“MY FATHER, MY LORD”— Awakening to Life

“My Father, My Lord” (“Hofshat Kaits”)

Awakening to Life

Amos Lassen

Rabbi Avrohom (Assaf Dayan) is a middle-aged conceited sage in Jerusalem’s religiously Jewish community. He is married to Esther who looks upon their son Menachem with great favor. The family is close and the lives of the members seem to be full of bliss. Avrohom, however, spends all of his time in prayer and study and has little time for his wife and son.

What the film gives us is a look at the conflict and tension between old and new but in terms of religion as it shows the differences between modern Orthodoxy and ultraorthodox Judaism. By implication, the film is also a critique between Islam and the West. Director David Volach critiques the ultra-religious and he does so sublimely and with balance. He himself is one who had been raised in that lifestyle but left it. He gives us the observance of life in all of its detail as it rips apart fundamentalist Judaism.  It is almost a replay of the Abraham and Isaac story in the Old Testament. Reb Avrohom, like the patriarch Abraham, dedicated his life to the service of God. He does not question he just acts in accordance with the holy books. He spends his time when he is not at prayer reading Biblical commentary and Jewish law. He is a kind and caring men whose life is based on the idea that nothing is more important than prayer and observance of the word of God. Esther is also religious but not as doctrinaire as he husband and she gives off an aura of goodness.

Menachem is afraid of his father and fascinated by the secular world. He is more interested in the doves outside his window at school than his schoolwork. He questions the concept of souls and wonders why animals are without them. Esther protects him but he pulls back from his father. When his father suggests they take a trip to the Dead Sea, Menachem is eager to go. Is it like Abraham taking his son to be sacrificed or is it something else? Why do they go to the Dead Sea where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood? Surely it is easy to see the meanings and comparisons here. At only 73 minutes the film is very strong and the film, to me, at least, is a cry against fundamentalist adherence to the holy works rather than attempting to live in the real world and using their spirituality to help the unfortunate rather than to condemn those who do not see things their way.

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