Both Michaels have some significant moral blemishes on their public record, but that is not the totality of who they are.
The idea that a tzaddik falls many times could easily have been made without snide comments about a person’s appearance. It really seems beneath a Rabbi (or any decent human being) to talk in this unkind way.
As a side note, many big celebrities play in charitable golf tournaments, I fail to see why this would be emblematic of Jordan’s humility.
Incisive characterization of Jackson vs Jordan, and great line:
“in the upward ascent from one rung of failure to another”
On investigation, Jackson would be seen as even more of a low-life.
It doesn’t seem like Goldson even did any research. To call this a superficial characterization of Michael Jackson is giving too much credit; this is just selective celebrity-bashing based on a priori assumptions and vacuous oversimplifications.