Dvar Torah: Go back to earth; do something with your life; help people.
Written by Rabbi Josh Levy — 10 April 2015
I’m going to let you into a trade secret – how do we know what day of the omer it is?
I’d love to say that there is a trick, or maybe we just always know… but actually, the only way to be sure is to look it up. Hence the existence of the Omer Calendar.
There are a number of omer calendars online – or you can even buy an actual physical calendar! But, unquestionably, the most popular, and most enjoyable way to look it up is this: The Homer Calendar.
Now, you might think that this is slightly disrespectful –
But it actually reflects a little appreciated truth – that of all the programmes on TV the one that really understands, and grapples with the issues of modern day religion – that programme is The Simpsons.
Through its religious characters: especially Ned Flanders and Rev Lovejoy, the Simpsons explores theology, organised religion and the bible. The Simpsons are church going, worshipping, but confused American Christians. And the writers are clever enough to see the potential of religion as a source of humour and interest.
Judaism is also explored – through Krusty the Clown and his father Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, originally voiced by Jackie Mason– for whom there was a brief campaign on twitter that he succeed Jonathan Sacks in the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.
Since the last Pesach, Rabbi Krustofsky has sadly died, his last words in life being to tell his son that he is less funny than the Simpsons equivalent of Jackie Mason (a man who puts the Levity in Leviticus, noch). In a very Simpsons chain of events, this provoked Krusty to drink too much, which itself led him to have an out of body experience – a vision of a Jewish heaven. There, his father came to him and admonished him because Jews, he says, don’t really believe in heaven (see, I told you the Simpsons known religion).
And he ends with this message to his son, which is as good an analysis of Jewish opinion of the afterlife, and of how we should be, as anyone can ever give, and which seem an appropriate way to end a dvar torah on the first Shabbat of this year’s Homer period:
Rabbi Krustofsky’s final words on the Simpsons:
Go back to earth; do something with your life; help people.
We’re going to turn to page 308. I’m going to turn to my Omer calendar. And we are going to count the Omer together…