Saving Gotham

Recently I had the pleasure of doing hazarah, review, on Batman: The Dark Knight. It was visually stunning and the plot line seemed compelling. Our main character Bruce Wayne suits up as Batman,  his masked vigilante alter ego, to  save his hometown of Gotham City. In this movie we meet the Joker, a new villain. The Joker’s role seems enjoy destroying people’s lives and simply to create chaos. We are artfully lured into thinking that there is a rational to his madness and a cause for his evil, only to realize that, “Some men just want to watch the world burn”.

Dent, the District Attorney, and Gordon, a police officer who has access to Batman, arrest the entire mob. In retaliation the Joker issues an ultimatum to Gotham: people will die each day until Batman reveals his identity.  The public readily blames Batman for the Joker’s terrorism.  Bruce Wayne became Batman to protect Gotham, and now he has to reveal his identity to save Gotham.

I do not want to spoil the rest of the movie, but I do want to explain why I am recounting the story of Batman two years after it release. Simply put I believe it is a marvelous recasting of our Purim story. Obviously, Haman is played by the Joker. Like Joker there is no cause for his evil ways he just want to show that the world is evil and random. The holiday is called Purim because Haman picks from a Pur, lottery, to determine the date to genocide the Jews of Persia. And it is not just that he wants to kill the Jews, he wants the rest of the kingdom to do his dirty work, thereby proving the dark side of humanity ( See here the prisoner’s dilemma he frames on the ferry boats). 

But the most compelling parallel between the Dark Knight and Purim is the critical role of the hidden identity of the hero. Will Bruce Wayne take off his mask and reveal that he is Batman to save Gotham? Will Esther reveal her Jewish identity to save her people? While there are many differences between Shushan and Gotham, on Purim it is important to reflect of the Torah of the Dark Knight. At the end of the movie Gordon says to his son, “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight. ” Like Batman, Esther is complicated. We need a yearly check in to realize that it is better to have the hero we need than the hero we want.

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