Super-Mentch: Superheroes in Judaism

Question

Dear Rabbi, are there any teachings about “superheroes” in the Torah or in Jewish literature?

2 months

Answers

  1. What a super-question!

    Judaism doesn’t idolize movie stars and athletic achievers as “superheroes”. Rather, a person who stops to help someone needy to cross a busy street is a superhero. A person who says a kind word to someone having a bad day is a superhero.

    In this sense, I am virtually certain that each of us knows a superhero. Hopefully, not far away. Hopefully, in one’s own home.

    As you probably know, many personalities in the Torah were endowed with super-powers. Moses was on Mount Sinai to receive the Torah for forty days and forty nights — without food or water! And of course he played a key role in the ten plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea. Samson had superhuman strength. David slew Goliath. King Solomon had super-intelligence. These special qualities were given to these people by God to enable them to further the eternal destiny of the Jewish People.

    What about the rest of us?

    Our Sages teach in Ethics of the Fathers that the Jewish definition of true strength is someone who overcomes his desires to sin. This is a message of immense value. “Super” anything can be implemented by utilizing the ethical, moral and legal teachings found in the Torah. Internalizing the wisdom of the Torah enhances and augments within us strengths that we never knew we had.

    For example, our Sages teach that a person who is not blessed with a high IQ is not restricted in an ability to understand Torah. A person who has a true, pure love for Torah may be granted the ability to understand its depths, sometimes even beyond others who have been blessed with a much more natural intellect.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team