The Pokeman Craze
Pokemon cards will soon be as passé as Cabbage Patch Kids but Jewish values are like a strand of pearls: classy, precious and timeless.
"Pokemon" is an unqualified, smash
hit by any and all Hollywood standards. It's got "Box Office Legs", spectacular
"Sequel Power" and a star who can't talk back. What more could Warner Brothers
want? For that matter, what more could kids want?
Well, plenty... Ever hear of The New Kids on the Block? You have? Ever hear
of them any more? Seen any Ninja Turtles dolls for sale this holiday season?
No? How about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? Hmmm...
Seems all these flashy,
"must-have" toys, games, T-shirts and videos have inevitably ended up in the
afterworld of all past fads... Madison Avenue and Hollywood - what a combination!
They spend billions annually to work kids and adults alike into a feeding
frenzy of buying the latest, the fastest, the biggest, the smallest, the MOST
NOTICEABLE new gadget, toy, snazzy outfit, RV, video game, Palm VII, aftershave,
Cuisinart, designer beer or truck tire, and WE HAVE TO HAVE THEM! At
least, for THIS season anyway...
The indelible message to our kids, of course, is that NOTHING is permanent.
Nothing lasts... It's all a fad, a trend, a transitory, temporary "phenomenon"
that will undoubtedly end up in some cosmic garage sale by the end of the
season... And, as we have sadly and consistently seen, that attitude spills
over into the rest of life, including, of course, formerly sacrosanct institutions
The obligation of the Jew is to rise above the frivolous fads and trends
of a society that places its highest values on designer labels, rock stars
and multi-zillion dollar athletes. We ought to be, in the perfect world, immune
to all that. We are, after all, "the Eternal Jew," devoted to the values of
Sinai, not Madison Avenue - and the permanence we strive to teach our children
comes in the form of the holidays we worship, the texts we study, the food
we eat, the blessings we recite and the speech we carefully guard.
Torah is a tried and true formula. It's an opportunity to look at trends
over the past 4,000 years. The benefit of perspective. What values have persisted
and why. Torah has withstood the greatest test. The test of time.
Let this past Chanukah season usher in a renewed sense of dedication
on all our parts to the values that have sustained us for four millenia. It
won't have the box office stats of a Pokemon, the seven-figure salary of a
20-year-old third baseman, or the glitter of a $50 Gucci T-shirt, but I'm
willing to bet that Jewish values will be around for just a tad longer, and
serve us and our children, and our children's children far, far better.
That's the promise the Maccabees made to the Jews of their time. Was it
a timeless, enduring promise?
...Just ask the ancient Greeks.
Cliff Alsberg is a professional writer and long-time member
of the Aish community in Los Angeles