31 August 2016

Love of Torah? Gene Wilder


One of my favourite movies of all time was "The Frisco Kid" starring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford. It's the oddball buddy movie of unlikely companions who travel across the US in the Wild West days of the XIX century. Wilder plays the lowly rabbi from Poland and Ford plays the outlaw cowboy, and together they make their way to San Francisco for Wilder to assume the leadership of the fledgling Jewish congregation there. It's poignant at times, hysterical in irony, and plain fun. There are three scenes where the sefer Torah (Torah scroll) comes into play. (Maybe more, but I remember only three).

The rabbi meets up with some bad guys on the train from Philadelphia who steal everything from him, including the Sefer Torah. They see no value in it, and toss it from the train. He also is tossed, and goes back to find it even before he regathers his own clothing.
The second scene of note is here on You Tube where the Indian chief tests the rabbi on two accounts: One, can G-d make rain, and two, does the rabbi love Torah more than his own life. It includes a firey scene and a pseudo-crucifixion motif as well. A bit oddball, but why not in this 1979 classic? It smacks of Mel Brooks throughout. The third and final scene also involves fire and the bad guys who have been chasing our pair from almost the beginning. This may be the full movie, but I'm sure you can rent it online somewhere, too.

OK, so today Gene Wilder passed away at 83 years old, but I will always fondly remember him in Willie Wonka and in Frisco Kid and as Dr Frankenstein (however you pronounce it). He was born Jerome Silverman in Milwaukee, in 1933.

May you find the Torah and the God of Torah to be a joy to your soul, and may God's words give you life as you seek Him all day today.

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