Michael Jackson

Death of an icon?

See More

Comments (71)

(71) Sarah Leah, August 10, 2009 10:55 AM

The past and the future

My role models are those who have gone before me. All the Yidden who have persevered and never lost sight of who they were. The great sages that left advice, direction and answers to help make it a little easier for future generations. Let's face it, being frum in this world means holding tightly to your roots so you can grow up and be an extention for the future generations.

(70) JON FR, July 20, 2009 8:55 AM

As for Role Models,

Rabbi whilst I understand your need to clearly derfine in todays age who exactly should be role models I would like to make an observation. Michael Jackson , leaving asdie his world famous status and undoutably incredble amount of talent puts you , me and 99% of other people in the courner when it comes to giving Tzdaka. I personally know that through his charlity projects he has help hundreds of thousands of ill children all over this planet , including personally giving over $1m dollars to Asaf Harofeh Medical centre's childrens ward in Israel. If all of todays Pop stars / celebs / businessmen gave 10% of what Michael Jackson has given that would be a miracle. Michael Jackson leaves us standing when it comes to Tzdaka and for that reason and that reason alone his life should be celebrated.

(69) Linda, July 16, 2009 4:35 PM

role models

I enjoyed Michael Jacksons' music without thinking of him as a role model but never heard about the Pepsi commercial and his hair catching on fire or the damage to his scalp before, or even about the skin disease he had. In trying to cover these these things up with wigs, etc., I think it caused him to "look like" more of a nutball than he really was. The words in the music he composed give us so much more to appreciate than his later year appearance, and I'm convinced that he was a beautiful person on the inside. What I'm concerned about after listening to the video is that I have no role model in my own life. I suppose my Mother was my role model while she was alive, but she's been gone since 2003. I'd be interested in knowing just why a role model is essential to our lives. Essential is a word that doesn't leave much room for doubt, so where am I supposed to find an actual role model?

(68) Elana, July 13, 2009 6:57 PM

An Era Gone

I think that the reason MJ's death was talked about so much is because it seems like an ending of an era. I don't think it is his pesonal life or role models issue here. I think that it is nostalgia; many people loved at least some of his songs at one time (me included) and now he is gone...that generation when he was a top singer, is gone. It is a reminder that we are getting older and closer to our own deaths. Not that an idol or a role model is gone, but the time is gone. It forces you to look at your own mortality. People are saying, "I can't believe he is gone" , meaning really, "I can't believe that the time has gone by so quickly..."

(67) , July 13, 2009 1:39 PM

My role models are those who have been dealt extreme hardships in life(abuse,loss,handicaps, pain) and yet have overcome to serve others and Hashem with Joy, counting their blessings

(66) Rivkah Kaufman, July 13, 2009 4:30 AM

The Self-Actualized Person - II

Now, there have been influential people in my life - people who understand and bring out the best in me and the best of my talents. I adore and am profoundly grateful for this class of individuals. Despite their differences, they seem like one person to me, because they share intrinsic qualities of sensitivity, unselfishness, intelligence, and warmth. Moreover, they are secure enough in their own accomplishments to share their knowledge and opportunities with others, and will always be there for you - at least while you're at a particular stage of life. I aspire to these people's qualities, and I feel my life will have infinite value if I can be to other individuals what those people have been to me. Yet again, it is the qualities I admire, not necessarily the person as a whole. Perhaps the reason for my reticence is fear of abandonment; if I so avidly declare my allegiance to a particular person, what happens if that person CAN'T be there for me for whatever reason? The truth is, I have to accept this person's kindness and warmth while I can, show gratitude, reciprocate, but retain enough strength to plough ahead alone when the time comes. Because it will come, of that there is no doubt. Where does this leave me? I think my role model is not a person, but a concept - that of the self-actualized person -one who has fulfilled his/her full potential, and done so with kindness, generosity, and sensitivity. I am by no means that person yet. But I will never stop trying. www.rivkahwrites.com

(65) Anonymous, July 13, 2009 4:24 AM

The Self-Actualized Person

Rabbi Salomon - I enjoyed your video. And I've thought deeply about who my role model/s is/are. The strange thing is, I haven't come up with anyone in particular. There are qualities about people I admire and seek to emulate, but there's no one person I completely admire. For example, I may marvel at the business savvy of a colleague, while recoiling from his/her behavior towards others. I may aspire to the integrity of a Rebetzen who won't allow institutional politics to sway her from doing the right thing. Yet I know full well I don't wish to be her or have her life. To be continued in my next comment. www.rivkahwrites.com

(64) Anonymous, July 12, 2009 10:41 PM

Yes, Michael is a role model for good reason

LIsten to Michael's lyrics, hear what he is telling/teaching us. And look to his example - study his humanitarian efforts. MIchael had a kindness, a dignity, a true love and caring for humankind and for our world. His touch, his presence, his gentleness, his energy were healing and inspiring. We must honor him by keeping his works, his essence, his energy alive.

(63) Pp, July 11, 2009 7:42 PM

He is inocent

First of all, all those mothers are the ones to be blamed and NOT Jackson! Michael just tried his best in life. All you humans have weird behaviors that Are detestable...My role model _____________.

