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Wednesday, January 18, 2023 

What a biblical scholar thinks of the California congressman who was sworn in over a Superman back issue

Daniel Feldman, a scholar at Yeshiva University, commented on Tablet about Robert Garcia's swearing in ceremony over a copy of Superman #1 from 1939, and how he sees it from a Jewish viewpoint:
As a rabbi, the thought of replacing the usual Bible with a comic book seems sacrilegious in the extreme, and I do feel the need to strongly lament that particular symbolism. And yet, also as a rabbi, there’s something about Rep. Garcia’s act that intrigues me. To understand why, consider the story of Superman.

The being born as Kal-El on the planet Krypton is, as we all know by now, “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” He can soar deep into space, or start fires with a glance, or see through walls, or crush stones into diamonds, or, on occasion, even turn back time. His abilities are seemingly without limit, and have caused countless youths to wish that, like him, they could fly above the Earth.

But Congressman Garcia didn’t focus on these superior abilities. To his credit, he said he’d chosen Superman as part of his swearing-in text because of the Man of Steel’s values: “justice ... honesty ... doing the right thing, standing up for people that need support.” To further underscore these values, Garcia bundled the comic book with both a copy of the Constitution (his main text) and a picture of his late parents and his own certificate of U.S. citizenship.

Still, the actual legacy of Superman goes even deeper than those hallowed ideals, and, in fact, necessarily precedes them and explains them. Because, read carefully, the Superman story—the one that has kept the legend enduring for more than 80 years—is all about the incredible impact of chinuch.

is a Hebrew word we in the yeshiva world use to mean education. It is broader than mere classroom instruction, connoting also preparation and dedication. It evokes a truly awesome power, not to fly or to lift unfathomable weights but to mold the soul of another through the focused love of a committed parent or the impassioned care of a devoted teacher. It is both the ability and the responsibility to impart, through teaching and modeling, a system of beliefs and morals so effectively that another person will adopt it as their own, do their utmost to honor it with their lives, and seek to pass it on to others.
While this is an interesting viewpoint, the author fails to acknowledge that leftists like Garcia are unlikely to seriously honor those messages that the Man of Steel was originally built upon. And that's exactly why, much as Mr. Feldman must want to believe there's something admirable in store here, it's unlikely Garcia will prove he's up to that.
The story of Superman is the story of a being with such incredible power, he could choose to conquer the Earth, to enslave all its people, to seize all its riches for himself. And yet, amazingly, the fact is that he does the opposite, at great self-sacrifice.

We have two people to thank for his ongoing dedication and commitment to doing the right thing: Jonathan and Martha Kent (although their first names have varied throughout the decades, their characters have stayed the same). Like Moses, whose origin story is read in this week’s parsha by Jews around the world, the infant Kryptonian was placed in an ark and sent afloat for his own protection, only to be discovered and adopted. Unlike Moses, he was brought up not by a maniacal pharoah but by simple people who believed in service and in living a life dedicated to “truth, justice, and the American way.” Infused with gratitude, respect, and responsibility, the most powerful being on Earth becomes not a despot but a hero.

[...] The Superman story was never about power. It was always about the impact of a strong, foundational value system, how that is painstakingly and unwaveringly conveyed by those with human vision rather than super vision, and how that effect is felt in every step, in every decision, in every mission, taken by those do who have the power.
But does Feldman realize DC's practically thrown much of that out the window of recent, replacing the slogan as they did with "a better tomorrow" in the now cancelled spinoff Son of Kal-El series, which was all about Jon Kent being bisexual, or throughly homosexual, which the Torah/Bible considers offensive, as stressed in Leviticus 18:22? Even transsexuality is considered abominable by those standards. So what good does it do to comment on Superman in this context when under the ownership of Time Warner, DC's been allowed to get away with all sorts of woke mistreatments of their products that go against both the Man of Steel's components and what the Judaist Torah/Bible stands for?

That's why, unfortunately, it does little good to comment on the issue involving Mr. Garcia when the writer likely won't ever say anything in regards to what DC's now doing with Siegel and Shuster's classic creation. Just very unfortunate indeed.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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