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According to the Judeo-Christian creation story, God created humans last. What does this say about us? Was humanity an afterthought, or were they the crown of creation? If the latter, then what makes human beings so special? These are questions Rabbi Rav Krushka asks his congregants at Synagogue in the opening scene of Sebastián Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Disobedience. Rav Krushka breaks the silence created by his perplexing questions with a simple word, “choice.” God gifted humanity with the freedom to choose how it will listen to God and how it will treat others.

Shortly after making this statement, Rabbi Krushka succumbs to his pneumonia, setting into motion the main plot of Disobedience.

This is the frame for exploring human love and desire in the context of religious faith.

The movie is based on a novel with the same name by Naomi Alderman.

When I watch a movie with Christian priests in it, my suspension of disbelief is often broken when there has been poor attention to detail – they simply haven’t sought a good adviser. In this film, Orthodox Judaism is presented very authentically. Because it is so accurate, for those in the know, the slight errors must stand out more. I was surprised to learn that so many of the actors are not Jewish – and so had to become accustomed to language and culture.

I also wondered if a shul/synagogue would allow filming of such a controversial story in their building. When I tweeted that question, I was delighted to receive a response by none other than the author of the novel! The filming was done in Lauderdale Road Synagogue. I may have missed its acknowledgement in the credits.

There is nothing preachy about this film. It is a worthy addition for those who wish to sensitively reflect on our humanity. And the problems with a one-size-fits-all approach to life.

The song, Lovesong, that Frontman of The Cure, Robert Smith, wrote as a wedding present for his bride-to-be Mary Poole in 1988, forms a central and concluding piece. For those interested in the lyrics, they are:

[Verse 1]
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again

[Verse 2]
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am young again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again

However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you
I will always love you

Fly me to the moon

[Verse 3]
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am free again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am clean again

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5 Responses to Disobedience

  1. I possibly should watch the movie before commenting but it is interesting to talk about “the… creation story” when it seems to be more accurate to talk about “one of the… stories”. From a Christian tradition where Jesus references Gen 1:27 and Gen 2:24 as a model for marriage I think it is important to not mash the two stories together (Gen 1:1-2:3 vs Gen 2:4-) especially in the context of a novel or movie about a lesbian couple.

    • Of course, Gavin, I agree with you about there being several stories. This is describing the Orthodox Jewish position – within which the lesbian couple struggled. Blessings.

  2. Somehow, when I consider the question that you raise. I’m drawn to Psalm 8. The words of which have inspired my faith from early on in my return to faith as an Anglican. I attended a course run by Jeff Lucas at CWR Farnham, who expounded Psalm 8, line by line, word by word and it’s theological underpinning.

    It had a profound effect on my understanding of God and his creation and his relationship with us. I still find it stimulating, years later.

    • That sounds wonderful, Ernie. Do you have any notes from that, a book, or video, or pointers for us here, or summary of main ideas? Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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