(62) David Eisner, July 10, 2009 5:55 PM

Those who brought Nature to the masses

My role models? Steve Irwin and Sir David Attenborough. I don't deify them for their being TV personalities. I look up to them because of their belief that we must protect our world. I think nothing of MJJ.

(61) Shlomit, July 10, 2009 5:12 PM

Got to see the whole picture

It's surely much easier to point fingers and criticize others, without even knowing the real truth of everything and having been there yourself, than to look at one's own life and surroundings and work on that. What I know for sure is that MJ can still be considered notable, among many others in this world of course but who didn't happen to have their lives in the public spotlight, considering all the charitable and kind acts he did (you can find info on that, too, if you bother to seek it), the hope he brought, barriers he broke, and the wisdom and talents he shared and inspired, and that's a lot to say compared to many out there who can't look beyond the person next to them that they want to sleep with or the booze they can't wait to drink at the next party. Now, regardless of what may or may not have actually happened with MJ.... God knows that no system is perfect and there are bound to be lawyers out there who will take on any case, no matter how ridiculous, even one made up (even if they may or may not actually know it).... and there are plenty of people with various disorders who cannot even recognize their own issues and try to 'get' others. For those who unfortunately get stuck having to deal with these people (and really they can come from any background - spiritual, religious, secular, young, old, any race, etc.), it appears that sometimes the only way to get rid of them is give them money, and we all know money can make people do all kinds of things... or hmmm....... what about all those suffering from stalkers, abusers, and the like they can't seem to escape from? Give them everything but your soul perhaps? You come to learn that there's much going on in our world. Things ain't always as they seem.

(60) Howard Newman, July 10, 2009 11:23 AM


The power of the former Soviet Union could not break his spirt. Natan Sharansky is a roile model beucase of his inner strength and his courage/

(59) Kevin Chen, July 10, 2009 7:45 AM

to no. 57

and what'd made you think what the media says had to be true? Everything i thought of now that which he did comes with a valid reason, save for the excessive plastic surgery. You cannot say anything about him. AND I MEAN NOTHING AT ALL. not even the child molestation case because you have no concrete proof. Dont even think about using Michael Jackson as a source of "lesson" to redicule, because he don't deserve this.. and you ain't FIT to..

(58) Anonymous, July 9, 2009 5:44 PM


How sad, you need to pass judgement, now that he is dead. Let him rest in peace, and let the judgement rest with G-d.

(57) B.M., July 9, 2009 4:32 PM

Ref.#56 kevin chen

Your comments Kevin chen......about Michael Jackson shows anger and STUPIDITY* it is either you are ignorant or uneducated to understand about the uncivilized and immoral acts he committed. Read the newspapers, watch the media and listen to the radios, the you will learn something. Wake up...!!!!!!!

(56) Kevin Chen, July 9, 2009 5:50 AM

who are you guys to judge Michael Jackson's morals or his life? say he paedophile or whatever crap.. who are you to prove it! He ain't just a human being living just to produce music albums and be a source of media attraction. He has a life and values none of you here can judge. Get that.

(55) josh, July 9, 2009 4:24 AM

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

The Lubavitcher Rebbe is my role model, the greatest leader and teacher of Torah and Torah values in this generation.

(54) Michael S, July 9, 2009 4:24 AM

On the ending of a life. .

Dear Rabbi, While I have never met nor even heard you before listening to your thoughts, I felt compelled to reply. You asked about role models. Of the many I have worked with and learned from, Edward Hallowell, MD, comes most readily to mind. He wrote nearly twenty years ago, cautioning against the Felix Findfaults of the world, which in truth exists in each of us. I met this afternoon again with a woman whose own past was scarred by painful childhood abuse. And through her struggle to understand, who observed wisely that his life is not within her power to understand or judge. The tragedy is that this man's life's suffering was ended, tragically, only by his death. Shortly before his death, my own father shared the guilt over his treatment of me, which he bore for half a century. I replied that his behavior was no more intentional than my own has been, and that I would choose him as my father, were the choice mine to make. We both shared tears of understanding, forgiveness, and healing. Balfour Brickner, who taught me and Bar Mitzvahed me 51 years ago, wrote eloquently of his struggle with G-d, following the death of his young daughter. I continue to pray for understanding and wisdom, when feelings overwhelm and cloud these.

(53) Anonymous, July 9, 2009 4:20 AM


Michael Jackson was spiritually and emotionally and physically sick. He was very talented and knew how to 'satisfy' his fans. The attention he received during his life in regards to his talent and when his life ended reminds me of a paraphrase from the Talmud; 'When mercy is lavished upon those who are undeserving of mercy, then those who are most deserving of mercy receive none.' This attention is sending unmistakable messages to many people that under certain circumstances moral irresponsibility is not only acceptable, but desirable and laudable. What about MJs victims ... his own children, the various youth in his past, the victims of his financial irresponsibility ...? Where is the attention (mercy) of the fans for them?

