This year we’ve been treated to a lot of that action. Kirk and Spock saved San Francisco and Starfleet Headquarters from Khan’s ultimate revenge in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Superman/Don’t-call-him-Superman stopped General Zod from destroying Earth in Man of Steel, and Brad Pitt at least gave mankind a fighting chance against the Zombie Apocalypse in World War Z (with the help of a wily Israeli chayelet).
And now, this weekend we get ready for Pacific Rim, which looks like a whole lot of awesome. As dimension-jumping Kaiju monsters emerge from the Pacific Ocean floor and start laying waste to cities like San Francisco and Manila, some ferociously-CGI’d, fifty-foot tall robots called “Jaegers” (insert chuckle here) manned by neutrally-bridged pairs of humans make Earth’s final stand before, well, the end of the world, of course.
Just listen to Idris Elba’s British scowl-speak at 1:40 of the trailer:
“At the edge of our hope…and the end of our time…we have chosen to believe in each other. Today we face the monsters that are at our door. Tonight we are CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE!”
All of this is set to a pretty hardcore soundtrack. Yes. I’m in. I’m going. Save the world for me please. (And yes, I do hope Elba is the next James Bond after Daniel Craig’s turn is over).
In every great summer movie, destruction precedes salvation and there’s always that risk of oh-my-goodness-we-might-not-make-it-but-here-comes-the-hero-yay-crash-bang.
It’s not all that dissimilar from what we’re about to commemorate on Tisha B’av next week. Well maybe it is. But whatever.
Summer films are littered with the ruins of major cities that have been destroyed and laid waste to. Think of the iconic shot of the Statue of Liberty lying in the Hudson River in Independence Day, the huge crater with a ruined Arc de Triomphe in Armageddon, or the overrunning of most major world cities by zombies in World War Z. Only after those great shocks is mankind able to gather itself and fight off the threat of aliens/meteors/zombies/you name it.
In the case of Tisha B’Av, the destruction of Jerusalem, as acute a trauma as it was for the Jews, created a Judaism that, once decoupled from the Temple and the meticulous structure of sacrifices, was able to survive and thrive in the Diaspora for two millennia.
In fact, we can extend the metaphor and remind ourselves of just how many times we’ve been at the brink of ultimate destruction (Temple destruction, Crusades, Inquisition, Pogroms, Holocaust) and been able to survive against all odds.
The story of the Jewish people is a story worth telling, and our continued survival remains one of the great miracles of human history. So in a summer when miraculous saving of the world is the name of the game, remember that we have a special understanding of what that actually means.
Now let’s go cancel the Apocalypse. Again.
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