Deconstructing Harry

Woody Allen goes to hell.

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Right before our eyes, Allen chooses Hell--for Harry, for Harry's dad (who represents previous generations), and for himself. Deconstructing Harry is not a commentary on bad decisions; it is a bad decision. It is a choice for Hell, and rejection of Heaven for the sake of two-or-three one-liners about Jews, Jewish women, and Hadassah.

One can't help thinking of a saying from the Talmud: "In the Hereafter the Holy Blessed One will slay the evil impulse in the presence of the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous it will appear like a high mountain, to the wicked like a single hair. Both will weep. The righteous will weep and exclaim: 'How were we able to subdue such a high mountain as this?' The wicked will weep and exclaim: 'How were we unable to subdue a single hair like this?" (Sukkah 52a).

Reprinted with permission from Over the Top Judaism: Precedents and Trends in the Depiction of Jewish Beliefs and Observances in Film and Television (University Press of America).

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Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel

Elliot B. Gertel is the rabbi of Congregation Rodfei Zedek in Chicago and media critic for The Jewish Post and Opinion of Indianapolis.