(52) Beverly Kurtin, July 9, 2009 3:33 AM

Worshipping a false god

I watched with deep disgust as the various media treated the death of this mere mortal as though a god had died, leaving the world with nothing further to look forward to for humanity. His brother said, “Allah had given us a great give and since we did not honor him, Allah took him back.” With that I turned off my radio and television and asked people to let me know when all the falderal was over. Did I respect Jackson? No. Did I like anything he did? No. Why is a pedophile being so elevated? I pity those sick people who chose their heroes with so little forethought. Adolescents I can see; they don’t really know who they’re worshiping. But people in their 30s and older should know better. There is only One G-D and his name isn’t Elvis or Michael. The mass display of hysteria we witnessed (partly) over the death of a self-made icon was disgusting. The media even ignored our president’s trip to Russia! My icons have contributed to the world: Einstein, Salk, DeBakey, Christian Bernard, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Golda Mier. My sister said, “I’ve never seen so many people off their medication at the same time.” I agree. Then there were the pioneers who brought our dream of an independent Israel. Any Jew who doesn’t look up them doesn’t realize what the fact of Israel has done for the Jewish world. I pray that this faux worship comes to an end quickly; there are important things that need to be accomplish: Let’s get over this nonsense as soon as possible.

(51) Jessica, July 9, 2009 1:47 AM

people easily misconstrue

Michael Jackson is not anti-Semitic. As a Jew, I am really tired of hearing this kind of false accusation. I've heard the song that has "kike" in it. It was not directed at Jews. It was directed at the people who abuse this language. Plenty of people are anti-Semitic, but not Michael Jackson. Nor was he a pedophile. He was a deeply misunderstood artist and human being. No one can possibly understand what it was like to live under the cultural and media microscope that he endured from second to second. The people who criticize him so fiercely---all I can ask is why? Why do certain people need to tear this man apart? I truly don't understand it.

(50) Leah, July 9, 2009 1:08 AM

Rav Meir Shapiro

I always thought that was a stupid question- I believed I didn't have one role model, that everyone I met in my life who influenced me positively in any way, all contributed to who I am and what I want to achieve in life. But that changed once I read A Blaze in the Darkening Gloom by Rav Yehoshua Baumel. And now Rav Meir Shapiro is my role model. Without a doubt. Personal integrity combining charm and charisma with a real desire to serve Hashem, a Talmud Chacham beyond compare, respecting and perfectly combining the approaches of Litvaks and Chassidim, and devoting his entire life to helping others and revitalizing Torah and Jewry in the society in which he lived, and all of Poland (and if he hadn't died so young, the whole world). I can think of no better role model for anyone.

(49) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 11:58 PM

The majority of today's society has put their emphasis into role models of Hollywood, rock and roll and sports figures. They have removed the role models of the Torah and the Bible from their lives. Michael Jackson and all the rest of them are not role models and should not be considered a role model or the voice of knowledge to anyone. They are entertainers only. They have talents or abilities we may or maynot have but they are on the center stage of TV, magazines and movies. Again, they are only entertainers, who are overpaid and given way too much importance in today's world. Instead of looking at Hollywood , the entertainers and sports figures of the world, we all need to look inside ourselves and others and find what we/they have which would make the world better. I could name names of history who are people I admire but I again believe we should go back to the beginning of the Torah and Bible if we want to find the true role models of the world.

(48) Lil, July 8, 2009 8:40 PM

Positives of Michael

I learned that he visited the sick: “the returning soldiers from Iraq”, he phoned Mrs. Coretta King after her stroke, she couldn’t speak but “she smiled”, her daughter said. He loved and supported his Mother. He's in the Guinness Book for his charitable acts!!! Yes, he’s a role model. He moved me. May the good merits of the Fathers be upon him and his children.

(47) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 7:47 PM

“smile even though your heart is aching”

Not really a response to your though provoking question; more of a comment. A couple of years ago the news and public berated Michael Jackson for his behavior among which were having young boys sleep in his bed, dangling his infant son over a tall balcony, appearing in court in his pajama pants. Now dead, he is portrayed as a saint almost like a god, as you well point out, and his past does not seem to matter. In my opinion the man the public saw was not real, just an image made up to hide behind. In spite of his talent, fame and fortune (which he lost), I look back I feel no admiration, just a great sense of compassion for Michael Jackson. His favorite song was “Smile”, one line that jumps out at me is “smile even though your heart is aching”. I believe that these words meant more to Mr. Jackson than just a mere song; they were a description of the real man. He never really had a normal childhood, in an interview he spoke of verbal, emotional and physical abuse from his father, his dissatisfaction with his physical appearance to the point that he totally deformed his nose, I am sure there were many other sad and disturbing things in his life that contributed to his odd behavior. I hope that Michael Jackson made peace with himself and his Maker.

