"Pokemon" is an unqualified, smash hit by any and all Hollywood standards. It's got "Box Office Legs", spectacular "Sequel Power" and a star who can't talk back. What more could Warner Brothers want? For that matter, what more could kids want?
Well, plenty... Ever hear of The New Kids on the Block? You have? Ever hear of them any more? Seen any Ninja Turtles dolls for sale this holiday season? No? How about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? Hmmm...
Seems all these flashy, "must-have" toys, games, T-shirts and videos have inevitably ended up in the afterworld of all past fads... Madison Avenue and Hollywood - what a combination! They spend billions annually to work kids and adults alike into a feeding frenzy of buying the latest, the fastest, the biggest, the smallest, the MOST NOTICEABLE new gadget, toy, snazzy outfit, RV, video game, Palm VII, aftershave, Cuisinart, designer beer or truck tire, and WE HAVE TO HAVE THEM! At least, for THIS season anyway...
The indelible message to our kids, of course, is that NOTHING is permanent. Nothing lasts... It's all a fad, a trend, a transitory, temporary "phenomenon" that will undoubtedly end up in some cosmic garage sale by the end of the season... And, as we have sadly and consistently seen, that attitude spills over into the rest of life, including, of course, formerly sacrosanct institutions like marriage.
The obligation of the Jew is to rise above the frivolous fads and trends of a society that places its highest values on designer labels, rock stars and multi-zillion dollar athletes. We ought to be, in the perfect world, immune to all that. We are, after all, "the Eternal Jew," devoted to the values of Sinai, not Madison Avenue - and the permanence we strive to teach our children comes in the form of the holidays we worship, the texts we study, the food we eat, the blessings we recite and the speech we carefully guard.
Torah is a tried and true formula. It's an opportunity to look at trends over the past 4,000 years. The benefit of perspective. What values have persisted and why. Torah has withstood the greatest test. The test of time.
That's the promise the Maccabees made to the Jews of their time. Was it a timeless, enduring promise?
...Just ask the ancient Greeks.
Cliff Alsberg is a professional writer and long-time member of the Aish community in Los Angeles