A Grain of Sand

"I will multiply you as the stars in heaven and as the sand upon the shore." - Genesis 22:17

"I can see the master's hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand." - Dylan, Every Grain of Sand (on Shot of Love)

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Dark Side

Channah and I introduced our almost four year old to Star Wars. He was blown away, literally from the first frame (the enormous ship that flies across the screen).

It's a strange mix: a great film with really bad writing, some questionable acting ("Uncle Owen, this R2 unit has a bad motivator!") But the mythological foundations of the movie, constructed with the help of Joseph Campbell, are worth exploring.

How do you explain The Force to a little boy (maybe you don't). There is a force in the universe that is unbelievably powerful but can be used for good or evil.

You can't see it, but you can "use" it!

As Jacob and Esau come together again the Torah, two brothers separated by years of pain an animosity, I'm reminded of the key relationship in the Star Wars saga. Like Luke and Darth, Jacob and Esau are of the same flesh yet have taken completely different paths. Our Sages associated Esau with great wickedness (dark side) and Jacob with saintly goodness. What I'm interested in is how the different aspects of the Force are mediated by human relationships. The Dark Side is limited by the power of human goodness - Darth's "I am your father" moment has a deep tenderness as he "unmasks" himself of his wickedness. When Jacob and Esau embrace and weep, it is hard not be to moved by this same undoing. Rashi tells us that Esau is only embracing Jacob so he can get close enough to do him harm. But I'd rather see that essential human element, that part of us that is constantly bubbling up with possibility and goodness, at work here, overcoming the years of resentment.

1 comment:

  1. Characters are rather one dimensional in Star Wars, particularly the prequel trilogy. The Emperor is more a source of pure evil than a person, but to the extent that a name can be put to the evil it is the pursuit of power. The beguilement of power is treated more comprehensively in the Lord of the Rings where again the greatest power is associated with complete corruption. The ultimate victory over evil in both is ultimately achieved by the hero within himself. Another way to see Jacob and Esau is an internal battle within each of us. But the story here is more complex and includes much more than just a quest for power.