(46) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 6:19 PM

Michael Jackson Too Complex for Simple Explanations

Western society is unfortunately infatuated wtih all the wrong people. The public is indeed a beast that needs feeding with 24/7 information that passes as news. I don't want to make a case one way or another for Michael Jackson in terms of who he was. He was extremely complicated with good traits, and bad. He did offer many people hours of happiness with his music and dance, and we shouldn't forget he was a giant in the world of philanthropy. He gave away millions. That being said, he also had a very dark and twisted side. I don't personally find any of our "celebrites" worthy of role model status. So the question of role models is an important one. Who do we want to model our lives after? Personally, I like my Rabbi, my Rebbetzin, my father who is deceased, may his memory be a blessing, and my sister who is ill, but has had an enormous positive influence on myself and many in the public. I could name countless biblical figures, but one would have to recall that even though King David was a great man, he too had a very dark side. From what I read about Bnyamin Netanyahus brother Yonaton, he was somewhat of a role model to me, even though I am a woman. His story is inspiring. Many humans inspire, but all are flawed to some degree.

(45) neska, July 8, 2009 6:06 PM

we may be missing something

more than talented, gifted. and oftentimes that comes with the price of being off balance (chopin, mozart, tschaikowsky). i cannot judge michael until i have been in his shoes, which i do not want to be.his public life on stage was brilliance. AND, i want to add that as a philanthropist, he earned the guiness book of world records for giving among artists and i'd say that was pretty menchy. from what i have heard he was a good listener, a true friend, shy and sensitive. most role models that we choose to emulate are usually close to us and show us how to live day by day....but stars such as michael jackson also show us how NOT to live in certain areas of our life, but his philanthropy....that glows. ultimately, we really know little about him except what we've read in the papers. and with great respect, i do feel you bashed michael jackson.

(44) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 5:07 PM

My Role Models

Since you asked, here are the Role Models in my own life: My nana, who was the most loving and generous woman I've ever known. My best friend, who is devoted to following G-d's laws. My Rabbi, who leads and teaches by example. I love them all and I try to incorporate different parts of them into my own life.

(43) Tammy, July 8, 2009 4:55 PM

Role models are important as they should be examples on how to live our lives. For me, it is people who are able to live their lives honsetly and respectfully. People like the hardworking Rebbe and Morah, who are in the field not for the money, but because they believe they can teach and shape our young children. People like honest business owners and workers. People who smile every morning at the postman, the garbage man and the bus driver. People who make an effort to create a kiddush Hashem with everyhting that they do, say and how they live. They impart a certain sanctity and simplicity and honesty in their very beings. I also look up to as role models, mothers who don't give in to every foolishness and nonsensical 'narishkeit' that comes along. Mothers who teach their daughters to be proud of who they are not of who they wear. Mothers who choose to restrain themselves in order to model restraint to their children. These are the people who I admire and are role models for me, a 38 year old mother of in Brooklyn, NY

(42) Petra, July 8, 2009 4:32 PM

not exactly a role model

With all the people I've spoken with about Michael Jackson over the years, the consensus was to pity him not emulate him. He had a very difficult childhood, leading to iconic adulation that must be even more difficult to handle without a proper foundation in family, and then the attackers who sought to bring him down. It's a wonder the poor man survived this long. My role model was Sheriff Andy Taylor, as portrayed by Andy Griffith.

(41) sam, July 8, 2009 4:31 PM


Rolemodel? Icon? Or someone you admirefor a reason? MJ can sing,dance and had stage presense. Ditto Frank Sinatra, and Edith Piaff. Hey!!! All of a sudden all the scanal that made news- by the newspapers and TV has now jumped on the band wagon again-- as they once again have something to sell. MJ's death came at a time when there is not any real newsworthy news. How lucky they are-- mainly to make money and up the TV ratings. You want role models or icons? Try your parents or teachers or your sports coach. Look to your friends andfamily. Look to Mandella or Shindler. There you will find icons and rolemodels.The Michael Jacksons of this world was no more than mere entertainment. And guess what's going to happen now. His half prepared London show is going to become a best selling DVD andCD. So will his 'Top 20', then his 'Golden Hit', then his 'Greatest Hit of All Time', etc,etc.Then a litany of CD's of undiscovered songs will follow in various guises.....and some people are going to make a lot of money. There is a big difference between hype and icons/rolemodels. Be careful by who or how you get suckered.

(40) Nava Wyler, July 8, 2009 4:24 PM

What is a real role model???

I think every person have to have a role model, otherwise he cant look up to anyone. we as jews, have to thora as a guider and the Rabbanim as role models. If I think deeper about this topic, I can see how great Hashem is that HE gave us the Thora and not only that, but because HE knows that a human being needs a role model HE gave us also Rabbanim!!! look how great our Father in heaven is!!!! My personal role model is my Teacher. Why? because she is a woman who really live a life according the Thora, and through that she gets REAL happines!!!!

(39) patrick lewis, July 8, 2009 4:18 PM

Micheal The Icon

If we all agree that talents are from God to humanity,then we should ask;what has micheal done with his.He set a mark that no one can deny.men are not perfect,we dont judge the conduct of personality,we appreciate the effort to give the best.I wish all could work as hard as he did with their own talents.Definitely,the world will be better.

(38) EGE, July 8, 2009 4:12 PM

My role model

My role model is my father. He is the most patient, most honest man I know. I remember him raising his voice only on the rarest of occasions, and never did he raise a hand to us. In his business he is known for his impeccable integrity. I try to be like him, and I hope my children will grow up to be like him.

