Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Sacha Cohen should not be banned from this years Oscars

Should Sacha Baron Cohen be banned from the Oscars? Hollywood has been buzzing this week with news of a ban, then no ban, for Baron Cohen to attend the industry’s most prestigious event. His planned stunt - to arrive as The Dictator - has angered some at the Academy awards. Some suggest the very stunt is part of his story. Clearly, the most fascinating aspects of his act, in all his characters, is his ability not only to act, but to actually be that person. He is not dressing up. It is him.
While living in Los Angeles I got a call from Sacha’s agent. He wanted me to come for a photo shoot on the beach and bring along my Tefillin. “As all good Chabad Rabbis would do," he said "approach Sacha and ask him if he would like to don them.” I asked the caller whether some embarrassment may be caused to the holy Teffilin by his client. There was silence on the other end. At which point I wished them much success and invited Sacha to come to my office any time and pray. In this week's Torah portion we read about the incredible vessels that adorned the Tabernacle and later the Temple. The most holy was the Ark in the Holy of Holies: And you shall overlay it with pure gold; from inside and from outside you shall overlay it. Why would they waste expensive gold on the insert of the Altar as well? The Talmud addresses this, Raba said: Any scholar whose inside is not like his outside is no scholar. Meaning, inside and outside there should be the same golden character. In fact at the Yeshivot in Israel, Rabban Gamaliel issued a proclamation: No disciple whose character does not correspond to his exterior may enter the Bet haMidrash. The Talmud tells us that when his ruling was abolished many stools were added [in the yeshiva]... one opinion says that 400 stools were added, and the other says seven hundred. One Chassidic master suggests how one could ensure that those who came were in fact golden inside and outside. Rabbi Gamliel’s very announcement caused trepidation in the hearts of all the pupils, and those who did not feel thoroughly authentic would not go in. So life is about being transparent: who we are is the way we are. Except for one time of year. No, not the Oscars, But Saatchi’s legendary Purim party. This year we are going back to the 1920s. (Interestingly, "The Artist" is the best-picture favourite. Set amid the transition from silent cinema to talking pictures in the late 1920s) So join us on Wednesday March 7, 8pm. Come dressed up. Come and Drink and have a good time. Tickets at

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