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Shabbat with Shrek!

Wednesday, 11 November, 2009 - 9:56 am

Shrek.jpgIn literature and movies, heroes are usually tall and strong and beautiful, their outer appearance supposedly reflecting their inner moral qualities. (Or maybe it’s just because people like to identify with this type of hero?).

Anyhow, this is not the case in the famous movie Shrek , where the hero is the antithesis of a Prince Charming: it’s a big green ogre that, despite its lack of physical appeal, charms Princess Fiona and us all viewers with his humor, wit and good heart.

No, I did not turn suddenly into a film critic. But I’m telling you about this movie because last Shabbat, we had the pleasure of hosting David Weiss, co-writer of Shrek 2 (as with all successful movies, Shrek 1 gave way to Shrek 2 and 3 and I hear Shrek 4 and 5 are on the way), who shared with us his amazing story.

Raised as a Reform Jew, David always felt something missing: spirituality, a connection to G-d. 30 years ago, Reform Judaism did not teach about G-d and G-dliness. It is a Christian friend that kindled a spark in David and led him to believe in G-d, and eventually to convert to Christianity. After all, that’s where he had found what he felt was missing in his life. Then, in Ireland, David discovered that there was much spirituality and a lot of depth in Judaism that he never knew about, and he started to learn more about his own heritage. This was the beginning of his journey back to Judaism, as David and his spouse grew in knowledge and observance.

David shared with us something interesting about Shrek 2. The directors had in mind to write the story of what happens AFTER the end of the story, after the prince and the princess find each other and get married. How does exactly look the “happily ever after”? In other words, they wanted to write the story of a real marriage, with the challenges, the problematic in-laws, the difference of expectations, the difficulties of communication. But why should people pay to see such a movie? After all, they have the same at home! :) That was already the job of the screen writers! They spiced up with humor and adventure what is basically the story a regular couple, which has to learn to accept and respect the other: Shrek has to cope with the hostile father-in-law, in a foreign environment with very different values of his own, all for the sake of his wife Fiona.

One moment is exemplary: the father-in-law invites Shrek for a hunting party (where he actually plans to have him killed – sorry spoilers!). Shrek is not at all excited by the outing, but the father-in-law uses the winning argument: “It will mean a lot to Fiona!”, and Shrek, sighing, sends a loving look to his sleeping wife and agrees. This is the secret of a happy marriage: respect what is important to your spouse. Even though you yourself don’t see the necessity, or the significance of something, if your spouse (or friend) cares for it, then respect it!

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