(37) Debbie, July 8, 2009 4:08 PM

Thank you

Thank you Rabbi, your words are very true and it would be a wonderful thing if you could continue these video messages. It means so much more to see and hear the inflection in your face and your voice than to just read the words.

(36) ROBERT LOVELL, July 8, 2009 3:11 PM

Michael Jackson, Petofile

How could anyone like this man, he was so anxious to change from black to white, he was a "manhandler" of little children I am sorry but I feel that he was ashamed of his colour and race as well as a deep seething strangeness to chidren, that on occasion he dangled in high up windows.

(35) Rivka, July 8, 2009 2:57 PM

No human idols

Does not our precious Torah say that we are to worship no idols? Whether it's a golden calf or a singer, they're still the same with regard to worship. "G-d's greatest gift to mankind?" Those who would utter such garbage live vacuous lives. When someone who is simply a popular entertainer who stands apart from the crowd becomes a fanatic's entire world, then the fan didn't have much of a meaningful life, anyway. The big mystery for me is why did Jackson have to die just when the House was getting ready to vote on the disastrous cap-and-trade bill? The latter was buried way below the subject of Michael Jackson in nearly every media. If I didn't know better, I'd almost think....well, never mind.

(34) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 2:48 PM

My Role Models

One of my role models is my rabbi. Even when he's put in a very long day, I know I can speak with him and receive his undivided attention. Because I admire him so much, I do what I think he'd do: try to find answers from other sources before addressing him. However, when I've needed him, he's always there. Also, Rabbi Salomon, I've never met you personally, but I consider you a role model, as well. You never fail to make me think when I watch your videos. Your language on certain topics is much tamer than would be my first choice! You demonstrate restraint, humility, wisdom, and warmth. Please know that even though I only know you through your video blog, you really make me stop and examine my own behavior and try to live a more Jewish life. Toda.

(33) Layah, July 8, 2009 2:40 PM

Rabbi, you're missing the point. This man was a pedophile and deviant who perpetuated non-Torah values and whose closest friends and advisors were anti-Semites. Some of the lyrics to his songs even contained anti-Semitic references. Thank G-d children who go to observant day schools aren't exposed to much of the garbage that the larger society, including secular Judaism, shells out. And they're taught true role models: our avos! But even beside that, the point is that this world is inverted: the true Tzadikkim whom everyone should revere only by a few. Only when Masheach comes will values be set straight! May that be speedily in our days.

(32) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 2:22 PM

Icon vs. Role Models

I'd differentiate between icons and role models. Public personalities are up there in the spotlight and should ideally be role models for the masses who, invariably, will be influenced by their examples. But this perfection, even wholesomeness, is unfortunately rare. If certain public personalities are a negative influence and what they proffer is bad, then we must shun what they stand for. Those that are not, however, might just be appreciated for their iconic value. These individuals have gained notoriety for some specific reason. It could be a wisdom, a talent, or an idea that they uniquely offer the world, their fans, and their followers. And some can dance like you and I will never be able to (I admit I am much more interested now in learning how to moonwalk, and I think I will). There are performers out there who have attracted my attention and admiration more than Michael Jackson. I never really got into his music (it's less my genre) nor cleaved to the details of his personal or public life. But the areas where he did excel and contribute, and where he did wow people, these can be a source of positive inspiration. We don't need to vote him "role model of the year" to appreciate the areas where he was a role model, even if in part, and even if imperfectly. Who's to say that we can't consider a person a role model in a given area, in a given discipline, that they need to be a role model in the entirety of their life to qualify for any recognition of the positive examples or gifts they offer the public. Many people consider Michael Jackson more of a role model than he should be; too many are dangerously infatuated with his persona. But the rest of us, as we scout out and line up the role models that will most influence our lives, might just appreciate some of the "smaller" examples that come from a variety of personalities and sources. Icons need not be our role models, but some can help us become better people and live more enjoyable lives.

(31) Judy K, July 8, 2009 2:03 PM

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson to me was not a role model, but he was a very talented man. I loved his singing, his dancing, his music, his ability to entertain. He contributed so much to the world of music. He was a true artist. But a role model, no. I would not like to have lived his life. I would not trade my childhood for his. I would not trade my family for his. I would not consider him a role model.

(30) Paul, July 8, 2009 1:48 PM

Role Models?

My mother-in-law would be the closest person "I know" who could be considered a role model. The reason I study Torah is learn how to live. Torah is my role model.

(29) Cheyrl Phillips, July 8, 2009 1:46 PM

Here's what you obviously don't know................

Judaism teaches how important charity is; The Guinness Book of World Records shows Michael Jackson gave more money to charity than any other entertainer in History!!!!!! He didn't brag about it and if you base your opinions on the news media, guess what; everything you read is NOT always the truth. Especially when people stand to gain millions of dollars by lying and fabricating sensational stories. Any person who gives so much to others, Jewish or not, is a good role model for me. By the way Jackson was ACQUITTED OF ALL CHARGES by the Courts and the teens who made up the lies gained over 6 million dollars. THINK! and don't believe everything you read!

