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Jewish Thinking

Superman, Christopher Reeve and...Pessach!

Published on Sunday March 29th, 2020

 Millions of fans know him as the legendary "Iron Man", able to uproot cliffs and lift buildings. However, one day Christopher Reeve woke up and realized was unable to catch a fly. What could he do?

For millions of fans, the American movie star Christopher Reeve is "Superman", the legendary hero of the Kryptonite Planet, who fought against villains and saved the world from various threatening disasters. In his protagonist and movie star roles, Reeve was super powerful, he lifted buildings, saved airplanes, uprooted mountains, stopped bullets, and in an unforgettable scene, he upturned the entire planet earth to wreck his enemy’s fatal plan.

But one day, Christopher Reeve was injured in a road accident and became a quadriplegic; all his limbs were paralyzed. The all-powerful "man of steel" who had claimed the admiration of millions of spectators on the previous day, made a shocking discovery: he could not even lift a finger. The artificial-eyed hero, who rubbed shoulders with criminals and crooks, was unable to chase an annoying fly hovering over his forehead.

In an interview with the press, Reeve said that when he opened his eyes after the accident and found out the state of his condition, he initially wanted to commit suicide. "I thought that in my circumstances, life was not worth living. From a man full of energy and strength, I had turned into a prisoner locked up in my own body. I could not tolerate the idea that my life would look like this forever. "

But the paralysis that struck Reeve also prevented him from fulfilling his suicidal thoughts. In spite of himself, he was forced to live, and as time passed, he thought of the positive things he could still do, despite his difficult predicament.  Reeve decided to utilize his personal history, reputation, and accumulated prestige as an actor and director to support research in the field of spinal cord injury.

He was privileged to live another nine years, in which he raised millions of dollars which, doubtlessly, played in favor of the development of advanced treatments for people suffering from spinal injuries. Some claim that after the terrible road accident, the real Superman was born ...

The upcoming Pesach Holiday reminds me of Christopher Reeve's story year after year.

Pesach is the festival of freedom - but what is freedom? What are its components? Is freedom synonymous to unlimited possibilities and doing whatever I want? Is freedom measured by external parameters, and can freedom counter opposing forces? Is it really possible to determine whether someone is a slave or a free man?

Pesach teaches us that freedom is ultimately an internal affair. Someone may seem free and disengaged from all restraints. But he might, in fact, be a slave imprisoned inside his own existence. He may be a slave to his overwhelming impulses, to his various addictions and bad habits, to his negative character traits. He might seem to be free, but this illusion only accentuates the tragedy of his life. On the other hand, a man can be extremely limited, be a quadriplegic, paralyzed from head to toe like Christopher Reeve, and still be free to choose how to do the best he can within his difficult circumstances.

The Torah teaches a man to embrace authentic freedom. Not superficial freedom, which masks a state of deep internal slavery, but authentic freedom that liberates man’s soul,  allowing him to exploit his spiritual potential and reach lofty heights.

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