(28) J.Solomon, July 8, 2009 1:11 PM

Give me a break"

"You shall have no other G-d before me". How can we deify and spend so much attention on this icon? What were his personal values that distinguish him enough to have the media devote as much emphasis as to the demise of JFK and other leaders. The money machines are working to the detriment of our social structures and the degradation of our moral values. Is there other news happening in the world which has relevance, or do we need to escape from realities? RIP...Ganucht!

(27) Margaret Todd, July 8, 2009 1:10 PM

The world's role models or G_d's role models

As a Torah observant non Jew I purposefully avoid the noise following Michael Jackson's death: he was perverted if not a pervert. If he had any good values they were obscured by his lifestyle. On the same day he died, Farah Fawcett succumbed to cancer; as a Hollywood icon,she had integrity and good character. My role models? People such as Cory ten Boom (sp?), George MacDonald, who though they were not Jews, understood that G_d did not change His mind about His nation Israel. He finishes His plan with the same plot line. It is sad about people like Michael Jackson who loose themselves in this world but he had his chance in front of a holy G_d to choose the right way and chose his own pleasure instead. May G_d be merciful to us to keep us on His path.

(26) Dick, July 8, 2009 12:41 PM

Michael was anti semite.

Michael Freund served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Binyamin Netanyahu. He founded and currently directs Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost and crypto Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. Fundamentally Freund´s Hard-Hitting Political Analysis and Media Critique are posted throughout the week, only on Arutz Sheva. (Israelnationalnews.com) While much of the world mourns the untimely death of the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson, it is worth recalling one of Mr. Jackson's more unfortunate qualities: he was an anti-Semite. In case you think I am making this up, allow me to refresh your memory. Back in November 2005, Jackson was caught on tape in a voicemail to one of his former business managers calling Jews "leeches". The tapes were played on ABC's Good Morning America program, and Jackson was heard saying, "They suck…they're like leeches. It's a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose." And in 1995, Jackson provoked a firestorm of protest when he released an album called HIStory containing a song entitled "They don't care about us" which had the following lyrics: "Jew me, sue me" and "Kick me, kike me". He subsequently promised to re-record the song and delete the offending lyrics. But then, in February 1996, Jackson nonetheless released a video of the song in which he had re-instated the brazenly anti-Semitic remarks. So before you go shedding a tear in Michael Jackson's memory, take a moment and consider the hate that he spewed against Jews, both in private and in public. And then maybe you'll consider saving those tears for someone far more deserving.

(25) Jonathan Shopiro, July 8, 2009 12:37 PM

Salomon doesn't get it

The piece is supposed to be about Michael Jackson and Salomon starts out by talking about Jackson's great talent. Fine. Then he makes a 90 degree turn and starts talking about role models. Where does that come from? Nobody is holding Jackson up as a role model and talent has nothing to do with being a role model. A much better example than Jackson of this is Richard Wagner, the great coposer and anti-semite. Talented, not a role model. So what? Then Salomon asks who are our role models. I could tell you who mine are but you wouldn't have heard of them--they weren't very talented.

(24) Yisroel Pollack, July 8, 2009 12:32 PM

Michael Jackson, The Great Role Model

You’ve got it all wrong, rabbi. He IS a role model. He is THE role model par excellence. He EPITOMIZES the values that rank highest in our society. Such is the weltanschauung of the hedonistic society we live in. He, in his abject behaviors and eccentricities, reflects what we as a society hold dearest. The non-Jewish world, our popular culture in the West, is a Michael Jackson World. It is no accident that his life commands the celebration of people in such incredibly great numbers. That’s all there is to it. It’s no use pretending it were otherwise.

(23) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 12:17 PM

Parents should be our role models

I would not consider Michael Jackson my role model, but he did make many charitable contributions as well as bringing joy to this world with his talent. I don't believe he was ever convicted of criminal behavior, even though he was guilty of poor judgment. The parents of the children who stayed with MJ should have been better role models and said no to his gifts.

(22) Susan, July 8, 2009 12:07 PM

Thank you for your insight

Thank you putting a sane face on the insanity surrounding the death of one performer. Several people were lost that week and they were more worthy of our attention. My role models are my maternal grandfather who never had a mean thing to say about any person, and my friends who fought and lost the battle with cancer but never lost her dignity or her desire to help others. Those are true role models.

(21) Michael, July 8, 2009 11:56 AM

Different culture... different needs, fifty years ago Americans were still using ropes and trees! Music for many was an outlet to escape the harshness of life, for some it was their churches, others the dance floors. Remember, "Never Again"? , Unfortunately too long for multitudes of role models to evolve. Was Michael's life worthless? Why don't we ask the recipients of the hundreds of millions of dollars He donated?

(20) Dr. George, July 8, 2009 11:39 AM

Michael Jackson role model!!

R. Yakov Solomon...You asked for feed back...I will give some very short feedback...The problem with the generation today is their need for a role-model...They are lost....no one who they can look up to....no Moses...no prophets, etc. So many communication devices and such little communication....except for hate, prejudice, porno...etc. Let them look into their own hearts and ask for Heavenly guidance....

(19) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 11:14 AM

talent vrsus behaviour

there is no doudt that HASHEM gave him the talent to singfor the "values' OF WESTERN SOCIETY he had everything all the taavot of this world money power fame etc the lesson here is that what really gives us joy in life? on the other hand he was not happy in his life he suffered from very profound selfhate and use various ways of destroying himself he did not want to be who he was and certain dont look the way he did as we know there are a lot of klipas in this world but for us the jewish people the real joy is to live our HOLY TORAH to live to serve HASHEM and his MITSVOTS the best we can the value of a person is the neshama and not the guf there isnt a better pleasure in this world than spiritual pleasure we have to work hard for it but the exp of JACKSON also shows that we can have everything in this world but if you dont have shalom in our hearts there is no value like this exp are many in life let be jewish in our hearts and win the war between ESAV AND JACOB the patriack are our role models of chesed compassion love and all the attributes given by HASHEM

(18) Sharonj, July 8, 2009 11:13 AM

One who died too silently!

I am referring to a true role model, a woman who contributed profoundly to the world of dance and theater and whose death went almost unnoticed. I am speaking of the matgnificent artist, Pina Bausch! Sadly, most of you won't even know who she is. In this cock-eyed world, it is the Michael Jacksons who occupy our limelights. Yes, he gave us amazing music, a whole new genre of movement and was practically the inventor of the video clip. For all this, as he told his friend and mentor, Uri Gellar, "I am a very lonely man". Pina's work changed the way we look at the stage, at movement, of interaction between performers/people. The repercussions from her work are profound and even after her death will continue to ripple through the visual arts. I can only pray that she was not a lonely woman!

(17) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 10:47 AM


Michael Jackson, misunderstood, I dont believe for one minute he commited any crimes, he gave unlimited monies to many charaties, he gave of himself to many, I really feel that he was a good soul searching for Love for himself

(16) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 10:41 AM

I Need A Hero

You ask a very good question, who are YOUR role models? We are living in an age of "stars", stars of the big screen, people who seem to be in our face, as bigger than life, people who are pop artists, who pop out of the woodwork and into the pop ular imagination, and become perhaps "other" than they are, being infused by the imagination and personal needs of others for a "hero". There is no question Michael Jackson had great talent. He also had great problems personally, and I think it's sad that those very intimate things about an individual's life, got so publicized, because he was human, and fame has its own very dark and upsetting side, meaning a loss of privacy and its own kind of loneliness and loss of identity in that others assume an identity that perhaps is a personal quest but cannot be reached by such massive and constant adulation. I am an "old" "fashioned" person. I love the stories of people who helped the world, people of music and love, such as Albert Schweitzer. There are people who made a difference, like our "Golda", people like Einstein who not only changed the world, but who thought deeply about moral issues, people like Helen Keller who despite her blindness and deafness, seemed to hear and see the pulse of the universe, and had a very spiritual way of being, that still communicates. Then there was also Annie Sullivan who brought her to language, through that very first moment of perception of Water... there are so many heart warming stories, and there are the people in my own life, people of heroism, of courage, of moral integrity, who help and support others, who act in the community in big and small ways, performing what we call tikkun olam, the healing of the broken places.

(15) Malka, July 8, 2009 3:25 AM

who says Michael Jackson is a role model?

Sadly, people today do not look at todays cultural icons as role models, sadly I dont think they reallly care . Michael Jacksons controversial and criminal behavior was overshadowed by his singing talent and confusing people with his crazy behavior. Do we think criminals in jail are role models? what if they carry a nice tune?

(14) Jonah Sinowitz, July 8, 2009 2:53 AM


Dear Rabbi, Icons - pop stars and religious icons- have been popular since the beginning of time. This is no different, than the wars which were fought over real "icons" during the early Christian empires. It's all nonsense. JG Sinowitz

(13) Anonymous, July 8, 2009 2:10 AM

Role model for failure

If anyone considers him a role model, I suggest they brace themselves for public shame, disgrace, career failure and untimely death. I feel bad for him because he was merchandised, used up and discarded by a selfish and materialistic world. I think the best role models have always displayed selflessness and an unrelenting desire to do right by others regardless of personal cost and even loss of all one would consider their personal rights. History is full of such, even if we personally do not know such an individual. Biographies are wonderful sources of inspiration. The founders of the United States lost life and property for the ideal of freedom. Men in the Bible like Joseph faced injustice and hardship with an unwavering strength and faith, ultimately to save OTHERS. I would therefore suggest, that the most appropriate role models are those who do not seek the fame and fortune and praise of other men, but rather lead unassuming lives walking by faith and showing real love to others through selfless action.

(12) Malka, July 7, 2009 9:07 PM

My role model

My role model is King David.

(11) Deborah, July 7, 2009 4:03 PM

Hakarat HaTov?

I agree that celebrtiites and performers shouldn't become "idols" and role models but neither should we scoff at them. Michael Jackson meant a lot to people because he gave us pleasure... the pleasure of wonderful songs and wonderful music. We are commanded to have HaKarat HaTov for any pleasure we get from any source. They say comedians who make people laugh (clean humor obviously) will have that merit in the world to come. A role model Michael Jackson wasn't... but I'm thankful for the pleasure of his music.

(10) Anonymous, July 7, 2009 12:11 PM


if you try "michael jackson" with the inverted commas you get 155,000,00 so thats a exact search !!!!!!

(9) Anonymous, July 7, 2009 3:32 AM

It's scarey to think about who we really want to mirror our life with.

I very much enjoyed this video!! Yes MJ had great talent. The question that you brought up is so monumental!! I just want to thank you for always being current with your weekly videos & most importantly making us really think.

(8) SusanE, July 6, 2009 5:53 PM

Role Models I have none.

Hello Rabbi, Thank you for Something to think about today. There is nothing new about Michael jackson under the sun. We've heard everything for the past 30 years. Thanks to good marketing. His death is good marketing too. Just see how many millions his weirdness will bring in now and for years to come. Gods are made by us. And yes to millions he is a G-d, Famous people and celebrities and sports icons and athletes, gangsters and dirty politicians, evangelists, priests, and the criminals, war-mongers, are all given special status in the news and in culture, and all are talked about with a sort of idealism. So do I follow the crowd and use any of these people as a role model. Absolutely not. You could name 10 men or women right now Rabbi that 10 years ago were thought to be good guys. Now look at them. The only person whose motives and actions I am sure about is myself. No role models from society for me Rabbi. Submitted with respect for others opinions.

(7) Martin, July 6, 2009 2:29 PM

I never had a role model but if I had kids Id make sure theyd be tunning in to hear what Rabbi Yaakov has to say!

(6) Anonymous, July 6, 2009 2:27 AM


I have never"felt" I could relate to the awesome talent of Michael Jackson - not like relatives who simply, raved about him, and held him to be unbelievably self-less and deeply special. My own role-model, since a very young age has been: Dr. Martin Luther King Junio,r, the Baal Shem Tov, Winston Churchill, the Shoah Holy People, and later, Abraham Lincoln. In my view these individuals showed me lofty heights, that are there for the taking - courage, compassion, determination, and the refusal to be anything but themselves, insisting on the dignity of human life.

(5) Daniela, July 6, 2009 12:06 AM

NO! Not 90,000,000 !

Ok, so it's probably a lot, but please understand something about search engines - the 90,000,000 include all sites with the name Michael and all sites with the name Jackson. It's not 90,000,000 sites about MJ alone.

(4) Anonymous, July 5, 2009 7:52 PM

a type of role model

Thank you, Rabbi Salomon, for bringing up these important points. Yes, a role model is someone whom we learn from. A role model, by his or her essence, by his or her actions, displays a path that we wish to follow. Just one example: my grandfather is a very patient person and puts up with my nonsense. Not everyone would have the patience that he does. His patience is something to emulate.

(3) Anonymous, July 5, 2009 5:51 PM

Role models are made, not born

No one should be a role model because of a talent that was G-d given. It is what one chooses to do with one's G-d given talents, the effort and personal sacrifice that one invests into actualizing his G-d given potential that makes one a candidate for role model designation. The followingmakes the point well: The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher? You know 'Those who can, do. Those who can't teach." To emphasize his point he said to another guest,"You're a teacher. Be honest. What do you make?" She replied, "You want to know what I make? Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an Ipod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. They use their G-d given brain, not the man-made calculator. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life. Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant... You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE! What do you make, Mr. CEO?" My vote goes to all of the great teachers out there who make a difference in our children's lives.

(2) Rosen, July 5, 2009 1:17 PM

role models vs. idolatry

There should be a difference between role models and idolizing somone like a god of their own before the real G-d. Role models generally provide good examples for their followers. In at least some respects, I can be seen as a role model given how generous I can be when it comes to giving to charity along with the jobs I have in providing tactful customer service to both children and adults. Thus, influence gets spread around pretty contagiously...As for Michael Jackson, it should be about time he rest in peace and be buried - the legal technicalities among his family and friends can come later...I've recently learned that even those who are very successful, does not necessarily reward happiness due to how overwhelmed an icon can be with his/her success and unpopularity. Therefore, happiness comes from within, not externally from others.

(1) Harry Pearle, July 5, 2009 1:01 PM

Jackson's Musical Gyrations Teach Us What Not to Do !

I cannot disagree with Rabbi Salomon, but I think he is missing something, Jackson's musical performances. I think that Michael Jackson more that any popular artist reflected the craziness of our society. True art can be a powerful reflection of reality. It can help us to see with clarity, the MISTAKES we are making so we can turn them around. Society, with the help of technology, is speeding out of control, moving faster and faster, sound bite to sound bite. This, I believe is mishagah, and yet we are so used to it and we worship it. So, along comes a Michael Jackson to mirror this insanity. I say that we should thank him for revealing our mishagas! Interestingly, Rabbi Shmuely Boteach has been close to Jackson for years! The is a Yiddish saying: DER OILEM IS A GOILEM, the word is robotis. Thank you Michael.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy